485. Say It Loud – 488. Horrible LHC Consistency

The following posts are of minor importance.

485. Say It Loud

I am often accused of overconfidence because my audience is not familiar with the concept of there being iron laws that govern the manipulation of uncertainty. Just because I don’t know the object-level doesn’t necessarily mean that I am in a state of fear and doubt as to what I should be thinking.  That comes through in my writing, and so I sound confident even when I am in the midst of manipulating uncertainty.  That might be a disadvantage in my attempts to communicate; but I would rather clearly describe my state of uncertainty, and worry afterward about how that makes me look.

And similarly, I have often seen people who spend no effort at all on possibilities other than their mainline, praised for their seeming humility, on account of their indefinite language.  They are skilled at sounding uncertain, which makes them appear modest; but not skilled at handling uncertainty.  That is a political advantage, but it doesn’t help them think.  Also the audience is given more slack to interpret the speaker as being on their side; but to deliberately exploit this effect is dishonesty.

486. Ban the Bear

I applaud the SEC’s courageous move to ban short selling.  Isn’t that brilliant?  I wonder why they didn’t think of that during the Great Depression.

However, I feel that this valiant effort does not go far enough.

All selling of stocks should be banned.  Once you buy a stock, you have to hold it forever.

Sure, this might make the market a little less liquid.  But once stock prices can only go up, we’ll all be rich!

Or maybe we should just try something simpler: pass a law making it illegal for stock prices to go down.

487. How Many LHC Failures is Too Many?

Recently the Large Hadron Collider was damaged by a mechanical failure.  This requires the collider to be warmed up, repaired, and then cooled down again, so we’re looking at a two-month delay.

Inevitably, many commenters said, “Anthropic principle!  If the LHC had worked, it would have produced a black hole or strangelet or vacuum failure, and we wouldn’t be here!”

This remark may be somewhat premature, since I don’t think we’re yet at the point in time when the LHC would have started producing collisions if not for this malfunction.

…So – taking into account the previous cancellation of the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) – how many times does the LHC have to fail before you’ll start considering an anthropic explanation?  10?  20?  50?

488. Horrible LHC Consistency

While trying to answer my own question on “How Many LHC Failures Is Too Many?” I realized that I’m horrendously inconsistent with respect to my stated beliefs about disaster risks from the Large Hadron Collider.

First, I thought that stating a “one-in-a-million” probability for the Large Hadron Collider destroying the world was too high, in the sense that I would much rather run the Large Hadron Collider than press a button with a known 1/1,000,000 probability of destroying the world.

But if you asked me whether I could make one million statements of authority equal to “The Large Hadron Collider will not destroy the world”, and be wrong, on average, around once, then I would have to say no.

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