On the shoulder squat; I agree with you. I can do that no problem, since I was a kid, but many people can’t. I know several yoga teachers who have completely removed shoulder pose from their routines for that reason.
Yeah, I totally left that part out. I don’t remember the specific situation, but it had to do with starting from a base assumption of factors like institutional inadequacy meaning I expect lots of seriously suboptimal decisions that lead to bad results that no one wanted, and public figures often being incompetent at their supposed jobs because they’re picked by selection criteria force them to optimize for something way different from the supposed job requirements, and everyone just constantly talking past each other without even trying to really understand the other side (either due to ignorance, lack of interest, or various forms of group identity signaling).
For context, on an individual level, she’s vastly better than me at intuiting what other people are thinking and how they’re likely to act. And she does understand the social psychology of groups of people very well. She just doesn’t instinctively consider politics in terms of the dynamics and evolution of systems.
Also note: after years of grappling with ideas like that, I’ve gotten much closer to not always being depressed by this kind of thing, or seeing it as an inescapable trap (and trying, whenever possible, to focus on the side of “Wow, look what we managed to accomplish anyway!”). But it definitely had that effect on me for a long time.
On those points I completely agree.
I agree. I’m not sure if I said otherwise anywhere, but if I did, it was a mistake. I do not support enforcing any kind of vaccine passport. I might, if the vaccine rollout were much slower than it currently is and there were an institution I trusted enough to roll out and enforce one thoughtfully enough. But as things are in the US, we’re approaching the point where anyone who wants a vaccine is allowed to get one. To me that means that within a month or two, it mostly stops being a valid argument that the unvaccinated-by-choice are putting anyone but themselves at risk, unless they’re working directly with vulnerable and un-vaccinatable populations.
This explanation of the experience of Rationalist vs non-Rationalist thinking accurately describes a lot of my experiences in recent years. The following are the first examples that come to mind, of interactions with very smart people, good at thinking, who don’t identify with the Rationalist community.
Something my wife last month: “Is this how you think about politics all the time? No wonder you’re depressed.”
Something I told a coworker two years ago: “Most people really, truly aren’t consequentialists. They don’t do things because they expect a certain outcome, they do them because that’s what’s customary in that situation in their community, full stop. That results in behavior that looks like they’re implementing something like separate magisteria for each context.”
Something I told a different coworker three years ago: “Most people don’t actually know how to think. They do something that superficially looks like thinking, but isn’t.”
Something I told yet another coworker four years ago, “The client asked me X, which is the wrong question for what they’re trying to accomplish, but it’s his boss that made him ask it, and he’s not socially allowed to challenge it, so I answered Y, which hopefully will trickle back in a way that gets the message across about what they actually need to ask, which is Z.” Result: they came back and asked Z a few months later. Note: this is dangerously close to trying to “nudge the public” and I’d much prefer to have have to do things like that.
I’m not a biologist, and bodies are complicated enough that I’d like an answer to this too.
But to a first glance from a layman: I have a hard time understanding what mechanisms there might be, especially age-dependent ones. The sugars, salts, acids, and stabilizers all either occur naturally in the body or have been used medically long enough to have their risk profiles known. I don’t know about the specific lipids used, can’t comment there. mRNA only survives in the body for a matter of hours, after that what’s present is just the proteins you made from the mRNA, which should work the same way as identical viral-derived proteins would, generating an immune response by the same mechanism.
It takes a lot of effort to understand all the evidence that goes into all the cases where a prosecutor charges people to evaluate the prosecutor. If you have the prosecutor summarize the strength of the evidence that evaluation gets easier.
That’s true, but I think you’re being very optimistic, both in the ability of defendants and defense council to ignore or evaluate information the other side in an adversarial system claims is their true opinion, and in the ability and interest of the public in properly evaluating the job performance of prosecutors in local elections based on actual data. I think both are possible, and would be very valuable, but can’t be achieved without much deeper and broader reforms to make the underlying justice system more open, transparent, and trustworthy.
I don’t think you can easily do a trial because it’s a systematic intervention that needs to run a few years for people to adept to the new system before it leads it’s provides most of it’s benefits.
Sorry, I didn’t mean a trial as an experiment, I meant literally running legal trials this way, where in general the prosecutor that tries a case is not the one that produces the conviction probability estimate. Then, grade each both on the accuracy of their assessments, and separately on their conviction rates in trials they prosecute. I’d say either the one trying the case or a separate third prosecutor should have final say on which charges to bring. I think this would eliminate a lot of the potential for perverse incentives.
It’s very hard to have a word for a concept that doesn’t exist in the cultural milieu you share with your conversation partner. Here on LW it might be relatively easy, I’m sure we could coin one, and maybe we use it enough in our own circles and adjacent to those circles that it starts to trickle out. Words are paintbrushes, and all that.
