I could not agree more with your sentiment, but the "We did ok" side has a point: If there was a much better policy or intervention, why was it done by no country, and no philantrophist?
Because philantrophists like Stoecker got sued and fordidden from deploying better interventions.
One is the UK's vaccine taskforce, which was set up by Dominic Cummings and the UK's chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance and responsible for the relatively fast procurement and rollout.
Fast rollout would be vaccinating every wiling citizen by July or August 2020. That what you would have gotten if you would have asked who can provide the vaccines by that point, put up prices and get the regulatory barriers out of the way. Stoecker vaccinated himself in March 2020. His company was then selling COVID-19 tests because it was allowed to do so. If it would have been allowed to sell vaccines with regulations that are as easy as selling tests it would likely also have sold those.
That task force might have gotten a D and not an F but calling it a moderately good job is a huge stretch.
Novavax shows that the old way of creating vaccines of giving an adjuvant along with the protein (or a subunit) works fine and works with less side-effects. While Novavax does use their own patented adjuvant that needs rare ingridients other adjuvants are possible. Stoeker was likely right when he proposed to vaccinate everyone in Germany with the vaccine he used to vaccinate himself and his family.
We accept mask use based on the precautionary principle and we should have accepted Stoekers vaccine that demostrable produced antibodies on the same principle. While Stoeker only has data for side-effects for hundred patient the fact that the side effects on average are so much lower then that of viral vector and mRNA vaccines suggests that it's likely a safer vaccine (and the fact that Novavax has less side effects supports this).
Suing Stoeker on the allegation of running an unregistered clinical trial on his family was the height of ignorance.
Focusing clinical trial resources on untested and hard to scale up vaccine technology was a very bad idea when it was easy to take existing adjuvants, synthezise the spike protein (/domains of it) and scale up the production.
Any self-respecting COVID rant must foreground vaccination. It is the solution, where other policies just buy time, or else consume old or disabled people.
This is false. Vaccines are not the only possible policy to drive COVID-19 to extinction. While we haven't spend the amount on clinical trials that would be necessary to know for certain the best guess for the effect of prophylactic ivermectin we have at the moment is Low-certainty evidence found that ivermectin prophylaxis reduced COVID-19 infection by an average 86% (95% confidence interval 79%–91%).
The case for challenge trials for prophylactic ivermectin is the same as the case for challenge trials for vaccines.
While taking taffix multiple times per day is more annoying it also is a potential of doing the work of bringing infection risk down. It getting completely ignored instead of running more studies was a policy failure.
Several times (fomites, masks, asymptomatic spread, long COVID, schools, lab-leak) we saw dramatic reversals of global policy, based not on dramatic new evidence, but on shifts in how elite factions decided to interpret the evidence.
While it's popular to say that the lab-leak shift wasn't because of new evidence I think it was because people like Ian Lipkin who published in the beginning of the pandemic that he considers the natural origin the only possible explanation, because they thought that the WIV was doing gain-of-function experiements in biosafety 3 or 4 actually read the papers from the WIV and discovered that they did the experiements in biosafety 2.
While the papers certainly existed beforehand I don't think they were in the expert awareness.
On the one hand, this is a judgement call. On the other hand, yes, General Semantics failed. Although it inspired writers whose novels remain, General Semantics doesn't do much these days. In David's Sling, the Institute plays at the level of national politics, in The World of NULL-A, General Semantics affects the Solar System.
General Semantics inspired more then just novels it just that the fields it inspired are not mainstream. NLP is inspired by General Semantics. Ida Rolf studied a lot of General Semantics before she came up with Rolfing.
Eric Berne who was taught in it developed Transactional analysis. There's influence on Gestalt Therapy. Albert Ellis went on to found Rational emotive behavior therapy.
There are others as well. The list of intellectual heirs is long. It's just that many took different parts of it and General Semantics as a discipline itself collapsed.
It seems to me that the basic insights of General Semantics have been found again and again by CBT, meditation, Internal Family Systems, Nonviolent Communication, Foucault, good anthropology.
