A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.
To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
87 thoughts on “Sandpit”
Hit by a virus vehicle.
“Strategies focusing specifically on protecting high-risk elderly individuals should be considered in managing the pandemic.”(^2.)
How many 110 yr olds killed by a vehicle?
Harry says ” IMO: Get vaccinated, take reasonable precautions and then shut up.”
That is not my opinion. Yes this is a crappy epidemiological and physically based analogy. But is goes to the heart of the ethics of our reponse to Covid.
“Australia’s oldest man, Frank Mawer, dies aged 110 after contracting COVID-19
“The COVID-19 mortality rate in people <65 years old during the period of fatalities from the epidemic was equivalent to the mortality rate from driving between 4 and 82 miles per day for 13 countries and 5 states, and was higher (equivalent to the mortality rate from driving 106–483 miles per day) for 8 other states and the UK. People <65 years old without underlying predisposing conditions accounted for only 0.7–3.6% of all COVID-19 deaths in France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Georgia, and New York City and 17.7% in Mexico.
"People <65 years old have very small risks of COVID-19 death even in pandemic epicenters and deaths for people <65 years without underlying predisposing conditions are remarkably uncommon. Strategies focusing specifically on protecting high-risk elderly individuals should be considered in managing the pandemic."
"Population-level COVID-19 mortality risk for non-elderly individuals overall and for non-elderly individuals without underlying diseases in pandemic epicenters "
A not “and then shut up” expert.
“Three myths about COVID-19 — and the biggest challenge that lies ahead
By Professor Chris Goodnow
Posted Thu 28 Jul 2022
“Making COVID-19 personal
“You might find all of the above a bit dry and depressing. I get it. We’re all tired of what the pandemic has done to us and are ready to move on.
“And when you look at the numbers around cardiovascular risks, it might even seem like pretty good odds.
“If only 2.3 per cent of athletes had to be benched, and only 1.5 per cent of veterans end up with heart problems on their first infection, more than 97 per cent of people will be perfectly fine. So why worry?
“I’m one of the 1.5-2.3 per cent, and none of this is dry, nor abstract to me.
“I’m lucky to have myocarditis on the mild end of the spectrum. But it’s enough to slow down my contributions to all-important medical research efforts, and to have stopped me from doing other important things in my life like surfing, swimming, biking, and hiking.
“My prognosis is good as the heart muscle repairs, but that takes time.
“So what’s my plan, now that I know the risk of heart problems and other poor health outcomes is just as high on a second or third infection, and in the absence of a vaccine to stop BA.5 infection?
“I’m dropping my COVID hubris and donning a mask.
“Think about it.”
Professor Chris Goodnow holds the Bill and Patricia Ritchie Chair, is head of the Immunogenomics Laboratory at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and professor and director of the UNSW Cellular Genomics Futures Institute in the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW Sydney.
Dog eat dog is the shadow of laissez-faire. Where the trauma caused is unlit.
“Book Review: Exploring the Root of What Ails Us
“In “The Myth of Normal,” physician Gabor Maté argues that we’ve created a world that’s fundamentally unhealthy.
“Trauma and other chronic mental and physical illnesses are propped up by many societal and cultural factors, Maté continues. These illnesses are, to a large extent, “a function or feature of the way things are and not a glitch; a consequence of how we live, not a mysterious aberration.”
“We humans are evolutionarily programmed with a number of core social needs that are mandatory for our well-being, he explains, including connecting with others, experiencing a sense of belonging, and believing that we serve a greater purpose than just ourselves. But our current system of dog-eat-dog capitalism runs counter to these needs, the authors maintain, including by defining a person’s worth by their ability to consume — an inherently self-serving endeavor.
Yeah, nothing to see here. Move on people.
# 2 of Yeah, nothing to see here. Move on people.
(Dedicated to all the people who tell me to move on from COVID-19.)
Disclosure: My adult daughter is in RBH with ulcerative colitis and about to be given immunosuppressors or immunomudulators.
My wife also is in a vulnerable group with several known serious medical pre-conditions. So just go ahead and tell me to move on.
