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> No property owner was harmed or lost property values in this exercise.

The amount of economic ignorance in this sentence is truly depressing. You made your properties less desirable to developers. That, by definition, made them less valuable, which cost everyone who owned those houses money. It's one thing if you guys said "we like our neighborhood the way it is, don't want it to change, and are willing to give up higher property prices to keep it that way." It's entirely another to pretend that that tradeoff doesn't exist...

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founding

how much permanence does the character of the neighborhood have?

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If they want to preserve the character of the neighborhood e.g. by stopping a building getting torn down they can buy the building they are protecting otherwise they just want other people to subsidize their lifestyle. Same goes for stopping apartments being constructed either buy the land or jog on.

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There's a legitimate argument from externalities. I have an interest in nobody within half a kilometre of me working with thioacetone, for instance, as the compound is so horrifically smelly that people will vomit and faint at that distance (fumehoods have little effect).

The usual way to deal with this is zoning; in location A, you're not allowed to build a plant using thioacetone, and in location B, you're told in advance that people are allowed to build a plant using thioacetone (and thus if you have any brains you don't live there). However, zoning is only useful if it is enforced.

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I often feel like HOAs are what you get when "if zoning didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent it"

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Yes, that’s right. Zoning is public land use regulation enforced by public law enforcement and land use agencies. HOAs are private land use regulation enforced through contract. Homeowners are free to contract with each other (with some limits) in lieu of public land use restrictions.

A lot of racial covenants were written into HOA laws in the 1950’s and before. Because these agreements are legally permanent, a lot of these racial covenants are still on the books at HOAs, with an agreement that they won’t be enforced. They are awful, and they’re still out there.

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"If they want to preserve the character of the neighborhood e.g. by stopping a building getting torn down they can buy the building they are protecting otherwise they just want other people to subsidize their lifestyle. Same goes for stopping apartments being constructed either buy the land or jog on."

This.

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Well, it should be actually all the people. Not, like, ten nimbys who are the only people who show up at the committee meetings. It should be at least 51% of all the people who live in that neighborhood.

If the city has a reasonable georgist-land-tax, then that's probably a sufficient criterion.

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The answer to this question feels like a policy setting rather than a moral law. Ideally the local government would have a specific answer to that question.

Some local government areas would have a policy saying "Build whatever you want on your own land". Other local government areas can have a policy saying "You can't build anything unless you get at least 90% of the people living within a 1km radius to agree to it". Most areas could have something somewhere in between. People could choose whether they wanted to live in a pro-development area or an anti-development area, and we could see in the long run which areas wind up nicer and which wind up awful.

Personally I'd love to live in an area which is permanently and irrevocably set to "one house per quarter acre block" but still within 20 minutes of the downtown core of a major city.

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"Some local government areas would have a policy saying "Build whatever you want on your own land". "

But then what would the bureaucrats have control over?

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> an area which is permanently and irrevocably set to "one house per quarter acre block" but still within 20 minutes of the downtown core of a major city.

If this is 20 minutes walking distance, I could see the pleasure of such an area. But basically by definition, it's impossible for there to be very much of this sort of land area (if you have too much of it then your location is not near a downtown core of a major city, but at best a weird suburban splotch that is surrounded by denser areas).

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We have a version of this in my small upstate NY village. Current zoning code says you cannot cover more than 10% of your land with built structure (excluding driveways) yet less than 5% of the currently built structure adheres to that requirement. Essentially this means if you want to replace that falling down deck in back of your house, you need to go through planning board which then refers you to a zoning board which may or may not approve it based upon, you guessed it, the opinion of the neighbors. Because of rapidly escalating prices lately, it's not uncommon for applicants at the zoning board of appeals to 'lawyer up.' This is in a village of less than 3,000. So, while we don't require "90% of the people living within a 1km radius to agree to it," essentially we require 100% of the neighbors within 200 feet to agree to it or you will be forced to modify your plans to suit your neighbors whims which is how the un-elected boards get away with all this. I'm told that changing the code is "too hard" as there are too many moneyed interests that like it the way it is (recent lakefront estate went on the market for $15m) yet the political interests all say that affordable housing is in the top 3 of local concerns.

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Never. If the character of your neighborhood needs saving it is already gone.

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if it's the wrong sort of people moving in then you don't really have anything you can do

even burning crosses aren't going to reverse the economic changes that prompted the move

if it's illegal activity and/or vagrants you need to become a bigger nuisance to the police and the municipal authorities than dealing with the issue is

this has three stages and you have to be persistent and go through all of them

1. they'll humor you but practically ignore you - someone will show up when you call but explain they don't have the legal authority to do anything - they're lying

2.they'll start harassing and threatening to prosecute you for wasting police resources - ignore it

3. if you have karened strongly and longly enough they will finally remove the hobo camp/crack house/brothel and it would help if you and all the other people from the neighborhood are there to cheer them on - giving the police positive reinforcement helps shorten the process the next time

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>if it's the wrong sort of people moving in then you don't really have anything you can do

>even burning crosses aren't going to reverse the economic changes that prompted the move

Adios.

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founding

you should always be able to do what you can to change the character in your prefered direction. but things like 'character of the neighborhood' are nowhere near as permanent as people think. they will inevitably change,.. your neighborhoods character has probably only been that way for no longer than one and a half generations ( exceptions of course)

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If it's a new building going in. The neighborhood might ask for changes to the facade that tries to keep the same 'character'. I've seen that work in small town USA.

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It should be decided by people who don't live or have interests in the neighborhood. There's a tradeoff between the aesthetic value of the neighborhood's current character and the economic value of letting the neighborhood grow/change. Only an outsider can make an objective choice about which has more value.

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I actually have no problem with a community deciding to stop development to save the character of a neighbourhood, basically ever. I just wish that, when doing so, they would be honest about the fact that this is going to dramatically increase the price of housing (at least, in communities with increasing demand, which is most urban areas), and have negative consequences for young families and the poor trying to live in the area. That's not a tradeoff I personally would ever make, but I don't have a problem really with any community deciding to make it. The problem is when communities make that tradeoff but then lie to themselves about why the community is expensive and start doing a bunch of other things to try and fix the problem that won't ever work because they aren't addressing the root cause.

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I think there are at least two components to the "character of a neighborhood". One is the physical infrastructure (i.e., buildings, streets, bike lanes, sidewalks, green spaces, signage, etc.) and the other is the social character (i.e., who are the residents, what businesses are present, what languages are spoken, what is the level of wealth, etc.).

These two characters usually interface in a way with regional economic conditions, such that no one of these can change without one of the others changing. If the overall metro grows so that this neighborhood is now more central than it used to be, it will be in higher demand, so that if the physical infrastructure remains the same, then the social character will drastically change.

The problem I see is that people sometimes see the change in the physical infrastructure as a symptom of a single overall concept of "change in character", and assume that if they can stop the change of physical infrastructure, then they can also stop the change of the social character. But sometimes you may need to *accelerate* the change of physical infrastructure to have any hope of keeping the social character. If a neighborhood comes into higher demand, you may need to build lots of big apartment buildings in order to maintain some residences that are still affordable for the working-class residents of the previous incarnation of the neighborhood, and lots of storefronts near these apartments in order for the affordable diners and hardware stores that cater to these residents to be able to remain while a new set of businesses catering to the new residents also come in.

There are some cases when it seems to me that the physical infrastructure is absolutely worthy of preservation, even if it means the destruction of the social character of the neighborhood. The historic cores of Florence, Venice, and Amsterdam are worth preserving as a museum, even if they become places of tourism rather than sites of commerce and daily life as they used to be. But I think in most cases, the social character of a neighborhood is far more morally valuable than the physical infrastructure, and it would be nice if preservation laws were able to more effectively target that. However, this is an extremely difficult problem - it's hard to know how to change physical infrastructure in light of changing economic conditions in such a way that an existing community is able to remain in place, while it's much easier to know how to keep physical infrastructure the same, regardless of its effects on anything else.

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The retired civil engineer behind Strong Towns makes a compelling case that autocentric suburban zoning is wildly financially unsustainable and essentially a giant Ponzi Scheme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IsMeKl-Sv0&ab_channel=NotJustBikes

Basically its numerically impossible for low density suburbs to contain a tax base that can pay for the upkeep of all their sprawled out infrastructure. I

So its one thing to want to control the character of a neighborhood. It's something else entirely to demand everyone subsidize a bunch of insolvent organizational systems and pretend its all just perfectly natural and organic because its your "preference."

Zoning seems like one of those powers that will just never be used responsibly once it exists. Yes, there might be cases where people have legitimate compelling interests to control what gets built in their neighborhood.

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I don't want to watch a video when I can read text instead. How is zoning a "Ponzi scheme"? It seems to me like there are suburbs which have been around longer than any Ponzi scheme.

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I'll second the request.

Presumably there is a level of services required in some suburbs that is beyond the level of the tax base in that same suburb to provide. In that case, a nearby city/the state provide the services at a loss while recouping the money from other taxpayers?

My local small town does not have all the services that a big city might offer, but the local tax base does pay for what we do have just fine. I would imagine most suburbs of bigger cities have more services, but I would also expect higher home values and a stronger tax base than a small town.

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founding

Time to summon the ghost of the nameless academic who said "It may work in practice, but will it work in theory?"

Famous saying: "If something can't go on, it will stop."

Corollary to famous saying: "If something has not stopped, it can go on."

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Inner ring suburbs are the places where the Ponzi scheme has stopped. They are famously impoverished, while their former apparent wealth has moved out to further suburbs.

