“I don’t trust your evidence.”
I suspect that the factions which can be reconciled are those that are operating in a shared epistemic paradigm. For example, two opposing scientific factions that agree on the basic principles of logic and evidence, but do not trust the research that the other side is producing—perhaps because they believe it’s sloppily done or even fraudulent. To be concrete, the debate on whether the minimum wage does or does not harm economic growth has voluminous evidence on each side, produced by serious researchers, but it apparently hasn’t caused either side to budge.
A second example is between religious believers. Two camps might accuse each other of a belief in God that isn’t based on genuine revelation. For example, Christians discount the Quran, while Muslims discount the claim that Jesus was the son of God. But neither side questions that the other is genuinely motivated by faith.
“You’re just pretending to care about our epistemic norms”
Less tractable is resolving a dispute between factions that agree on an epistemic paradigm in theory, but suspect that in practice, the other side is not actually using it. An example here is the disagreement between Western medicine and naturopathy. Naturopaths accuse Western doctors of pretending like their practice is more based on evidence than it really is (which is often a fair accusation). There are some naturopaths who claim that practices like homeopathy and acupuncture have an evidence base, and Western doctors accuse them not only of sloppy research, but of only using research as cover for a fundamentally non-evidence-based approach to medicine.
A religious example is between followers of the same religion who might accuse each other of faking faith to serve some worldly goal. This accusation gets leveled at prosperity gospel, fundamentalists, cults, and mainline religions.
“Our epistemic norms are incompatible.”
More intractable still is a dispute between factions that openly disagree on epistemic norms. Your example is between believers in divine revelation and adherents of Occam’s razor/logic/evidence.
Yes, that seems very much along the lines I’m setting out!
I think part of where my take goes a level deeper is pointing out that you’re probably selective in which perspectives you seek out. There are probably some you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Others that you would, but in secret, because your primary trust-networks would find them dangerous. And some that are in that sweet spot of being foreign enough to be novel for your trust-network, but also friendly enough to be accepted. It’s this latter category that I’m suggesting is most valuable to find, in the spirit of reconciling factionalism to move toward truth.
It sounds like you’re suggesting that there’s a tension between trust and trustworthiness. A trusting community will have an easier time coordinating action, but may make bad decisions due to a lack of critical thinking. By contrast, a critical community will have a hard time coordinating, but when it does succeed, its projects will tend to be more trustworthy.
If this is an accurate interpretation, I agree.
I also think that the problem of factions that I’m describing fits with this. Mistrust in other people’s basic intuitions causes the rise of intellectual factions, each of which has high in-ground trust and consequently low trustworthiness:
Different intuitions → mistrust → assuming contrary evidence is based on a flawed process → factions → uncritical in-group trust.
Once one person anywhere in the world gets all the pieces just right, then it will be obviously good and quickly spread.
My post is inspired by Zack M Davis’s comment that’s linked at the top. The point there was that when beliefs diverge so much that we start discounting valid evidence because we mistrust the source, then the truth will not be obvious and will not spread.
Smartphones are a great case in point. Although it’s obvious that they function mechanically as promised, it’s not at all clear that they’re a good thing for humanity. There’s plenty of research about whether they’re driving mental health issues, degrading our relationships, sucking up our time, and draining our income.
There is a truth of the matter, but some people find it hard to trust evidence one way or the other. They get suspicious of the evidence of the factions claiming that smartphones are or aren’t doing these things; suspicious of their incentives and intuitions that we believe drive their erroneous conclusions; and aren’t ready to believe even when the evidence is systematically weighted (GIGO).
The kind of unity I’m referring to here is widespread agreement on how to interpret the state of the evidence on any given proposition. It’s what Kuhn would call “normal science.” I think this is uncontroversially desirable. Unity on physics, chemistry, computer science, and so on is what produced the Smartphone.
But not only is the evidence in many other fields (and even within these fields, in some areas) incomplete, the experts are divided into long-standing, intractable factions that disagree about how to interpret it, won’t change their minds, and aren’t interested in trying.
The old cognitive bias frame suggests that we need to individually overcome our irrational biases in order to correct this problem.
The new trust-building frame suggests that instead, people are basically rational, but are failing to build sufficient trust between members of opposing factions to reconcile the evidence and produce a motion toward truth.
It’s that exploration should always be a component of your labor, even when you are more heavily weighting exploitation and routine. Even if you like your job, spend some time every year pondering alternatives.
Exploration and exploitation can also be nested. For example, the building of the hydrogen bomb was a research program (exploratory) but was a large-scale commitment to a formal project (exploitation) in which one scientist took the time to think about whether the bomb might like the air on fire (exploration). It’s probably not a good idea for a project to focus all its energies on execution and exploitation, without setting aside some resources to considering alternatives and issues.