Millions of people (in Australia alone) are in the vulnerable or close to a vulnerable person demographic. COVID-19 let-it-rip is an unconscionable health, social and economic disaster. This fact is going to be brought home to everyone soon by harsh reality. I implore all reasonable people to take all possible mitigation measures pharmaceutical and NPI and to not be deterred by mere personal inconvenience or by pressure to conform to denialist groupthink.
The cornered rat in the Kremlin is a dangerous, probably deluded liar. As I used to teach in my game theory courses: In a “game of chicken” (“brinkmanship”) it can be strategically useful to give others the appearance of being a madman. Only a madman would risk nuclear annihilation for almost non-existent gains. Putin’s “madman” posture is strategically clever since the West may cower and back off. The Quislings on the left have already begun to try to put the blame back on NATO and the Americans.
The madman may “win” this game but the world will pay an enormous price either through a nuclear exchange that is globally destructive or through its capitulation to an evil tyrant.
Those “on” the left who don’t understand Putin is not on the left are not on the left. That is my assessment. Putin I put squarely in the fascist dictator camp.
What to do about his “madman stance” and whether he is a madman (I think he’s certainly a psychopath but may still have self-preservation logic) is a difficult issue to deal with. How far should Zelensky be assisted to push forward? That is a key question too. I admit I don’t know the answer.
In theory, I agree with J.Q.’s status quo antebellum theory which applies in this case (I think) to this war, not to the taking of Crimea. How far will Zelensky push? If he pushes too far, he may have to expect a tactical nuke on a BTG or on several BTGs or a supply hub. What then? Zelensky can’t reply (that we know of) and nobody sane would reply on his behalf. That just starts WW3.
Both Zelensky and Putin might have to make a deal soon. Zelensky and his troops are looking and acting a little crazed too. It’s understandable but cooler heads need to prevail soon.
Ikonoclast, I thought you might think that way. Russia invades the Ukraine so the Ukraine must make a deal with Russia to sort things out. Indeed Zelensky is “acting a little crazed” too by seeking to defend his country. He should act “cooler”. And if Russia strikes with nukes you cannot respond because that would start WW3. So do nothing. Got ya.
When you say “Quislings on the left” Harry, I wondered why you had left out Steve Bannon, Trump, Broebert, Gabbard, Tucker Carlson et al.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a war between autocracy and democracy.
Putin’s Russia appears to resemble Czarist Russia and not be able to evolve beyond its primeval origins. Given sufficient time they should be consumed by internal failings and conflict.
It’s called reality. You lost contact with it some time ago.
Harry, not quite how Ikon stated it.
Ikon: “Both Zelensky and Putin might have to make a deal soon”
Harry frame: “so the Ukraine must make a deal with Russia to sort things out.” … “So do nothing. Got ya.”
Harry said “As I used to teach in my game theory courses: In a “game of chicken” (“brinkmanship”) it can be strategically useful to give others the appearance of being a madman.”.
Have a guess what I do when presented with a forced binary or ultimatum.
Econ 101? Or just for MAD scenarios? Strategy becomes binary in standard game theory.
Did you also teach consensus building, listening skills?
Game theory – Lars Syll, says of game theory…
“Why game theory never will be anything but a footnote in the history of social science
“Half a century ago there were widespread hopes game theory would provide a unified theory of social science. Today it has become obvious those hopes did not materialize. This ought to come as no surprise. Reductionist and atomistic models of social interaction — such as the ones mainstream economics and game theory are founded on — will never deliver sustainable building blocks for a realist and relevant social science. That is also — as yours truly argues in the latest issue of real-world economics review — the reason why game theory never will be anything but a footnote in the history of social science.
Click to access Syll83.pdf
I’d replace GT with at a minimum chemical game theory:
This ref re chemical game theory says outcomes depends on
“collective choices from all players”, which begs the question – who gets to play.
“In strategic decisions, players each can choose from among two or more alternative possibilities, and the outcome depends upon the collective choices from all players.”
See this – for all players.
“Participatory Machine Learning Using Community-Based System Dynamics”
KT2, I don’t agree with your comments on Game Theory. It is immensely useful and very practical. As a reference/text I suggest Dixit and Skeath, Games of Strategy which helped bring game theory down to earth. Game Theory does throw light on current events – why it is difficult to negotiate a deal on climate, why Putin wants to project an image of being a crazy etc. I have never hears of Lars Syll but think he is very misinformed.