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Oak Park, just across the border from one of Chicago's worst neighborhoods, is not famously impoverished. Nor is Westchester, just across the border from the Bronx. I don't think the inner ring around Los Angeles is impoverished either, rather Beverly Hills is famously wealthy.

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You're right that the pattern is more complicated than what I'm suggesting. There is often a "favored quarter" where the suburbs in that direction retain their value, and the ones in the other directions burn out. There are also often individual suburbs that manage to resist.

Looking at this site: https://richblockspoorblocks.com/

It seems to me that Oak Park is a unique dot of wealth on Chicago's west side, and Mt Greenwood is a suburban neighborhood of the city of Chicago that is also a standout on the southwest. But otherwise, both south and west from Chicago seem to share the pattern that there's poverty a mile or two out from downtown, and then increasing wealth as you go farther out. (The north side is the favored quarter.)

In New York, it looks like the parts of Westchester adjacent to the Bronx *are* pretty poor, and it's a few miles out before you reach wealth. To the extent that there's a favored quarter, it appears to be northwest (though the ring of poverty falls inside the city to the east and north, and outside the city towards the west).

Los Angeles has lots of complications in its patterns, due in part to the constraints that the mountains and deserts put on development, and also to the fact that its suburbs have always had a more urban development pattern than suburbs in the northeast and midwest. But the history of Compton exemplifies the pattern pretty strikingly.

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Here's the text version: https://www.strongtowns.org/the-growth-ponzi-scheme

It's not that zoning *itself* is the Ponzi scheme. It's rather that zoning for standard suburban development only works as a Ponzi scheme. It's cheap to put in pipes and streets on a greenfield development, but more expensive to dig them up and repair them a few decades later when they are reaching the end of their life. So a suburban development can be built rather cheaply, but in a few decades it will be too expensive to fix, unless it is upzoned for higher density, or has become *extremely* rich. Thus, the typical pattern around cities since the middle 20th century has been a slow burn of middle class suburbs around the edge, gradually turning into poor suburbs with bad infrastructure as the middle class fringe moves farther out.

Obviously this is oversimplified, and I haven't worked through the details of the calculations, but it gets at something right, particularly things like the plight of Detroit, where the city is now swamped by debt obligations it took on for the first round of suburbanization, that it can no longer grow to pay back, let alone fix up the decrepit former suburban neighborhoods.

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Strongtown's thesis is nonsense; infrastructure maintenance is typically a small part of suburban budgets. Detroit (which is not a suburb and was not built the way Strongtowns claims) has a much larger problem: depopulation. When you go from 1.8 million people to 0.67 million, you tend to lose a lot of tax base.

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Detroit has a whole set of problems, it's true. Depopulation is partly white flight, partly the decrease in household size everywhere, and partly inability to densify (only the latter of which fits in the Strong Towns thesis).

But much of the land area of Detroit is clearly suburban in form and zoning.

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Detroit can't "densify" because of depopulation. And Grosse Pointe, which shares a border with Detroit, is not famously impoverished.

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founding

Anecdata: my middle-ring suburb of 53,000 people spends only $11.4m out of a $157m budget on public works. As with most places, education claims the lion's share of the revenue.

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The link appears to be a theory founded upon the 2008 recession, which was actually caused by monetary policy. I'm not going to bother reading further chapters about "why our economy is stalled and cannot be restarted" when that is plainly not true.

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founding

Thanks for the text link. Their theory seems to be founded largely on things like including the area devoted to parking in the denominator of their "efficiency" calculation for stores which have their own parking lots, but not including the on-street parking in front of stores which don't.

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Yes, that's right. There's a lot of reasonable criticisms of Strong Towns.

But I think it would be fair to calculate efficiency for neighborhoods including all the land devoted to "green space", streets, and on-street parking as well as off-street parking. It might not turn out *quite* as stark as the calculations they carry out, but it'll still have the same pattern (because most development of the past 70 years has required the land area devoted to parking to be comparable or larger to the land area for the store, while street parking has never been that much).

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Melbourne doesn't seem to have collapsed yet, and that's a city of 5 million in 10,000 km^2 (i.e. houses, houses and more houses, although there's been an effort to increase density recently).

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Why isn't this the essence of politics? Who gets to do what to whom?

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What is the general consensus on Tether, the $60 billion stablecoin that detractors allege is a giant fraud? If true, does this pose a systemic risk to Bitcoin and the crypto market in general?

Some relevant articles:

- https://www.singlelunch.com/2021/05/19/the-tether-ponzi-scheme/

- https://www.wsj.com/articles/bitcoins-reliance-on-stablecoins-harks-back-to-the-wild-west-of-finance-11622115246 (paywall)

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From what I've heard (probably from Coffeezilla), the issue with Tether isn't that it's a threat to bitcoin, it's that it's a really big bank which claimed to have 100% fiat money reserves, turned out to have much less than that, and may have none at all.

What happens if there's a run on Tether?

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Tether being unbacked, by itself, would only be a problem for anyone owning Tether (and to anybody who was involved in the misrepresentation and didn't outrun the law).

The "Bitcoin is overvalued due to market distortion by Tether-the-company" claim is explicitly made by "The Bit Short" (the article Scott linked when making his prediction on DSL).

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I mean, it's a threat to Bitcoin in the sense that a majority of the stablecoin volume in BTC is through Tether. Tether is largely controlled by a few large wallets that likely engage in substantial wash trading of BTC/Tether to manipulate the price. In other words, a lot of the supposed volume of interest in BTC may not be using real dollars but essentially a digital counterfeit version of USD. Liquidity is not what it appears to be in these markets.

Remember that the crypto markets have none of the consumer protections in place in regulated markets, and that shady stuff is going on 24/7.

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I second this understanding of the issue^

So much of the problem with cryptos as an asset class is the point at which they touch the fiat market. Fees, and taxes are obvious big pains; price instability, over-leveraged coin holders, and algo traders are also concerns. I think it might be wrong to ever consider crypto as equivalent to dollars, instead of as a thing of value in its own right. People lament that BTC is used for illegal stuff without considering we could very easily be heading toward a future where wanting illegal stuff will be more common and seem like less of a choice (Need Penicillin? Got XRP?).

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Also, there's a pretty good correlation between the Tether peg breaking and Bitcoin price crashes. Although that's kind of a chicken/egg issue.

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The USDT/USD exchange rate will fall on various exchanges. At the peak of tether FUD in April 2017 it briefly dipped to 92 cents, but for the last 3 years it has never gone below 99 cents even for a moment. Consider this exchange rate as a prediction market that allows all the tether critics to put their money where their mouth is.

Tether's market cap is only 10% of the size of bitcoin and it is only used because it is cheaper, faster, and less regulated than wire transfers for sending fiat from one exchange to another for arbitrage purposes. If Tether went to zero tomorrow due to an exit scam, bitcoin would dip temporarily, but I don't think it would have any effect on the long term trajectory of bitcoin (I estimate a 60% chance that bitcoin's market cap passes gold's before 2028 regardless of whether tether is a scam)

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I'm moderately certain that all (and certainly most) of these claims are false.

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Would you please elaborate on that and provide evidence?

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"...but for the last 3 years it has never gone below 99 cents even for a moment" During the selloff last month, it was pretty clearly in the mid 90's on several exchanges (per coingecko)

https://www.coingecko.com/en/coins/tether

If you want to argue that that's only on a few exchanges, cuz arbitrage, OK, but your claim wasn't true. Also, it seems like you should have to explain why high USDT premiums have existed if the general thesis is that exchange arbitrage is driving everything

"Consider this exchange rate as a prediction market that allows all the tether critics to put their money where their mouth is". I sort of see this point except that with challenging off-ramps, you have to settle in USDT, whereas in real prediction markets, you get settlement in dollars. If you're long tether, and want to compare it to a prediction markets, units of settlement should be the same.

"Tether's market cap is only 10% of the size of bitcoin". I admit this is a nit, but it was 10.2% when you wrote this.

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founding

cryptos are an extremely interesting and possibly useful technology that currently has zero usefulness. however there seems to be too many wealthy people behind it now, and they arent going to let it fail.

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Surely it's still useful for criminal activity, as well as in messed-up countries where it's still a better currency than their own local garbage?

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founding

what is an example country?

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Venezuela

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founding

I don't beleive so. The only reference I see looks to have been an april fools joke.

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This story contains a bunch of references to various unfree places around the world where people are escaping the control of tyrannical governments using bitcoin:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/reason.com/video/2021/02/05/bitcoin-is-protecting-human-rights-around-the-world/%3Famp

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El Salvador is about to do it officially. In Venezeuela, it's just how people can use money in the first place under hyperinflation.

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founding

El Salvador uses USD as its official currency. This seems like the goalposts have moved. If USD is 'local garbage', then everything is 'local garbage'. I'm sure crypto enthusiasts may actually agree with that, but that is different from the argument that it is an escape from weak currencies of smaller poorer countries.

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And why do you think they abandoned their old one? This just means going for another external currency.

And *obviously* BitCoin becomes interesting for people to use once the local currency is garbage, like in the oft-mentioned case of Venezuela.

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Gotta love the irony of a quasi-dictator forcing his country to accept Bitcoin, the currency invented to try and free people from government control of transactions...

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"currently has zero usefulness" ... I would like to contest this point. The Ethereum blockchain has actually been implemented for a variety of useful ventures. Governments have used it for debt issuances, say what you will about NFTs but they have successfully used the Ethereum blockchain... there are a plethora of other utilities that may not be macroscopic (i.e. businesses using blockchains internally).

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I'm seeing progressively more online stores accepting cryptocoins, so their usefulness is definitely above zero.