For now I’m amused just imagining trying to explain the concept of “teleology of forming an opinion” to, say, some of my less inquisitive and curious aunts and uncles. I think (after the maximum amount of time I’d be able to sustain the conversation) they’d come away with something like “Oh, he’s not really interested in current events, and has his head in the clouds thinking about abstract things I can’t understand.”
That said, I think a lot of the people I talk to would understand if I said, “I think having an opinion either way is a distraction, since I don’t know enough to add anything that hasn’t already been said, and in any case it’s not something that I can affect or that affects me in any way. [This next sentence is one I would add, but may not apply to you, IDK] And since there are so many stories where similar things do happen, and others where they didn’t but people think they did, I care a lot more about why the heck these kinds of things keep happening.” Then the next time something comes up, like “What do you think about Meghan Markle?” or “What do you think should/will happen to each member of the Loughlin family?” you can say, “Remember what I said about Woody Allen? I feel the same way about this.” You change the local culture by putting that idea into the air enough times that it becomes a concept you can point to.
that’s not the issue my post is addressing.
Sorry, then I think I made a bad assumption about why you were trying to solve the problem of overcharging. I added that at the end of my comment and probably shouldn’t have. Still, it’s not the reason I initially rejected the proposal. I honestly don’t think your proposal actually solves the overcharging problem or would make plea deals much fairer.
Then when I’m in the court room my lawyer can ask the prosecutor “Why did you bring that case when you only think that there’s a 10% chance that my client will be found guilty?” Journalists could write story “Prosecutor Smith brings a case against Joe to trial even so he only believes that there’s a 10% chance that Joe would be convicted”.
Journalists could write that, true. But if we’re relying on juries and voters to properly evaluate that kind of statistic as a reflection on the prosecutor’s job performance or the case’s merits, then hopefully they’ll also understand that the data point is immaterial to the question of whether the defendant is guilty. I can be very confident a policeman is guilty of murder, or a politician is guilty of accepting a bribe, or a frat boy is guilty of rape, and still correctly believe the probability of conviction is low. I’m not sure how a court would regard such an argument, but to this layman it seems that to whatever extent the percentage is based on the evidence, giving the number as an additional data point is double-counting evidence (or a way of introducing information based on evidence not presented at trial or inadmissible at trial, which is just as bad or worse), and to whatever degree it is based on assumptions about the judge and jury’s behavior and thinking, it’s speculation.
Overall I’m very skeptical that the enforcement mechanism you proposed to incentivize prosecutors to be honest is anywhere near strong enough. It might be better to scale the prosecutor’s pay to how well calibrated their estimates are, for those cases that make it to trial, with additional penalties like removal from office for being too far off. Or better yet, do a literal randomized trial where the prosecutor who offers the plea deal and makes the estimate is different from the prosecutor who goes to trial, and evaluate the former by accuracy and the latter by conviction rate.
“I haven’t taken the time to look into it” can sometimes serve the role of redirecting the conversation, but doesn’t convey the general sense of “It’s a waste of both our time to even be discussing this.”
In the specific case of Woody Allen, you could try something like, ” I don’t know if he’s guilty, legally or morally, but either way I think the real problem is that we live in a society where it’s likely enough to even be plausible.”
But yeah—I don’t know of such a word or phrase. I think establishing one would be much easier in a community where most people were familiar with the kind of ideas in Politics is the Mind-Killer and Your Price for Joining. I say that because I think most people are viewing these kinds of discussions as being, not about the factual question but about tribal affiliation and group identity. In that context, just refusing to state an opinion either looks suspicious or like you’re trying to seem wise and high status, like a judge.
How would prosecutors be trained and incentivized to make and report accurate predictions? Who would be funding the defense attorneys, especially overworked public defenders, to learn to properly evaluate prosecutor’s claims? The US legal system already isn’t exactly known for being honest today even in terms of things like rules about disclosing exculpatory evidence to the defense. Also, the famous saying about indicting a ham sandwich is anecdotal evidence about how much credit (grand) jurors give prosecutors’ likelihood assessments in a pre-trial, non-adversarial environment, and I don’t find it encouraging.
Also, I understand that one of the big issues with plea deals is that it is often in a defendent’s individual interest to plead guilty to a lesser charge they’re innocent of, even if they’re pretty sure they wouldn’t be found guilty at trial, either because they’re risk averse (not necessarily unreasonable when years of your life are on the line), or because the agreed-on punishment will be less than the time in jail, and cost in fees, they’d incur just by going to trial even if exonerated. Data on likelihood of conviction wouldn’t help with that.