A lot of verbiage in your comments. In a conflict between two parties decisions may well be binary. There may be an negotiated agreement and there may be reasons for supposing such an agreement will be difficult. There may be unilateral moves one side can make to foster an agreement. This is the stuff of game theory – what is taught.
Harry suggests “Dixit and Skeath, Games of Strategy”. Thanks.
KT2 suggests “What’s wrong with game theory” JOHN QUIGGIN
October 14, 2005 at 11:02 pm
“simulated interactions and structured analogies work best in forecasting decisions. Game theory is about the same as chance.”
I note Harry, you were the first comment on above thread.
If we are not rational, don’t have an input into chosen game, nor the chosen strategy, nor even part of the power enacting results of game theory, it is not a game, nor a theory.
It is a play space for existing power. Not much use for delivering concensus strategies.
Back to my question.
What is a process to deliver broad based consensus?
Game theory? I don’t think so. Rock paper scissors? No.
KT2, The links to John’s articles are dead so I found the commentary difficult. John knows more about game theory than me. I used it to analyse climate problems in a very applied way and I think I got some useful results that bear on the issues you raise. What can you do to promote cooperation? In a many country world how can you provide incentives for countries to join a collective agreement etc etc :
Following years of teaching from the Dixit and Skeath text I often saw the world using game theory insights. It is very practical. Also students like it since they can grasp the idea of bargaining between discrete units – notions of markets under perfect competition are more abstract.
Don’t close your mind to it. Read a bit into the field, use it and then make judgements.
I heard a joke about trickle down economics.
99% of you won’t get it.
Harry, how does game theory account for this? The amygdala cleft?
“For as long as she can remember, Kay Tye has wondered why she feels the way she does. Rather than just dabble in theories of the mind, however, Tye has long wanted to know what was happening in the brain.
Tye devised a way to use optogenetics to trace the connections of a specific set of neural fibers.
“With the reward and fear tracks nailed down, Tye wondered what determined the path a signal would take: What exactly was the positive or negative “switch”? Her team came up with a hint.
A circuit mechanism for differentiating positive and negative associations.
“Overall, we provide a mechanistic explanation for the representation of positive and negative associations within the amygdala.
Ikon, a classic.
I found one worthy of Mad as Hell.
“Two economists were sitting at a nudist colony. The one said, “Have you read Marx?” The other says, “It’s these wicker chairs.”
Better is “Principles of economics, translated” by
Macro economists would hate and like it equal measure.
KT2, If a pattern of behaviour is hardwired into the brain then things simplify since choices will be more restricted.
I think that ‘hardwired’ is a redundant expression
By analogy to computers, it is clear that the brain, or rather the whole CNS (central nervous system), has hardware, firmware and software. The hardware is the physical totality of the CNS in the body: brain and spinal cord essentially. The firmware is a collection of systems in the CNS which operate autonomically. 
The software, to put it simply, is what we have learned. So, if I have learned the English language to a given standard then that is part of my software. Software is in memory. If I have learned math to a given standard then that is part of my software. If I have learned economics of a given school to a given standard then that is part of my software.
Where Harry says “If a pattern of behavior is hardwired into the brain”, I am not sure what he means. For a start, I think he means not internal brain behavior but external observable bodily behavior. Next, I assume he does not mean basic autonomic behavior like the heartbeat or even a behavior like breathing which can be under voluntary, conscious control (to a point) but can also be under unconscious and autonomic control.
I am guessing Harry means more complex behaviors originating in basic needs or drives (like eating, hydrating, sexual behavior or even the search for “rewards”) which show a complex mix of hardwired autonomic drives and unconscious to conscious but still endogenous modifications and directions.
But perhaps Harry could give us some examples of what he means by patterns of behavior hardwired into the brain and make them applicable to game theory.
A second, quite serious question to Harry. What does game theory / risk theory tell us about a situation where x million lives are at risk (the Donbas) but where in one outcome of escalation, nuclear war between nuclear powers, 8 billion lives are at risk?