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My uninformed opinion is that if tether lost its peg that would probably tank the market temporarily, but another stable coin or coins would eventually fill in the gap.

I try to hold usdc instead of tether when possible. If you think it’s sufficiently probable that it’s a ponzi, you can probably short it pretty cheaply by depositing another stable on aave, borrowing tether, and swapping it for the original stable.

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I'm not sure that the scam stops at Tether. Some recent evidence suggests that USDC may be doing something similar with their "reserves:" https://twitter.com/Frances_Coppola/status/1403798559829512202

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I’ll take a look but if you look at the link below you’ll see an independent audit from a big firm showing they hold a dollar for each usdc issued.

https://www.centre.io/hubfs/pdfs/attestation/Grant-Thorton_circle_usdc_reserves_06092021.pdf?hsLang=en

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Like with Tether, this is not an audit! It is an attestation. This is basically Grant Thorton saying "the money is there, trust us!"

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Do the critics want them to have a volcano lair with a giant vault full of cash that they can swim in like scrooge mcduck? Every company puts the "cash and equivalents" on its balance sheet into bank accounts which are not insured by FDIC due to exceeding the 250,000 threshold, plus various short term investments such as commercial paper and repos. This is what they're doing. I think the critics just lack any context for how any other company manages a multi-billion dollar pile of cash.

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Plus, if they put more of the money into a bank instead of commercial paper, the bank would just invest the money in commercial paper and keep half the profits for itself. (interest rates on demand deposits suck) At some point it becomes more economical to do it yourself.

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Ok, here's the issue- they claim to hold $20-30 billion in commercial paper. This puts them at somewhere around 2% of the total commercial paper market, making them one of the largest single holders in the world. Yet they have no US banking relationships and no professionals in the commercial paper business have heard of them. Also, they refuse to disclose which companies they are lending to. Right now, Tether hasn't proven:

1. That they actually hold the commercial paper

2. If they do hold, that the commercial paper is from financially solvent entities

And they aren't "any other company." Tether's holdings are not corporate reserves, they essentially amount to deposits covering the value of their issued USDT. They have to keep those assets in highly liquid assets to provide liquidity in the event of large redemptions. If they either (1) don't actually have the reserves, or (2) their "reserves" are a bunch of short-term loans to insolvent companies, they will not be able to make redemptions.

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Real banks have stuff like the Basel Accords and stress testing and the like to reduce the risk of them going bust. Even if Tether is legit, it's still no better than a 19th century wildcat bank.

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The hypothesis is that Bitcoin's price is high due to Tether the company making arbitrary and growing quantities of Tether with which to buy it. Only a fraudulent stablecoin can be minted in arbitrary quantities, as a legitimate one needs to be backed 1:1 with dollar reserves.

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It's probably true that only a fraudulent one can be minted in "arbitrary" quantities, but bankers have known for centuries that fractional reserves will work in most situations. There's still the possibility of a run if too many withdrawals line up, but even if you have 1:1 reserves, there's a possibility of a run if some of those reserves get frozen or lost at the time that the other crisis is happening (and these events are likely not uncorrelated).

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I think a lot of the concern about Tether boils down to two main points:

1) the private entities behind it are not particularly trustworthy

2) a misunderstanding about the centrality of Tether's role in the market

On the first point, it has been established that there were periods in the past where the claim that there existed held assets in one-to-one correspondence with the value of Tethers being printed was not true. However at this point with the explosive market growth that the private entities charged with backing Tether have no doubt profited from, this is likely not an issue.

On the second point, people see through analytics platforms like glassnode that a large fraction of Bitcoin purchases are made using tethers. While this is true, it's simply because on many crypto exchanges you can't directly make purchases using dollars, so you have to do it through some sort of intermediary coin. Tether is a good choice due to being a stable coin, however there are now a whole slew of stable coins to choose from, so if Tether were to vanish one of the others such as USDC could easily take its place.

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My problem is that it looks like USDC may be taking the same path as Tether. They've recently changed the language in their attestations to be more fuzzy about what "approved assets" are backing their coin. Also, it's notable that none of these stablecoin issuers have undergone a real, independent audit. Attestations are not a substitute. And anyone claiming they can't do an audit is silly, since the stablecoin business model *should* be holding a bunch of cash/Treasury/other super-safe assets in an account somewhere!

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FUD from folks who would stand to benefit.

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To paraphrase Nassim Taleb, one should have a reasonable amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about any investment. Nothing is certain, especially not the value of a cryptographic token with no real value that has only been successfully used by criminals to extort victims and launder money... I can't believe that the collapse of the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, and by far the largest in terms of trading volume, won't have major effects on the broader crypto movement.

tl:dr if people really believe in Bitcoin/crypto, they need to get rid of bad actors like Tether ASAP

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founding

they've taken something very volatile and have created complex products to mask that volatility... sounds like 2008.

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You're giving them too much credit. It's more like the constant financial panics of the 19th century, back when banks were completely unregulated and each issued their own currency.

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My response to complaints about FUD, is, as always: none of the words "fear", "uncertainty", or "doubt" mean "false".

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I was planning to ask the same question.

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My current read is that they are able to handle a very high level of demand both coming into and off blockchain reliably (and consistently). (Information from various sources.) It is certainly true that they have had a ton of shady dealings in their past, but the NYAG ruling in January also didn't seem to turn up anything more recent than 2018 (or 2019, I forget).

Something else that people are talking about now (outside fraud and other crimes) is that a very large percentage of their holdings are in company paper, which may be unstable in times of sustained massive downtick in crypto prices. (Since the paper is likely with other crypto-based entities.) I can't say one way or the other about that one. (Nor do I know if the current market represents a massive sustained downtick - there was a meteoric rise and fall, but net we're at the same prices as January right now, which were an all-time high at the time.

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Their claim to hold >$20 billion in commercial paper would make them one of the largest holders in the world, despite nobody in the business having heard of them. https://www.ft.com/content/342966af-98dc-4b48-b997-38c00804270a.

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Just remember that people running frauds of this magnitude often make things up that almost seem too crazy to be true, and get away with it a lot longer than one might expect. Bernie Madoff claimed to be trading more options than actually existed on the CBOE, yet never made a single trade and kept all the money in bank accounts. Despite these facts being known, it took over 8 years from the time whistleblowers starting calling up the SEC before his scam finally collapsed.

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2018 is just when they stopped officially claiming to be 100% backed.

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The US attorney general settled with tether for 18.5 million dollars:

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/the-new-york-attorney-general-s-office-9385268/

> As part of the settlement, Bitfinex and Tether agreed to pay $18.5 million, cease trading with New York residents and entities, and will provide quarterly transparency reports to the NYAG. As part of the settlement, Bitfinex and Tether neither admit or deny any of the NYAG’s findings.

It seems to me that this should be evidence that tether can’t be that fraudulent, since there wasn’t even admission of wrongdoing involved, and they now have to provide quarterly reports.

Or is there a reason I should interpret this report differently?

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Well, they still haven't produced an audit, and since the settlement their supposed value has increased exponentially from ~$1 billion to ~$62 billion. They have never undergone an audit and claim to be one of the largest holders of commercial paper in the world despite having no relationship with any US bank and nobody in the commercial paper business having heard of them: https://www.ft.com/content/342966af-98dc-4b48-b997-38c00804270a.

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> They have never undergone an audit

They were recently audited by Moore Kayman, as the article states:

> “Tether has amply demonstrated, most recently through assurance opinions from [auditor] Moore Cayman, that all issued tethers are, in fact, fully reserved,” he added.

Here is a link to the audit:

> https://tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/tether-assurance-mar-2021-2.pdf

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1. No, it's not an audit, it's an attestation. "We conducted our attestation engagement in accordance with..."

2. There are no details provided about what the "assets" are, where they are held, etc.

3. Take a look at Moore Cayman and consider whether they are a reputable firm.

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And, note that the company and its general counsel have demonstrably lied to the public about the nature, quality and quantity of their reserves essentially since Tether was started...

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Their business model, if they were legit, literally amounts to:

1. Get money (USD) and hold it in safe places (insured deposits, Treasuries, etc)

2. Issue USD-backed USDT so people can buy crypto

3. Give people USD back when they don't want USDT anymore.

If they really were doing this, it wouldn't be hard to prove. Cash is probably the easiest component of a company to audit- it's either there or it isn't. Tether/Bitfinex could put the whole issue to bed by just showing everyone where they put the money, something that most companies have no problem doing...

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It's standard to neither admit nor deny in a settlement, even when the allegations definitely obviously happened, so that part doesn't really give any indication of "not that fraudulent". If it wasn't that bad, the punishment likely wouldn't have included ceasing all business with NY.

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Tether is almost certainly a scam. As in, if it collapses overnight, nobody would be suprised in the slightest. We were expecting it to collapse around 2016 AFAIR.

On the other hand, almost all players in the game are incentivized to keep the charade going.

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The second part is why I got off the crypto train. If the crypto markets can't prevent scams like this from manipulating prices, and if the major players tolerate/participate in the scam, then how will BTC ever be stable or transparent enough to use as a currency or as a store of value?

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If nothing surprises you, then you don't really have a predictive model, do you?

If you expected it to collapse in 2016, does that mean you are surprised that it's still around?

> almost all players in the game are incentivized to keep the charade going.

If this is true of cryptocurrency, couldn't it be true of the global fiat economy as well?

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Hey, maybe the entire world economy will collapse due to hyperinflation. Could happen. However, the collapse of a $60 billion counterfeiting/Ponzi scheme is just a little more likely!

