I haven’t played this, but I’ve watched a video of Japanese comedians playing it, which actually does give a sense of how it works.
There’s a (IMO very obvious) algorithm for winning this with literally zero communication: play card N after N seconds have elapsed. I don’t know how easy it is to precisely count double-digit-second intervals, but it doesn’t seem that interesting to find out. It seems pretty clear that steelmanning the rules means not counting seconds.
So what you end up with is a game of reading precise system-2 information (numbers), translating it into nebulous system-1 body language, that the other players need to be able to process back into a precise number.
Re: cells defecting by becoming gametes, I think you were maybe a bit too terse. I believe I’ve figured out what’s going on, but let me run it by you:
*Within the organism*, there’s no selection pressure for cells to become gametes—mutations are random variations, not strategic actors, so a leaf is no more likely to ‘decide’ to become a flower than the reverse (which would also be harmful overall). The organism *does* have an incentive to keep the random mutation rate down, but no reason to *specifically* combat cells ‘defecting’ in this way.
And actually, if flowers are especially costly, the organism might evolve specific “no accidental flowers” adaptations—but for reasons unrelated to coordination problems.
Meanwhile, on a species level, there might be a bias in favor of the flower-instead-of-leaf mutations appearing in the gene pool, since these can show up via gamete mutations or leaf mutations, whereas most mutations can only appear via gamete mutations. Intuitively this seems unlikely to be a big deal, but I do wonder if tweaking the parameters could make it significant enough to make a specific adaptation to fight it worthwhile.
This makes a lot more sense with some background on what a ribozyme is, which I lacked before reading this. AIUI certain sequences of RNA fold up in a way that makes them act as enzymes.
Though the real point isn’t about biology, but rather generic coordination mechanisms...
FWIW I first read this post before this comment was written, then happened to think about it again today and had this idea, and came here to post it.
I do think it’s a dangerous fallacy to assume mutually-altruistic equilibria are optimal—‘I take care of me, you take care of you’ is sometimes more efficient than ‘you take care of me, I take care of you’.
Maybe someone needs to study whether Western countries ever exhibit “antisocial cooperation,” that is, an equilibrium of enforced public contributions in an “inefficient public goods game” where each of four players gets 20% of the central pool. Might be more likely if you structure it as tokens starting out in the center and players have the option to take them? (Call it the ‘enclosure game’, perhaps)
So the big question here is, why are zetetic explanations good? Why do we need or want them when civilization will happily supply us with finished bread, or industrial yeast, or rote instructions for how to make sourdough from scratch? The paragraph beginning “Zetetic explanations are empowering” starts to answer, but a little bit vaguely for my tastes. Here’s my list of possible answers:
1) Subjective reasons. They’re fun or aesthetically pleasing. This feels like a throwaway reason, and doesn’t get listed explicitly in the OP unless ‘empowering’ unpacks to ‘subjectively pleasing’, but I wouldn’t throw it away so fast—if enough people find them fun, that alone could justify a campaign to put more zetetic explanations in the world.
2) They let you test what you’re told. This is one of the reasons given in OP. Unfortunately, not every subject is amenable to zetetic explanation, and as long as I have to make up my mind about lots of science without zetetic understanding, I don’t see zetetic explanation being an important part of my fake science filter.
3) They let you discover new things, whereas following rote instructions will only let you do what’s been done before. This is true, but I think it usually takes a large base of zetetic understanding to do new useful things. If I tried to create new fermented foods based solely on having read this post, I probably wouldn’t achieve anything useful. But if I did want to create novel fermented foods, I’d want to load up on lots more zetetic knowledge.
4) General increased wisdom? Maybe a zetetic understanding of bread ripples through your knowledge, leading you to a slightly better understanding of biology, the process of innovation, nutrition, and a variety of related fields, and if you keep amassing zetetic understandings of things it’ll add up and you’ll be smarter about everything. It’s a nice story, but I’m not convinced it’s true.
I think what we need is some notion of mediation. That is, a way to recognize that your liver’s effects on your bank account are mediated by effects on your health and it’s therefore better thought of as a health optimizer.
This has to be counteracted by some kind of complexity penalty, though, or else you can only ever call a thing a [its-specific-physical-effects-on-the-world]-maximizer.
