Keeping up with the FITs, 5/9
Yascha Mounk and Jonathan Haidt; Ed West on cultural dispersion; Balaji on Twitter; Matt Yglesias on the rush to treat gender dysphoria; Steven Hsu on informal networks
Yascha Mounk talks with Jonathan Haidt. Haidt says,
What I'm after is this systemic change so that people are rewarded for nuance, and they're punished, or lose social credit, for complete lack of nuance. Suppose that every person—you can even have AI do this—gets rated for two things: one is cognitive complexity. That is, the ability to have two conflicting ideas in the same tweet. With 240 characters, you actually can, sometimes, have some cognitive complexity. Other people that you can see, they'd have zero cognitive complexity in their tweets. And then the other thing is hostility. The AI could figure out what's really hostile. So suppose you have a zero to five rating for every person on their feeds.
Sounds like he wants something like the Fantasy Intellectual Teams project.
It is Mounk who I think gets to the heart of the matter.
Why are we still all on Twitter? Why do I hear that some of the most important people in the White House look at Twitter all the time? Can we somehow punish companies that keep us captive in this aggression loop? Because if we don't, then even if Twitter changes its architecture, some upstart social media platform is going to turn up and people will migrate onto that.
Instead of Tyler implying I should stop bashing Twitter because look at this great translation of a Joseph Brodsky poem, he and other high-status intellectuals should just disdain to go near it. Do your public writing on a blog or substack instead.
I note that neither Jon nor Yascha mention Elon. I presume the conversation took place some time earlier.
We live in an age of dispersion, meaning that most people behave in more extreme ways than they would have a few decades back. Far more people are very promiscuous, but far more are totally celibate. We read lots about the huge increase in people with no friends, but I suspect that social media has made many others even more hyper-social. The same is no doubt true of employment where, especially in the US, many more work intense hours. But record numbers of men also do absolutely nothing, and this is hugely concentrated in the lower social classes.
The post includes a very dispersed set of links.
in 2022, any centralized control over speech will eventually buckle to the wokes (in the West) or the nationalists (in China) — simply because these are the strongest factions in their respective jurisdictions. That's why two of the greatest founders of all time – Jack Dorsey and Jack Ma – had to yield, against their wills.
But going global and decentralized changes this. Elon has tens of millions of swing votes just over the rainbow, people who don't want to be dominated by either the Americans or the Chinese, netizens who want genuinely neutral global rule-of-law, Twitter users who'd love to get an Elondrop for their efforts and true control over their accounts.
I wish I understood the rest of the essay. The footnotes seem important.
Everyone who writes and thinks about health care has been saying for years that America’s system of rationing health care based on the ability to pay leads to overtreatment of some even while access is denied to others. Some recommended reading if you’re interested:
He lists various articles, but he does not include the books Overtreated, by Shannon Brownlee, or Crisis of Abundance, by me. Nor does he mention Robin Hanson.
I should also say that he does not mention the progressive trope that “It’s the prices, stupid,” which claims that the only thing wrong with health care in America is that we charge too much for it. And he certainly does not mention that if we took this trope seriously, imposing ceilings on prices, then overtreatment would increase, as we move along the demand curve (given the progressive assumption that prices and profit margins are needlessly high, so that supply would not fall if prices were lower).
My story of overtreatment does not put all of the blame on capitalist greed. I put a lot of the blame on third-party payments. Americans pay for a smaller proportion of health care out of pocket than the citizens of just about any other country, including Canada.
The way I put it is that Americans want unlimited access to medical services without having to pay for them. Our political system attempts to provide them with that. To be approved, a medical procedure does not have to demonstrate expected benefits that exceed costs. It merely has to demonstrate positive expected benefits. Overtreatment is the result.
Other countries do more to limit access to medical services. That includes treatments for gender dysphoria, which Yglesias discusses in this context. He wants to shift puberty blockers from being a culture war issue to a capitalism-is-evil issue. Sorry, Matt, it is a culture war issue, and your team is on the wrong side.
Matt only allows paid subscribers to comment on his substack. If Twitter would charge a fee for people who want to reply or retweet, that might curb some of the worst behavior.
In the “Cactus on Metapolitics” podcast, Steven Hsu asks, “Can these institutions [college credentials] be replaced by informal networks?”
If the answer is “yes,” as he hopes, then my proposal for an alternative academy is sound.