SandySandfort on December 09, 2010, 10:24:38 am
What would be a good AnCap position about allowing other nations to pollute or burn fossil fuels? If their actions will tend to kill you, they are committing aggression and it's morally OK to make them stop. But it looks to me like the whole concept is so fraught with problems for libertarians that it's far easier to just claim that it isn't really a problem so nobody needs to be regulated. Then we can all be free.

"Other" nations? You really have to kick the collectivist habit of thinking. AnCap societies, qua societies will do nothing. Individuals might. In any case, just because something is morally permitted, doesn't require that you do it.

Personally, if someone burns fossil fuels it's okay with me, unless they are polluting my air. If I thought it were serious enough,* I'd try at least a couple things before trying to stop them by direct force. YMMV

* If the damage is de minimis, I would probably do nothing. The best current example is smoking. If I went to a restaurant that permitted smoking, I'd either put up with it (it is irritating, but not dangerous to my health) or go someplace else. I anticipate you saying something silly like, "Yeah, but what if all the restaurants permitted smoking?" Well, that would be great! I would open a non-smoking restaurant and get all the non-smoker business. I'd make a mint.

J Thomas on December 09, 2010, 11:01:04 am
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And the rad workers may have had their health monitored more closely, but iirc the figure was for cancer incidence, not mortality.

Yes! So if they had more of their cancers diagnosed earlier, that would bias the results in the wrong direction to explain the result.

You lost me.  How does "observing the cancer earlier" relate to "seeing fewer cancers"?  You write so thoughtfully, I know I must be missing something here and have prepared a nice soft pad to thwack myself in the forehead when I get it.

If the nuclear workers get more careful medical diagnosis and their cancers are diagnosed earlier, then at any given time they will seem to have more cancers. So that would bias the results to make radiation hormesis less likely to be observed even when it was present. Not make it look like it was there when it wasn't. So that is useless for my purpose which is to look for ways it could look true when it is false.

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There is evidence of radiation hormesis, but we don't really know how or why it should happen

Indeed we don't.  We don't, because we don't study it.  We don't study it because radiation hormesis is obviously "junk" science.  It's obviously junk because no one can say what the possible mechanism for it might be.... 

Yes. That kind of thing happens all the time. "Many things must be seen to be believed. Most things must be believed to be seen."

Here's my objection. It makes no sense to me that extra free radicals are useful. If they were, our cells could produce them easily. My natural thought is that radiation would cause changes to DNA, which triggers DNA repair mechanisms, and those mechanisms assist in disease resistance etc and so promote longevity. Or maybe not DNA repair, but something that assists in disease resistance etc. This fits common observation. Like, if you subject bacteria to something that turns on their DNA repair -- a little bit of radiation, or a harmless virus that injects single-strand DNA, etc -- and then later you give them a lot of radiation, they survive the big dose of radiation easier. Their DNA repair is already going. They don't have to wait to build the repair enzymes from DNA templates which might already be damaged etc.

But the bacteria don't keep those repair mechanisms going all the time. One reason is it makes them grow slower. Another is that some of them do mis-repair. When the DNA is damaged and you have no better way to fix it, a faulty repair is better than nothing. But you don't want it to misrepair healthy DNA. So the DNA repair is triggered by DNA damage.

Here we get mild radiation exposure, and the result is to turn something on that improves survival to better than baseline. And my natural thought is, why turn that off, ever?

Maybe it used to be, there was always enough radiation around to keep it turned on even though there was a mechanism which would have shut it off otherwise? When did the amount of background radiation sink low enough not to keep it turned on? If it was less than, say, 500 years ago there might not be time for natural selection to select it, and we would have a relative few who express it all the time. But if it was 50,000 years ago, we would mostly all have that mutation by now. And even worse for organisms with a shorter lifespan. They would spread the mutation quickly. But they have not.

Does it make sense that the background radiation levels would have dropped a lot in the last 500 years? 1000 years? 10,000 years? I don't think so.

There are loopholes. If the needed mutation was closely linked to something else that was more important, a mutation in the other gene could spread and wipe out the radiation resistance mutations. Then before they can show up and spread again, another competing mutation shows up and pushes them out. That happens, but I'd consider it a big coincidence if it happened repeatedly for this one hypothetical gene.

Maybe it's the radiation itself. Maybe a lot of cancers can be killed off with a tiny amount of radiation before they have grown enough to be diagnosed, and later they are harder to kill. That wouldn't explain resistance to other diseases, but something like it could happen. I think the numbers won't add up -- the dose per cell would be too low -- but that's a guess made before adding up the numbers. Maybe many cancers start out with a single cell that grows fast but is extremely sensitive to radiation, and with low background levels it grows enough that many of its descendents get mutations for radiation resistance. But with a little more radiation they are killed off before they can reproduce enough to get that lucky mutation.