I wonder if we might define this complexity penalty relative to our own ontology. That is, to me, a description of what specifically the liver does requires lots of new information, so it makes sense to just think of it as a health optimizer. But to a medical scientist, the “detoxifies...” description is still pretty simple and obviously superior to my crude ‘health optimizer’ designation.
if there’s a sufficiently large amount of sufficiently precise data, then the physically-correct model’s high accuracy is going to swamp the complexity penalty
I don’t think that’s necessarily true?
Probutility of winning = 1 USD
Perceived chemical-ness is a very rough heuristic for the degree of optimization a food has undergone for being sold in a modern economy (see http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/04/25/book-review-the-hungry-brain/ for why this might be something you want to avoid). Very, very rough—you could no doubt list examples of ‘non-chemicals’ that are more optimized than ‘chemicals’ all day, as well as optimizations that are almost certainly not harmful. And yet I’d wager the correlation is there.
Okay, I think I see where you’re coming from. I’ve definitely updated towards considering the OP proposal scarier. Thanks for spelling things out.
Why assume that there is such a thing?
I took Benquo to be saying there was such a qualitative difference. I already agree there are lots of reasons Duncan’s proposal would likely do more harm than good.
Unilateral imposition of rules.
What Duncan is proposing is a general societal agreement to allow the Punch Bug game, on a dubious but IMO sincerely-held theory that this would be to the general benefit. It’s no more a unilateral imposition than a law you voted against.
So I definitely will join you in condemning the no-opt-out rule. The ghettoization proposal… honestly, I think it was too absurd to me to even generate a coherent image, but if I try to force my imagination to produce one it’s pretty horrible.
I’m not sure I see the folding-in problem as keenly as you do. I read Duncan as saying “there’s a problem in that we freak out too much about accidental micro harms. My proposed solution is a framework of intentional micro-harms”. The first part is on firmer ground than the second, but I don’t think it’s illegitimate to pair them.
And it’s the deep creepiness of the no-punchback rule that I mainly don’t get. Like, if the puncher only said “Punch Bug”, and the possibility of a punch back were not discussed, I think the default assumption would be that a punch back is forbidden. That’s pretty what it means for the original punch to be socially sanctioned. Making the “no punch back” part explicit is, I guess, rubbing the punchee’s face in that fact? Is the face-rubbing the problem?
Wait, maybe I get it? Is the terrifying scenario being envisioned, essentially that of a bully saying, “I’m hurting you. For fun. And I’ve found a socially-sanctioned way to do it, so you’re beyond the reach of the forces you normally count on to prevent that!”
Perhaps thinking of ‘bullies’ as a group is the key insight here? I don’t believe Punch Bug is primarily a form of bullying, but the *marginal* impact of banning opt-out *is* mostly to facilitate bullying. That, I could get being deeply creeped out by.
Since I’m in another thread doing a thing that’s sort of weirdly adjacent to supporting Duncan’s post, let me say what I think of it overall.
I played a bit of Punch Bug as a kid (actually, it was ‘Punch Buggy’ where I grew up). In my social circles the punches weren’t hard, it was basically a token gesture to make spotting a Beetle first into a form of ‘winning’. I’d compare it to nonviolent games such as jinx or five minutes to get rid of that word). Personally I found all of these a little fun, a little annoying, no big deal either way.
I don’t think my opinions of these games has changed much since then. I wouldn’t particularly mind getting randomly hit lightly in the arm, and I might enjoy the little victory of being the one to make a spot. Duncan has my permission to play Punch Bug with me if we ever meet IRL (not that he cares).
**But**, what I personally think of the game does not dictate my opinion. People differ a lot, and it strikes me as an egregious and reckless typical mind fallacy for Duncan to assume that everyone would experience the game the way he does if they gave it a chance, no matter how much they say otherwise. I’m guessing that his evidence for his beliefs is an observation that people who play Punch Bug are more resilient overall. This is probably true, but can be fully explained by causation in the other direction. And not only would many people experience the game as a net negative, but also a significant tail would experience *outsized* negative impact, often to the point of not being able to travel a public road in company at all.
