Very vague question: How we can estimate my real-world impact when betting on a prediction market?

Let's say I raise a fund of 100 mln$, and then go all-in for "No" on "Will Putin resign by 1 April 2022?"

Should I expect some of his friends say to him: "You gonna resign anyway, let's at least make some money on the way out". They bet a few grand on a "Yes", announce resignation – PROFIT.

I lose my 100 mln$ (mostly), but this way I "buy" my future. (Literally buying "futures").

Sounds too naive, I know. Are there examples where this worked, in a brief history of low-liqudity prediction markets?

P.S. Idea stolen from "Assassination Politics", but I wanted to take a wholesome spin on that.

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Given how high (>1%) the estimates are for a gigadeath famine, and how cheaply alternative food sources could be researched and developed, I suspect the most cost-effective way to save lives at the moment is to support AllFED (https://twitter.com/ALLFEDALLIANCE).

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Whatever happened to the DAM-ATOLL energy generator?

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A seductive (at least for smooth brains like myself) theory laid out by Kamil Galeev:


TL;DR: Putin and his oligarch buddies are a successful branch of the Mexican avocado mafia. This assertion explains nothing less than the hierarchy of Russian oligarchs, the structure of the Russian economy, and why Putin launched the Ukraine war (and all the others) despite the predictable sanctions.

Summary: The standing of a Russian oligarch is inversely proportional to their ability to manage complex businesses. Mafia are not the best and brightest, so they only (barely) manage to manage relatively simple businesses like oil and gas. On the other end, hightech like complex machinery is left to stupid engineer nerds who got nothing to say among the real men. Russia doesn't export their own high-tech products, because it's too complicated for simpleton Mafia and would thus enrich and eventually empower the wrong people - the stupid nerds. So the nerd businesses must be sabotaged wherever possible, even if it means that Russia becomes entirely dependent on imports for such goods.

The war in Ukraine is a show of force to bully their neighbors, which is the only thing the Mafia is actually good at, and which is a perfectly rational decision for the Mafia. It is the basis of their business, their means of production - if you want to bully your neighbors into submission, you got to look and act the part. The entirely predictable Western sanctions are also a feature, not a bug: Inflation and seizing of assets abroad hurts the stupid nerds and helps the Mafia's export-oriented businesses. And if the sanctions are ramped up and targeted to a point where they threaten the very existence of Putin's avocado Mafia, then it was a miscalculation on Putin's part because he was surrounded by Yes Men who would tell him anything to stay on his good side.

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What is the most advanced analog computer?

(Animal brains don't count.)

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We are https://hookelabs.com, a family-owned company (15 years old, ~50 people but growing fast) based in Lawrence MA USA (30 min north of Boston/Cambridge). Our focus is research on autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, colitis, arthritis, etc.), but we’re also branching out into development of scientific equipment.

You’d be the third regular SSC/ACX reader here (that I know about).

About 80% of the work we have now is in Python/NumPy, with another 15% in C (or Rust if you prefer), and 5% “other” including Google Apps Script. You don’t need to be able to do *all* of that.

The Python/NumPy work is on PCs and Raspberry Pi. The C/Rust work is on microcontrollers.

We have a lot of different projects, large and small. These include:

• Image analysis in Python/NumPy

• Embedded systems work on Raspberry Pi and microcontrollers

• Web-based UI development for scientific analytical equipment (mostly image related)

• Act as mentor to other sw developers

We could also use some help with IT stuff – we have a full-time IT person but he’s pretty overloaded. (We run Windows networks.)

This is a good position for a person who gets bored easily - you'll get to juggle projects, to some degree, to your taste, so long as they all move forward at some reasonable rate.

I don’t really expect one person to be able to do all this stuff, but the more you can do the better.

I’d prefer a full-time, on-site person, but we’ll also consider part-timers and people working from home (part of the time). Hours and most other things are very flexible. We offer all the usual benefits. We pay well and expect high performance.

To apply send a CV to <jobs (at) hookelabs.com>; put “Software Engineer” in the subject line.

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How is zlibrary giving me much better book recommendations than amazon?