That wouldn't have anything to do with low-level x-rays causing faster growth, but I can imagine the model working. So far that's the only workable one I see. There could be something I don't know about.

J Thomas on December 09, 2010, 11:04:42 am
What would be a good AnCap position about allowing other nations to pollute or burn fossil fuels? If their actions will tend to kill you, they are committing aggression and it's morally OK to make them stop. But it looks to me like the whole concept is so fraught with problems for libertarians that it's far easier to just claim that it isn't really a problem so nobody needs to be regulated. Then we can all be free.

Personally, if someone burns fossil fuels it's okay with me, unless they are polluting my air. If I thought it were serious enough,* I'd try at least a couple things before trying to stop them by direct force. YMMV

* If the damage is de minimis, I would probably do nothing. The best current example is smoking. If I went to a restaurant that permitted smoking, I'd either put up with it (it is irritating, but not dangerous to my health) or go someplace else. I anticipate you saying something silly like, "Yeah, but what if all the restaurants permitted smoking?" Well, that would be great! I would open a non-smoking restaurant and get all the non-smoker business. I'd make a mint.

I think when there aren't too many humans this approach can work well.

Like, there's some evidence that the Sahara Desert is growing due to human herders. They feed their flocks off the scrub at the edge of the desert, and kill it off, and the desert expands. Put up a fence and keep them out of an area, and the plants grow back unti they tear down the fence.

It's natural to think about ways to keep the Sahara from growing. But I don't live anywhere near there. I can live someplace else and if they're making the desert get bigger it's their problem, nothing to do with me.

mellyrn on December 09, 2010, 03:16:17 pm
I am no biologist, so am in no position even to speculate usefully about the mechanisms of radiation hormesis.  I only note that there's a lot of suggestive stuff.  One other point, not directly hormesis but possibly related:

You will find in the mainstream literature (old literature!) the curious effect of "fractionated" doses.  If I slap you with 25R, that's the threshold at which I can do medical tests that will show you've taken a rad-hit -- there will be slight but detectable changes to your blood cell populations.  But if I dose you with, say, 10R, and then several hours later dose you with 25R, I won't be able to find any evidence that you were irradiated, even though your total dose is well over that threshold of detection.  It's not just human; animal studies show this over and over.

As to rad-hormesis making nuclear war more "acceptable", I don't like that idea.  But I like the idea of lying about one's findings even less.  You weren't advocating hiding results that point to hormesis, were you?

jamesd on December 09, 2010, 03:43:43 pm
Like, there's some evidence that the Sahara Desert is growing due to human herders. They feed their flocks off the scrub at the edge of the desert, and kill it off, and the desert expands. Put up a fence and keep them out of an area, and the plants grow back unti they tear down the fence.

The solution to this problem is guns and barbed wire.

The problem is that in much of Africa, the cost of guns and barbed wire fencing is high relative to land, hence uneconomic to secure clear property rights.

J Thomas on December 10, 2010, 09:06:35 am

You will find in the mainstream literature (old literature!) the curious effect of "fractionated" doses.  If I slap you with 25R, that's the threshold at which I can do medical tests that will show you've taken a rad-hit -- there will be slight but detectable changes to your blood cell populations.  But if I dose you with, say, 10R, and then several hours later dose you with 25R, I won't be able to find any evidence that you were irradiated, even though your total dose is well over that threshold of detection.  It's not just human; animal studies show this over and over.

Sure. You can see this with UV exposure for bacteria too, and lots of things. If you breathe around 1000 anthrax spores then you're likely to come down with antrax. If you breathe 10 spores a day then after a month or so you can get 1000 or more and be highly resistant.

Basicly you have defenses you can turn on, and they're normally off. Get a challenge dose and you turn on the defenses, and then when you get the bigger exposure the defenses are already on.

So why don't we leave those defenses on all the time? Presumably there's some disadvantage. For bacteria, UV light can kink the DNA at certain spots, and there are proteins which can unkink it. Bacteria that make lots of that protein grow slower because all the resources they put into them means they can't make as much that's immediately useful. Also, having those proteins checking the DNA probably slows down replication and transcription, and might even get in the way of other kinds ofd DNA repair. The anthrax is a special case, your immune system can respond to lots of new threats, but it takes time to make that response. You have a limited amount of flexibility available, and when it's used up it's gone. So you respond to an anthrax threat if it's present, but otherwise you don't waste your potential to defend against something else.