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There is a lot more capital and, crucially, men with guns and aircraft carriers that are invested in keeping the global fiat economy going.

> If nothing surprises you, then you don't really have a predictive model, do you?

A predictive model that suggests a coinflip is correct if you are, in fact, trying to predict the result of flipping a coin.

It can also give you pause if you plan to put your life savings on the coin falling heads up.

> If you expected it to collapse in 2016, does that mean you are surprised that it's still around?

Surprised and amused, yes.

The best case scenario is less scammy stablecoins taking over and people quietly sweeping the entire thing under the rug. This seems to slowly happen.

People outside of the crypto space have a weird intuition that there are some kind of respectable institutions backing all of this. It's scams all the way down, basically EVE online economy in which you can actually get rich. To a first approximation, I'd expect every stablecoin to be backed by air, empty promises and collusion with auditors (if there even are audits, lmao). The history of Tether and Bitfinex is a wild ride indeed.

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There are many places where you can borrow USDT to sell it short. There are also derivatives markets where you can short tether. If tether were actually a scam, it would probably get broken pretty quickly along similar lines to how Soros broke the bank of England. At any rate, I have less confidence in critics who don't put their money where their mouth is.

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Tether will probably be fine. Don't worry about Black Swans when there are hungry tigers right outside your tent. Worry about the tigers, they are right there! The 'hungry tiger' is the risk that governments impose very onerous regulations or make it impossible for crypto to interface with the normal financial system. China has already done this. Other countries could follow suit. Crypto is full of legit scams. Tether is a comparatively small risk. Nevermind, the fact that Tether collapsing can be easily recovered from. Crypto cannot easily recover if tons of countries act like China.

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Is there a way to search comments on ACX?

I recall a discussion on here where someone suggested that cost disease might be an artifact of a bad CPI basket, and someone else replied that that's plausible but would imply that the US has been in near-endless recession for 40 years, with wages dropping 80% due to 7% inflation. But I can't find it.

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These don't seem indexed by Google, so you probably have to wait until someone builds a search engine that is specifically designed to index these comments (like Nybbler once built for SSC).

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If you know the post it was on or have narrowed it down to a few, then Ctrl+F it once the page has loaded.

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I tried that, but failed. Turned out it was a post on Marginal Revolution quoted by Scott on SSC, which I processed as "recent" because I'd only read it recently and thus assumed must be here.

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Do you have a link? Would be interested to read it!

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https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/02/17/highlights-from-the-comments-on-cost-disease/

Ctrl-F "Doug" or "Marginal Revolution".

The original is here (https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/02/behind-cost-disease.html) in the comment section (the link-to-specific-comment isn't working for me, though, and Doug made a lot of posts in that thread, hence my linking to the cross-post).

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Thank you!

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I've had a couple of experiences of finding I was looking in the wrong place.

One was a science fiction story which, for some reason, I thought was by Alfred Bester. The reason I couldn't find it was that it was "Rations of Tantalus" (also published as "The Rages" by Margaret St. Clair. Quite a good story-- people get mandatory pills to control anger, but never quite enough of them. It turns out that the pills and their generally constrained lives are increasing their anger.

The other was a bit I thought was by C S Lewis about utopian ideals just being about pink people expanding into space. It seemed odd for the racial implication, and Lewis' writing is searchable.

It wasn't Lewis. I found it by chance by rereading HG Wells' _Star-Begotten_, a transhumanist book which may be of interest here.

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Similarly, I’d like to find a SSC comment, sometime in the last two years, by a quantum chemist about why “it’s all a simulation” is highly implausible (based on his experience with simulating atoms, iirc). Does anyone recall this?

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I don't recall this but if you don't have any luck here try asking in the subreddit.

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I think I've seen an argument somewhere that you can't use atoms to simulate significant numbers of atoms because the atoms are already busy being themselves.

I believe that if we're living in a simulation, it was built in a universe with richer physics than we've got, just as our simulations are vastly simplified compared to our universe.

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From a Linux command line: `wget`

the webpage and `grep` the results.

In Mac you could do this from the Terminal application. In windows (10) you could use WSL2 to get a Ubuntu command line, or perhaps other command line emulators (or perhaps powershell will have theses tools).

You'll have to poke around a bit and perhaps ask Qs on stack overflow but this should be doable with a bit of learning effort. (Unfortunately not a fast easy solution if you are unfamiliar with the command line, but it can be learned with some googling and is very powerful.)

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founding

I think one (possible) problem with this is that `wget` won't load (all of) the comments automatically. Worst case, you might need to write/develop a custom 'scraper' for Substack blogs (which is par for the course with web scraping).

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I've put together a datasette of ACX comments (with full text search) at https://acxsearch.herokuapp.com.

You can use it to search through comments here: https://acxsearch.herokuapp.com/acx/comments

(It somewhat necessarily only includes comments on public posts, so if the comment you're looking for is on a subscriber-only post then I'm afraid you're out of luck.)

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I spent a good part of the afternoon making a script to generate a big HTML file with all comments from ACX (the public ones). With the titles and metadata of the posts, it currently clocks at 45Mo. Here's a link for a version generated a few minutes ago: https://acx-comments.neocities.org/. You can more or less search for comments in it, but it's a bit slow. However, the structure of the comments is preserved.

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Therapists and psychiatrists tend to be skeptical of DID because of the possibility in their minds of it being induced into impressionable minds by media, hypnosis, suggestibility... Here is one meta-analysis paper that compared the "trauma model" (TM) of severe dissociation with the "fantasy model" (FM):

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334625332_The_prevalence_of_Dissociative_Disorders_and_dissociative_experiences_in_college_populations_a_meta-analysis_of_98_studies_Author_Accepted_Copy

From the abstract:

> There was no evidence that DES scores had decreased over recent decades, which does not support FM assertions that DD were a fad of the 1990s. Three of the five hypotheses tested provided clear support for the TM and a fourth hypothesis provided partial support for the TM. None of the five hypotheses tested supported the FM.

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author

Ordinary dissociative disorders are very different from dissociative identity disorder, even though the names sound similar, and there's no reason a dissociative experiences scale should relate to DID in particular.

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Fair. One can imagine that when lumped with (iatrogenic) DID, they would completely mask it.

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Yup, Scott's got it. All sorts of people have more dissociative experiences than average, and anxiety and PTSD are the most common sources of that.

I've personally watched DID being constructed by several trauma patients through the work of a mental health professional (a psychiatric nurse), when I was a psych practicum student working on an adolescent psychiatry unit. This iatrogenic creation of DID is actually the most common concern, not 'media, hypnosis, suggestibility ...'.

I have no evidence that DID is only a iatrogenic phenom, but there certainly needs to be more research, and more care in training mental health professionals around this.

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That's unfortunate, albeit not entirely surprising. My experience with a therapist suggesting DID was the opposite actually. Her approach was to spend a lot of time quietly listening to me and encouraging me to talk while she got to know me, and we went along like this for months. Eventually she asked "have you ever heard of Dissociative Identity Disorder?" and I was like, no. She expressed the idea that that particular label didn't ultimately matter much for treatment and we could move forward without trying to apply it as a diagnosis, and I was happy with that. She literally never brought up DID again.

I apparently rank pretty high on the DES but I didn't find out about that until later (she never used it on me).

I looked DID up once and thought "well I guess that makes sense". Maybe the symptom that inspired her to suggest DID was the fact that I never identify with my own image in the mirror more than 90%, and this experience becomes "I'm looking at a stranger" when I'm really stressed out (this was not the case before childhood abuse happened). I also tend to look back on my life and see many different versions of me (they're all the same person but they feel like different people to me), and I'm occasionally revisited by an unfortunate feeling that the person I used to be is dead and I've become someone unrecognizable.

Standard disclaimer: don't worry about me, really I'm fine, actually I'm doing great at this point in my life considering, just like to be open about my experiences because pretty much nobody talks about this stuff.

Not fishing for a diagnosis here (I really don't need it), but I'm curious about how other practitioners approach this stuff: if you met a patient with similar symptoms, would you personally suspect DID or would you make sense of them in another fashion? In your practice, do you find it sufficient to use a more general technique like the DES without trying to diagnose people with DID?

If you'd rather not go there because of professional limitations etc, I totally respect that.

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The symptoms you discuss here are pretty classic in Complex PTSD, and are dissociative symptoms, but even for people who think DID is a real thing, not indicative of DID. Glad to hear the therapist didn't press this; too many do.

Glad to hear you're doing well!

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Interesting. Thanks for sharing your take on it. Yeah I feel lucky to have a good therapist who doesn't project too much on me. Ultimately I put more stock in my personal sense of well-being than in the labels and categories used to assess me (not that I don't think diagnostic categories matter, but I realize they're not the goal). Life's a weird journey but I'm grateful for where it's taken me :)

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It's great that you are doing well, despite apparently pretty severe trauma early on! It looks like in your case the diagnosis didn't matter, and CPTSD is always present when DID is, so successfully treating CPTSD symptoms would go a long way to not having to worry about dissociated identities.

Sadly, that is not a possibility for many people: they are dissociated to the degree where amnesia and uncontrollable switching run and ruin their lives. Even more sadly, Karen and Scott seem to reflect the common view among the mental health practitioners that "DID is unproven, rare, and mostly iatrogenic." Some day this view will be ridiculed as the old ones, that "rocks don't fall from the sky" or that "earth is solid and continents don't move", but we seem to be far away from that still.

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I get the impression that the resistance to DID comes from two sources of motivation in the psych community: not wanting to pathologize things that aren't problematic, and not wanting to craft diagnoses in such a way that they are imposed upon patients by practitioners (or by patients themselves).