Moreover, it’s quite easy for this to be an opt-in game. If Duncan were proposing that people consider for themselves whether they want to train their micro-resilience by opting in, I’d have no problem with his post. But instead he wants to overrule the judgment of people who think the Punch Bug game would be bad for them, in the hopes of building a world more to his liking. This is an indefinite linear combination of dangerous epistemic arrogance and solipsistic disregard for others’ well-being,
What I’m trying to figure out is what important qualitative trait Punch Bug shares with a day of pogroms, that an absence of noise ordinances doesn’t also share. (All three of these things share the traits of being bad policy, and of hurting some more than others)
‘Involvement of physical violence’ is one such trait, and you could build a colorable argument that we shouldn’t encourage even small amounts of physical violence, but I didn’t think that was Benquo’s whole argument.
Other than that, there’s the no-punch-back thing. I guess I just don’t get the significance of the distinction between a punch back on the spot (which the game forbids), and a punch back later when you see a Beetle (which the game encourages). The latter is more annoying to use as a form of deterrence, sure, but not impossible.
Let me clarify: I believe that if you took all of the people who currently want to play Punch Bug, and put them all in one one community, they would continue to play Punch Bug. They would *not* find that the absence of unwilling victims spoiled the fun, because unwilling victims were never the source of the fun.
“A punch” and “a punch in the arm” are quite different, largely in that the latter is unlikely to cause brain injury.
(Posted early by accident, ETA:)
That said, I get the argument about training people to ignore street violence. I’m a bit doubtful of the effect size here, given that I think there are clear markers of a friendly hit, but I could be persuaded otherwise.
As for no loudback: suppose a neighborhood had a policy against loud noise unless you register a party. Only one party can be registered per night. Registration is first come first served. Tell me how this “no loudback” role changes anything?
Alternatively, would you withdraw your objection if the game were “punch bug maybe punch back”, where the punched party is allowed to return the punch if they wish?
Probably best to taboo ‘asymmetric’ at this point. Based on your example I thought it meant “explicitly discriminatory” and not just “disparately impactful”.
I get that part. Yes, the Punch Bug game is disparately impactful against those who value not-being-punched more than they value getting-to-punch, especially if they value getting-to-punch at zero. You could say the same about many things, such as throwing loud parties.
That said, I think there’s an important difference between a policy chosen in spite of the fact that it harms some people, and one chosen because of that fact. Yes, the latter has been known to masquerade as the former, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here (this is what I proposed as a crux). I also think that policies that tend to harm a preexisting group are suspect in a way that ones that harm an essentially-random set of people aren’t. “People who don’t want to punch and be punched” isn’t a random group, but it’s also nowhere near as suspect a group as “Jews” (maybe this is our crux?).
With those mitigating factors in place, allowing Punch Bug seems to me more like allowing loud parties and less like declaring a day of pogroms. The only thing that aligns it with the pogroms is the involvement of physical violence—and even then, I’d suspect most people would plot ‘punch in the arm’ closer to ‘annoyingly loud music’ than to ‘mass murder’ on the scale of harms. It’s only because we as a society draw a line in the sand at nonconsensual physical violence that the punch is in any sense closer to the murder. But this line in the sand is exactly what Duncan is asking us to reconsider, and I don’t think you intend to say there’s no way to reconsider that line without setting off the mass-murder alarms (unless you do… a third possible crux).
(And to be clear, none of the above conflicts with doing a cost-benefit analysis and saying Punch Bug is a bad idea overall. IMO playing the game by default is dubious at best, and making opt-out onerous or impossible is a terrible idea. Duncan seems to have missed the fact that the vast majority of people age out of the game for reasons unrelated to his thesis. I could go on...)
Let me back up. Zvi convinced me there was a big important click to be had here, and I’m bothered that I haven’t had the click. My current understanding of your argument is unpersuasive. That probably means it’s an incorrect understanding.
Maybe our crux is that I don’t think the Punch Bug game was ever significantly about hurting people who don’t want to play it?
If after reading this thread you don’t think that, I worry that you haven’t groked the thing Benquo is trying to point at.
I definitely haven’t grokked the thing Benquo is trying to point at, at all. (I’m plenty Jewish by any anti-semite’s definition, fwiw). I don’t see what’s asymmetric about the ‘no punch back’ rule at all—the punchee is free to spot the next bug, in which case they will become the beneficiary of the ‘no punch back’ rule.