Even With Climate Change, the World Isn’t Doomed

Scott Adams has his “Law of Slow Moving Disasters”. Any disaster that we can see coming from a long way away tends to get solved long before it reaches us.

Humanity has overcome far greater problems before and can do so again.

….

Young people across the world are terrified of climate change, according to a forthcoming Lancet study. More than 45% of people 16 to 25 in the 10 countries surveyed are so worried that it affects their daily life and functioning. Almost half of young Americans believe “humanity is doomed,” and two-thirds think “the future is frightening.” But while climate change is a problem, panic is unwarranted.

The data show that humanity has overcome much larger threats over the past century. In 1900, if humanity had gotten rid of air pollution—mostly indoor pollution caused by smoky fuels like wood and dung—the benefit would have been equivalent to global gross domestic product rising 23%. To a young audience, that might look like an insufficient measure of well-being, but higher GDP means better health, lower mortality, greater access to education and in general a better standard of living. By 2050 the problem of air pollution will be mostly solved. And that’s only one of the many issues humanity has shorn down over the last 100 years, according to data 21 top economists and I gathered.

….

The challenge climate change poses, both to the environment and society, looks rather small compared to those humanity has already met. Noble Prize-winning climate economist William Nordhaus has shown that a 6.3-degree Fahrenheit rise in world temperatures by 2100—which is probable if policy makers do little to stop climate change—would cost only 2.8% of global GDP a year. The United Nations’ latest estimate puts it even lower at 2.6% of GDP for a 6.6-degree Fahrenheit increase.

Moreover, the U.N. expects the average person to be 450% as rich in 2100 as today, absent the cost of climate change. Following current temperature projections, global warming would knock that down to only 434% as rich. That’s a problem, but it isn’t the end of the world.

Source: Even With Climate Change, the World Isn’t Doomed

Teach Men not to Rape

Facebook: “Tell men not to rape”
Me: “I think you just did.”

The Writer in Black

Saw the claim yet again on the Book of Faces that instead of teaching women how to protect themselves we should teach men and boys not to rape or be abusive.

That’s a great idea. There’s just one problem. There are over 3.9 billion men and boys in the world. That’s a lot of individuals to teach. And how effective can we expect that teaching to be? If we are 90% successful with a mere 10% not being willing to get the message, that’s still 390 million abusers and rapists out there. If we are 99% effective, with only one person in a hundred proving resistant to our efforts, that’s still 39 million abusers or rapists. If we’re 99.9999% effective, that’s still 3900 abusers or rapists.

We’ve been trying to teach people not to murder since Moses supposedly came down from the Mount and yet…here we are. Some people just…

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Food in fiction

Still, food in fiction is a great opportunity for your reader to enjoy some vicarious strangeness (not all of it nice). I got to write about the delights of hákarl and soldier termites in various books. I think it was Sir Terry Pratchett who said everything tastes a bit like chicken if you’re hungry enough. Trust me on this: hákarl never tastes like chicken. Not even if you are starving.

Source: Food in fiction

Covid Munchausen by Proxy?

If you’ve ever heard of the psychological disorder Munchausen Syndrome, you have probably also heard of a related disorder called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, defined as

a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care…

Source: Munchausen Syndrom by Proxy

Munchausen by Proxy also shows up in TV shows and movies. Perhaps most notably in “The Sixth Sense” where the ghost of a child alerted the ghost seer to the evidence of his being slowly poisoned.

But what if the syndrome also affects public health officials — including the person leading the U.S. response to COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci?

Does that sound preposterous to you?

….

I watched a clip recently of a weather person talking about a tropical storm heading toward Texas. It’s not a hurricane, the person admitted, but then she quickly added that we should still be terrified. It could turn into a hurricane before landfall! There could be flooding! There could be tornadoes!

And yes, I rolled my eyes.

Not that I object to being warned when there’s a notable weather system headed in my direction. But there’s something about being in the disaster-warning business that incentivizes people toward behaviors that feel vaguely unbalanced.

And here’s the thing: I’ve picked up on that same vibe when I’ve watched people talk about the COVID pandemic.

And then I came across a link to an old article titled “AIDS and the AZT Scandal,” published by Spin in 1989.