At a more basic level, I think this solves the wrong problem. If, as you say, it is in society’s best interests to keep legal costs low, then it follows that there is little benefit to society from the larger penalties imposed by overcharging defendants. This suggests that the problem lies in the criminal code and sentencing guidelines, and that these need serious updating.
And given how biased our legal system is and has historically been, I believe a proposal based on conviction odds has basically the same problems as current AI tools for criminal sentencing and risk assessment. Large racial and economic biases, among other problems.
Edit to add: I do like the idea of giving defendents honest info about their likelihood of conviction if a case goes to trial. I’m extremely skeptical of the idea of having prosecutors provide that evidence, and wary of letting prosecutors, juries, or judges see it.
I realize this is going to be different for different people and in different places, but if you’re in a place where mask compliance is high already, and rules are actually enforced, this isn’t likely to be a thing. I mean, obviously it is to some degree, people get a negative test result (sometimes, too soon after exposure for it to even mean anything) and then see friends and family unmasked. But I don’t think it’s anywhere near significant enough to change my conclusion.
If that were likely to be a major problem, I’d think we should already be seeing large numbers of people who’ve recovered from covid refusing to wear masks in public. After all, that’s much stronger evidence of not having covid, and not being able to catch it, than a negative test result is. Also, better messaging could help mitigate that, “Sometimes tests are wrong, so you can’t treat a negative test as a guarantee, but even if you could, a mask helps protect both you and others, so you should wear one to help you stay negative.”
Still: I don’t mean for my list to be definitive. I was making examples based on my own assessments of the kind of reflection I’d need to see from major public health figures and institutions before I start trusting them to implement any policy that requires delicacy, nuance, precision, and care, to avoid causing significant harmful side effects.
Fully agreed on all counts. And the thing is, there are many things that government does competently (enough for the purposes I care about). Sometimes, when it isn’t, I look at what happens and say, oh yeah, that’s a train wreck, but I see how the decisions that lead to it made sense to the people involved even if they were competent and had the best of intentions. Other times, not so much.
Given the generalized lack of competency, understanding of reality, interest in any sort of nuance whatsoever, and so on, since the pandemic began… do you really believe any of the relevant institutions could or would choose to (and would successfully) implement any of the solutions you propose to those objections you believe are reasonable? I, for one, very much do not. And I don’t just mean government institutions either. The failure of infectious disease experts at major universities to speak out in favor of saner policies, the shortsightedness of business and other groups pushing for premature (and selective) re-openings, those all play a role too, and I’m skeptical of them implementing their own policies requiring vaccination by employees or customers.
Granted, overcoming that objection of mine would be very easy. All it would take is for the CDC, FDA, and whichever governor or state legislature is proposing a vaccine passport rule to come forward with a (even partial) self-assessment listing what they got right, and what they got wrong, based on the information they had at the time, since last January, and a commitment to a timeline to produce a detailed plan for how they will do better in the future. I won’t hold my breath. For example:
“We should have admitted from the beginning, that yes, obviously in any given situation masks don’t increase your risk of getting sick and could reduce it, so people should wear one for anything they would do in public indoors anyway, but making it a policy requirement without any plan in place based on when and why it makes sense, like requiring masks outdoors in any place less crowded than a city center, is not likely going to be helpful.”
“We should have discussed, from the beginning, the importance of ventilation indoors, and encouraged more open windows, HVAC system improvements, and spending as much time outdoors as feasible.”
“We should have stated clearly, from the beginning, that we were going to make the best recommendations we could at any given moment, and that some of that will definitely change as we get more data, but until we get that data we won’t know which ones.”
“We should have initially recommended people disinfect things coming into their house or business as a possible transmission vector, and then updated when we found out that fomites weren’t a major component of the pandemic beyond very high touch surfaces.”
“We should have actually bothered to do even basic cost-benefit analyses when making decisions.”
“We should have recommended everyone who can do so to take vitamin D, since the potential risks are so much lower than the potential rewards. Actually, we should have been doing that for a lot more people, for a long time, in most of the US.”
’We should have approved OTC/at-home/prescriptionless tests, including new types like maybe that MIT over-the-phone AI tool, with way lower thresholds for accuracy and specificity, as soon as possible. False positives just lead to more caution/less risk-taking, and false negatives are no worse than no test. We can require stricter test modalities for more critical use cases, which can help in making sure capacity is more available for those.”
“We should have committed 10x more funding to vaccine development right away, and done human trials as soon as possible.”
“As soon as we had any indication what handful of vaccine initiatives were likely to succeed, we should have asked Congress to approve funding to pay companies to ramp up the necessary production capacity well in advance of their expected timeline for FDA approval, since it would cost dramatically less than we were spending on relief bills or losing from the restrictions in place.”
