Some bad news: I’m travelling at the moment and have had to chuck away my ADHD meds because apparently they’re extremely illegal in Japan (jail time illegal, rather than small fine illegal). People have told me that drugs are not something to mess around with in Japan so I’ve decided not to take the risk of carrying them around. The battery on my laptop is also fucked, so don’t expect much content until I get to the US and get it sorted in April (if anyone wants to hang out, I’ll be in SF for around a month, then maybe New Orleans, then NYC).
On growth: there was a brilliant little exchange between Sam Bowman and Sam Freedman on Twitter there recently (here and elsewhere: https://twitter.com/s8mb/status/1623708501481586691?t=EEG7ix0Dm23rXRz1jV78tw&s=19), where Bowman advocated for quite a libertarian childcare policy (roughly just 'hand cash to parents') and Freedman pointed out that it would be better for economic growth to instead invest that cash in the childcare sector. I'm not sure to what degree Freedman actually endorsed this policy vs to what degree it was a gotcha, but it is at least a successful gotcha: I think Bowman is entirely right on the first-order policy merits, but Freedman is right that many of the benefits of 'hand parents money' would not show up in growth statistics! (I also think Freedman is completely right that certain intellectual interests of the current young British "pro-growth" right are motivated by unspoken values, and their political hobbyhorses look a little odd if you accept their face-value claim that they primarily care about growth - to give another interesting example, a huge number of them are very anti-immigration, a crazy position to take if you genuinely really do care about GDP growth.)
On Aella: I think in some regards Aella's followers are sufficient weirdos to *reverse* certain trends in the general population, and sometimes when I see an Aella poll it makes me update a teeny tiny infinitesimal amount in the *opposite* direction to her conclusion. (The reasoning being something like, 'this thing isn't talked about publicly; thus, on priors either this thing is relatively widespread but shamed, or is rare and concentrated in a small subset of weirdos; thus, evidence that it's widespread among weirdos is ipso facto weak evidence that it's not prevalent among normies'.) This is entirely compatible with the "motte" of the Aella-defenders, that you should make small Bayesian updates based on her polls - if two people's likelihoods differ, then the strength and direction of their ideal Bayesian updates can differ to arbitrary degrees - but is incompatible with their "bailey", which is that she is rightly treated as a "sex researcher" and her Twitter polls are basically analogous to academic research. This latter claim is rooted in a deep rationalist scepticism towards the norms and institutions of science, which is as old as rationalism itself (see Eliezer Yudkowsky's discussion of "science v Bayes": https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/viPPjojmChxLGPE2v/the-dilemma-science-or-bayes). This is the subtext to, say, Zvi's entire post on twitter polls (https://thezvi.substack.com/p/twitter-polls-evidence-is-evidence) - even as he's careful to almost never stray from the motte in his explicit claims, because in fact Aella-esque Twitter polls say exactly fuck all about how sceptical we should be towards academic research.
> But when she does sex surveys, we do have reasons to think that the data is probably really weird in a load of ways. Aella is a sex worker with weirdo followers (I don’t mean weirdo in a derogatory sense here). So, the data is likely to be weird in all sorts of ways. It’s better than no data, sure, but I don’t think we should assume that the correlations are going to hold among the general public at all.
It's not like this is a hidden confounder though. You can update your beliefs according to the survey data, adjusted for the fact that it likely skews kinky.
If Aella did the clown survey and found that 9/10 prefer pie, maybe I'd shift to a 95% chance that I'm in the clowns-love-pie world, because that would be an unexpected result given her demographic. If her results showed that 9/10 prefer anal sex, maybe I shift to a 55% chance that I'm in the clowns-love-anal world, because that result would be more or less what if expect from her surveys.
On the Aella thing, I'm pretty sure all her 'headline results' are taken from one large kink survey that went viral, and has around 480,000 respondents. It seems reasonable to draw confident conclusions from something like that.