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As to rad-hormesis making nuclear war more "acceptable", I don't like that idea.  But I like the idea of lying about one's findings even less.  You weren't advocating hiding results that point to hormesis, were you?

No, I wasn't. Since I don't tend to think that way, I didn't consider that people who are opposed to nuclear war might tend to hide the truth to make nukes less acceptable.

I was thinking that various evil people might tend to go the opposite way, to exaggerate hormesis and spread misleading rumors etc, for their profit.

To the extent that it's true, we should live with that truth. It looks like a very hard topic to study effectively. A million mice are pretty expensive, but if you study cancer and use mutant mice that get cancers more often than usual, the very things that make them easier to study might make the results irrelevant to normal mice.

Epidemiological studies are suggestive but it's real real hard to control for confounding variables. Still, that's the obvious approach to take. We should get a study prepared and waiting on standby, and after the next small nuclear war we should immediately start to collect data about radiation hormesis etc.

Plane on January 01, 2011, 06:16:21 pm
Like, there's some evidence that the Sahara Desert is growing due to human herders. They feed their flocks off the scrub at the edge of the desert, and kill it off, and the desert expands. Put up a fence and keep them out of an area, and the plants grow back unti they tear down the fence.

The solution to this problem is guns and barbed wire.

The problem is that in much of Africa, the cost of guns and barbed wire fencing is high relative to land, hence uneconomic to secure clear property rights.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?index=books&linkCode=qs&keywords=0849350530


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yacouba_Sawadogo

http://africa-regreening.blogspot.com/2010/02/african-re-greening-in-washington.html


http://africa-regreening.blogspot.com/



I agree with you 50%.

This is actually a case in which government has been negative in impact and has interfered with someone who has been working on a doable  solution. This land can be worth something , but it needs educated landowners empowered to fend off desprate goat owners.

 Yacouba Sawadogo is a farmer who knows how to fertilise his soil with a small improvement on traditional means. If the government of Burkina Faso liked him better there would be many square miles more cropland that is now wastland but the government does better to confiscate this guys land and impoverish his family than to allow him to continue to create a plantation of orchards  in this dry land.

Pointing out corruption in an African government seems like pointing out the obvious , but the effect is only more stubtle in the USA, it isn't absent.


Plane on January 01, 2011, 06:23:38 pm
http://www.asthmahookworm.com/


This thread reminds me of something elese I recently heard of.

There is a theroy that hookworms and other paracites have been the companions of human beings as long as there have been human beings. Our systems are well adapted to cope with these hitchhikers, so well that we miss them when we don't have them.

Can it be that our bodys are so well adapted to repairing radiation damage at a certain level that the absense of radiation releases the copeing mechanism to do mischeif?

quadibloc on January 20, 2011, 12:19:14 pm
This land can be worth something , but it needs educated landowners empowered to fend off desprate goat owners.
In Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast, part of the problem is that th farmers are Christians who live in the south, and the goat owners are Muslims who live in the north.

So far, the African governments in the region have adopted the strategy of forcing the Christian south to share, rather than building a big wall behind which all the Muslims can just go and starve. Presumably, they're trying to avoid a civil war.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on January 20, 2011, 01:38:38 pm


This land can be worth something , but it needs educated landowners empowered to fend off desprate goat owners.
In Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast, part of the problem is that th farmers are Christians who live in the south, and the goat owners are Muslims who live in the north.

So far, the African governments in the region have adopted the strategy of forcing the Christian south to share, rather than building a big wall behind which all the Muslims can just go and starve. Presumably, they're trying to avoid a civil war.

Let me edit that for you  :):

Quote from: a "better" quadiblock
In Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast, [...] the problem is [...] African governments [...].


J Thomas on January 20, 2011, 09:31:49 pm


This land can be worth something , but it needs educated landowners empowered to fend off desprate goat owners.
In Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast, part of the problem is that th farmers are Christians who live in the south, and the goat owners are Muslims who live in the north.

So far, the African governments in the region have adopted the strategy of forcing the Christian south to share, rather than building a big wall behind which all the Muslims can just go and starve. Presumably, they're trying to avoid a civil war.

Let me edit that for you  :):

Quote from: a "better" quadiblock
In Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast, [...] the problem is [...] African governments [...].

Let's imagine that a different way. Imagine there are no african governments. Then the problem is that sedentary AnCap farmers are trying to hold onto more land than they can defend from nomadic AnCap herders.

