Keeping up with the FITs, 11-29
Robert Wright's anti-tribalism; Scott Alexander on Paxlovid; Freddie DeBoer sounds like Martin Gurri; Matt Ridley on the lab-leak theory; Infovores on uneven distributions;
I think both Anthony Huber and Kyle Rittenhouse believed they were being good citizens in a broad sense, but they were also engaged in displays of commitment to their respective tribes. (Or, as people in the opposing tribe might more disparagingly put it: they were being “performative.”)
On Twitter you show commitment to your tribe by tweeting unflattering, and sometimes snide, things about the other tribe. Sure, you may get blowback from the other tribe, but it’s pretty painless so long as you keep getting affirmation from your own tribe. And if you get enough affirmation from your own tribe, the experience is thrilling. Hostility—the thing that feels so bad when it comes from your own tribe—can feel downright good coming from the other tribe. You wear their scorn as a badge of honor!
As I see it, a lot of the difference between being tribal and anti-tribal comes down to how you see the other side’s motivation. If you assume positive motivation (the sense in which Rittenhouse and Huber were both trying to keep the peace), you are anti-tribal. If you assume the worst about the motivation of someone on the other side (“Rittenhouse came to Kenosha to shoot people” on the one hand, or “Huber wanted to kill him” on the other), then you are tribal.
All I want is a world where, if me and Alex Tabarrok and Zvi and Kelsey and several hundred of the people who play in forecasting tournaments and bet on prediction markets know that a drug is good at a certain time, the FDA doesn’t wait an extra six weeks to do the paperwork and let people start using it.
One of the first posts I wrote about COVID last year on my blog was Fire the peacetime bureaucrats. Instead, we have the institutional equivalent of generals who sent thousands of men charging into machine guns in World War I.
Freddie deBoer writes,
An army of grinning goblins marches against the woke, and they take up their knives and syringes with glee while the forces of social justice trudge on, miserable, one more joyless day after another, hating themselves and each other. I am not saying the forces of opposition are good; they are, indeed, bad by their elementary nature. But still, in the conflict ahead I have my money on chaos
I don’t generally give high status to rants. But this one is very well crafted.
But even finding relevant viruses in Laos still won’t answer the question of how they got loose in Wuhan. And with the continuing failure to find any evidence of infected animals for sale in Chinese markets, the astonishing truth remains this: the outbreak happened in a city with the world’s largest research programme on bat-borne corona-viruses, whose scientists had gone to at least two places where these Sars-CoV-2-like viruses live, and brought them back to Wuhan — and to nowhere else.
I wish he would address this story, which claims that a government report “demolishes” the lab-leak theory.
Anywhere we see broad expansion in the available choices, we can expect greater dispersion in the outcomes we observe.
He gives many examples. So, will the intellectual Golden Age always be unevenly distributed? Will it always be buried in the information sewer?
A reader pointed me to the Rules of Stupid, attributed to John Farnam, a firearms instructor: Don’t go to stupid places, to be around stupid people, at stupid times, to do stupid things.
How do we apply this to the Internet? Can we get people to abide by the Rules of Stupid when they go on line?
That *LA Times* article buried the lede: "The report does state that, among its contributing agencies, four 'assess with low confidence' that the virus probably sprung from natural sources; one finds with 'moderate confidence' that the pandemic 'most likely' resulted from a laboratory incident, and three couldn’t decide between the two theories." In other words, four intelligence agencies find a natural source more likely (with "low confidence"), while one intelligence agency find the lab-leak hypothesis more likely (with "moderate confidence"). Three other agencies cannot decide which source is more likely. It kind of seems like we don't know. Razib Khan has said that as time goes on, he finds the lab-leak explanation more likely, since the probability of finding a wild bat coronavirus that matches goes down with time (we have already checked a lot of bats and continue to do so).
"The intelligence report ... effectively demolishes the lab-leak theory."
Is Kling serious? That click-baity, non-serious phrasing.
I'd like to see Kling comment on this article:
Rand Paul: "So when EcoHeath SAC014 and combined it with WIV1 and caused a recombinant virus that doesn't exist in nature and it made mice sicker, mice that had humanized cells, you're saying that that's not gain of function research?"
Fauci (slowly): "According to the framework and guidelines..."
Rand Paul (cuts off Fauci): "So what you're doing is defining away Gain of Function. You're simply saying that it doesn't exist because you changed the definition on the NIH website."
Note that Fauci doesn't deny that the NIH was funding the creation of modified bat coronaviruses viruses designed to be more infectious to human lungs, at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Fauci is saying that isn't considered gain of function research. He's playing games with words. He's lying. He's guilty.