Amazon has a virtually infinite dataset and infinite money to hire programmers. Zlibrary is probably one or two anonymous guys hiding in some former soviet country that doesn't extradite to the US.

It could be that the average zlibrary user is more similar to me than the average amazon user. But if Amazon had good algorithms that shouldn't be a problem -- there are probably way more people like me on amazon than people like me on zlibrary, and ways of finding them algorithmically.

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This study says that, as a nation, we've lost 824,097,690 million IQ points due to lead exposure. I have yet to read the article, but I find it an interesting way to frame a serious issue. But as Kevin Drum pointed out, it's a stunning misuse of significant digits... ;-)


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One issue I don't see much discussed in the context of climate change is the effect of warming on the amount of habitable land. As temperature contours are pushed north in the northern hemisphere land that was too cold to be habitable becomes barely habitable, land that was barely habitable becomes somewhat better, and so on down the line. The net effect is to increase the amount of land suited to human habitation. At the same time, some land that is now almost too warm for habitation gets a little warmer, which decreases the amount of land suitable for habitation.

I have done back of the envelope calculations suggesting that, with 3°C of warming, the gain in land from the first effect comes to the equivalent of about three-quarters the area of the U.S., the loss of land from the second to about half as much. If so these are large effects that ought to be taken into account. Does anyone here know of published estimates, ideally better than I can produce? Along similar lines, are there published estimates of the total loss of usable land due to sea level rise? My guess is that it is much smaller, but I could be wrong.

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I thought I'd share this link to a lovely bit from the 1962 movie "Taras Bulba".


Filmed back in the day, when, if you needed hundreds of horsemen, you didn't fake something up with CGI, you went down to Argentina and hired their army. The thing they're yelling is, more or less, the Cossack equivalent of "U! S! A!". The story itself is a bit of pan-Slavic romanticism from the days of the Russian Empire, but it's still Ukrainians kicking butt. And Yul Brynner still rocks, as does the score.

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Discussion of whether you can manage what you can't measure. What counts as measurement, anyway?

What Management by Walking around really means, and perversions of the idea.

How McDonnell really managed by walking around, and how his grandson got it wrong.

What's the best way to share a public Facebook post to people who don't want to have a Facebook account?

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Has anyone else noticed that substack is fucking with the page up and page down buttons?

It is quite disheartening how much they seem to struggle with not breaking extremely basic functionality

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> that Anatoly Karlin was wrong before he was right.

He seems to be mostly right when reading Putin, but I worry about his understanding of the situation in Ukraine. On his substack, he correctly predicted on the eve of the invasion that Russia would attack in the next 48 hours (at 70%), but also claimed that fighting would last less than a week (90%, and with lots of weight on victory in the first two days): https://akarlin.substack.com/p/happening-the-ukraine-war-2022?s=r

Since then he seems to have swallowed the Russian propaganda whole. He seems to think that economic gifts can make people forget the killing of civilians (e.g. https://twitter.com/akarlin0/status/1500299500342157317?cxt=HHwWioC56cqckdIpAAAA) and that the sanctions will mostly be bad for the "eurocels" (rich Russians that live in London, Milan, etc). Both seem to me to be a pretty dramatic misreading of the situation. Past injustices live on long in the memory of people: Hitler came to power by bashing the contract of Versailles, Isis recruited from people burned by the American invasion 15 years prior. It is difficult to imagine Ukrainians simply accepting to be part of Russia. And with Russia's economy estimated to shrink 7-11% this year (even without an export ban on oil, which might still be implemented) and many European shops gone, Moscow might be much less fun soon.

(also, note how he wrote "(Z, Z)" behind his name. "Z" has become a symbol for supporting the war since it is written on many Russian military vehicles. I would assume that he writes it this way to further make fun of people who add their pronouns behind their names. Is that the kind of guy Scott should signal-boost?)

