This is the bi-weekly visible open thread (there are also hidden open threads twice a week you can reach through the Open Thread tab on the top of the page). Post about anything you want, but please try to avoid hot-button political and social topics. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit – and also check out the SSC Podcast. Also:
1. The next virtual SSC meetup will be May 10th, 10:30 AM PDT. Scott Aaronson of Shtetl-Optimized will be giving a talk on a quantum computing topic to be decided later, followed by discussion. See here for more information, especially variations on the theme of “because [last meetup] someone came in the form of a dachshund the size of a small apartment building, I have instituted a rule that you cannot have an avatar larger than an SUV”.
2. The SSC podcast (no extra content, just somebody reading posts) is now available on Spotify at this link.
3. Highlighting some good comments from the Amish health care system post: Sam Chevre’s brother is an Amish/Mennonite deacon and gives us some better numbers. ConstantConstance is also a Mennonite and gives her perspective. Bhalperin is an economist and discusses evidence around what fraction of per capita health spending can be explained by the rise of health insurance (answer: some papers say half, but check the caveats). Matt M on the incentives leading to the rise of health insurance in the US (the 1940s and ’50s had very high taxes on income, so companies tried to find untaxable ways to compensate workers). It was awkward for me to postulate that health insurance made people stop trying to limit their own health care costs, so thanks to those of you who came out and admitted that your health insurance made you stop trying to limit your own health care costs (1, 2).
4. And also some great comments on the uric acid post! Emil Kierkegaard has access to an unpublished study of 4450 Vietnam vets and finds “no relationship of gout to IQ, income, education, and no interactions either.” Yashabird discusses related issues in Lesch-Nyhan syndrome and Tourette’s. Ambimorph is an expert on uricase and refers us to her paper and talk. And testosterone elevates uric acid and seems relevant to questions like who becomes an ambitious executive.
5. Unfortunately, not all comments have reached this level of excellence. Some of the problem is a predictable consequence of the blog getting more publicity because of a few popular articles. But I want to catch this before it gets out of hand. In particular, I’m worried about the thing I see on Twitter, where everyone feels so threatened by people attacking their ideas in really exaggerated ways that they preemptively respond in kind and the temperature goes up and up forever. I’m going to be a little stricter for the next few months to reverse a trend toward that happening here. The first set of victims, some sample offending comments, and the length of ban are:
– Secretly French (1, 2, 3, 4), indefinite
– Jermo Sapiens (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), indefinite.
– An Firinne (1, 2, 3), indefinite.
– HeelBearCub (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), six months.
– Brad (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), six months.
– EchoChaos (1, 2), six months
– HowardHolmes (1), one month
– Clutzy (1), one month
– Alexander Turok (1), one month
This is only about 10% of the people I secretly want to ban, but I am trying to show restraint. People who are on thin ice: Nybbler, Plumber, Le Maistre Chat, ThisHeavenlyCongjugation. You can avoid being banned by consistently following the rules on this page, by trying not to make broad hostile generalizations about groups that contradict their own understand out of nowhere (eg “the only reason to be a Republican is that you hate the poor”, “Democrats say they’re trying to help people, but really they’re just after power”), and by making a common sense effort to keep this a friendly and high-quality place.
Feel free to discuss these bans, but keep in mind that the way I ban people is by putting their screen name into the censorship filter, so you might want to put their name in Pig Latin or stick some random characters in the middle if you mention it in your post.