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As you may know, some of the same health authorities who were in charge during the AIDS crisis are still in charge today. Anthony Fauci — yes, that Anthony Fauci — would later come under criticism, in fact, for over-hyping the dangers of “casual” AIDS transmission.

That’s not an overstatement. Anthony Fauci was “the guy” who started an AIDS panic media feeding frenzy by suggesting in a Journal of American Medicine article that HIV could be transmitted by casual contact. (Per the link, Fauci would later call that very claim — the unsubstantiated claim that he, himself, propagated — “preposterous.” Remind you of anything yet?)

….

What concerns me is that I see a pattern.

How to catch an abusive “caregiver.”

Let’s go back to that Psychiatric Times article on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy that I referenced at the beginning of this post — the one that told us how good abusive caregivers are at hiding what they’re doing.

The most effective way to identify abusive caregivers, writes this article’s author, is to look at a patient’s medical records. Look for clues or patterns that indicate a caregiver is misleading clinicians. Give preference to data submitted by clinicians who directly observe documented information, rather than relying on accounts provided by the suspected abuser. Think about whether records make clinical sense.

Chronologically summarizing each medical contact into a table reveals patterns of health care utilization and parent/caregiver behavior in a format that is easy to analyze.

—“MUNCHAUSEN BY PROXY AND FACTITIOUS DISORDER IMPOSED ON ANOTHER,” PSYCHIATRIC TIMES

 

That’s what we need to do.

We need to look for patterns.

….

Here are some of the patterns I see.

Fauci seeks media and public attention. He clearly relishes being viewed as a caring, even sacrificial person.

He often makes statements that seem careless — and that throw the public into a panic.

He has, on more than one occasion, touted unproven drugs as being magical cures. These drugs later turned out to be useless at best. At worst, they exacerbated peoples’ suffering.

So what we should be asking…

Are “patients” who accept Fauci’s “care” better off than patients who do not?

PICC Line Works

Friday, I got a PICC line installed. I was told the procedure would take 45 minutes, and technically, it did.
This did not, however, count the set-up and the follow-up. It took about an hour to assemble the mise en place, and then after the line was in, it took another hour for a chest x-ray and to generate the appointments for the weekly dressing change.

However, the line seems to be accomplishing its purpose. Right after the line was installed, it was used to draw blood for my lab tests, and today it was used for the infusion of my monoclonal antibodies. I decided to accept the offer of a PICC line the day it took five tries to get a working IV started. Today, no tries at all because there was a line sticking out of my arm. No need to make new holes.

Alas, there are entities in Kaiser that aren’t allowed to hook up to the PICC. So over Thanksgiving Weekend, I’ll probably have to take myself to a clinic lab, and they’ll have to make a fresh hole in me. Hopefully, after the veins have had a rest, it’ll be easier for them. (Actually, they haven’t had much trouble with a blood draw.)

The PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line is a catheter that’s installed into a vein, and then threaded up to the superior vena cava. This spot is chosen because it’s nice and wide, and when strong drugs are injected, there’s time for some dilution to occur before they reach the wall of the vein. I’m under the impression that the current drugs, a monoclonal antibody and a bone-strengthening agent, aren’t that nasty. But they’ll be diluted anyway.

And so with this, my exploration of 21st Century medicine continues.

Those Nasty White People

If you search for references to potlach you will find gobs of positive portrayals of it as a gift giving festival with great symbolism as the giving or destroying valuables shows how wealthy you are.  Both the Canadian and American governments banned potlaches for many years because of those mean old missionaries.   I had a vague memory of the potlach that was so dark that the laws made sense.  With a little digging, I found it here.

The destruction of goods as a show of wealth could include either the freeing or killing of slaves, who were usually acquired specifically for potlach.

Source: Those Nasty White People

Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?

A holistic look at the data shatters the narrative about bias-based violence.

In March, a man opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage, just north of Atlanta. Later, he shot up two more Atlanta-area Asian spas. All told, eight people were killed. Six of them were Asian women. Was this a hate crime? Clearly, it targeted a certain sort of business.

….

Yet if Long was motivated by anti-Asian or anti-female bias, this would be considered, under Georgia and federal law, a hate crime. If he was motivated by hatred of sex workers, it would not. This ambiguity perfectly encapsulates the tangled logic behind U.S. hate crime laws.

….

