PredictIt Lives, Unz Vs. Anti-Vaxx, Pagan Morality, etc.
Links and Best of Twitter, 1/27/23
Days after I wrote an article about how to legalize prediction markets, the Fifth Circuit has granted an injunction saving PredictIt for now. See here for my announcement in September that I was joining the lawsuit, and here for my thread on legalizing prediction markets more generally.
At the Salem Center/CSPI forecasting tournament, the odds of PredictIt surviving beyond February 15 went from 30% before the news to 95% right after.
The decision is no guarantee of ultimate victory. Rather, a court has decided that there is enough merit to the case that they won’t let the CFTC withdraw its No Action letter before the lawsuit is settled and do permanent damage to the interests of the plaintiff [UPDATE: Actually, until the injunction question itself is settled, not the entirety of the lawsuit]. Still, this is wonderful news, and hopefully a sign of more legal victories to come.
Thanks to those who turned out for the AMA on Why the Media is Honest and Good. You can go back and browse through it. If there are other features you’d like as paid subscribers, go ahead and let me know and I’ll consider them.
Here’s my discussion with Michael Tracey from January 19, also talking about my article on the goodness of the media. And here we are from last night. I just noticed these things have automated transcripts made, so you can read them if you’d rather do that than listen.
1. Yglesias on how inclusive language isn’t all that inclusive.
2. Women in the Missouri legislature fight over the dress code.
3. Ross Douthat responds to my euthanasia piece, says I adopt a pagan outlook. I’ve never considered myself a pagan, but whenever I hear something called pagan I tend to agree with it, so maybe that’s my religion. I don’t see how not wanting to be a burden on others is “pagan” though. Maybe the shame aspect of it, but it’s a perspective that a lot of people hold. Anyway, I feel like what most people do in this situation is find the philosophers that tell them what they already believe to give themselves an intellectual pedigree, so maybe I’ll read the Stoics and see if I learn something.
4. Ron Unz wonderfully takes apart the idea that mRNA vaccines are dangerous and have caused an uptick in deaths. Excess deaths among young people after vaccination started are due to covid still being around. Countries that kept covid out but used mRNA vaccines saw no increase in excess deaths. And it was countries that lost a lot of people to covid in 2020 that saw continually high excess death rates in 2021 and 2022.
Lots of fascinating graphics, including this one below.
I was interested to see that Ron appears to have convinced some anti-vaxxers! I thought they were too stupid to be reasoned with, so maybe my contempt is counterproductive. Or maybe I should continue to hold people in contempt but only privately so I’ll never be influenced by them, but pretend to respect and admire the mob in public. Then again, I don’t know if Unz is reaching the most influential anti-vaxxers. Many are probably like Diamond and Silk (see my thread of them still grifting at Diamond’s funeral, and the followup). At the same time, there might be a trickle down effect, where people who make a pretense of caring about facts and data embolden the Diamond and Silk types, so Unz is doing valuable work here after all.
Anyway, it’s really funny that, although Ron Unz believes some wacky thing, he draws the line at vax denial, which marginally makes all his other conspiracy theories more credible.
5. Ezra Klein podcast on how right-wing media ate the Republican Party.
6. Podcast on dating algorithms. I learned that these things put you into attractiveness brackets based on how people react to your profile, and individuals are given “Elo scores” like they get in chess. This may have cleared up a mystery for me, which is that young people today seem to believe that looks matter a lot more for men than people did when I was a kid. One of the lessons of the early PUA world was male physical attractiveness is not the main thing, but a decade later you got the rise of the “incels” who think it is. Perhaps this can be explained by the rise of online dating apps, where the picture is all you have to go on, and men get ranked in this way. In a world where people get together in meatspace, things like confidence, assertiveness, and charisma matter a lot more. So if you’re ugly, or just average, and have done badly on dating apps, I wouldn’t take it as a sign that you’re hopeless. It just might mean that current dating practices don’t play to your strengths and you’ll have to find opportunities to make your own luck in the real world.