Regarding the first, I've known enough people with highly flexible outward personalities that I'm tempted to think flexible-outward-personality is a benign trait that has the potential to become problematic when trauma destroys your center of gravity. In which case, perhaps it doesn't deserve to be catalogued in the DSM, a great repository of human psychiatric problems. I wish there were a great repository of benign human traits wherein we could describe all of human mental diversity without pathologizing it. Does such a thing exist?

Regarding the second, I've read stuff that swayed me to believe that media influence and practitioner bias did produce more cases of people with purported multiple personalities. This doesn't mean that none truly exist, but I think it's a good reason to be careful with this stuff. True multiple personalities could be so extremely rare that the false-positives are far more common, which puts everyone in a rather difficult position.

No pressure to get into the personal stuff, but do you know anyone you think would qualify?

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Have a small anecdote: I talked briefly with a man who said his mother had trauma-based DID, but he had DID (maybe not a disorder) because when he was growing up, he though having multiple personalities was how to be a person.

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Wow. Makes me think of my relationship with my father. He's more consistent now, but when I was a kid, his affect, the way he expressed himself, and his accent changed dramatically depending on context. In the restaurant he was a charming Greek with romantic stories. Around his cousin he used cockney slang and made rude jokes in a British accent. Around my mom's relatives he talked like a cowboy and was all salt-of-the-earth. To others, he might seem inauthentic. To me, these are all equally valid expressions of my dad.

He once told me that when he's alone, he talks to himself. But none of the things he says out loud actually come from "him"- they are the words of characters that live in his mind, speaking to each other through him.

I've scarcely considered how he might have influenced the way I construct my own sense of identity, but I suspect his example made it easier for me to handle the death-of-the-self experience I had post-trauma. He made personality seem like outfits; you could have a different one for every occasion. When one isn't working, you change into another. Post-trauma, I played rather freely with different facets of myself, all of whom revolved around the black hole where my unified sense of self once was. They often looked like different people. They never felt like full-fledged "multiple personalities", and they never felt like they deserved the term "disorder".

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I'm curious what inspired this. Do you have any links to articles about therapists' attitudes toward DID specifically? I had the impression the psych community rejected multiple personalities disorder a long time ago, and that DID was created to accommodate some valid symptoms that were previously associated with the fictitious multiple personalities disorder.

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DID is just the term that's used in the DSM for Multiple Personality Disorder and some similar symptom sets.

Part of the problem is that mental health professionals are a huge and varied group, with more and less training, training that is more or less scientific, and as many influences working on them as the general population. There's some speculation that therapists with high levels of narcissistic traits are more likely to believe in DID and then, of course, to diagnosis it in their patients. 'Cause it's so dramatic and impressive and they get to be the only professional who really understands the patient!

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I was actually surprised the read the paper. The description of the Fantasy Model sounded very convincing, and my observation of depression does. coincide with some of the claims of that model. It was surprising to see that there is absolutely no experimental support for it (and that trauma is an accurate reflection of real life events, not someone's macabre fantasy).

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Antinatalism is the ethical view that negatively values coming into existence and procreation. They typically believe having children is unethical. I could see antinatalism compromising of a disproportionate number of people with the following traits:

1. Intelligence. Entertaining ideas about moral philosophy involves some higher levels of intelligence usually.

2. Irreligiosity. Religious people usually feel they have a higher purpose and many believe having children is a part of that.

3. Depression. I have to imagine that the average antinatalist feels their own life is comprised of a lot of suffering and they feel other’s lives must be as well. I imagine depressed people are receptive to this ideology.

We know that these traits are in some part heritable. I hypothesize the following:

1. The psychological profile of someone who is an antinatalist is heritable.

2.Antinatalists do not have children and therefore do not pass on their antinatalist genetic tendencies.

3. The psychological profile common among antinatalists will become increasingly uncommon if antinatalism becomes popular and the remaining population will be more pronatalist.

The more widespread the ideology and the harsher the stigma around giving birth, the stronger the selection for pro-natalist attitudes in the population. This is not to say that antinatalism is not true. It's just to note that this would mean that voluntary human extinction is unlikely to be possible no matter how convincing the ideology is. Something worth noting.

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(1) and (3) in your hypothesis are logically contradictory. If the attitude is largely the result of DNA, then ipso facto it cannot become widespread by any means other than substantial procreational advantage, which is inconsistent with the philosophy itself. If, on the other hand, the attitude can be learned, freely taken up by reflection, et cetera, then it cannot be heritable (i.e. Lamarckism remains dead), and so natural selection poses no barrier to its widespread adoption.

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I think you are mistaken. E.g. SAT scores have high heritability within the US population but clearly are based on culturally learned prerequisites (such as understanding the English language). Likewise, the invention of better methods of birth control must have had a huge impact on the effects of genes that affect the propensity to use birth control.

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"Heritable" in this context could also be looked at as learned behavior in the next generation. Those who have this philosophy are not having children and cannot pass it along to the next generation as they raise them. People who choose to have children will be able to teach (even implicitly through their choice to have children) the next generation.

This implies that over any timeframe above one generation, anti-natalism will diminish itself, whether because of the OPs genetic heritability or through learned behavior in future generations.

This also applies to long term population trends between those who have few to no children for other reasons - for instance philosophical desire to not overwhelm the earth's resources, compared to those who choose to have large families.

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You seem to be assuming that memes are inherited from parents. I don't think that this is a reasonable assumption. E.g. the reason Newtonian physics is popular today is not that Newton had a bunch of children.

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I'm suggesting that we do learn a lot from our parents, especially about their lifestyle. What we see in our early years is what we consider normal, even if it's actually really weird to much of society. If you grew up in a household with several siblings, you are going to have a different opinion about having children than if you grew up in a household without any other children. Far more importantly, nobody can grow up in a household with no children, to absorb that approach and think of it as normal.

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Right. Memes can spread in lots of ways, and learning from parents is an important one.

Take religion, the archetypal example of a meme. Evangelism to strangers happens, but most people still follow the religion of their parents. And not coincidentally, successful religions tend to be very opposed to antinatalism.

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Agree except for one important point: "the average antinatalist feels their own life is comprised of a lot of suffering and **they feel other’s lives must be as well**"

There is no need to assume that many/most other people are depressed, only (as you discuss further down) that depression is heritable. If you are depressed in your own life, then chances are reasonably good that your offspring will be as well, which I think constitutes a pretty good argument against oneself reproducing.

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I understand antinatalism not just as the decision not to have children, but the moral opposition to anyone having children, usually accompanied by dismay that the majority of people still feel that life is worth living. Those certainly feel like distinct positions - one's personal preference, the other is a normative statement.

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Depression isn't the only reason people might adopt antinatalism. I can see 2 others, both of which are probably growing:

1. Resolution of cognitive dissonance: You're apprehensive about having kids because of the effect on your lifestyle, or because you can't find a suitable partner. You rationalize your decision not to reproduce by believing that you're doing what is right.

2. Environmentalism and Malthusianism: You don't actually want the human race to die out, but think that current population is above Earth's carrying capacity, or just that we'd all have a better quality of life if the world was less crowded. You'd switch to pronatalism if the population got low enough.

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Completely voluntary extinction is almost certainly impossible, as even a single remaining small contrarian population would be enough for eventual repopulation. Of course, if such an outlook was ever to become the majority opinion, it's doubtful that compliance would remain voluntary.

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Majority antinatalist wouldn't be enough for enforcement. You'd also need the "sterilisation = death, therefore I have no reason not to revolt" group to be small enough to be suppressed (else the state fails and can't execute the plan).

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There are certain ideologies that have strong favouritism for encouraging people into non reproductive sexual behaviours and sterilisation, while viewing it as a moral virtue and statements as milquetoast as this comment as evil as genocidal murder. These ideologies have become, in a very underststed way, much more common over the last decade. Of course as this is a no politics thread this topic cannot be explored any further for now.

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This is why I encourage anti-natalists. Not that I agree with them, but because filtering them out of the gene pool little-by-little is the safest way.

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This is generally true at some level, but it still take longer to get going because culture is changing so rapidly at present, which means the anti-natal and pro-natal psychological profile are also in flux. This is how fertility has been able to decrease basically continuously since the start of the industrial revolution and is now comfortably below replacement in most of the world.

For example, the stat "lifetime number of sexual partners" probably has a highly heritable component. But is it a pro-natal or anti-natal characteristic? For men it flipped twice in this regard over the course of the 20th century. At present, it is anti-natal: the more sexual partners a man has (assuming at least 1), the fewer children.

Going back to the topic of the Ashkenazim from a few threads back -- at one point, the Jewish population was exploding and Ashkenazi Judaism was clearly a pro-natal cultural belief. But now its population, at least in the US, is imploding, with most US Jews having significantly fewer children than the US median, and it has transformed into an anti-natal belief system. Though of course the more traditional Orthodox Judaism remains a pro-natal belief system, for now.

All that to say, I think ultimately human beings will develop some combination of culture and genetics that are resistant to anti-natal ideas (and as a result I believe the Earth will one day return to a Malthusian state), but it will likely be a messy, centuries-long process, with several false starts and dead ends.

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> the stat "lifetime number of sexual partners" probably has a highly heritable component. But is it a pro-natal or anti-natal characteristic? For men it flipped twice in this regard over the course of the 20th century. At present, it is anti-natal: the more sexual partners a man has (assuming at least 1), the fewer children.

This sounds really interesting - do you have a source where I can see more about this?