Also: at this point we have a pretty good idea how long it’ll take for everyone who wants a vaccine to have had ample opportunity to get one. Those people who do, will not die of covid once a few more weeks have passed. At that point it’s not unreasonable to let others take their chances if they want to, if they judge their personal risk to be low enough, because they’re no longer endangering anyone who didn’t choose to be so endangered. So, a vaccine passport policy may make sense for… what, until late May at most? Is it really worth it to fight this battle on passports instead of focusing on campaigns to encourage people by touting all the positive benefits of these vaccines (and vaccines in general)?
I, for one, would like to come out of this pandemic into a world where people are generally impressed with how incredible the impact and potential of mRNA vaccines will be in the future. Not one where they’re mostly associated in the public consciousness with polarizing political battles.
I grew up on Long Island and agree that the ID points rules are hard for a lot of people to fulfill. If you’re under 21, and have a birth certificate and social security card, then you just need your parents to say you are who you claim, though. That is, as long as they have ID.
Yes, and I think that’s kind of the point.
Make it expensive to break or get around the rules, and most people will follow them (see Scott Alexander’s review of the Legal Systems book, and ctrl+F “one crime a year”). If enough people are willing to pay the high price (in time, money, etc.) to go through the formal processes of getting around them, or of taking the risks involved in just breaking them, that’s a strong signal to society that the rules need updating.
As far as trusting judges more than clerks (and appellate judges more still, etc.): Like any good magic system, you lock the really dangerous powers behind rituals that require significant sacrifices. Going to law school, cultivating a reputation for whatever virtues the local judge-selecting mechanism uses, accepting a lower salary than you’d potentially have as a lawyer, and so on.
I’m in the middle of reading Sapiens, and there is a passage near the beginning that is about pretty much exactly this. Lawyers, judges, businessmen, and bureaucrats are powerful sorcerers, whose power comes from having completed certain rituals and having learned esoteric knowledge, whose stories are much stranger than those of a tribal shaman, and who have real power because we all agree to (at least pretend to) believe them. He uses the example of Peugeot, and asks in what sense a company exists. Well, some people spoke and inscribed certain spells with the right paper and ink, and presented them in special places to other sorcerers, and the company came into being, even though it had no physical body. Its owners could fire every employee, its customers could scrap every product, and a natural disaster could wipe out every factory and office, and the company would still exist. But if the sorcerers file certain forms and make certain arguments in the right way, it would cease to exist, even though all the people and products and assets are otherwise unchanged.
Sufficiently self-aware and genre-savvy lawyers know this, but I’ve yet to meet a bureaucrat who acknowledges it. At my own closing on my house, my lawyer commented that every form and step were there because someone, at some point, did something they shouldn’t, and the form is to make it simpler to reduce or prevent it from happening a lot anymore. This sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole learning about the history of deeds and title, and legal fictions, which was kinda fun.
And if you haven’t yet read Legal Systems Very Different from our Own (draft version online for free), I strongly recommend it.
I’m a little unclear on the biology, but its that just a matter of scarcity, or also a matter of expecting a stronger reaction/more side effects? I would think if having had covid gives you more protection than having gotten the first shot of a vaccine, then your reaction on getting a vaccine is likely to be stronger, and waiting might be valuable even just on that basis?
In most situations where people need more seats, those seats are primarily for kids, not the people buying the vehicle or other adults, and that makes the issue of every row having its own doors less important. Your kids just get used to climbing over and around things, and it’s no big deal. The people consistently buying vehicles for more adults are mainly fleets buying vans and limos.
Also: I know you mentioned this in the original post in terms of car vs SUV, but adding length, doors, and weight will drop fuel efficiency, which may cause legal issues. Maybe not in the US, IDK, but car company platforms are global, and other countries have much stricter standards. This may make it just not worth it for what they expect the market size to be.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if we started seeing vehicles like that in the 2030s though, once self-driving vehicles become common enough (I still think it’s unlikely, just much less unlikely). People and companies have been talking for a long time about how much design freedom not needing a driver gives you, and how you can make reconfigurable interiors. Since it’s likely that ridesharing and other fleet vehicles will make up a larger proportion of cars in an autonomous vehicle world, it’s much more feasible to have a few vehicles around for less common use cases. Last-mile delivery automation product developers have come up with a lot of concepts that include vehicles with multiple independently locking compartments; it’s very plausible a six door vehicle of some sort could reuse such a platform.
I recently switched from a crossover SUV (Nissan Rogue Sport) to a pickup (Sierra 2500 with crew cab and 8′ bed). It is about 22 ft long, and yes, it is both harder to park and usually unable to fit fully in a standard parking spot. It overhangs by only about 2 ft usually, though, so if it really is feasible to make a six door vehicle that is about 200″ long, it would still fit.