I think it’s advocating against cultism, but if that’s your takeaway, my bad for not making that clearer!
I’m in the midst of a career transition into computational biology. I taught myself coding at a young age and find it intuitive, but I’ve never worked in a tech job before. This reassured me that if people who don’t know that an iterator variable doesn’t need to be named “i” to work, that I can get a job in tech too, since I’m at least beyond that. Thanks :)
It would be neat to have a bread baking recipe book (or website) in which each recipe was accompanied by nicely-designed and organized descriptions of the science behind each ingredient and step. Almost always, the filler in recipe books is autobiographical, or describes the dish itself; scientific descriptions are rare.
At 26, you can expect to life around 55 more years. Let’s trade off against waiting for a vaccine, assuming the vaccine is 100% safe and effective, and also assume your quarantining strategy is 100% effective.
By giving yourself COVID-19, you’re losing about 55 years * 52 weeks per year * .002 chance of death = 6 weeks of life in expectation. That’s not counting the risk of chronic fatigue, or the time you might spend being sick.
Your motivations seem basically selfish, moderated by a desire to be socially responsible. If so, then consider that we’ll also probably have faster and more widespread testing in the coming months. More efficacious treatments may emerge. These may permit socially responsible travel prior to the arrival of a vaccine. Then consider that some people may not want you around even if you tell them you’re immune. And of course, the world’s going to continue being shut down even if you have antibodies in your system.
Does social distancing suck so bad for you that this trade off feels like it makes sense? What is the concrete activity you’d like to be able to do, that you can’t do without antibodies in your system?
The steelman that VIX responded to COVID-19 in January is that it went up 40% from Jan 23-27. For whatever reason, this chart makes it easier to see the bump I’m talking about. It’s not dramatic compared with the explosion in mid-Feb, but that accords with the idea that the market was unsure about whether COVID-19 was going to be a replay of SARS or something much worse, and didn’t decide until the hard evidence came in of international community spread on Feb. 21.
Hmm, maybe you are right. I had a discussion about this in regards to another one of my posts about COVID-19 and the stock market, but now that I’m looking again I don’t really see anything like what I was describing.
Markets did react just about as soon as COVID started making the American news. If you look at VIX, which is an index of S&P500 futures volatility (aka the “fear index”), it jumped to a new, higher plateau right as COVID-19 started making the news in mid-January.
Your second quote that you attributed to me was actually from keaswaran, who I agree with.
That doesn’t seem to support the grandiose conclusions that are usually made on the basis of the EMH. The same would be true of a poker game, for instance, or simply a bet between 3 people where only one of them can be right.
Yes, precisely. And that is a meaningful prediction.
The EMH is not a grandiose claim. It is a boring rebuttal to grandiosity. Saying “you probably will make an average amount of money for your intelligence and education level trading stocks as you would in any other profession” is decidedly dull. Saying “people with millions or billions of dollars invested in X keep a pretty tight bead on new information related to X and make trades based on it” is also a sensible claim. Saying “boy, this is complicated stuff—are you sure that’s alpha you’ve found there?” is reasonable.
In the end, money talks. So if anybody is dead convinced that the EMH is wrong, there are hundred dollar bills lying around in the stock market, and they’ve found a way to pick them up, the ultimate test is just to say “go make a lot of money, then, and let me know how it all went once you’ve exited the stock market!”
I mean, that’s the ideal case. I’m skeptical that my own efforts, or those of most people, would lead them to profit substantially more than they could have by applying their energies to any other line of work.
This is partly based on my own experience doing a mini history of COVID 19 and the stock market, when I was really convinced that the market had behaved irrationally. It was remarkable to see how long it took me to find disconfirming evidence that made me see that the market was just thinking differently. Based on that experience, I’d want to see a whole lot of work sunk into any attempt to find alpha before I was prepared to believe it was real.
In my imagination, we’d have fresh-baked bread vending machines every city block instead of little free libraries. Bread takes around 1-1.5 hours to cool enough to serve. The vending machine produced bread only at high-demand times and could slice bread internally so that users could take away just the bits they wanted. Meeting the neighbors at the vending machine in the middle of the block to get your bread could be a pleasant social bonding experience.
You could combine this with a hydroponic GroShed. If it works as well as intended, you’d probably need to spend around $15,000 to for a GroShed big enough to make produce for a family of four. Imagine that it lasts 10 years and costs $100/month to run, and you’re looking at a roughly $2,600 per year for year-round, garden-fresh veggies. Unfortunately, you’ll still have to buy your fruit, and possibly your tubers, at the store.
If Whole Foods veggies cost an average of $3 per pound and your family eats its FDA-approved 5 servings per day of produce (roughly 1 pound per person), that might cost $4,400 per year. So you’d potentially be achieving some significant cost savings.