So, they take it to arbitration. One farmer versus 50 nomads. "This is my land. My fathers have cultivated it for 15 generations. We produce 50 bushels of sorghum per acre, and this is the proven best use for the land." "We need this land for our herds. The desert is encroaching and if we don't get land to replace what we have lost we will die. This man is trying to keep land that should be shared, and if he continues to threaten us when we do nothing more than walk across the land while our animals graze, we will kill him."

If the arbitrator rules against the nomads and they refuse to accept it and kill the farmer, they will get the reputation they already have. Then it's on to the next farmer.

I'm sure there are AnCap solutions. There are probably better AnCap solutions than to tell the nomads they ought to die and then hire a mobile mercenary army to kill off the nomads one herd at a time. But I don't see an obvious default solution.

It looks to me like you might decide who's right based on who can use the land more productively. But that takes a certain amount of knowledge and subjective judgement.

Or you might decide based on who would win in a fight. The guy who makes the most money off the land can afford the best weapons, so he has the better chance? But the side with the better mobility can concentrate forces the best. The most profitable approach may not be the one that produces the best military or the most defensible targets.

quadibloc on January 21, 2011, 12:28:27 am
But I don't see an obvious default solution.
Oh, I do.

The nomads have suffered a misfortune; the weather has turned bad, and now their animals cannot graze as well.

This is a misfortune. It can be communicated to international aid agencies, which may choose to try to do something to help.

If the country has a government which collects taxes, then using some of them to at least provide these displaced people with the means of bare survival is a reasonable thing to do, in addition to what those taxes are mostly used for - an army to keep the government in power.

It may be that the local farmers will be moved by sympathy and pity to share some of their food with them, although, no doubt, they're not that rich either, and have little enough to spare.

If people, though, even to feed their starving children, pick up the sword as their means of living, then people who make their living by honest work, and yet lead a hard life with little but a minimum of food, clothing, and shelter, will not be inclined to make excuses for them, and I see little reason that the government - which should be their creature, working on their behalf; only such a government has any claim to existence - should seek to do so either.

A country like Sweden might decline to prosecute a poor woman for petty shoplifting to feed herself or her children; a country not so wealthy, however, can hardly turn a blind eye to armed robbery.

There should be a place for everyone to live. But if Nature does not yield enough places, what is most productive is if people can spend their time working instead of fighting.

Incidentally, agriculture is a more productive use of land than herding. Also, usually, displaced nomads do have the option even in a poor country of moving to shanty-towns around the capital and working in factories, or in mines, or joining the army.

Defending one's property - if one is putting it to productive use, and one's claim to it is legitimate - is an overhead cost that is not inherently just. The spoils do not belong to the victor; stealing does not change its character because it takes on an adventurous cast.

People can rebel against oppression. They cannot blame their neighbors for bad weather.

J Thomas on January 21, 2011, 01:30:34 am
But I don't see an obvious default solution.
Oh, I do.

The nomads have suffered a misfortune; the weather has turned bad, and now their animals cannot graze as well.

This is a misfortune. It can be communicated to international aid agencies, which may choose to try to do something to help.

If the country has a government which collects taxes, then using some of them to at least provide these displaced people with the means of bare survival is a reasonable thing to do, in addition to what those taxes are mostly used for - an army to keep the government in power.

That's a government palliative.

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It may be that the local farmers will be moved by sympathy and pity to share some of their food with them, although, no doubt, they're not that rich either, and have little enough to spare.

That's another palliative.

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If people, though, even to feed their starving children, pick up the sword as their means of living, then people who make their living by honest work, and yet lead a hard life with little but a minimum of food, clothing, and shelter, will not be inclined to make excuses for them, and I see little reason that the government - which should be their creature, working on their behalf; only such a government has any claim to existence - should seek to do so either.

They think of the land as a common resource. Why should some farmer be allowed to fence them out, particularly when he can't out-fight them?

If it was the farmer enlarging his farm by fencing in some of their grazing land, would he still be right and them wrong?

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There should be a place for everyone to live. But if Nature does not yield enough places, what is most productive is if people can spend their time working instead of fighting.

Sure, and if that farmer will just peacefully let them cut down his fences and peacefully let them cross his land, grazing as they go, there's no need to fight. But he doesn't see it that way.

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Incidentally, agriculture is a more productive use of land than herding.

I share your prejudice about that. And I've heard rumors that herders who try to overgraze the land closest to the desert are making the Sahara get bigger. It could be true. The evidence for it is not nearly as clear as that for global warming, but it could easily be true. So, if the farmers try to fence off more of the herders' land, would that be a good thing? Probably they could produce more that way. Maybe they could even drive the desert back some, and then fence off even more land and produce even more!