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I would like to calculate that X amount of alcohol caused the same number of germ line mutations as Y years of parental age, but I can’t find any good sources quantifying alcohol’s effect on the germ line mutation rate. Any carcinogen would increase it, and alcohol is strongly carcinogenic. NORML used to publish calculations of how alcohol is a zillion times worse than weed even before considering the negative utility of these germ line mutations. (My aunt was a heavy drinker for years and her son is anomalously dumb relative to everyone else in the extended family, to the point that he can barely hold down a job, which sucks a lot. I don’t know if the alcohol is to blame but it probably worsened the odds. https://amp.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/03/alcohol-can-cause-irreversible-genetic-damage-to-stem-cells-says-study Seems like it could also apply to ova.) De-alcoholizing society seems like a worthy EA goal. Not prohibition 2.0 but changing education to treat alcohol the same as tobacco. Standard advice should be to totally avoid it. There’s been a massive success in tobacco harm reduction over the last few decades and I see no reason that can’t be replicated with alcohol.

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An article on Land Value Tax that somehow never mentions Henry George or Georgism. I can't imagine this is an accident, so what's the deal here?

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I don't want to post this as a reply to dozen different comments, so I am just posting it here separately. Maybe someone will notice.

Yes, Putin wanted to conquer the whole Ukraine, he described his long-term goals clearly in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Historical_Unity_of_Russians_and_Ukrainians

Yes, Putin expected to conquer Ukraine fast, Russian media already had in advance written articles celebrating the fast victory, and some of them accidentally published them e.g. https://web.archive.org/web/20220226051154/https://ria.ru/20220226/rossiya-1775162336.html

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Somehow, in the midst of a climate change crisis, the company "LG" has decided that it is leaving the business of manufacturing solar panels. But why?


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I would give Rob Lee an A- for his Ukraine predictions. I heard about him from Noah Smith's interview with him: https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/video-interview-rob-lee-russian-defense?s=r , and the main article for his predictions is https://www.fpri.org/article/2022/01/moscows-compellence-strategy/ .

He predicted: (1) Russia was actually going to invade Ukraine and (2) the cost for Russia to occupy Ukraine would be too high.

His conclusion is that the goal of Russia's invasion would not be to occupy territory. Instead, they would try to destroy as much of Ukraine's military as quickly as possible, while avoiding going into most cities. The only city that might be worth entering is Kiev, to seize the seat of the government and replace Zelenskyy as the president of Ukraine. This is a war that Russia should be able to win quickly.

Instead, Russia did not destroy Ukraine's military capacity as quickly as expected and instead rushed in cities like Kharkiv, Kherson, and Mariupol in addition to Kiev. He was surprised by both parts. This suggests a massive intelligence failure by Russia on figuring out the mood on the street and on basic questions like "Where does Ukraine store its drones?", along with the more well known logistical and morale problems that Russia is facing.

Rob Lee seems to have gotten the facts on the ground right, but then concluded from them the wrong objective of the war.

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Mar 7, 2022·edited Mar 7, 2022

It seems to me that if Russia felt threatened by NATO nations he would simply bring more attention to the multitude of issues with pandemic politics that have large groups of peoples converging on their capitals in NATO nations . I question why Russia does not do this and the timing of these provocations to be when protests are crossing a threshold

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Mar 7, 2022·edited Mar 7, 2022

I noticed Adam Something on Youtube (he was recommended to me by the Algorithm). He has quite a few interesting videos, but unfortunately, he is very partisan and picks easy targets.

He spent 15 minutes in a video ranting about an alt-right American who moved to Hungary to enjoy "the good old world where men are still men and women are women". Now, the guy he was criticizing was an imbecile but I don't like the "and therefore all right-wingers are idiots" vibe his video had. In another video he pretty much literally said that "It is fine and natural that universities are so heavily leaning to the left since nobody who is intelligent can be a conservative because curiosity and intelligence are antitheses to conservatism".

He has a tendency for straw-manning and equally to glorify his political views. I found him an interesting and engaging left-winger at first but I soon lost interest.

Also, I noticed factual errors in his videos where I know a little bit (not that much, mind you, but enough to spot the errors) about the subject (communist city planning, original colours on statues from the antiquity) which makes him less trustworthy for me on matters where I don't have much of a clue (city planning more broadly and logistics/transportation projects he talks about a lot).

Of course, that does not mean he does not deserve credit for correctly predicting the war in Ukraine.