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I know I've seen it in more than one place, but here's one example:

https://jaymans.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/some-guys-get-all-the-babes-not-exactly/

It's the graph towards the bottom, though unfortunately the link for his source is now broken, so I'm not sure what the root source is.

What you see is that men with 1 partner have always done reasonably well, and started out the 20th century, while men with 20+ partners have never been the most fertile group (presumably relying mostly on prostitutes prior to the Sexual Revolution).

But in the 1920s and 1930s, with the rise of "dating culture" and the breakdown of some traditional norms, all of the more caddish groups rose considerably, with 7-9 partners being the most fertile group in the 1930s. After that 1 partner returned to the top position but only slight beat out the next few groups, until the 1960s, when men who defied the Sexual Revolution and only had 1 partner became by far the most fertile group.

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Jim Crawford of the antinatalism blog has kids... some of whom post-date him becoming an antinatalist.

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I bet that's fun for those kids when they find out!

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Better to be the kid born after he decided kids were bad (that's how much he wanted you) than to be the kids born before he decided they were bad (you were why he regretted having kids).

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Sorry, missent one, so this is the real post. I think there are two main possibilities for a counterargument.

Counterargument A) Sickle Cell traits. This has advantages if you have only one copy of the trait, but disadvantages if you have both. I think it's quite possible antinatalism could be something like this. Intelligence is certainly positive, as is opportunity for education, both of which would tend to be necessary. It could be just that when you have the misfortune of combining that with irreligiosity, depression, and whatever else contributes, you end up with antinatilism, but the core components each can serve a purpose for enhancing fitness.

Counterargument B) Grandmother effects. I think it seems plausible that being an antinatilist could have positive outcomes for relatives. While intelligence is heritable, that's a pretty noisy inheritance. It seems like there's good odds that if you are an antinalist, you'll be smarter than your siblings just by regression to the mean. Thus you'll tend to make more money, and since you're an antinatalist who feels life is suffering, maybe you'll be more compelled to help your nieces and nephews. I'm much less confident in B, but figured I'd throw it out there.

If either A or B hold, it seems plausible we'll never see the extinction of antinatalism simply because it's tied to other good outcomes.

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My understanding is that education is currently negatively correlated with fertility.

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My guess would be that it's pretty well correlated with having your children survive to adulthood though

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Children surviving to adulthood is the norm with modern medicine & lack of famines.

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But you can basically only have that if you also have a pretty good education. The best quality medications are expensive, so you both need a good job and need to live somewhere with a good economy (and usually thus good education). I'd be willing to bet that people in the US who didn't complete high school have worse child mortality rates than someone college educated, even controlling for race.

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founding

It does not require "the best quality of medications" for children to reliably survive to adulthood. The cheap medicines you can buy for $10 at Wal-Mart or have handed to you for free by hanging out in an ER for a while will suffice for that, I do not think there is any socioeconomic class or other major population subgroup in the United States whose children have <90% probability of surviving to adulthood, and to grandparenthood if they are so inclined.

P(kids surviving to adulthood) is a second-order term in this equation, the dominant term is p(kids will bother having kids of their own).

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Recently, there have been discussions of moral offsetting and utilitarianism on ACX. I found these discussions interesting but I feel as though there are major issues with this sort of moral reasoning. It seems as though you are allowed to offset "trivial" things like eating meat or carbon emissions but not "serious" things like murder. I do not believe that there is a good reason for making this distinction. Utilitarianism maps everything to a linear scale of utility. There is no clear line as to what is trivial or serious. And there is no categorical difference in properties between these arbitrary clusterings that would make one offsettable and one not.

Scott made an essay (axiology, morality, law) creating a distinction between these things but I found its arguments unconvincing. In a utilitarian framework, whatever maximizes utility (axiology) is the action that should be done (morality). Utilitarians do not incorporate other ethical intuitions or considerations in moral choices but it seems like the "triaging" of axiology's demands is incorporating non-utility considerations. Creating a non-moral hazard distinction between murdering and letting die is also incorporating intuitions about inflicting harm which are not justified in utilitarian thinking. It is the feeling of having inflicted harm that makes someone want to offset in my view. It is mostly a way to deal with feelings of guilt. Not donating to reduce carbon emissions should elicit the same feelings for a consistent utilitarian.

Here are my questions for Utilitarians:

1. I am deciding if I should do moral choice A or B. A is utility maximizing and B is not, all things considered. Under what circumstances is B the correct choice?

2. What is a moral consideration that overrides utility maximization?

3. If you believe in this idea of morality (as laid out in Scott's essay Axiology, Morality, Law), can you explain how you come to know moral facts or the nature of this morality. For example, why is it worse to kill 1 than to not save 2 even without moral hazard issues?

Here is a full essay I wrote on the matter: https://parrhesia.substack.com/p/contra-alexander-on-moral-offsetting.

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For 1 and 2 the answer is never and none, pretty much by definition if you are talking to a utilitarian.

Most limits people around here talk about are practical not moral. E.g. In an ideal world I'd donate most of my money to charity and be happy about it, but I know that practically that's not possible because of how human psychology works. If I did that I'd be miserable and probably stop doing it fairly quickly. So it's not a good option. Instead I donate about 10% of my income regularly, which is an amount I can sustain. Psychological constraints are just as real as other practical constraints. Other constraints might be certainty, eg you might think killing someone would be net utility maximising, but can't be sufficiently certain that you'd do it, because if the risks of being wrong. And you can inform that with reasoning about how often people who think that killing someone is the right thing to do are correct.

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I think the slight caveat on 1 and 2 is that you have to look at what level the decision is being made at. We naively think that we can decide each individual action that we make. But in practice, we more often control our actions by developing habits. Most of the things I do in the morning (have coffee, go to the bathroom, shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, check my e-mail) are done every day more because I've done them each of the past several days than because of any explicit decision to do them today.

So if A is the specific action on this specific occasion that will maximize utility, but B is part of a habit that is slightly less good on this occasion, but part of a broader pattern of behavior that is better than any habit one can train by doing A, then maybe doing B is better. (Of course, in this case, we might say that doing B actually maximizes utility, because we can account some of the good from future acts of B to this act, and can account some of the bad from breaking the habit to the present act of A.)

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I have a more pragmatic approach to the problem. You can choose to offset immoral but permitted actions, like polluting and eating meat - that's between you and your God/conscience - but you can't offset actions that we all agree should be prohibited, for legal and societal reasons.

Allowing offsets for murder increases the social acceptability of murder, a very undesirable consequence. Perhaps more money goes to charity, but by definition this is evened out be an increase in murder, which is bad for the people that get murdered but also for everyone else in society. Obviously there are legal barriers to offsetting murder and getting away with it, but even if you could get away (bribing the cops? framing someone else and offsetting their sentence as well?), I'd argue that you shouldn't - there's value to a general prohibition of murder.

(I can't 100% say that murder can't be offset - we generally agree that it can be offset by time served, and many cultures in the past allowed it to be offset by blood money - however, that doesn't seem to be a society that we want to live in today.)

Offsetting something like meat eating or polluting has solely good consequences - the offsetting does good, it incentives you to do less of the bad thing by increasing its cost, and it has a second order positive effect in that other people may also consider whether the negative externalities should be factored into.

TL;DR offset things you were going to do anyway, don't offset reprehensible things in order to allow you to do them.

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We generally agree that time served in prison is the /most acceptable/ out of all the ones we tried or thought of: the death penalty, blood money, corporal punishment, or indentured servitude have all been found unacceptable. The conflicting drives of the need for retributive justice and the opposition to cruel and unusual punishment mean that no one solution is universally satisfying. For that reason I'd say that murder cannot be offset, even though we try to force people to do so out of necessity.

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I'd sort of argue that we still have acceptable offsets. Mainly I'd point to speeding fines. The core danger of speeding is that you kill someone, so to me speeding fines represent offsetting the small chance of you killing someone through speeding. We also have similar fines for other things that have low percentage chances of killing someone. Admittedly we no longer have good ways of offsetting 100% odds of murder, but we do ok with smaller odds.

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"many cultures in the past allowed it to be offset by blood money"

Seems to have been a combination of "I'm an important rich guy and that was only a serf/slave/whatever, should I really have to undergo the death penalty instead of using my wealth to pay a fine?" and stopping the cycle of "Bob kills Joe so Tom is obligated by blood feud social pressure to kill Bob so then Bill has to kill Tom and then Phil had to kill Bill...."

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"Jerdenizen9 hr ago

I have a more pragmatic approach to the problem. You can choose to offset immoral but permitted actions, like polluting and eating meat - that's between you and your God/conscience - but you can't offset actions that we all agree should be prohibited, for legal and societal reasons"

That's assuming society supplies you with deontological ethics, which is more correct than utilitarian ethics, because it overrides utilitarian ethics. It's hardly a defense of utilitarian ism

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Not quite - I'm focusing on the consequences, and arguing that there are good consequences for prohibiting murder (less people get murdered, we all feel safer) so allowing offsetting would make the world a worse place. Perhaps it would be better if there were equally strong prohibitions against eating animals (debateable), but if you feel that it's morally wrong but struggle to refrain from it, offsetting it seems like a good way to move the world towards a state in which its less permissible, because offsetting at least implies that there's a need for atonement.

Seeing value in rules is not inconsistent with utilitarianism, I think it's fairly uncontroversial that the world would be a worse place if we told everyone that murder is OK if you think it makes the world a better place.

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"Not quite - I'm focusing on the consequences, and arguing that there are good consequences for prohibiting murder (less people get murdered, we all feel safer"

. If you have a rule that murder can never be offset, then you lose utility in the cases where the offset would have generated positive utility. In general, utilitarianism is utility maximising, and having absolute rules is deontology, and deontology isn't utility maximising, so adopting deontology leaves some utility on the table.