The first half of 2021 was awash in stories about an alleged spike in bias-based actions against Asians in the United States. From TV ads to newspaper articles to the halls of Congress, stopping “Asian hate” became a major rallying cry. A New York Times headline from April 3 conjured “swelling anti-Asian violence” in America. “Covid ‘hate crimes’ against Asian Americans on rise,” warned the BBC, while Voice of America reported that “Hate Crimes Targeting Asian Americans Spiked by 150% in Major US Cities.”

The narrative was based on a grain of truth: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asians do seem to have faced an increase in verbal harassment—and occasionally worse—in some U.S. cities. But increases were far from consistent, and overall incident numbers remained quite small.

For instance, New York City saw an 833 percent rise in anti-Asian incidents between 2019 and 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). That certainly sounds dire. Yet the leap represents a rise from three incidents in 2019 to 28 incidents in 2020—in a city with an Asian population of 1.2 million overall.

Many reports of a supposed surge in anti-Asian animosity relied on data from CSUSB, which culled police records to assess bias-based incidents in 16 big U.S. cities. It found only one (Washington, D.C.) with a decline in anti-Asian incidents and one (Chicago) with no change. Data from the other cities looked grim: Anti-Asian incidents were up 150 percent in San Jose, 133 percent in Boston, and 114 percent in Los Angeles.

Yet expressing the data in terms of the percentage increase can be misleading. The raw numbers went from four to 10 in San Jose, six to 14 in Boston, and seven to 15 in Los Angeles. Cleveland, Dallas, and Philadelphia each saw six incidents in 2020, up from zero to two in 2019. Cincinnati and San Diego went from zero to one; Phoenix from two to three; San Francisco from six to nine; and Seattle from nine to 12.

Another much-cited figure came from a group called Stop AAPI Hate, which reported a staggering 3,795 hate incidents against Asians and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021. But unlike the CSUSB study, this figure came from self-reports to the group’s hotline, not police records. And its reporting went far beyond potentially criminal incidents.

The Stop AAPI Hate tally lumps together physical attacks and serious crimes with verbal insults, discrimination, and “shunning.” If someone crossed the street or moved aside when an Asian person walked by, and the Asian person perceived it as deliberate avoidance based on race, that would be counted among the group’s statistics. (Notably, the period in question was during a pandemic, when many were going out of their way to avoid crossing paths with others, regardless of race.) Overall, 68.1 percent of reported incidents were verbal harassment, an additional 6.8 percent were online harassment, and 20.5 percent were shunning. Only around 11 percent of incidents reported to AAPI—or 421—alleged physical contact.

None of this is to diminish the emotional pain or fear that taunts or avoidance can cause. But it does add important context. Talk of hate crimes and bias incidents tends to conjure images of vandalism and violence. This makes the idea of even a small increase appear extremely dangerous to the targeted group and drives up trepidation among members of the community. As an example, several Asian teen girls told NPR in April that they were afraid to leave home or partake in ordinary activities.

Source: Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?

Sunday assorted links

My peoples, the time has come for a MEGATHREAD. In 40 tweets I will explain another 40 concepts you should know. Strap in. Here we go:

