I find his post incredibly uncompelling. I believe he’s arguing against a straw man; economists in the real world doing real work involving real dollars are painfully aware of the issues he brings up.
My guess is that his experience in economics is heavily influenced by his PhD work and that he’s arguing against “economics as he experienced it at universities” as opposed to “economics as practiced by professionals in a real economy”.
https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2021/06/07/ivermectin-as-a-covid-19-therapy is one of the better, current overviews of Ivermectin. Basically, we don’t have enough information.
One other thing to consider is that even small differences in replication rate might actually matter. Consider that it takes a week for the virus to really ramp up, and that’s a large number of doubling periods. Even just getting a larger or smaller initial dose seems linked to how sick people get. Even a few percent difference may allow the immune system to stay ahead in the arms race, and result in a nonlinear change in death rate.
Note that I’m not saying this happens; I’m saying that because this is an exponential growth attacker (the virus) versus and exponential growth responder (the immune system), even small differences in growth rates might have a large impact.
Yeah, his second claim is bogus. That’s not how it works, and that’s not what we’ve been seeing with existing mutations.
As an example, look at E484K—this mutation changes the amino acid polarity, so that antibodies trained against the E variant will have a much harder time attaching to the K variant. If an antibody fails to attach, it doesn’t ‘crowd out’ anything.
In the case where an antibody attaches but doesn’t actually “inactivate” the virus due to a mutation, that’s because the virus’ attack surfaces are still present and exposed (otherwise, it would be inactivated.) Again, we wouldn’t expect to see “crowding out” of other antibodies.
And lastly, there’s the extremely unlikely scenario of sufficient mutation that existing antibodies give us Vaccine Enhanced Disease. This is both something vaccine designers explicitly focus on to minimize the risk of, and would require an extreme amount of change to enable.
#1 is where I would hinge a lot of objection. Specifically:
“The vaccines are targeting outdated variants, and some vaccines are already only partly efficient. This creates the perfect conditions for further viral evolution.”
Yes, the vaccines are targeting outdated variants, and yes, the vaccines are only partially efficient. But the mRNA vaccines, even partially efficient, are still hugely overkill. From previous posts here on LW, even partially effective mRNA vaccines likely cut transmission by a factor of 100 between the reduced infection rate and reduced infectiousness when infected.
On the other hand, “perfect conditions for viral evolution” require a much, much weaker vaccine response, one that barely keeps up with the spread of the virus. For maximum evolutionary pressure, you’d want a continuous rate of infection, with a spreading factor very near 1.0, so even slight changes in the virus can be strongly selected for. And it just so happens that this is exactly what we were doing prior to vaccine rollout.
Of course, even the mRNA vaccines aren’t a guarantee that we’ll eradicate the virus. There’s a handful of marginally effective vaccines out there (Sinovac anyone?) which will be much easier for mutations to overcome, and there’s areas which will be infection hotbeds for years, and there’s antivax communities which will likely be infection centers forever. But by broadly rolling out strong vaccines, there’s every reason to believe that the ‘nightmare scenario’ of Bossche will be less likely, not more.
The core issues I had with it are that the scenario he’s envisioning just isn’t playing out in the real world. He has a mostly coherent model he’s working with, and he’s making the valid claim that “for some set of parameters and constants, terrible things happen!” It’s just that in real life, the parameters and constants are nowhere near what’s needed for the badness he’s claiming.
His scenario requires a much higher mutation rate than we’re seeing;
His scenario assumes vaccine immunity isn’t very strong, but what we’re seeing is incredibly strong immune responses;
His scenario assumes that natural immunity (from being infected) is significantly stronger than the vaccine generated immunity, which doesn’t appear to be the case.
Basically, none of his assumptions are valid, and so his final prediction is for a reality that isn’t ours.
These extremely short responses discarding the bulk of my content feel less like you’re attempting to understand, and more like you’re attempting to get me to draw bright lines on a space I have repeatedly indicated is many different shades of grey. Disconnecting from the discussion for now.
Publisher, advertiser, the distinction does not matter. The point is that the target does not get to decide.
You might find it unpleasant, but it’s it the job of Simurgh Followers to spread the Truth Of The Endbringers to everyone! Surely if people just watch enough of it, they will be converted.
The point is that the target gets to decide what’s acceptable and what isn’t, not the advertiser. The current system makes the advertiser the judge, and that’s not ok, even if we have managed to construct a sorta functional system that mostly takes care of the worst abuses.
I’m not convinced I fully understand your distinction, let alone that we could codify it sufficiently to make it into law.
Regarding ‘codify into law’, that’s not an excuse, and it disregards how the US legal system works. If we can codify slander, if we can codify “harm”, if current advertising companies can codify “unacceptable ad”, we can codify this.
If you visit a model railroading site, are ads for model locomotives push or pull?
Firm push, but only because of the physical realities of the current system.
The fact of the matter is that by default, visiting a site isn’t a directed action. Clicking on links may take you anywhere, and links may be obfuscated. My preference would be that any/all landing pages should be clean, and ads only shown for explicit searches requesting explicit content. As a second best, I’d take ‘only show ads on explicit navigation after page landing’.