"Seeing value in rules is not inconsistent with utilitarianism".

No, but failing to maximise utility is.

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OK, well I'm either inconsistent (very likely) or just outlining a useful principle that I'd generally (but not universally) adhere to, given the impossibility of actually calculating utility (approximations all the way down). I accept that there are contrived situations in which offsetting murder seems like a good idea, but most of the time it seems like it's going to be better to not do the murder and also do whatever good thing would offset it. In the real world maintaining a general prohibition against murder seems like a good idea - after all, if it's justified, it's not generally considered murder.

I was just trying to explain why a utilitarian might recommend offsetting actions that are socially acceptable but morally questionable, without also thinking that we shouldn't just let billionaires murder people after donating to AMF - primarily because there are better ways to raise money for charity than that (although I guess if there weren't I'd have to consider it...)

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I agree with the impossibility of actually calculating utility, but I summarise that as "utility wrong". It's confused thinking to fix utilitarianism by making it work like deontology, while still calling it utilitarianism.

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founding

Utility is only guaranteed to be utility maximizing if you do *all* the math, including all the second- and third-order terms involving small harms spread over large populations. No, not just the *one* dust-specks-in-a-trillion-eyes term that made this particular problem so fascinating to think about, but also all the other messy realities that you tried to round to zero before you started calculating.

That's not how anybody actually practices utilitarianism. To implement utilitarianism in finite time requires rounding most of the terms to zero before you start calculating, and most people intuitively zero out the terms they expect would argue against their preferred course of action.

Allow murder offsets, and people will balance the zero-order "murder is bad" term with whatever first-order terms they think are most likely to make their preferred murder seem OK, and maybe whatever terms they can't get away with ignoring because other people will focus on them, and then they will stop. Whether they're a wannabe murderer themselves, or a judge charged with deciding whether someone else has paid enough offsets.

I've never seen anyone even seriously try to put numbers on the "this will result in far more murders because wannabe murderers will optimistically expect they can get away with discount weregeld", and "this will result in lots of people living their lives in fear of being murdered because they don't think other people put a high enough dollar value on their lives" terms. So I highly doubt that a bunch of clever utilitarians trying to implement a murder-offset legal regime would maximize, or even increase, utility.

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Oh, dear. This needs to come back in a politics thread.

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I read your blog and liked it. I felt convinced then that there was some detail missing / inconsistencies.

Now reading the other responses I feel less convinced.

The value of a civil society is what jumped out at me.

If the price a making a brick is £1 and just to be sure you make it £100 that doesn't mean I'll happily give you a brick from my house in exchange for £100.

All that to say the price for murder should be the price for saving a life plus the price of making everyone feel as secure as they used to before they could be murdered legally.

Should there still be a price? Yes. Perhaps the reason it isn't openly accepted / talked about is the price is so high. Or that there is no utility in talking about it. I'm sure military commanders have made similarly cold blooded decisions in the past but it would be bad for morale to describe exactly how much benefit each soldier would be sacrificed for

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Have you read Consequentialist FAQ? https://web.archive.org/web/20161115073538/http://raikoth.net/consequentialism.html

I think it gives good intuitions for the questions you've asked. But here is my own explanation.

Utilitarianism works poorly without propper consequentialist framework. It's like a chess program with a propper ability to evaluate possible moves which can only look one step ahead. Such program can be beaten even by a heuristic chess reasoner like GPT-3. However if such program can look lots of steps ahead - it can become very good at chess.

If our utility function is properly defined according to our ability to predict long term consequences it's always moral to do action A. But it may be not the case. So the moral consideration which overrides pure utility maximization is weather such maximization will probably lead to less utility eventually.

The distinction between Axiology, Morality and Law comes from acknowledging the possible consequences. If we normalize offsetting human murder it seems to lead to the world with more murder and more power to the wealthy ellites which seems to be a drop in utility. On the other hand normalizing carbon offset seems to be leading mostly to more money in initiatives fighting carbon pollution and only a tiny increase in actuall pollution. So that's why we say that offsetting murder is a bad idea, while offsetting carbon emision is a good one.

If by moral hazard you mean exactly this - than there is no other reason. But I believe that reason is enough.

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I think you sort of miss Scott's point about axiology/morality/law. Utilitarians (consistent ones, at least) really do believe that the only thing that matters is the maximization of utility. To a utilitarian, morality and law are not things external to axiology, but rather some of its specific subsets; this is, in fact, the point of rule utilitarianism. A utilitarian might say that a rule like "thou shalt not kill" is shorthand for "there is very strong evidence that killing people has negative utility beyond what naive consideration would suggest; therefore, you shouldn't e.g. kill 1 to save 2". Both the utilitarian and the deontologist recognize the rule; the utilitarian does not believe it to be absolute - so there's an 'N' where "kill 1" becomes better "don't save N" - and I don't know enough about deontology to know what it thinks about this.

Within this framework, moral blameworthiness as a concept is entirely instrumental, as is the notion of supererogatory acts. They are (ideally) set at whatever society-wide level that gets the most people to do good stuff, i.e. to maximize utility.

Your analysis of rationalists' attitude in respect to utilitarianism (in the essay) is perhaps correct, but it is besides the point and somewhat improper as an argument. It does not, strictly speaking, matter to a philosophical position's strength that a particular group of people was driven to it by "impure" considerations.

As for your questions this particular utilitarian would answer:

1. Never

2. There aren't any

3. By taking "common-sense morality" as a reasonable-but-not-infallible metric to compare naively-utilitarian considerations against, attempting to derive its commands in their most common forms from utilitarian principles, and then seeing if this derivation works for the specific case at hand.

In the case of "thou shalt not kill", for example, you say something like "(a) murder has direct adverse effects on social order, and also (b) there are pseudo-Kantian considerations like 'if you think you have sufficient reason to murder, then everyone will think that, too', and also (c) murder is usually wrong even without taking these complicated reasons, so the simplicity of a rule like 'murder is never correct' wins out in utility over the fringe cases where it doesn't work."

(Not claiming that this list is exhaustive - just that these can be morally valid reasons for a utilitarian to avoid murder.)

If the situation is such that (a), (b) or (c) are negated completely - or 'enough', really - and a utilitarian is confident enough in their applied ethics to believe that there isn't any (d) of substance they're missing, then yeah, they actually do get to ignore the rule. This is obviously a pretty rare occurrence, which is, again, why "don't murder" is usually good enough.

If something related to (a), (b) or (c) is what you mean by moral hazard, then I believe that answers the third question.

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I think it depends on your utilitarian. There is the strawman bad guy who goes "okay, so I killed a few people/skinned some cats alive/eat beefburgers every Wednesday, but look at all the good things I do! Look at all the lives my donations to disease research and hospital wings have saved! Does it *really* matter if I murdered my mother for the insurance money to get my start in business, when I've been a huge philanthropist since I made my first billion?"

But there is the danger, because we're all human and humans make excuses to rationalise their behaviour, that people will go "does it really matter if I do teeny, tiny, bad thing X so long as good thing Y also happens?"

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as said by many others, 1 and 2 are both “no”

I am probably more of a utilitarian than most people, so I’ll just give you my general take on 3. I don’t really believe in moral laws. This point has been made by other commenters: “Do not kill” is a good shorthand rule. It’s an especially good law since that makes it an enforceable rule that will stop the action of killing which usually has bad outcomes. So I actually think (in a vacuum) it’s worse to not save two people than to kill one. Once you add in externalities, who knows though.

With respect to moral offsetting, it’s weird. Here’s how I think of it: In economics there’s this idea of “indifference curves” where it’s all the possible combinations of a pair of goods that would give you the same amount of utility. If you add one more of Good A your utility goes up and you’re off of the indifference curve. Obviously this can be generalized to indifference hyper-surfaces.

people tend to have a goal amount of morality. I think very few people aim to be maximally moral, unless they have a system that sets the bar reasonably low. As everyone knows, utilitarianism sets a high, almost unreachable, bar. So often a utilitarian will have some amount of utility that they informally aim to create.

Now let’s say you want to do something that would drop you below your “goodness goal.” In order to get back up to that level, you want to stay on the hypersurface so you have to offset somewhere else.

To bring up Bill Gates murdering people, I’d be concerned, but overall he’s done a lot of good and if it wasn’t going to lead to serious societal issues (which it probably would), I’d be ok with offsetting

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There are practical as well as moral considerations driving human action. No inertia needs to be overcome to not save someone. You just need to keep doing whatever you were already doing. Murdering a person is not easy for most people to do. You may find yourself unwilling or unable even if you believe it is the right thing to do, and if you follow through and manage it anyway, it is likely to do significant psychology damage, which is a lot of disincentive.

Patching an ethical system with extra-moral considerations like this makes it much more likely that people can actually adopt and follow it, even if it makes the system less internally consistent.

Where true pure utilitarianism shines is guiding the actions of states, not individuals. Nations are absolutely going to kill lots of people one way or another, whether through inaction or action, and should use that to guide whether active killing is the better option. They have efficient means of killing via specialized trained professionals who are willing and able to do it.

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> Utilitarianism maps everything to a linear scale of utility.

I don't see why the scale has to be linear. Murder could very well be exponentially more abhorrent than minor infractions like , say, eating meat. So much so that offseting murder would be impossible unless you were balancing it against other deaths in a trolley problem scenario, ie. murder one person to save humanity.

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I think in this context "linear" is meant to contrast with "multi-dimensional" rather than with "quadratic" or "exponential". A linear ordering is one in which for every two elements, either the first is greater than the second, or the second is greater than the first, or they are equal.