Note 1 – “The autonomic nervous system (ANS), formerly referred to as the vegetative nervous system, is a division of the peripheral nervous system that supplies smooth muscle and glands, and thus influences the function of internal organs. The autonomic nervous system is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions, such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. This system is the primary mechanism in control of the fight-or-flight response.” – Wikipedia.
“What does game theory / risk theory tell us about a situation where x million lives are at risk (the Donbas) but where in one outcome of escalation, nuclear war between nuclear powers, 8 billion lives are at risk?”
I don’t know what game theory says about this but Principles of Intentionality (ultimately due to St Thomas Aquinas) have resulted in a “Just War” theory related to “would you kill the fat man?” model. When do you sacrifice some so that millions more will be saved?
Most people are repelled by the idea of cutting up a healthy human to harvest organs that can be used to save a number of others. But people are more inclined to pull a switch that ensures one person is run over by train rather than many. So ethicists (following Aquinas) have said that the situations are different. When you kill the person in the hospital you intend for him to die to save others. When you throw the switch for the train you might reasonably expect one to die but would hope this would not happen in order to save the many. Thus you don’t intend that the person would die only that you might reasonably expect he will.
This has been used in “Just War” ethical theory. When should you sacrifice some so that the deaths of many more may be averted? Will you wipe out a military target killing hundreds to prevent the target’s use on a population endangering millions? Will you sacrifice the Donbas to prevent a wider conflict that will lead to the deaths of many more? Aquinas would say (hypothetical since nearly 100 years ago) it depends on your intentions – you might, for example, hope that sacrificing the Donbas might not be too costly in terms of life and would avert an all out conflict that killed millions more.
I find these kinds of gruesome discussions based on simple models distasteful and do not endorse them. These kinds of “fat man” situations have a phoniness about them and the details matter. But I likewise would not endorse use of expected utility theory to analyse such problems. These are really tough questions that have no apparent resolution. The issues will be decided by power and illogic.
Harry, at best I may say game theory is both a useful thinking tool, and a binary last choice decision space evaluator.
Game theory, as with most popular names of concepts loses meaning. I assume we both needed to lock down a meaning of “game theory” which I note by your last comment referring to fat man and prisoners dilema starts to he teased out.
I loathe the fact relating to war (or Donbas) we arrive at a ‘use game theory fat man / prisoner’s dilemma’ type decision. As your reply to Ikon,
(good example re use for game theory Ikon)
… Harry you say “I don’t know what game theory says about this…”.
From List of Games in game theory we find:
– Number of players,
– Strategies per player,
– Perfect information,
– Constant sum,
– Move by nature
I was going to put the “Trembling Hand” in as a confounder for 2×2 space games, and see now also “Move by nature”. Chaos. The butterfly wing somewhere.
“His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred.”
Before I reply further, I have 2 questions Harry;
Q1: In your two papers below, do the beneficial outcomes and policy use game theory?
Q2: Or just as a scratchpad to assume other actors decision who may or may not be involved in outcome?
In ” Strategic Issues in Global Climate Change Policy” … the abstract ends … ” The use of auxiliary policies to transform intractable Prisoner’s Dilemma incentive problems to more tractable problems, the role of policy commitments and the strategic implications of ‘no regret’ and ‘adaptation’ policies are analysed. Dynamic and repeated game formulations are outlined.”
And in your paper;
“Economic Analysis of Public Policies for Controlling Heroin Use
“Coupling legal sanctions that impact specifically on new users with harm minimisation policies, enables relaxation of some policy tradeoffs but penalises a class of users who impose low social costs.”
Not clear what you mean by “binary choice”. You can have as many candidate strategies for players as you like.
Yes on climate, no on addictive drugs.
You assume that players behave rationally in accord with their self interest.
That is my point Harry. Why would you use game theory if “You can have as many candidate strategies…”
Binary choice – fat man or prisoners dilemma. Donbas for referendum as ballot paper I saw on news has 2 choices – Yes or No.
1 switch / option.- save 1 or many.
+ no action I suppose.
HC: “You [KT2] assume that players behave rationally in accord with their self interest.”
Do I? Rational & self interest go together? Always?
