Seattle's city council, in their fervor to make sure that the city is run even more incompetently than San Francisco, considers a law that would make 'being poor' or 'having anxiety or depression' a legal defense for all misdemeanors except DUIs or domestic violence. They'd really have to pass the law to become the terrible hellscape they dream of making, though. Until then the winner will have to be given to San Francisco, who, for instance, is putting up ads telling people to snort drugs while not mentioning, hey, the safest thing is to enter treatment. In case you think it's an accident of marketing copy, this ad literally encourages drug use, presumably under the theory that even mentioning the option of treatment would be unpersuasive and distract from harm reduction (I can't even comprehend that as I type – as though treatment isn't itself harm reduction). But CHAZ/CHOP was a fair attempt at running the most incompetent city government in America, so Seattle deserves our attention. You can ruin a rapidly growing tech hub too, if you try, Seattle. I believe in you.

This is an interesting and important point to make. It almost has the flavor of an impossibility result (which it is not – it is merely an extremely plausible model): you cannot both optimally learn from others AND optimally behave. In unrelated news, for curious readers, the copyright pirates at Sci-Hub appear to have fled to a stranger domain name, so law enforcement people need to hear about this immediately, before more curious people read academic papers for free! I think an impossibility argument could be constructed, although I'm not sure how to even begin. Impossibility results about the conflicts between intelligence and wisdom are of extreme interest to me, though, and I think we will see a few of them in the fullness of time. This paper makes an argument (referenced in the above paper) that this is intrinsic to many kinds of principal-agent relationships (although they seem a bit shy about making the broader argument, from the working paper linked on that page), because there's only one reality to observe and you could be wrong in almost infinitely different ways. This point is obvious enough to anyone paying attention (for instance, we all know being wrong the same way everyone else is risks almost no embarrassment, but being wrong in a unique way risks much more).

This is perhaps the most coherent pitch for the social responsibility to focus on local community and avoid online messaging bubbles. And from someone who is has been completely correct about general sanity levels declining – and been wise enough to notice it's important.

As a side note, about wisdom: this paper argues that, without knowing what it is, we might be experiencing an ongoing moral catastrophe – think, on the scale of human slavery. One thing in that paper that I think would not be discussed enough is the (rather obvious) suggestion that the most salient moral catastrophe is a failure of wisdom, which would hide the catastrophe from our empathy when bad things don't happen. If you think the fate of all of humanity should be risked on an erratic and vindictive reality television star who would be given unilateral control of thousands of nuclear weapons after saying he would want to use them in current military conflicts (search "Then why are we making them?" for that bit), perhaps your civilization has failed to have sufficient wisdom to survive?

This is an important point to maintain: free market delivered the vaccine, and if it wasn't for a regulatory regime that even its own leaders describe as turtle-like, there would not have been a pandemic in the United States. Or, at least, not really. Not what we've seen. That article is an extremely good analysis, and don't give up after just reading the outline. It's important stuff.

If you're concerned about public trust in science, perhaps begin by looking deeply into the hearts of people who are known to be constant liars and how much you promote their work as science instead of denouncing it as quackery. Some fields are so well known to be full of liars that they can't even conduct studies anymore, or as Kaj Sotala puts it, the "Knows Psychologists To Be Liars Effect".

In case you forgot how normal people talk about politics, being trapped in lockdown for so long.

I've made a lot of predictions in private, about what will happen when we have herd immunity. Here's one that seems inevitable: people will work from home, and then start voting with their feet. The people who are willing to break lockdown have already done this, obviously, and I can't say they're wrong to do so – lockdown rules have some of the highest stupidity-variance across jurisdictions right now.

There have been a lot of dumb takes about what is driving that other political group – of course, your political group is sane, but the other one, they're a bit nuts, if not quite crazy! – but this is got to be the stupidest one and Singal is right to make fun of it. People disagree with you! That's what's happening. That's the whole thing.

And while I'm on a roll of linking to tweets, it's important to remember this one. With schools still largely shut down, consider your role as a person with knowledge and attention, and how young humans might need both.

Lastly, I'll end with this, which applies the old group problem solving advice to personal scenarios: try to understand the problem as deeply as possible before anyone gets to suggest a solution. It's not about being "an active listener", it's that listening, and asking questions, is the way you get understanding about someone's personal problems. Get as much of it as you can! And hold off on suggesting solutions until you've developed the best understanding you can muster. I'll try and do the same.