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Mar 7, 2022·edited Mar 7, 2022

The Alexander Cube model of prediction markets assumes that it is desirable for anyone to be able to easily create markets, but this is not obvious to me. Consider Metaculus: they currently have a couple dozen Russia/Ukraine-related markets, if they made it easy for anyone to create one they have a thousand such markets and every single one would be undertraded. Real money over fake points does some work to fix this, but even then it's not ideal: assume the world contains a bunch of perfectly rational traders with some large but finite amount of money to sink into your service: would it be more informative to spread that money over twenty different questions, or a thousand variations on forty different questions?

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On the Ukraine post, Scott said "If you look at the 2016 election in isolation, Scott Adams is the smartest guy in the world". I pointed it out there and am doing so again here: This is a major mistake worthy of correction, Scott Adams predicted a landslide Trump victory, he was wrong! Wronger than the generic pundit predicting a 55-45 Clinton victory! Stop giving Scott Adams credit he doesn't deserve!

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What are folks' thoughts on refugee resettlement from conflict zones as a philanthropic cause in relation to other popular EA causes (tb research, etc)? It has felt to me in the past like one of the highest value philanthropies, both in terms of the qualitative effect on individual lives and the spillover effects of whatever that person creates throughout the rest of their lifetime. It's also critical since, refugee populations that receive poor welcomes or are ineffectively resettled can become sources of significant civil strife decades down the road.

I can think of a few arguments against it - mostly just that resettlement efforts are expensive and have perhaps weaker effects on outcomes for migrants. Also that it could detract resources from other efforts (like stopping infectious diseases or building effective policy structures in failed states) that have the potential to actually stop the destabilizing event that's generating refugees.

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Lets say there are rationalists in two countries that are at war with each other. The rationalists are patriots for their respective country - but they know that a lot of the news they receive is propaganda and they would like to know the truth. They also want to convince the rationalists on the other side about the facts that they learn. Not all communication channels between the two countries are closed - but to be realistic they are quite limited.

What they can do? What can we establish before we get into a situation like this?

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Remember in early January 2020, when some of us were enjoying ignorance and others were pontificating on what China should do about that pesky pandemic? If only we had focused on the global contagion and the perfect day to get short the market, we could be running our own, self-funded, fast-grant programs right now.

It kinda feels like we're in the same situation today. A local crisis has turned global, but all the focus is still on Ukraine, first, and Russia, second. Instead, let's talk about what this crisis is going to do to me, and what I should do about it. (By me, I mean us. By us, I mean western financial markets.)

So we've seen the Russian markets tank. We've seen a few companies that operate in Russia tank. We've seen the energy markets react. What's next? What are the second and third order effects?

Let's break it down by sources of contagion (feel free to add to this list):

1. Energy prices > Commodity prices > Inflation

2. Russian banks > European banks > American Banks

3. Disrupted supply chains > Additional disruptions > shipping? retail?

4. Military tension > military escalation > nervous boomers getting out of the market (lack of liquidity?)

5. Interim market shock > stimulus/mmt (fast enough?)

6. Financial market stress > liquidity crunch > (who's over-leveraged?)

Would anybody be interested in a working session Zoom + White board to figure out: when and what to short? As a bonus, we could all share our plans for surviving a nuclear war.

My background: I've been a professional stock trader for over 2 decades (with some detours). I also founded a quant fund that operated from 2006-2009. I also never found finance very interesting and know very little about the underlying structure of capital markets.

If you have ideas on the categories/scenarios, please comment. If you're interested in joining the work-session, please email me at: protopiacone at gmail dot com.

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I think your Ukraine question depends critically on how you define "Ukraine" and "invasion." Since the ignorant are making 1914-comparisons at the moment, it would be rather like asking somebody in June 1914 "will there be a European war sometime in the next few years?" A "right" answer would distinguish between a war between Austria and Serbia, a General European war, and a war that lasted four years, killed ten million people, brought down three Empires and eventually brought troops from the United States.