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Also, usually, displaced nomads do have the option even in a poor country of moving to shanty-towns around the capital and working in factories, or in mines, or joining the army.

So do displaced farmers. I'm not actually arguing that muslim nomads ought to get priority over christian farmers who might make more productive use of the land. But does it look to you like for an AnCap arbitrator it ought to be an easy cut-and-dried decision? Does somebody get to keep stuff because his great-great-great-grandfather was the first to claim it? If the g5father stole it from somebody else? Should the one who promises to be more productive get it? The one who can defend it best?

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Defending one's property - if one is putting it to productive use, and one's claim to it is legitimate - is an overhead cost that is not inherently just. The spoils do not belong to the victor; stealing does not change its character because it takes on an adventurous cast.

I've heard various AnCap arguments about this point. One is that you shouldn't try to hold onto more than you can defend. Now here's an example that isn't way far from reality. Say it's 50 farmers, each on his own farm, and 50 nomads, each with his own camel. One farmer negotiates with 50 nomads for his farm. Then a second farmer negotiates with 50 (or possibly 49) nomads for his farm. Etc. How well can the farmers arrange mutual defense? The nomads have an advantage if they have camels and the farmers don't. It looks to me like a technical question, not a moral one. If you shouldn't try to keep more than you can defend, and how much you can defend depends on the details of what you're defending plus the details of available weapons and tactics and so on, then it looks to me like it's a total tossup what you can keep and what you can't.

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People can rebel against oppression. They cannot blame their neighbors for bad weather.

You appear to be talking here about what the nomads ought to do. I'm interested in what an AnCap society ought to do about them. They refuse to give up their way of life to go live in a shantytown. They will use the land they believe should be shared, unless somebody applies sufficient coercion to stop them. As an AnCap nonfarmer, or an AnCap farmer who lives a long way away, should you mind your own business? Should you refuse to buy and sell to the particular nomads who are responsible for this? To all nomads? To all muslims? Should you take up arms and fight? If you fight well enough will somebody give you a reward?

quadibloc on January 21, 2011, 07:38:38 am
I'm interested in what an AnCap society ought to do about them.
I don't quite know what the answer is; fortunately, in Africa, the farmers don't need to find that answer. Not that the governments they suffer under are usually much good.

My prejudice is simple. Victim selection should always be wrong. Even if it's an unarmed 83-year-old woman at 3 in the morning on a deserted street. Trying to steal by threats of violence - in the usual blatant way, rather than the subtle fashion of the taxman - ought to be as predictable in its consequences as jumping off a 1,000-foot cliff. You try that, you die before you get the chance to make a nuisance of yourself to any other person.

If, to achieve this, the peaceful and law-abiding residents of an area have to band together, and govern themselves - because they need the public good of security in a hurry, and trying to work out complicated solutions involving security guards and an arbitration system is a luxury for which they don't see the need - I am not going to say that some moral imperative forbids governments from being instituted among men.

Kim Jong-Il has kidnapped a Japanese actress to make use of her, and he is still at large. This is a problem. Because we want to teach our children not to yield to their impulses, but instead to pay attention in school, and respect the rights and property of others. If there is any exception in real life to the rule that people who are naughty never, ever, ever, ever get away with it, then there is always the chance that the temptation to defiance could remain present, and cause discipline problems.

mellyrn on January 21, 2011, 08:24:15 am
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But does it look to you like for an AnCap arbitrator it ought to be an easy cut-and-dried decision?  [...]  I'm interested in what an AnCap society ought to do about them.

?  Is an easy cut-and-dried decision called for?

Arbitration -- it's not a matter of the two parties agreeing a priori to do whatever the arbitrator (or arbitration council) suggests; that's ripe for abuse (an arbitrator who accepts bribes will lose his rep, but for a large enough bribe, is he going to care?)

Rather, the arbitrator needs to find a solution that both parties are OK with.  He makes his suggestion, one party or the other raises objections, and it's back to the drawing board for another go, until both sides either like it or like it better than fighting.

Creativity is called for.  Creativity can't be laid down in law.  People with a low tolerance for uncertainty would rather have prefabbed solutions (even if the "solutions" solve nothing) than take the risk creativity requires -- and people who do take that risk will have much richer lives for it.  "A free society is a dangerous place to live", in far more ways than mere bodily risk.

If they asked me, I'd note the importance of crop rotation and leaving a field fallow at least once in a while.  Grazing on a field in its fallow phase -- by the time the field is ready for planting again, the manure left by the herds should have decomposed nicely.  It's possible that the farmers ought to pay the herders for the value of the manure; but it might be friendlier just to share in the rotation time.

 

anything