The discussion got derailed on this Overcoming Bias post and Robin Hanson was nice enough to e-mail me a 900-word comment I wrote that he had earlier deleted. Everything I quote from before “You didn’t read to the end” is from Da Cracka, everything after is from Mikael.

So what you’re trying to say is that you’re unable to refute the
statement as given, and so put it into more ridiculous words that you
can better formulate a clever retort to? Interesting. I can see how
this helps in an intelligent debate.

I’m looking at things from a different perspective, checking unexamined
assumptions and so on. It’s a fairly common way to analyze things. If
what I say sounds like a strawman, you can explain why it does not
apply or tighten up earlier statements so that it will no longer apply.

Money. For sure. And I believe that’s a much more destructive

So would drug-running then be preferable to, say, hedge-fund managing?

So what you’re saying is that the middle class are not likely to
make decisions that put the lives of thier children at risk for pocket

Yes, by virtue of the fact that they have enough money. In economic
terms, we could say that they are willing to trade-off less for the
marginal dollar.

I agree entirely, which is why we should lessen the effect of
poverty on those decisions

Allowing women to sell babies will lessen the effect of poverty by
making them less poor. Stopping them from selling their babies won’t
make them less poor, so they will be likely to do other drastic things
to earn money.

enact legislation to prevent exploitation of that desperation
What is exploitation to you and why do you want to end it, aside from
merely ending the desperation that causes it?

Imperfect legislation is still better than nothing.
It strikes me as worse than nothing, because the desperation is still
there but you’ve taken away the best option (as determined by the
person taking it) of alleviating it.

I kid. Doesn’t taking yourself this seriously get exhausting?
It is hard to transmit tone using text on the internet, so unless I am
highly confident to the contrary I assume I can take people at their

Still, I’m glad for states. People, too, have a horrid track record
of treating people ethically.

What are states if not organizations of people? Are people in the form
of a state more likely to act ethically than otherwise? I’m neither
glad or unhappy for states because I do not think it possible to go
without them as things are so I ignore the counter-factual. I would be
happy if Patri Friedman’s seasteading idea took off and we had a
panarchic menagerie of different intentional communities.

Eh. Being electrocuted and eaten, but raised on better food than
instinct alone would provide…

I think that’s actually an underappreciated argument. One could also
make it for slavery, I suppose.

Being forced to sell babies (see that? I brought the discussion back
to the original concept. What a revolutionary idea!) to eat, with the
intelligence to know better, seems worse.

Farm animals also give their babies to farmers, but they do not even
have the option to say “no” and are not given any extra reward for
doing so. I suppose the difference here is in their diminished capacity
to suffer, but it seems to me the more mental anguish a mother is prone
to from selling her baby, the less likely she is to do it so that those
who actually do sell babies are the ones hurt least by it and judging
by their actions they have deemed that loss acceptable relative to
their compensation.

Well, through an interest in profits, they either assist in the
genocide, or turn a blind eye.

Assisting sounds somewhat less bad than executing genocide, but turning
a blind eye strikes me as morally neutral. I do not blame a statue for
not doing anything and I will try and be fair by applying the same
standard to other things. However, if I put my trust in a person and
they betrayed it by not doing anything that would be a different story.

But go ahead, restate that.
Is it Harvard Management your are referring to or the Chinese company?
The latter seems to me like just a state agency, and also less
objectionable than the Sudanese state.

Now you know what? You didn’t read to the end.
I quoted and responded to what you wrote later. My point was that
simply saying “it’s possible” tells us little.

“if there is a overwhelming majority among legislators, academics
and consumers

I do not immediately dismiss arguments from popularity or authority,
but I like to have more support for them. Is there something these
people know and Constant & I do not, and if I did I would change my
mind? Perhaps you know it and could tell me. Also, which academics be
the experts in this area?

and this overwhelming majority lasts from the beginning of TGGP
seizing power for over a hundred years until this day

I would think I would weight the opinions of those who remember the
period preceding my dictatorship more heavily than those in the latter
part of my hundred year reich. The latter group may have no idea how
unnecessary my iron fist was and likely have status quo bias.

Now if you tell me that your subjects are not capable of genuinely
being of the opinion that the TGGP dictatorship is best for them you
will commit the sin of… paternalism, by all standards.

I didn’t quite understand what you were trying to say here.”

Da Cracka’s response may seem odd to others reading the page because my comment is not there. I reproduce it here:

“”All that is required for evil men to triumph is for good men to remain silent.”

I’m going to assume, based on the fact that I can’t imagine you’re being serious without weeping for the future of this once great nation, that you’re kidding about turning a blind eye being morally neutral.

I can live with the holocaust, only because I choose to see the family that hid Ann Frank as an example of humanity’s best people, acting during humanity’s worst time.

I do believe I’ve lost all respect for you.

Which means I’ve learned all I can from this debate, and so you win. You’ve learned nothing, you’ve wasted my time and consideration, and you’ve rendered me silent.

When the Nazis come for you, know this:

I’ll be the guy NOT turning a blind eye.

But good luck to you and your free markets.”

In response I say it is arguable that the nation was ever as great as we like to imagine it. I would ask what she would do in the counter-factual that Frank was not protected by that family and I am suspicious as to whether Cracka ever had any respect for me to lose. Regarding Nazis, I don’t think there’s much chance that they’ll come for me (by that time I hope to have my underground bunker in Wyoming well-fortified and stocked with the necessary supplies) and, though I am not trying to slight him/her, I would be skeptical as to how firmly those principles will be upheld when they are tested. James Watson took Larry Summers to task for backing down, and then did the same thing himself. Ilkka Kokkarinen likewise made a pathetic concession after his thought-crime was revealed, though he is fortunately back to his old self. I would not wish for Da Cracka to be dragged off to the camps, but I doubt I would do more than bitch about it on the internet.