Jan 13, 2022Liked by Richard Hanania

Thanks for the shoutout! We've seen a spike in new users coming from your post, and a lot of betting activity on your markets (for the audience: you can find them grouped together at https://manifold.markets/RichardHanania).

The section on prediction calibration is a great explainer of some issues around evaluating how well a predictor did. In markets, you can output a return on investment, but that's just a single flat number (perhaps return at different time windows like 1y or 30d would also be instructive). We'd like to have something like Metaculus's calibration chart aggregating info from each trade placed or market set up; if anyone has ideas here, let me know!

Anyways, your commitment to bet on your beliefs really makes you stand out among the many political commentators out there. I hope that this post encourages your readers/colleagues to do the same!

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It’s strange that people say you can’t reinforce fertility by money, when our whole civilisation functions by forcing people do what they don’t want by money incentive. Lyman Stocke gives example of Germany who gives 25$k per birth and raised fertility for 0,15 with it. But 25$k per birth is just 0,5% of yearly gdp. Why not throw something like 5%? Countries sometimes spent 5% of gdp or mire on defence, 10% or more on pensions. And fertility is important both for defence and (future) pensions and other questions aswell. If question is important 0,5% of gdp is not enough.

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What probability would you give this: "at least 10 biological humans (not robots or emulations) are still alive and doing human stuff on planet earth in 2042?"

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PS-2: On low fertility as an issue -- you might be very wrong since AI automation is fundamentally changing your equation. In West, even with low birth rate, UBI is proposed to solve low employment malaise.

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The reason the Chinese TFR hasn’t increased after they ended the one child policy is largely resource dilution. When I was living there in late 90s early 2000s, tons of rich people I knew had 3-4 kids, they paid the penalties, and they could afford it.

For most lower and middle class/upper middle class Chinese in the 2020s there is the perception that financial resource is the most important input into the probability of raising a child who will ascend the socioeconomic hierarchy; having 2 kids cuts the resource spend per kid in half, etc. This is a deeply ingrained cultural belief that will be very difficult to change, especially because it’s not entirely invalid. Government gets the problem, puts an end to private tutoring industry, etc, but that won’t change the perception that it’s difficult to get ahead and a better bet is to concentrate rather than stretch economic resources

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"China has so far dealt with COVID with fewer deaths"

- Regarding your comment here, what source do you use for the numbers? Do you rely on data provided to the public by the CCP or from numbers provided by some source that doesn't go through the CCP?

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I really like your clear eyed view of China - seems more aligned with the views of fact based analysts and economists who do deep empirical studies than the fluffy whining of US/Indian pundits (although pandits are supposed to be fact based and intuitive, so pretty unfair western slang). One idea I am curious about is the role of morality with culture. Romania was a clear bad example - but I wonder whether immoral behaviors and strategies have economic and power repercussions - just on a longer time scale. US genocides from the 1800s leading to cultural suicide in 2020- China may have a few decades of growth before its violence hits home - with the causal explanation (we can use karma as a short cut) that immoral choices corrode our capabilities - e.g. racism as a cognitive distortion (or TV party) makes it hard for them to make smart decisions using a fact base (e.g. your commentor who claimed Donald had a smart plan for leaving Afghanistan - when he did not have a plan for anything -thanks for the insights

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One note on fertility.

TFR is the most common fertility measure used. But it does have its problems. And this means in some cases it does not really show adequately the true level of fertility in a particular state. This happens when the timing of fertility changes. In todays world this mostly means that fertility is postponed to later ages (the mean age at childbirth is extended). Thus, less children are born in a given year, since women at childbearing ages are having them later.

If this is the case, then the TFR is lower than the true level of fertility. True level being the mean number of children for cohorts that have reached the end of their fertile years (around age 45). Depending on how fast the change in the timing of fertily is, it can create big gaps between the TFR and cohort fertility.

Czechia for instance has had from 1993 to 2020 a TFR from 1.17 to 1.72 with a mean around 1.4. However, when looking at cohorts that have reached their 40s (those born in the 1970s), the true mean number of children has never been below 1.8. But these cohorts have had their children exactly from 1992 onwards. What has happened is that the mean age at childbirth has gone from 25 to 30. Only for the last has the postponement more or less ended. And now the gap between the TFR and mean cohort fertility is pretty small.

