Who Doesn't Understand Exponential Growth?


I don't know anyone who didn't understand exponential growth. Nobody is confused at why they get a big number when they hit the multiplication button on a calculator repeatedly. Nobody is confused at the lily pond example of exponential growth, or the chess board example, or the penny doubled everyday example.

I hear a lot about how Coronavirus "downplayers" just don't understand exponential growth. In my interaction with people, even lower intelligence people, I find this hard to believe.

When does Human Life become Worthy?

Whether life begins at conception is the wrong framing for the abortion debate. "Life" is a funny word. A germ is alive in some sense, and so is an ant, and so is a cow, and so it a human. To argue when life begins is to make the issue too easy on yourself. What we really want to know is when life becomes worthy. Worthy of what? Worthy of protection. Worthy of rights. Worthy of dignity. Worthy of being treated the way we treat other human beings.

Coronavirus: How Bad is Bad?

I'm seeing a ton of tiptoeing around Coronavirus. Frightened of being proven wrong, few are willing to paint a clear picture of how good and bad it could be, or even what a good/bad outcome even looks like. I can listen to someone talk about it for hours and come away with absolutely no clue what they think best-case / worst-case scenarios are. I can't even ballpark most people's estimates based on the way they're talking about it.

I'm going to try to be different. After a lot of thinking, reading and introspection, here's how I assess the situation:

Coronavirus: Pandemic or Panic?

Epistemic status: Bro, I'm not an expert.

I have several spurious thoughts at this point on Coronavirus. Here they are:

The Line is Drawn at Sacredness not Severity

Have you heard of The Line? It's the line you're not supposed to cross. It's invisible so it's kinda vague whether or not you crossed it. People seem to think it's in different places so it's even harder to tell if you've crossed it.

We talk about "The" line as if it's one line that we all agree to. But that's not quite right. There are multiple lines for different people. What crosses the line for one person does not cross it for another. The ambiguity is killing me.

Today I want to define the great line.

The Rationalization in Bryan Caplan's Intellectual History

Bryan Caplan's intellectual history is intriguing. When he was in high school he read Ayne Rand, met Murray Rothbard at the Mises Institute, and became an adherent of Austrian Economics. Later, he learned "real" economics and eventually decided that Ayne Rand and the Austrian School of Economics was basically wrong.

Here's the thing; Bryan converted to libertarianism based on Ayne Rand and Austrian Economics. He later threw away his justification for libertarianism but maintained his libertarian conclusions. He found new and genuinely smarter justifications for libertarian doctrine.

2020 February Links

This post is my list of links for February 2020. My intellectual trade deficit every month is usually massive - I import a lot more information than I output. Link posts largely, though nowhere near entirely, track my intellectual imports.

Link posts give me a log to look back on. Moreover, the act of writing these links posts is a practice that helps embed the information into my head.

In a lot of ways writing these link posts throughout the month is one of my favorite things about keeping this blog.

Now the links:

Pro-Choice for the Wrong Reasons

I don't believe life begins at conception. I think an embryo is far too unlike anything that has right's worth respecting, or dignity worth preserving. The more you know about the characteristics of an embryo (or lack thereof) the more claims about it deserving protection violates normal human intuitions.

Some people might call my position pro-choice. Regardless of whether that label truly applies to me, I notice the people who call themselves pro-choice generally justify their position on very different grounds.

In Defense of Eugenics

Recently Richard Dawkins got in trouble for this Tweet pictured on the left.

His Tweet is structurally equivalent to,

"You may object to me killing you by shooting you in the head on moral or ideological grounds. It's quite another to conclude it wouldn't physically work in practice."

This should be pretty uncontroversially true. But saying "Eugenics would work in practice" is like saying, "Hitler didn't eat babies." Sure it's true, but why are you saying it?