So with Ukraine. As of, say, 20 February, I and a lot of other people would have agreed that there were forces in place on the border to enable a limited incursion into the country. But whether this was to apply political pressure, or whether it was in preparation for an actual operation, was impossible to say, because the decision had not been made yet. It looks as though it was Zelensky's performance at the Munich Security Conference that tipped the scales: and the Russians interpreted his threat to develop nuclear weapons as a sign that, in spite of his reformist instincts, he was completely under the sway of the West and the extreme nationalists in his administration and in the country. Such an interpretation of his actions (not what would happen, but how a government would interpret something that hadn't happened yet) seems to me effectively impossible to predict using any percentage methodology.

I thought (and again so did others) that the most likely course would be a limited operation to end the war in the Donbass and to wipe out the nationalist militias which have tended to concentrate there. Certainly, the relatively small forces originally on the frontier would have suggested that. But in the end they seem to have decided there was no point in waiting, and to go for the much more ambitious objective of demilitarising the country and returning it to something like the 2014 situation, but probably more dominated by Russia. That's why they've been feeding reinforcements in slowly, and trying to avoid destruction and civilian casualties in the areas they intend to control directly after they withdraw. Again, this is partly a question of timescale, and I suspect the "do it now and get it over with" argument won out against the "well things might get better in five to ten years" argument.

There are, in other words, so many dependent variables that I'm not sure a question like 'will Russia invade Ukraine" actually means very much, and there's a good argument that the correct answer was "no": they have, after all, no intention of occupying the whole country, even temporarily, nor do they have the military capability to do so. On the other hand the answer to the question "will Russian soldiers enter Ukraine" was clearly yes.

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If Russia invades my country, how do I go out with dignity? Print out a thousand copies of Rationality A-Z translated to Russian and start handing it to the occupying soldiers?

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ever thought of doing a quick and dirty guide to psychotherapy? list of resources, self help books, what concepts relate to what symptoms, etc? something that anyone motivated enough could read and get either get a head start on therapy or bypass it altogether? im getting increasingly frustrated by the whole person centred/find your own truth/its all about the relationship position that they seem to take; it strikes me as more than a little self serving

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Does anyone here happen to know of country-wide composite wellbeing measures besides ISEW, MEW, GPI? Or new/updated versions of the ones I just mentioned? Writing a blog post about wellbeing comparison and want to make sure I haven't missed anything.

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The YouTuber is great - and was not at all sure about an invasion! Thanks for the link! (content: excellent - form: could be improved, but that takes a bit more money, so: fine). I still kick me for being wrong about the invasion, but there were/are THREE questions to consider not just two: 1. Will Putin invade? (I wrote 50%, but did not really believe it, else I'd sold shares) I was wrong, sadly. 2. Will he "win"? (I thought: probably; I mean he can make up what a "win" is and go for the "easy" part first.) I was wrong, kinda happily. AND 3. Would any mayor military victory be any good for Putin (even just the other half of Donbass)? Still a firm*: NO. - Which is why I thought "1." and did not care too much about "2.". (*updating: not that firm anymore; I think I understand better now, how Putin miscalculated; still: Njet.) Anyway: Slava Ukraina. - And Mikhael: do not get yourself shot! I brosai kurit.

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How come we don't see more stocks go to zero?

My understanding of a stock price is that it directly influences how easy it is for the company to raise capital. The higher the price, the less the company has to sell to raise money. Why aren't there more situations where a stock drops for some reason, and then the resulting increase in difficulty for the company to raise money then causes it to drop further, and so on, until the company is suddenly illiquid and the stock price is just a measure of the fixed assets of the company?

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Is anyone familiar with the literature on adolescent cannabis use and working memory/IQ?

I care because I used cannabis heavily as an adolescent, and value my working memory and IQ. I sometimes get bummed out about it and reread the famous studies, but I don't really have the skillset to assess them properly.

Two famous ones are the Dunedin study (https://www.pnas.org/doi/pdf/10.1073/pnas.1206820109) which found a correlation between teenage cannabis use and decreased cognitive performance in adulthood, and this American twin study (https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.1516648113) which found the same, but suggested the link might not be causal, since there was no difference between twins when one used cannabis and the other didn't.