  1. Abstraction: There are scales of explanation. A human can be considered a person, mammal, collection of cells, collection of stardust. Sometimes the reason people can’t see eye to eye is that they’re unwittingly considering things at different levels of abstraction.
  2. Scope Neglect: We evolved for the small scale of tribal life, so we can’t comprehend the big numbers that recently entered human life. We can appreciate the difference between 50 and 100, but not a million and a billion. It’s why we often treat geopolitics like family politics.
  3. The Law of Very Large Numbers: Given a wide enough dataset, any pattern can be observed. A million to one odds happen 8 times a day in NYC (population 8 million). The world hasn’t become crazier, we’re just seeing more of everything.
  4. Benford’s Law: Numbers in natural sets of data are not uniformly distributed (e.g. 30% of numbers have 1 as their first digit). Used by the IRS and other tax agencies to determine if you’ve lied about your finances.
  5. Brandolini’s Law (aka the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle): It takes a lot more energy to refute bullshit than to produce it. Hence, the world is full of unrefuted bullshit.
  6. The Toxoplasma of Rage: The ideas that spread most are not those everyone agrees with, but those that divide people most, because people see them as causes to attack or defend in order to signal their commitment to a tribe.h/t: @slatestarcodex
  7. Network Effect: The more people using a network, the more useful it becomes. A phone gains utility as more people use phones because more people can be called with it. It’s why Twitter & Facebook are so dominant; we’re stuck on these platforms because everyone else is.
  8. Paradox of Abundance: Easy availability of food led to obesity for the masses but good health for the few who used the increased choice to avoid the mass-produced junk. Equally, you can avoid intellectual diabetes by ignoring junk info like gossip & clickbait. h/t: @david_perell
  9. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time allotted for it. No matter the size of the task, it will often take precisely the amount of time you set aside to do it, because more time means more deliberation & procrastination.
  10. Flow States: You’re in flow when you’re so engrossed in a task that the world vanishes and the work seems to do itself. Flow is automatic, and it makes work much easier than you imagined. All you have to do is overcome the initial hurdle of beginning a task; flow does the rest.
  11. The Curse of Knowledge: The more familiar you become with an idea the worse you become at explaining it to others, because you forget what it’s like to not know it, and therefore what needs to be explained to understand it. Makes it hard to write threads like this!
  12. Status Quo Bias: Those who were unfazed by Covid because it had a ~1% fatality rate were suddenly concerned about vaccines when they yielded a 1 in a ~million fatality rate. People see the risks of doing something but not the risks of doing nothing.
  13. Semmelweis Reflex: People tend to reject evidence that doesn’t fit the established worldview. Named for Ignaz Semmelweis, a surgeon who, before the discovery of germs, claimed washing hands could help prevent patient infections. He was ridiculed and locked away in a mental asylum
  14. Planck’s Principle: “Science progresses one funeral at a time. “Scientists, being human, don’t easily change their views, so science advances not when scientists win or lose arguments, but when they die so that younger scientists with more refined views can take their place.
  15. Bias Against Null Results: Studies that find something surprising are more interesting than studies that don’t, so they’re more likely to be published. This creates the impression the world is more surprising than it actually is. Also applies to news, Twitter.
  16. p-hacking: “If you torture the data for long enough, it’ll confess to anything. “Academics get around the Bias Against Null Results by performing many statistical tests on data until a significant result is found then recording only this. p-hacking is largely why we have a…
  17. Replication Crisis: A large proportion of scientific findings have been found to be impossible to replicate, with successive tests often yielding wildly different results. Too many studies are bunk to take any of them at face value.
  18. Luxury Beliefs: Cultural elites often adopt views that signal status for them but hurt the less fortunate. E.g. Those who claim that concern about Islamism is Islamophobic appear open-minded but in fact dismiss the (usually Muslim) victims of such extremism. h/t: @robkhenderson
  19. Bulverism: Instead of assessing what a debate opponent has said on its own merits, we assume they’re wrong and then try to retroactively justify our assumption, usually by appealing to the person’s character or motives. Explains 99% of Twitter debates.
  20. Scout Mindset: We tend to approach discourse with a “soldier mindset”; an intention to defend our own beliefs and defeat opponents’. A more useful approach is to adopt a “scout mindset”; an intention to explore and gather information. h/t: @JuliaGalef
  21. Operation Mindfuck: A conspiracy theory that can protect you from conspiracy theories. The Operation is being conducted by persons unknown, and is a plot to make you believe lies. Whenever you receive information, ask yourself, is this part of Operation Mindfuck?
  22. Hitchens’ Razor: What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. If you make a claim, it’s up to you to prove it, not to me to disprove it.
  23. Decision Fatigue: The more decisions you make in a day, the worse your decisions get, so rid your life of trivial choices. Steve Jobs, Barack Obama & Mark Zuckerberg have been known to wear only 1 or 2 outfits to work so they don’t have to choose each day.