That said, I don't see that utilitarianism needs to assume linearity of the ordering. A utilitarian could conceivably treat physical pleasure and social pleasure as two incomparable positive values, so that a situation that is better on both counts is better, one that is worse on both counts is worse, and one that is better on one but worse on the other is neither better nor worse nor equal. It's going to mean that there are some situations where no action is "right" or "required", because there's a set of acts whose outcomes are incomparable to each other. But there will usually be many acts that are still forbidden, because they end with results that are worse on both counts.

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While I agree that a multi-dimensional calculation makes more sense, that's not really meeting the purpose of utilitarian calculations. If you cannot compare two acts, even with perfect knowledge, then you're defeating the purpose.

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If the purpose is to see which is better and which is worse, and there is no fact about which is better and which is worse, then you're serving the purpose right.

It's only if the purpose is to have some algorithm that always returns a unique result that this would be defeating the purpose.

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Agreed, which is one of the reasons I reject utilitarianism.

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> Utilitarians do not incorporate other ethical intuitions or considerations in moral choices

I think that's incorrect, under my understanding of utilitarianism as a type of consequentialism. Even if we're talking about a hypothetical perfect utilitarian who has no competing moral intuitions, this person would still be trying to examine all consequences of their choices, including the way those choices would be perceived by the majority of the public who are non-utilitarians. Those perceptions could alter which choice is best from the utilitarian's perspective, e.g. the utilitarian may be wise to avoid "reputational damage" from actions that otherwise improve utility but are considered unvirtuous / rule-breaking by the community, because poor reputation can lower one's freedom/ability to act or influence others in the future.

1. A is utility maximizing and B is not, all things considered. Under what circumstances is B the correct choice?

In line with the previous thought, action B may sometimes enable more freedom of future action than A because it looks more virtuous, or more popular, or is simply cheaper (e.g. action B, "giving 100% of my savings to effective charity X", is more utility-maximizing than action A, "giving 10% of my savings to effective charity X", but it also limits my future actions. I might afterward learn something that shows charity Y is actually more effective than charity X, say, and would regret the 100% donation due to that.

In addition, it's often hard to be sure that A is utility maximizing and B is not. What we usually have when making a choice is "I predict A improves utility more than B, but I could be wrong". This is a great reason to let the Law and deontological/vitrtue ethics inform your otherwise utilitarian decisions. These other forms of ethics are organic things, shaped by history, and so they encode general knowledge of how past decisions played out (i.e. actions that often caused problems historically are likely to end up in rules against those actions). So one can reasonably use these other ethical ideas as a "general prior" about what actions are more or less likely to maximize utility.

2. What is a moral consideration that overrides utility maximization?

Nothing comes to mind.

3. If you believe in this idea of morality (as laid out in Scott's essay Axiology, Morality, Law), can you explain how you come to know moral facts or the nature of this morality. For example, why is it worse to kill 1 than to not save 2 even without moral hazard issues?

I don't have a theory of utilitarianism that says it is better to let 2 die than to kill 1, except in reference to the above (killing people can badly harm your reputation/freedom, except in special cases like killing a convicted murderer who is holding a gun on two people and threatening to kill them).

The saving grace of utilitarianism is that it's looking for ways to increase utility *as much as possible*, and killing people is usually not the *best way* you can find to do that. That is, when people claim "utilitarianism implores me to kill!" they are usually wrong (and, I suspect, usually arguing against utilitarianism). But there are cases where killing people seems like obviously the best available choice, e.g. if you somehow have an opportunity to kill Hitler during WWII, my utilitarianism approves.

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Your argument for 1) is meaningless. The parameters of the question are "A is utility-maximising, B is not, *all things considered*". All your answers for this amount to "well, maybe B is actually utility-maximising when you consider all things", which seems to me a misunderstanding of the question.

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An interesting aspect of Dutch is the many food-related ways in which you can refer to people. For example, these are mild pejoratives if someone is doing something stupid that bothers you (like in traffic):

- 'pancake'

- 'meatball' (this one also exists in English)

- 'bag of fries'

- 'soup chicken' (if it is a woman)

And you can refer to a weird person like this:

- 'weird haricot'

- 'grape'

And when someone someone is incompetent, you can call them a 'cookie baker'. This goes back to 1572, when mayor Cookiebaker refused to hand over the Dutch city of Brielle to the Sea Beggars, the Dutch revolutionaries led by the William of Orange who fought the Spanish rulers. This refusal was rather silly, since the city was not garrisoned, so it was defeated quickly. This conquest was rather important, as the Sea Beggars no longer had a base of operations, as Queen Elisabeth I had turned them away from the English ports. The attack on Brielle was one of desperation. Emboldened by this victory, the citizens of another major Dutch port revolted. They handed over that city to the Sea Beggars. Thereafter many more cities revolted and the conquest of Brielle is commonly seen as the true start of the fight for Dutch independence, as the Sea Beggars were merely a raiding force before that time.

Another word for a fool is a 'cheese head.' In Germany, it is a pejorative term for the Dutch in general.

A word for a young man who thinks he knows it all, but who lacks experience/wisdom, is a mik mouth. In Dutch, we use the term milk teeth for baby teeth, which is where this derives from.

An adolescent girl who always spends her time with her friends, constantly laughs and otherwise is very silly, is a 'baking fish.' This refers to fish that is too small to be a meal in itself, but too large to throw back in the water, so a bunch of them are baked together.

A weakling can be referred to as a 'tasteless snack', which can also be used for poor products and the like, in which case it is similar to the English 'weaksauce.' Another word for such a person is a 'soft boiled egg.'

A very irritating person can a 'stuk vreten,' which is a bit hard to translate. 'Vreten' means eating fast and sloppily. Just shoving the food in there. 'Stuk' means 'a piece of'. So it's a rather weird statement.

A hypocritical person can be called a 'holy bean'. This derives from a sarcastic statement about orphans, who used to wear multicolor clothing, which can be referred to a 'bont' in Dutch, and often misbehaved themselves in public, but behaved in sight of the orphanage workers (who would beat them if they misbehaved). Later on, people forgot about the original meaning and misheard the statement as 'holy bean.'

When a man is a great guy, you can call him a 'cool pear'.

A person who always complains is a 'sour plum'.

A very loud woman is a 'viswijf.' This word consists of 'vis', which means 'fish', and 'wijf', which goes back to the same word for woman that ended up as 'wife' in English. However, in Dutch it is fairly pejorative. Calling someone a fishing woman goes back to the tradition of men going out to sea to fish, while their wives would sell the fish at the market and would shout loudly to sell their wares.

A slut can be called a 'licked sandwich'.

And an old woman can be referred to as an 'old cake' if you don't like her and an 'old berry' if you do, but she is very fragile.

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> 'wijf', which goes back to the same word for woman that ended up as 'wife' in English. However, in Dutch it is fairly pejorative.

Compare English "frow", borrowed from Middle Dutch. According to Wiktionary:

1. A woman; a wife, especially a Dutch or German one.

2. (obsolete) A slovenly woman; a wench; a lusty woman.

3. (obsolete) A big, fat woman; a slovenly, coarse, or untidy woman; a woman of low character.

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> 'soup chicken' (if it is a woman)

This would be very similar to "old boiler" in Australian English.

In general I like these food-based insults. Can you give the Dutch originals so I can add a bit of mystery and exoticism when I mutter them to my colleagues?

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pancake = pannenkoek

meatball = bal gehakt

bag of fries = zak patat

soup chicken = soepkip

weird haricot = rare snijboon

grape = druif

cookie baker = koekenbakker

cheese head = kaaskop

milk mouth = melkmuil

baking fish = bakvis

tasteless snack = slappe hap

soft boiled egg = zachtgekookt eitje

holy bean = heilig boontje

cool pear = toffe peer

sour plum = zuurpruim

licked sandwich = afgelikte boterham

old cake = ouwe taart

old berry = oud besje

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This is the first time I hear 'melkmuil'. Is it regional?

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Not that I'm aware of. It's a bit old-fashioned, though. It goes back to the 16th century.

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Thank you! Rare snijboon is my favourite.

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Although slappe hap has a nice ring to it....

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What do you mean by tasteless snack? Zoutloos? I for the life of me can't figure it out. But then I'm kind of a droppie.

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That one was a bit hard to translate. The original is 'slappe hap.'

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That was a wonderful comment! Thank you.

My grandmother taught Yiddish for decades, and could have written a very similar post for that language, but I never thought to ask.

That's sad for me, of course, but probably lucky for other ACX readers, because the theme in Yiddish isn't food. It's the noises, smells and fluids that come out of the human body, and there are very specific, finely differentiated, and artistically evocative for all of them.

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That sounds very interesting and extremely gross.

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Great list. Many of these originally come from German, don't they? At least bavis, that's backfisch in German. You can use the expression for a teenage/young adult girl in English also, and in Scandinavian languages. Although if you do, you are either 100 years old, or you make a point of speaking as if you are 100 years old.

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It's from Germany, indeed. It goes back to at least 1555, so plenty of time for the word to migrate to other languages.

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1955, Nabokov, Lolita:

I knew, of course, it was but an innocent game on her part, a bit of backfisch foolery in imitation of some simulacrum of fake romance […]

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> An adolescent girl who always spends her time with her friends, constantly laughs and otherwise is very silly, is a 'baking fish.' This refers to fish that is too small to be a meal in itself, but too large to throw back in the water, so a bunch of them are baked together.

I've always wondered about the origin of 'bakvis', it's such a silly word. Thanks!

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