Do you think adolescent cannabis use negatively affects working memory and IQ later in life? I know the answer doesn't make a difference for me now either way, but (i) I care emotionally, and (ii) it strongly affects the advice I'll give to my future teenage children.

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I have someone close to me that suddenly developped a fear of tunnels, to the point of having panic attacks when they are in them. That comes after developing a sudden fear of large bridges (think Brooklyn bridge) 10 years earlier. Any advice/stories on that?

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This is a recent Predictive Coding review article (pre-print published on January 22, 2022).

The authors say "no comprehensive review of predictive coding theory, and especially of recent developments in this field, exists."

Until now!

This may be of interest to readers of ACX who have enjoyed Scott's articles on predictive coding.

Does anyone else have any favorite articles on predictive coding / free energy / Bayesian inference and perceptual control theory?

After reading Scott's article series I'm interested in learning more about these computational neuroscience models and their applications to neuropsychiatry and understanding the mechanism of action of psychedelics.

I'm planning to read (REBUS and the Anarchic Brain: Toward a Unified Model of the Brain Action of Psychedelics by Carhart-Harris and Friston next).


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Would you be interested in a prediction contest for the War in Ukraine?

I'm thinking of modeling it off the contest Sam Marks and Eric Neyman set up for Scott's predictions for 2022 (if either / both of you wants to help with this, let me know). I've been putting together a list of relevant questions, including from the prediction markets. If you have a question that you would particularly like to see, you can reply here, especially if it's not a question already on the market.

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I'm thinking I should write a living will but I know very little about the pros and cons of various medical interventions. Any recommendations? If it's any help, I think your brain turning on you (e.g. paranoid dementia) is a really bad outcome.

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Also random question - what’s the best analysis on the accuracy of prediction markets? There must be a ton to analysis - what’s the best?

For example - credit default swaps. Is Russia going to default? Last I checked the cost to insure $10 million in Russian sovereign debt was $4 million. We must have a ton of data.

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Mar 7, 2022·edited Mar 7, 2022

Some days ago, the Ukraine government announced that men between the ages of 18 and 60 are forbidden from leaving the nation, while younger men, children, and women of all ages are all allowed to leave. The reasoning, according to the New York Post, is that 18-60 year olds are expected to stay and fight the Russians:

>The Ukrainian authorities “were nice, not rude, but they said that men have a duty to defend the country,” said Erzsebet Kovacs, 50, at a train station.

Per my book, An Empirical Introduction to Youth, they have self-owned by drawing the line too high. The Ukrainian government is missing out on about a million fully grown, high T young men aged 15-17 who would certainly make better fighters than any inexperienced man over 30.

According to Vegetius, an Ancient Roman who lived around 400 AD, it was ancient custom to recruit boys into the military at the beginning of puberty, “as soon as they were of age to carry arms.” If the Ukrainians did like the ancients and lowered the threshold to “stronger than a woman” they’d have another million 13-14 year olds ready to fight.

It’s even somewhat ahistorical for today. In certain societies, children are considered adults from the age of 14 or 15. A young person of 15 who joins an armed group can therefore be considered as an adult soldier according to his own culture. Current international law in force fixes 15 years as the minimum age for recruitment in the army and participation in conflicts. 48 countries today allow enlistment of 16 or 17 year olds. That includes the US.

So why would the Ukrainian government self-own like this? Probably because of the UN’s commitment to ageism. The International Convention on the “Rights” of the “Child” fixes 18 as the age of adulthood. The UN crybullies that grown, hairy, 6 ft tall 17 year olds are “child soldiers.” While a blind eye is turned to the US enlisting 17 year olds with parental consent, it’s reasonable to expect the Ukrainian government to kow-tow to international ageism when they’re relying on good press and any enlistment right now means immediate fighting, not bootcamp and a peace-time station.

Why is the UN and the Western press so ageist? As I showed in my book, it appears that ageism is mainly driven by the desires of the professional managerial class, especially those who reside in universities. The point is to reduce youth to schoolchildren who are seen as needing to be at school all day, under the control and management of the PMC, who are compensated for their manufactured utility. The UN and its associated NGOs are filled with a rotating cast of academics and similar types. They are the people who run the day-to-day, and while they may not be sovereign, they have been extended the liberty of pushing ageism as long as it doesn’t get in the way of anyone who might be considered their employer.