For bulk exchange of information and state, holistic is really good. I strongly prefer the holistic approach, but I’ve found that it only works for entirely friendly conversations. If it’s adversarial, I find that branches get aggressively pruned to just the things that the opposing side can most easily attack.
And if you think about holistic being optimized for “exchange of information and state”, this makes perfect sense: adversarial conversations are rarely if ever about information exchange; they’re about “winning”.
It’s also perhaps worth mentioning that aggressively holistic comms can require more mental horsepower than some people have readily available or are willing to invest, so it’s best to tune the level of threading based on audience and discussion type.
Given the current vaccination rates in the US, and the fact that supply is already beginning to exceed demand, I’d recommend full open in approximately a month. That gives most of the remaining unvaccinated people time to go get at least their first shot, and should allow us to get below exponential growth nationwide, even though we’re likely to have it in sub-populations. IMO the target should be ‘not overloading hospitals’.
After that, let it burn.
From the interviews and things I’ve seen so far, literally the only way to change a vaccine denier’s mind is for them to either 1) get sick, or 2) have a close contact get sick. At this point, I’m kinda ok with that, if that’s what it takes to get people’s attention back to ground truth, instead of socially constructed fake reality.
I’m personally trying to push everyone I care about in the vaccine direction, and I would be terribly sad to lose one of my family members when I’m unsuccessful. However, I also don’t want to live in a future world where it’s ok to be intentionally ignorant on decisions that affect your life. If that’s what it takes for my family to get a reminder that conspiracy theories are Not OK, that’s what it takes.
I’d just like to point out that while “facing these tradeoffs is stupid and avoidable” (which I agree with), it’s much, much more accurate to say instead “facing these tradeoffs is effectively impossible to avoid even though it’s stupid and avoidable”. We might not like reality, but it’s not going to go away no matter how much we call it stupid and avoidable.
Having an overarching model (or several competing models) of which different parts can be tested independently seems like a structure which is very amenable towards different scientists, so I am disappointed none of the biological/medical community has started doing something like this.
This is actually done, quite a lot in fact, it’s just really hard and the search space is huge. Kudos to you for your analysis; it’s unlikely to be a major step forward, but given that idea search space is effectively exponential, it’s also entirely possible that it’s a unique insight. Please do attempt to publish it.
For an ‘off the top of my head’ example of this sort of modeling in the wild, this is a really interesting paper:
Basically, the model was “we’ve got a class of cancer cells with mitochondrial weirdness, what happens if we shut off both mitochondrial ribosomes at the same time?” And it turned out there were commonly available low dose drugs which do this.
> its entire purpose is to alter people’s mental state without their permissionI think that’s the core of our disagreement?
> its entire purpose is to alter people’s mental state without their permission
I think that’s the core of our disagreement?
Yes, and I think that would be a better path to attack my position. There’s two attack vectors in that quoted line—“alter peoples mental state without their permission”, and “permission”. I would recommend avoiding the first attack vector; that will be an exceedingly difficult sell to me.
Permission on the other hand is already a partially open attack vector, and you’re much, much more likely to change my mind by that route. Examples:
I have very little objection to the ads on the Google web search interface. I don’t notice them, but I do sometimes click on them. The reason I have no objection is because “I was actively looking for something”, and the ads are almost always topical and don’t drown out real results. In other words, I gave implicit permission by searching for the thing that was being advertised to me.
I have very little objection to the ads within the Amazon search interface. Again, it’s because I was explicitly looking for the thing in question, and typically the ads presented are factual results that answer my query.
In both those cases, permission isn’t some implicit, distant concept; I explicitly make the choice not just to navigate to the site in question, but to request specific results from the site, knowing that the ads would be there.
IMO, that’s quite different from pretty much all other advertising: I’m not giving ‘implicit permission’ to view dildo or BMW ads when I go to news sites, or when I click around at random places on the internet. I don’t click on an interesting link because I have an explicit, well defined target. When I’m browsing, it’s like I’m walking in a park seeing the sights, or walking around Burning Man looking at the art. My expectation is that people won’t bother me and that I won’t constantly have ads shoved in my face.
Instead, I have to keep up both adblock and a hostban list just so I won’t be bombarded with unrequested solicitations. I’m explicitly opting out, yet advertisers continue to try to find ways to bypass that, in spite of my explicitly stated preferences.
I think it would be possible to greatly clean up the ecosystem by effectively banning ‘push mode’ advertising, and strictly only allowing pull modes such as my two examples above. Sure, it would mean a hell of a lot less advertising, and a LOT of companies would have to find new ways to survive. But those companies (and people) will figure something out. Some of them might even succeed because they have excellent products that people actually want, instead of due to huge propaganda budgets.
Here’s another version of your example: Some people aren’t watching nearly enough snuff and torture videos. There are people who would like to watch them, but don’t know it exists. If I place ads for torture and snuff videos and some people decide to click on them while other people don’t, is that a problem?
As I mentioned earlier, advertising is like weaponry. Your example also reads to me like a classic justification for ‘everyone having guns’: “but what if I’m attacked by a rabid dog? If I have my gun I can protect myself! See, guns are ok to have!” Just because it’s possible to point out a positive use case, doesn’t mean that the remainder of the field is also positive.
