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Bryan Caplan On Open Borders

Worth calling this out as a post because I’ve been a fan of Bryan Caplan for some time and am sympathetic to his open borders arguments. But this interview in particular with Andrew Sullivan was such a great teardown of immigration skepticism:

Bad look for Sullivan. Seemed like he didn’t read the (“comic”) book!

Not saying I’m unambiguously in agreement with Caplan. But in combination with regulatory reform (ie. expansion of protected conservation areas, better zoning, green urban planning, etc.) in host countries I think he’s on the right track for policies that are both morally just and pro economic growth.



Chris Masterjohn brings it on coronavirus

These three mini-episodes released by Chris Masterjohn last week are really great snapshots of the how to make reasonable assumptions about indoor and outdoor coronavirus safety. Everyone should read less headlines and listen to these. Who knows if they’ll age well but I feel better educated after listening. Including a better handle on how masks fit in.

Takeaway: at the moment, if we’re spending 10+ minutes indoors somewhere, that’s where the bulk of the spreading risk occurs. Technically to be safe for that amount of time you would need something like 70-100 sq ft of space per person.



Appreciated Robert Plomin discussion re: disorders

Fully recommend giving this episode of the Making Sense podcast, #211 – The Nature of Human Nature. It’s a great dialogue about the state and future of “molecular genetics” science. But in particular at about 1:10:25 an exchange of a few minutes touches on some points that seem to go underappreciated in #mentalhealth awarness. Blomin makes a comment “… there are no disorders. There are just quantitative dimensions… if there is no disorder there is nothing to cure… we’re alleviating symptoms rather than curing a disorder.” He raises a continuum vs. disease model being more applicable to mental ‘disorders’ (Blomin reluctantly uses this word and adds “the extremes of these dimensions” than is common practice and that “it’s really held back the field”.

I’ve always intuitively felt like this must be true, and struggled to have good conversations with people sensitive to more of a disease model, on mental health issues. The implications of this for treatment research and innovation are huge when the goals are incremental vs. binary. It shouldn’t be taboo to say you feel depressed or any laying claim to any number of conditions that have been owned by disorder labels. Caveat always being sympathy for people’s lives touched in very sad ways by the extreme ends of those dimensions is obviously super important.



Focus on air quality especially in schools & childcare

This seems 200% worth another look from my point of view as a parent and being involved in the childcare sector. The study and this article were published in January, pre-coronavirus. How is this not re-surfacing now?

Installing air filters in classrooms has surprisingly large educational benefits

Jan 8 2020 by Matthew Yglesias

If it does end up that COVID-19’s route of transmission is primarily spreading through aerosols, this is potentially more important than PPE and other measures. Daniil Gorbatenko, who is generally leaning pretty hard as a critic of current lockdown measures, just posted an unpublished paper “Aerosols may be at the core of COVID-19 transmission” which seems like a reasonable summary of the argument.

I suppose this would also be super important for long-term care facilities, but it is interesting timing to have evidence of this being a good investment for boosting educational outcomes before even considering COVID-19.



The desperate need for different Dem candidates

The usually very neutral economist Tyler Cowen feels compelled to weigh in re: Elizabeth Warren:

she has the worst economic and political policies of any candidate in my adult lifetime

Are the rest of the gang that far off from this?

Isn’t the ideal outcome right now that they insert some different personality to run on Andrew Yang’s platform? Or maybe he could do some sort of unprecedented early announcement of a running mate that would boost his campaign profile?

This is insanity, to walk into 2020 without a better alternative to Trump.



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