Consequently, the media takes the liberty to fill people’s heads with the idea that a child is anyone who is under 18 or 25, while ignoring the American military-industrial complex’s predatory behavior regarding teenagers, i.e. recruiting 17 year olds, sending recruiters to high schools, “stealing” PMC chickens as it were. This is ignored because the military industrial complex is in fact more powerful than and even employs the educational-infantilization complex.

Had Ukraine ordered 16 year olds to stay, it probably would have been ignored after being briefly excused as permitted under national law and justified due to the dire nature of the conflict, on the orders of MIC and State Department people. Nonetheless, the PMC’s goal is to make people internalize ageism, and indeed it does appear that they have made the westernized Ukrainian government internalize ageism to the point of self-owning. So it goes.

For hyperlinks see: https://criticalagetheory.substack.com/p/ukraine-government-self-owns-with?s=w

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So, I guess I played "traditional" prediction markets on Ukraine by moving my money around, warning some friends, etc. If I wanted to get involved in actual prediction markets what would be some good first steps? How much of an investment is it?

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I want to become one of those people who has thirty different bumper stickers on their car, but I want it to be about something ridiculous that no one would ever seriously put bumper stickers on their car about. Right now, my best idea is sporks. "My other untensil is a spork." One of those white ovals with black text that just says "SPORK". "Coexist"-style, but with sporks to make up the lines. Maybe something styled like a political sticker.

Right now I'm still thinking up ideas while I save up enough money to print enough one-off magnets. Does anyone have a suggestion?

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I have been reading recently about Gerald Bull and his space-gun, project Babylon. There is something deeply captivating about the almost comic-book story of a man so hellbent to pursue his vision for humanity's future that he is willing to side with a dictator and ultimately face assassination. I'm romanticizing some of course, but still. On that subject though, I have learned that there is still someone carrying the space-gun torch!

Just as Bull came out of project HARP, John Hunter came out of Super-HARP to create a company called Greenlaunch (formerly Quicklaunch) that aims to use a a light gas gun to put small payloads into orbit for very low costs. I have no real motivation for sharing this except I think it's super cool and more people should know. It bothers me too that they have apparently received comparatively little funding when start-ups like spin-launch are working on (it seems?) inferior concepts, but with more support.

John Hunter gave a talk at Google back in 2009 explaining the concept and advantages of light-gas guns but from checking the site it seems like things have moved at a crawl since then. I don't know what the rules on posting links are but I'm placing it below. That's my factoid for this Open Thread anyway. Happy hunting!


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The "strong Ukranian resistance" is a fantasy. Russia could take out all of Kiev's political headquarters within 15 minutes using its total domination of Ukranian airspace, in the same way that the US did during the "shock and awe" phase of its invasion of Iraq. Putin has wisely chosen not to do so because he needs a legitimate government to negotiate a settlement with rather than the total chaos created by the US when it decapitated SH's government. Insofar as the 40 mile long column of tanks and soldiers unable to penetrate into Kiev... that would be laughable if I hadn't heard it from so many otherwise intelligent people. Those tank units could roll into the Maidan in an afternoon. Do you really think poorly armed untrained civilians could withstand several divisions of well disciplined soldiers backed by 100's of tanks? Utterly ridiculous! Unlike W. Bush, Putin understands what a mess it would be trying to occupy chaotic cities with a hostile citizenry. If anyone had listened to him directly rather than taking our media at face value, they'd have heard that P's objectives are to neutralize the military, not mess with private citizens.

He invaded Ukraine only after Biden called the non-entry of Ukraine into NATO non-negotiable, and Levensky mentioned that he might want nuclear arms.

When you look at the steady eastern expansion of NATO and the arming of Poland and Romania with nuclear rockets, was it so unreasonable for Putin to draw a red line concerning Ukraine's future NATO membership? What was America's response to Russian ICBMs 70 miles from our shores? Do we seriously want to risk war with a nuclear armed opponent over the right of Ukraine to join NATO? That's madness!