“Controversy arises from game theory’s assumption that all players are rational decision-makers. As evidenced by the extensive research conducted on different biases and heuristics that can impair decision-making, this is not always the case.”
[Decision Lab not the best reference. Another later]
Today I learned, Orgel’s Rules.
Rule 1 – “Whenever a spontaneous process is too slow or too inefficient a protein will evolve to speed it up or make it more efficient.”
Rule 2 – “Evolution is cleverer than you are.”
No prizes for guessing why this speaks profoundly to us these days.
‘I’m Dropping My COVID Hubris,’ Vows a Top Immunologist”
Referenda are not necessarily binary, as with Brexit there was a choice between leave, remain and abstain.
Referenda are not necessarily binary, as with Brexit there was a choice between leave, remain and abstain.
The vaccines-only strategy for COVID-19 is failing. Soon we will have very little protection once again against COVID-19. This is the future that faces us unless there is some kind of radical change. All the science points in this direction.
Boosters are still effective but are becoming less effective over time. Each booster’s protection wanes after about 4 to 6 months. After 6 months, its protection is minimal. This refers to antibodies, the rapid-response front-line defenders against any pathogen. If you have an exposure to a pathogen or the vaccine against it, your body starts creating antibodies against it. It takes at least 2 weeks to ramp up this production and thus antibody numbers.
A successful vaccination and booster means antibody numbers are already ramped up (after about 2 weeks) so your body is always ready to fight the pathogen in question from the get-go. This is assuming you have a roughly normal, healthy immune system. But the body does not maintain this state of high alert indefinitely. The antibodies taper off.
The immune system also has immunological memory cells. This is a very complex arena (meaning even more complex than antibody immunology). Far be it from me to attempt to give a dissertation in this. I am not qualified. If you want, you can read this:
Immunological memory cells, “currently represented by T and B lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells, … determine a rapid and effective response against a second encounter with the same antigen.”
A lot of hopes in the “hybrid immunity” strategy (of getting vaccines, boosters and accidental actual COVID-19 infections as “boosters”) have been pinned on immune memory from the immunological memory cells. As the antibody populations wane our immunological memory cells should contain a memory of how to rapidly re-start production of antibodies against a given pathogen. Immunological memory cells do lots of other things too. Their functions are very complex.
At least some immunological memory cells are in finite supply. You only have so many as naive cells once your thymus stops making more of them in your early to mid twenties. These naive cells have no memory encoded. That is why they are called naive. Then, once they are encoded with a memory by an encounter with a given pathogen, they are encoded permanently. They can’t be re-coded. They are good only for the pathogen they have already met. If that pathogen evolves new variants, it might even only make antibodies for the older variant it first encountered.
In addition, some pathogens actually attack the immunological memory cells. I lay terms this can really mess you up. Think of HIV/AIDS (Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). It appears to be becoming more certain from some research that SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 also can attack or damage or dysregulate parts of the immunological memory cell system including some T-cells at least.
If this is the case, then catching COVID-19 accidentally or carelessly and expecting extra hybrid protection may well be a big mistake. This damage /dysregulation will likely accure or multiply upon multiple re-infections.
Some people, like the CEO of Pfizer, are now trying to juggle infections/reinfections and boosters. The heuristic seems to be that a booster should be spaced 6 months after the last vaccination/booster and also 6 months after the last C-19 infection. However, the CEO of Pfizer has now caught COVID-19 twice in five weeks. He tested postive on or just before Monday, August 15, 2022. He tested positive again on or before September 24, 2022. He has tweeted about this.
I cannot find information on whether each case has been sequenced. Thus I can’t say here whether he had a relapse or caught a new strain. Each event is highly troublesome. He received an antiviral for the first infection. If it appeared to clear and then to re-surge then there are viral reservoirs in the body. There are several possibilities. Endothelial cells (barrier between vessels and tissues) and even some immunological memory cells are two possibilities. If it was cleared and new immune escape variant established a second infection this is also highly troubling.
If a person as privileged, financially and treatment-wise, as the CEO of Pfizer cannot protect himself against COVID-19, what hope for he rest of us? All claims so far are that his infections have been “mild”. Let’s wait and see. “Mild” does not preclude long COVID and other long term risks. The data are already bearing this out.