  24. Cumulative Culture: Humanity’s success is due not to our individual IQs but to our culture, which stockpiles our best ideas for posterity so they compound across generations. The ideas we adopt from society are often far older than us, and far wiser. h/t: @SteveStewartWilliams
  25. Chesterton’s Fence: If an old law or tradition seems so irrational that you want to scrap it, then you shouldn’t scrap it. The fact it’s survived the ages despite seeming irrational means it must have a purpose. Before acting, understand that purpose. An argument for conservatism
  26. The Veil of Ignorance : Create a constitution for a country as though you could wake up tomorrow in the body of any citizen, of any race, religion, or gender, and be forced to live as them in the society you’ve created. A central idea behind liberalism.
  27. Tragedy of the Commons: The Rapa Nui people of Easter Island felled trees for wood until there were not enough trees to provide food, causing mass starvation. Everyone acting in their own interests can create outcomes against everyone’s interests. Common argument for regulation.
  28. Purposeful Stupidity: Common argument against regulation. In 1944, the OSS (now known as the CIA) published a field manual laying out strategies to subtly sabotage a society from within. The tactics described are eerily similar to what passes for normality today.
  29. Mediocracy: Democracy works not because it picks the best leaders, but because it picks the most average leaders. The purpose of democracy is not so much progress as preservation. h/t: @Mmay3r
  30. The Messiah Effect (my term): most people don’t believe in ideals, but in people who believe in ideals. Hence why successful religions tend to have human prophets or messiahs, and why when a demagogue changes his beliefs, the beliefs of his followers often change accordingly.
  31. Futarchy: What if people voted not for political parties, but for metrics that society should seek to maximize (e.g. median household income, average life expectancy) and then betting markets determined the policy that would maximize the metric best? h/t: @robinhanson
  32. Network States: Due to the web, place of birth no longer determines your community. Future nations may consist not of people who were born near each other, but of online subcultures using collective bargaining to crowdsource micronations of like-minded people. h/t: @balajis
  33. The Immortality Project: Civilization is an elaborate attempt to distract ourselves from the fact that we’re all going to die. We do this by trying to become symbolic beings rather than physical ones. Hence, the endless search for meaning.
  34. Mimetic Desire: We learn much of our behavior by copying others. In societies, we often don’t know what to desire, so we begin to desire what others desire. This leads to simulated pursuits and simulated conflicts over simulated desiderata.
  35. Hedonic Treadmill: Once we’ve obtained what we desire, our happiness quickly returns to its baseline level, and we begin to desire something else. Whatever happens, good or bad, we get used to it. As such, the most fortunate of us are seldom much happier than the least.
  36. Boltzmann Brain: Your brain is far simpler than the rest of the universe (which includes every other brain), so, rather than the universe emerging from the void, it’s more feasible that your brain emerged from the void, and everything else is just in your head.
  37. Simulation Hypothesis: Assuming computing power reaches the point that consciousness can be simulated en masse, the scenarios in which you are such a simulation vastly outnumber the scenarios in which you are real. Ergo, you are likely a simulation.
  38. The Great Temptation: What if we haven’t found aliens because civilizations create mesmerizing amusements (like simulations) before they learn interstellar travel? What if all advanced civilizations eventually lose themselves in virtual worlds, and we’re next? h/t: @primalpoly
  39. Hypernovelty: Technology builds on technology, so it’s advancing at an exponential rate. Progress is accelerating. The world is now changing faster than we can adapt to it, leaving us permanently maladjusted. Life is becoming a blur. h/t: @bretweinstein & @HeatherEHeying
  40. The Hinge of History: We may be living at the most influential point in human history. The decisions we face – regarding AI, internet, climate change, gene editing, space travel – will likely affect humanity far into the future. What we do now could echo across the aeons.

And that’s your lesson for today. As usual, don’t assume these concepts are all necessarily true; they were chosen not for their accuracy but because they provoke curiosity.

Thanks for reading, and may the things you learned here help you navigate the labyrinth of possibility.

Source: Forty Concepts to know

Socialism Must Lower – It Cannot Raise – Living Standards for the Masses

(Don Boudreaux) Tweet My latest column for AIER is the first of a two-part series on the indispensability, for the productive use of resources, of market-determined prices . A slice:

The reason socialism inevitably wastes resources is rooted in the fact that, under such a regime, the state owns all means of production (or what Mises called “goods of higher order”). Without private ownership of the means of production, there is no genuine exchange of the means of production. There is no transfer of ownership of plots of land, of factories, of commercial lathes, or of stockpiles of iron ore and bauxite. With no exchange of the means of production, there are no prices of the means of production. (Each price, after all, is among the terms on which one thing is exchanged for another.) And with no prices of the means of production, the manager of a factory that produces, say, lawn mower blades can’t possibly know whether the lowest-cost method of producing these blades involves the use of steel or of aluminum or of carbon fiber.

Source: Socialism Must Lower – It Cannot Raise – Living Standards for the Masses