I do not know how it is for China and the Chinese data is, as I have heard some Chinese demographers complain, also somewhat suspect. For Japan the gap between the TFR and mean cohort fertility is pretty minuscule. There, it seems the effect of timing is rather small even though postponement has also occurred there, But there also has been a significant decline in the level of fertility.

Data of cohort fertility and also a tempo-adjusted TFR you can find at humanfertility.org. No China there, however.

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Re: Romania, I don't entirely like the tone of this Foreign Policy article, but their rough explanation is an abortion ban and a less effective contraception ban. It looks like this really worked for a few years and started working less well, although perhaps better than the FP article says since they didn't return to low fertility until the end of the Ceausescu regime. Also, holy shit did they have a lot of people in orphanages (apparently unwanted or unsupportable kids). I'd read occasional human interest stories about the lives of screwed up children adopted from those orphanages, but I had no idea half a million people went through them. It's hard for me to imagine China running anything as badly as Romania ran those orphanages, but I don't think there's been any successful examples of raising children in institutional settings:

Article: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/16/what-actually-happens-when-a-country-bans-abortion-romania-alabama/

Wikipedia page on Romanian orphanages: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanian_orphans

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Yeah interesting predictions...

I agree with the Chinese fertility rate stuff, and possibly Hungary too (though to be fair, the probability of a regime change in Hungary is quite a bit higher than in China...).

What I disagree with is the 2024 election stuff. I mean, yeah, currently Donnie T seems to still have a hold on the GOP, but let's face it - he's old, he has legal troubles, and isn't popular in the US overall...

As for Biden, he's also old, he's broadly unpopular (though that still might change, like with Obama), and isn't inspiring...

So, I think both the democrats and republicans will look for new candidates for president in two years.

Who could those be?

I have some ideas, but won't go into them in detail here. Let's just say that an outsider, celebrity candidate would be someone either party could get behind... and that an African American Republican presidential candidate would be a great asset.

For the democrats I am not sure who, but probably someone not on the radar today... definitely not Hillary Clinton, that would guarantee a loss, even against Trump again... maybe Mark Kelly...

As for the US civil war stuff: it looks unrealistic, but some states could definitely de-facto secede... maybe federalism in the US will increase again, and politics will be less national, which would lessen the intensity of national elections a bit...🤔. Though obviously no major party in the US is interested in this...

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Epic as expected! Making predictions with concrete stated probabilities attached is a real sign of intellectual seriousness and credibility(i.e. the opposite of what you would expect from a tv watcher's movement). Maybe Richard can bet all the tv watcher's who are claiming Hillary is running in 2024, Biden is dropping out, or Trump will be 'reinstated.' Mike Lindell is rich and dumb, start with him :)

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There is no way you can overcome the 10% vig on PredictIt in the long run. Markets are not that inefficient. Cash out now while you're ahead.

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I was more optimistic regarding China 10 years ago.

Now, China has already stopped developing:


Under Xi's dictatorship they will further stagnate.

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I would be very interested to read you discussing predictions around the South Chinese Sea situation, e.g.


Regarding new questions… Maybe a question about Gallups survey on level of trust in government in 2025? Or maybe about levels of affective polarization?

Or have you already done some nuclear risk forecasts on Metaculus? I did some of them and felt pretty clueless about what to expect. https://www.metaculus.com/questions/?search=cat:series--nuclearthreats

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"My relative optimism about Republicans winning in 2024 is that I think by becoming so completely a TV watchers party they’ve mastered electoral politics, especially when they’re in opposition and can’t be held responsible for anything."

NO - Biden is making a mess of everything. Read the polls. He's old & incompetent.

"Being able to get away with saying anything because your base doesn’t care about logical consistency or political philosophy is a huge advantage."

REALLY? - as if CNN and MSNBC are soothsayers-extraordinaire. Your thoughts on this are incorrect and even comical

"So is always having a unified message of hatred towards the other side, even when, like in the case of the Afghanistan withdrawal, Biden was just doing what Trump wanted to."

You've got this twisted. Yes, Trump did want to leave Afghanistan, but in a coherent and well thought out manner. Biden's pullout was a sh-t show & embarrassing to boot. Our greatest tragedy in recent years.

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Romania increased its fertility rate by in essence making the wombs of women state property. It was horrendous what went on. "The Handmaiden's Tale" is far more applicable to Romania than even fundamentalist United States....my progressive friends won't stand for that observation.

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