I’m being nice to the GroShed here, and not considering the opportunity cost of the square footage.
Your risk is that the GroShed doesn’t work out for some reason:
It might be tiresome to set up or operate
Hydroponic produce might not taste very good
Perhaps it’s limited in the variety or reliability of its output
It might break or be expensive to maintain
You might not actually follow through on eating 5 servings of garden-fresh veggies per day
This seems like another initiative that might be best executed on the scale of a city block.
Imagine if we altered the zoning of residential neighborhoods slightly so that it was normal for one chunk of every block to contain an automated garden + bakery. That sounds like fully-automated luxury gay space communism to me...
You could use a small breadmaking machine. Make a large tub of flour mixture and a vat of wet ingredients with a dedicated scoop for each. Or scratch a mark on the bottom of the bread machine itself for the level the wet ingredients should be at, so you don’t have to deal with washing an oily measuring scoop. Then just pour them in and turn the machine on three times a day. Many models have a delay start timer so that you can wake up to fresh bread.
Based on this, it sounds like you could have a hot fresh loaf every meal in exchange for a few minutes of pouring ingredients, mixing, and cleaning.
Here’s the catch.
The small machines make 1-lb loaves. A grocery store loaf is 1.7 lbs. Industry standard is 18 slices per loaf, so a 1-lb should give you about 10 slices. If you like 2 slices of bread per serving, each “small” loaf is enough for 5 people who want bread every single meal. Sounds workable for a family of 4-5 or a cafeteria setting.
If you were cooking for just yourself, you’d be throwing away about 2.5 pounds of cold bread every day. If you were cooking for yourself and a partner, it’s more like 1.2 pounds, but try convincing most people to not feel bad about that kind of food waste. Can’t just give away the extras, because it would all be partly-eaten loaves, not nice pretty whole loaves.
My guess is that the end result for 1-2 eaters would be you’d make one loaf per day and eat cold bread the rest of the time. That might still be an improvement. But then there’s that pesky hedonistic treadmill to worry about…
I think it’s worth steelmanning the EMH in this case.
Let’s compare ZTNO (the False Zoom) and ZM (the True Zoom) for the last 6 months:
False zoom prices
True zoom prices
True zoom began climbing on around Feb. 1st and seems to have continued climbing.
False zoom had a couple little bumps in February, but it only started rising consistently around Feb. 24th, and the spike you’re noticing mostly took place from March 12-20th, over about a week’s time. Then it plummeted, got a hold put on it, and declined once the hold was released to an unprecedented low of $0.70/share.
How big of an error is this?
Market cap is the price of stock multiplied by the number of outstanding shares of stock. Its current market cap is $300.9 million, so at a share price of $.70 cents, it should have about 430 million outstanding shares.
Let’s assume the worst-case scenario: today’s lowest-ever price was the correct price for ZTNO from Feb. 24th on.
In that case, for investors who owned ZTNO at its peak price and held it through to today, they suffered a collective loss of around $9 billion.
The world’s market capitalization is around $78 trillion, so that’s around 0.012% of the world’s market cap.
What’s the strongest defense of the EMH I can offer here?
Even a very strong EMH might allow for occasional fuckups, when we’re talking a tiny fraction of a percent of the world’s publicly traded companies, for about a week’s time, in very weird circumstances. If you go around cherry-picking for missed opportunities in hindsight, you’re sure to find them.
It’s called the Efficient Market Hypothesis, not the Ideal Market Hypothesis. Saying “Asset prices reflect all available information” is not the same as saying “Asset prices reflect all information.” Ground-level economic information, such as the bankruptcy of a small-cap company in a foreign country, might spread at a speed that is proportional to its expected value. Perhaps most or all investors in ZTNO prior to January had such small segments of their portfolio allocated to ZTNO that it didn’t make sense to check whether or not it existed, since presumably the vast majority of listed companies do exist and it probably takes quite a bit of work to check.
Did ZTNO really look like a bad buy at the time to someone who knew it wasn’t the True Zoom? Maybe you noticed early that people were buying because of name confusion, and you bought for that reason, hoping to time the market and sell before the bubble burst. That’s not illogical. Then again, ZTNO is a Chinese videoconferencing company. Maybe you reasonably expected that they, like ZM, would profit from increased demand due to COVID-19. I admit that the company sounds dubious, but that’s not a sure thing.
My small experience with stocks is that the more I look into apparently bonkers violations of the EMH, the more I discover that I just didn’t understand the full context. Search a little harder under the assumtion the EMH is true and you’re just missing something, and there’s a good bet you’ll find an explanation that makes the prices make sense.
+1 point for my public prediction track record.