If cooler heads prevail, there's a peaceful way out of this mess where no one loses face. Demand that Russia withdraw all troops from Ukraine. Declare Ukraine neutral and surround it with a UN Peacekeeping force that would stand in the way of any invasion and not permit the entry of any new weapons. This has been a successful strategy to achieve peace in the past... the divided island of Greek and Turkish Cyprus comes to mind, though many other examples could be given. These days who even knows what the issues that were creating all the trouble back then? Let's stop the blame game. World war is the enemy and our mutual survival ought to be our motivation. Let's all live to see another spring.

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There's an interesting uneasiness on the right regarding the new national mood in the US. One right/libertarian blog that I read summed it up as something like "Much as I hate Putin's invasion of Ukraine, I'm really uncomfortable about being on the same side as the establishment".

I identify with this feeling. It's weird seeing your outgroup suddenly take the weapons it's been hitting you with for years (twitter bans, reddit deplatformings, firings of wrongthinkers, censorship of opposing opinions and clearly slanted media coverage) and suddenly start using them against a genuine villain. I'm not sure whether to cheer that these weapons are finally being used against someone who deserves it, or just wince at the realisation that my outgroup has been treating me like I'm Vlad Putin all along.

I'm also trying hard not to let the Gell-Mann amnesia settle in. If the media narrative has been wrong about so many things for so long, what are the chances that it's right when it tells me that this time my enemies really are stupid and evil and incompetent and definitely totally losing?

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What is the difference between OCD and schizophrenia? I am diagnosed with OCD but sometimes I wonder if I don't have schizophrenia, because I have mood and anxiety problems and difficulty with concentration. But I don't hear voices or have delusions.

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Just got contacted by Future Fund about my ACX grants proposal—in the process I discovered that I'd somehow missed Scott's announcement about doing a writeup for ACX Grants ++, so while I totally missed that opportunity, I'm glad my idea is at least being considered! I'm looking through the FF website, and it looks quite promising. I can't even begin to imagine the logistical and financial challenges of effectively allocating such large sums of money...

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Repost from a previous, odd open thread, since there was a request to continue this prompt on political topics.

What do you think of the following claim: “if two parties agree on the likelihood of some distant future outcome, say, 30+ years out, then they are also likely to agree on how desirable that outcome is. The likelihood of “probability agreement implies desirability agreement” increases as the time horizon of the prediction.”

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Here is a Russian journalist who predicted 10 months ago that Russia invade Ukraine and accurately predicted how unsuccessful it would be. Start watching from 2.50


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For all you software engineers, if you could go back and give yourself advice on what to look for in a first job, what would it be ?

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My wife and I want to write down a five year plan for our personal and professional lives. Anybody knows of some good resources we could use?

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Are there any good articles evaluating whether "intelligence" can be meaningfully reduced to a single dimension? My prior is that even less of the variance in intelligence can be meaningfully explained than the political spectrum, which makes me skeptical of basically anything related to IQ and its correlations.

But, e.g. Gardner's multiple intelligences correlating with *g* makes me skeptical of my skepticism

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I'd like to throw my hat as someone who predicted "invasion will actually happen, Ukrainian resistance will be significant." I was giving it one in three odds of a major invasion happening this year all the way back in December of 2021 (https://www.datasecretslox.com/index.php/topic,5442.msg198416.html#msg198416). It was in the context of international cheese markets because... have you met me? That's actually really on brand. Anyway, my predictions got increasingly more dire in the lead up to the war and I said a few times that Ukrainian resistance would be significant.

I don't mean to be petty. But I got a lot of pushback and I want the acknowledgment that I had a point. Also, I am not some Russian nationalist or hawk who regularly predicts war or doom. (I just recently bet against China invading Taiwan.) So I'm not a stopped clock being right twice a day.

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I haven't seen much recent discussion of executive war powers in the United States despite fears of future conflict. I wrote a piece on Metaculus that feels very relevant these days: https://www.metaculus.com/notebooks/8703/the-expansion-of-executive-war-powers/

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RemovedMar 7, 2022·edited Mar 7, 2022
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