Saying that insights "have been found again" assumes that neither of those fields are intellectual heirs of General Semantics. Given the amount of strains of psychology that are intellectual heirs that seems to me no safe assumption. Albert Ellis for example is mentioned on the Wikipedia page for the roots of CBT.
I think leaving it the way it is is better then deleting it and getting rid of the comments. Maybe Darius_Meissner will finish his post somewhere in the future and then there's a new post that goes a bit deeper then mine.
Given the discussion here and over at LessWrong where I crossposted this, I think when it comes to writing a larger post to make a more effective argument it's important to explain how Wikipedia works. It seems to me like many people think that changing Wikipedia articles is just about making an edit and hoping it doesn't get reverted.
This works for smaller issues but when it comes to big issues it needs more then one person to create change. I'm currently in a deep discussion on a contentious issue where I wrote a lot. If 3-4 people would join in and back me up, I likely could make the change and it wouldn't take much effort for everyone of those people.
When it comes to voting on an election you don't need to explain to people that even so they didn't get what they wanted this doesn't mean that there wasn't a democratic election. People have a mental model for how elections work but they don't have one for how decisions on Wikipedia get made and thus think that if they alone don't have the power to create change it's not worth speaking up on the talk page.
I also read that people think the goal of Wikipedia is truth when it isn't it's to reflect what secondary sources say. While it might be great to have an encyclopedia that has truth as a goal having a place where you find a synthesis of other secondary sources is valuable. Understanding that helps to know when it's worth to speak up and when it isn't.
The fact that one person can't change something alone isn't evidence against democracy. If I say that I want my government to implement policy X and my government doesn't do it that doesn't mean that I don't live in a democracy.
Democracy actually needs the engagement of more people. It's frustrating to me to read a reddit thread about how a Wikipedia article is flawed, when half the amount of engagement that the reddit thread gets would likely be enough to change the Wikipedia article. This doesn't mean that I want people to organize together to go to a Wikipedia article. The EA community gotten in a few conflicts in the past with that and they don't need to be repeated.
Whether or not you like Wikipedia doesn't change that it's a central part of the public narrative. Many people use it to inform themselves. Journalists frequently check the Wikipedia article to get an overview over the topic.
I did intend to make it a normal post and this was an accident. I don't know of a way to make the change myself. If some moderator knows a way, I'm happy to have it changed.
The West got China to stop cloning humans by saying that it puts the Chinese scientific community in a negative light and the Chinese care about 'face'.
With more attention on the issue we likely would have found that the NIH continued funding gain of function research of Baric and Shi in violation of the moratorium and that would have been the basis to make it a public scandal.
By associating it with being scandalous the Chinese government might have wanted to distance themselves from gain of function research and stopped it from happening in the Wuhan lab. The Chinese government cares about it's scientific community being respected and of the scientific community helping with economic growth and the gain of function research did neither, so making it clear that it leads to disrespect might have been enough to prevent this pandemic.
It's worth that this is the second pandemic caused within 50 years through a Chinese lab leak and the second lab leak in 2019 in China that infected more then 1000 people.
1% per year seems to be on the conservative side.
So it looks like the calculation above was just an illustrative examples, and EA did not have sufficient data to come to conclusions. Is there any other part of the article that leads you believe the authors had strong faith in their numbers?
Generally, if you don't have strong faith in the numbers the way to deal with it is to study it more. I was under the impressiong that understanding global catastrophic risk point of why we have organizations like FLI.
Even if they didn't accept the numbers the task for an organization like FLI would be to make their own estimate.
To go a bit into history, the reason the moratorium existed in the first place was that within the span of a few weeks 75 US scientists at the CDC got infected with anthrax and FDA employees found 16 forgotten vials of smallpox in storage and this was necessary to weaken the opposition to the moratorium in 2014 to get it passed.
When the evidence for harm is so strong that it forces the hand of politicians, it seems to me reasonable expectation that organizations who's mission is it to think about global catastrophic risk analyse the harm and have a public position on what they think the risk happens to be. If that's not what organization like the FLI are for, what's are they for?