And to be clear, I consider your example to be about as likely as the rabid dog example. Sure, in a world with perfect targeting it could be done, but we’re not in that perfect world, and consumers have a vested interest in keeping it that way. The new privacy initiatives are a big part of that.
As someone who also works on Ads at Google, I have to take the opposite stance; I view advertising as a blight upon the face of humanity, something to destroy if we can at all figure out how to do so. I comfort myself knowing that Google Ads is arguably the best of what’s an awful ecosystem, and that I work in what’s arguably the ‘least bad part of advertising’, which is fraud and abuse protection. At least the systems I work on make things less terrible.
However, the ‘least bad part of advertising’ is still not ‘good’.
My favorite analogy for advertising right now is weaponry; specifically, guns. Advertising is like a handgun. Sure, it can be used for good, and sure, in the right hands it’s fine, safe even. However, the default for a handgun is that it is Unsafe, and you have to put forth effort to “use it for good” because it’s entire purpose is to kill living things. That’s advertising—its entire purpose is to alter people’s mental state without their permission. Sure, you can “use it for good”, and sure, you can make it ‘safe’. But it’s a lot easier to use it for abuse and clockwork orange scenarios.
I’ll be switching teams in the next few months to be out of Ads. Hopefully I can find something positive to work on.
I still have some remaining bitcoin, from the olden days when mortal man could mine it themselves. My advice to everyone I’ve ever talked to regarding bitcoin is to avoid it. I have been slowly divesting my holdings.
My rationale is that while both the dollar and bitcoin are fiat currencies, bitcoin is far, far less anchored to reality than most ‘normal’ currencies. The dollar and the euro at least have people trying to keep monetary levels somewhat tied to physical economic value. The value of bitcoin, meanwhile is largely driven by three things:
propaganda / marketing / bubble behaviour
a belief that using bitcoin for transactions has the potential to be cheaper than transactions in the normal financial ecosystem
#1 is basically fad investing. It can yield huge returns, but is equally likely to yield losses and ultimately just moves money from people who are bad at predicting fads to those who are less bad at predicting fads.
Basing your holdings on #2 is going to be subject to diminishing returns over time, as governments get cranky about it and find ways to crack down.
Basing your holdings on #3 ignores how expensive bitcoin transactions have become, and how you have to either build what amounts to a miniature “normal financial system” on top of it in order to arbitrage the cost, or only do transactions that are sufficiently large that the costs aren’t important.
I’ve found lighting, melatonin, and caffiene regulation to be wonderful additions to my sleep regime. I take melatonin pretty consistently at around 8:30 pm, and it seems like it helps make me sleepy ~45 minutes later. As per SSC though, melatonin isn’t particularly strong and the effect I’m noticing may very well be placebo. I always have caffiene, but rarely after 2 pm, and typically not more than two cups of coffee per day.
That said, I suspect my lighting and light policy is having a much, much bigger effect.
The primary light source in both the computer room and bedroom are a variant of these:
I have a number of presets configured; every single one of them is orange, with no blue enabled, in both rooms. Even at full brightness, it’s rather dim compared to even a single overhead bulb, and I switch to progressively more dim presets later on at night. I only use the incredibly bright overhead lights if I’m searching for something, or working on a specific high-detail project.
My bedroom has blackout sheets on the windows.
I take all my showers/baths in the dark. I started doing this to better understand some of my visually impaired friends; I quickly discovered that I liked it more than having the lights on all the time.
All of my computer monitors are all set for the minimum brightness level that still allows reasonable contrast and visibility, as well as the lowest available color temperature.
And lastly, all apps/terminals that I use are set to a black background, except for the browser; my X session background is solid black. Websites in the browser are set to dark mode css if it’s available, and I have a ‘dark mode’ extension for sites without a dark mode css. All this said, I generally only flip on the extension in the evening.
I pretty consistently go to bed around 9:30 when I feel super sleepy, and can typically fall asleep in under five minutes. I’ve found that even a few minutes of using the overhead lights after 7:00 pm breaks this; I both don’t get as sleepy as normal, and find it harder to go to sleep if I go to bed anyway. Caffiene late in the day can also screw it up pretty badly, but that’s far more rare than needing the overhead lights for a few minutes for some task.
Quick comment: I noticed that in all of your examples above, I chunk substantially bigger and fewer pieces. For example, in the “15 different bold bits” clip, I chunk it into about 8 pieces instead.
This is likely experience/background dependent; I happen to have a relatively strong background in ML and have read a stack of research papers recently, so I probably have both stronger noise filters and more complicated primitives available.
One possibly interesting side note: I never once, in any of your examples, considered metadata about the topic relevant. This includes things like the author names, “tested”, “study proposed”, etc. I suspect I’ve learned that 1) author names are almost never important, 2) test procedures are only worth thinking about if they’re very explicitly detailed (which was not the case above), and 3) even if the test procedures are ok, they’re typically only relevant as a cleanup/sanitization pass once the main concept is understood.