Eric Topol has a substack artciel “To boost or not to boost – Should that be the question?”
His answer is yes…but. He points out that getting boosted every 6 months for the rest of our lives may not be viable. He also points out the problems caused by the rapidity of re-infections (evasiveness of the variants) and the relative non-seasonality of COVID-19. Also, the new variant boosters are basically obsolete before they get into arms because evolution of escapse variants is so rapid.
Without new breakthroughs, the current vaccine program will fail, is failing. That is my assessment. And there appear to be no breakthroughs in the pipeline at all so far as the public can see. We are in a very dangerous position. This northern winter could easily turn into a massive global disaster. I expect it will. I hope I am wrong.
This is true, in a way, but it’s possible that it’s worth pointing out that there were only two ways to vote in the referendum: you could vote ‘Leave’ or you could vote ‘Remain’. Abstaining was not a third way of voting; the general meaning of ‘abstaining’ is ‘not doing something’, and in this particular case what ‘abstaining’ meant was ‘not voting’. So there were three options: voting ‘Leave’, voting ‘Remain’, and not voting; but there were only two options for voting.
J-D clearly clarifying option vs voting.
As the Donbas, Putin perhaps used game theory. But “the whole system” for strategy.
The No voters and abstainers, with identity, linked to food and resource acquisition, means Putin also now has a list of detractors.
The whole system is taken into account, although parts are “gamed” using game theory style decision formulation and choice.
Here are (if they load ) graphics of whole system vs decision part biased toward a game theory type decision space:
And systems re AI vs compute vs parameter space:
“Importantly, GPT-3 and other “chatbots” are nowhere near the endpoint of this technology. The new PaLM from Google looks even more obviously a proto-attempt at AGI, yet another of these “foundation models.” PaLM cost 17 million dollars in compute power just to train (and that’s not including the research, the engineering, people’s salaries, testing, etc), clocking in with a neural network of 540 billion parameters.”
Via Eric Hoel.
The combination of system dynamics and game theory in analyzing oligopoly markets
“Thus, this payoff matrix corresponds to that in traditional game theory. In traditional game theory, however, the payoff matrix is given explicitly as a rule, while in the DS game, the payoff matrix is constructed by the player according to his decision making function that determines his way of referring to the game environment (and also to other players’ state, in case of multiple-person games).
I haven’t time to make this clearer, shorter or more consise. Use your imagination. It is school holidays and I am a single parent.
Copy & paste links. They are worthwhile.
Any comments appreciated.
Voter participation can be influenced by many factors; availability of polling place, availability of postal voting, ease of voter registration.
And how you frame the question.
In the Australian republican referendum voters were asked if they supported a republic with the head to be appointed by parliament. A simple yes or no to answer what was in fact two questions. Had the framers separated the questions and asked
1) do you support a republic – yes or no
2) do you support that a head be elected by parliament – yes or no
3) do you support that a head be elected by popular vote – yes or no
then the outcome may have been very different.
Iko: – “The vaccines-only strategy for COVID-19 is failing. Soon we will have very little protection once again against COVID-19.”
Yep, and the National Cabinet scrapping the mandatory COVID-19 isolation rules today won’t help.
Dr Monique Ryan MP, Federal Member for Kooyong, is calling on the National Cabinet to publicly release all health advice provided to them that informed today’s decision.
Dr Ryan MP also tweeted this afternoon:
If Dr Ryan is correct about “No-one is collecting that data”, then it seems to me that the CHO is effectively saying: no data, no problem. 🙄🤦♂️
I don’t know about other people but like Geoff Miell I keep listening to the people who were right all along about the dangers of failing to control this pandemic.
People like John Quiggin who counseled control from the start control to elimination to save lives and the economy. People like the authors of this article. People who were right all along and are still right. “Let-it-rip” has been a disaster and it will get worse yet.
“If you think scrapping COVID isolation periods will get us back to work and past the pandemic, think again.”
Geoff & Ikon, Michelle Grattan said;
“Notably, the body that advises national cabinet, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), made up of federal and state health officers, was not asked for advice.”