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Is gain-of-function research evil? Should public bureaucrats who encouraged it be removed from office now that we have the benefit of hindsight? Should we also remove officials who continue to defend it or is a general ban sufficient?
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>If we define the term "lied" as "somebody said something that I personally disagreed with because they didn't disclose additional information that I wanted to talk about but they didn't want to talk about", then... well... isn't this 1984 style Orwellian redefinition of words?
Huh?  I said that Dr. Fauci didn't lie.  I think you might have misread my post.

Apparently there is a specific regulatory definition of "gain-of-function research".  One NIH-funded experiment at Wuhan unintentionally resulted in a mouse coronavirus gaining greater virulence in mice.  Even if this arguably doesn't technically count as GoF research, I think Fauci should have disclosed it instead of just saying "no" when asked if NIH funded GoF research in China.


The sad thing is that, with discrediting Fauci, and if the allegations are true it is undeniable and should be pursued, it does put a victory in the camp of conservatives and anyone who has believed that Covid is a conspiracy, who are staunch opponents to masks / vaccines and all the lockdown measures imposed to curb Covid spread.
Not only for the US, but globally as well.

Does the US have any prominent experts left in the fight against Covid to promote counter measures.


The risen Jesus of Nazareth could descend from the clouds surrounded by a choir of angels before telling American conservatives to stop blaming ethnic Chinese people plus the Biden administration for the coronavirus and to get vaccinated ('free loaves and fishes for the first thousand to get poked', maybe)... and they still wouldn't do it. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that.

At some point, you just kind of have to give up on people. I guess. That's life.


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If a devoutly religious medical professional as an individual, or a group of such people, or a corporate organization under a spiritual mission refuse to give the same health care that would be given to somebody else to some victim because said victim is an atheist, a bisexual person, a Jew, a lesbian, a Muslim, a Satanist, a transgender person, or whatever else... should that be legal in the United States? Or should the federal government force the religious to defy their faiths by assisting those whom the divine have commanded them to be separate from? Is that justified?

What if the victims are to be provided substandard care, perhaps by paying more than a type of person viewed as more spiritually acceptable. Is that a reasonable compromise? Or is it insulting?

On the whole, is having so much of the U.S. health care system based around religious lines through spiritual organizations a problem as long as prejudice and sectarianism exists?
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>There's also the matter of the conservatives' rhetoric around all of this, which isn't "we should protect the integrity of women's sports" but is instead of the sort of "we should prevent these Godless perverts from eating the foundation of Christian civilization like termites destroying a beautiful house".
All of the rhetoric that I've seen from conservatives on this issue focuses on the unfairness of allowing biological males to compete in women's sports.


You're still not seeing the context.

Nor are you seeing the specific picture besides the fig leaf justification about "biological males" (a weird pseudo-political invention to say the least in terms of referring to transgender women who're people, not abstract chemical entities).

This is about systematically discriminating against transgender individuals out of bigotry, starting with really putting the screws upon them as children.


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Is the FDA deliberately trying to injure and kill Americans by restricting booster shots?  The first two doses of the mRNA vaccines are apparently so safe that President Biden feels that it is ethical to *mandate* that people take them, but the FDA somehow worries that a third dose is so dangerous that it shouldn't be allowed except for the elderly and people who have certain pre-conditions or higher risk of exposure?  I have seen strong evidence that the third dose is just as safe as the first two doses. And I have also seen strong evidence that it greatly improves immunity to infection (which is especially important to people who are worried about being vectors who might infect more vulnerable loved ones).  IMHO, everyone at the FDA who voted against allowing boosters for the general population should be fired for gross incompetence.  
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Mr Python here knows the medical approval procedure better than the entire goddamn FDA.

I'm curious what step in the approval process in particular do you think they're held up on?


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>I mean, why give it to society's weakest?
Because it provides them (compared to healthier people) greater benefit against severe illness.

>Perhaps it's tricky to request booster shots for everyone, while there's still a large global demand.
True, but that isn't the FDA's job to consider.

>Mr Python here knows the medical approval procedure better than the entire goddamn FDA.
It's not a procedural issue.  It's about whether the booster dose is safe and effective.  You seem to suggest the booster is either unsafe or ineffective?


There likely needs to be, later on, a full nonpartisan and nonideological (and nongovernment, probably) investigation into the FDA in terms of the general response to the pandemic at some point.

I agree that the FDA's conduct both in terms of not accepting the safety of the vaccines in general as well as booster shots, the organization dragging its feet, is quite wrong.


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Over seven million people across the U.S. are now losing unemployment benefits today as pandemic related measures expire.

Article: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/570948-more-than-7-million-americans-to-lose-jobless-benefits-monday

I think that most individuals are rational when it comes to their personal planning. When living life on the edge, getting off benefits to work a new job involves a ton of risk, and the loss of benefits is effectively a large, punitive tax on doing the right thing. From an Econ 101 point of view, it's quite silly to punish people for doing something that's good for them. So, there's plenty clearly wrong with the past system of just paying people not to work (essentially).

At the same time, the pandemic obviously hasn't ended. Thousands clog the nation's hospitals. Mass suffering is still going on. Economic stimulus appears quite justified. And, at the very least, those who are economically severely disadvantaged have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic and deserve disproportionate help.

What then shall be done?
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>Why would the same conservatives who literally deny me and people like me the sense of being HUMAN with human rights in the first place, let enough being a "citizen" in the specific sense, ...
You might as well ask why Texas is reducing restrictions on guns even though it means that people like you can get guns more easily.  The answer is the same: Even though some fraction of Republicans would deny citizenship rights to people like you if they had the political power to do so, the reality is that they don't have that political power and they know it.  Given a choice to enact mandatory militia service for all citizens (including people like you) or to do nothing, I think there is a reasonable chance that they would support the militia bill.  The possibility to exclude various outgroup minorities from citizenship is an orthogonal issue that realistically isn't even on the table.


I mean Texas Republicans have already been trying their best to force hurting minorities through the legislature, they've just been stalled at some points (such as their rapid anti-LGBT measures) due to extreme backlash by non-Republicans. If Republicans ever got their way completely (which, to be clear, could happen at any moment given political winds changing), then Texas would be North Korea on the Gulf Coast as far as human rights goes.

And efforts right now to expand gun access for some don't apply to minorities, as I've pointed out. The winks and nods about who's allowed to exercise their 2nd amendment rights and who's not allowed de facto are clear no matter what de jure laws say. Conservatives do their hardest to make sure that gun culture in all of its forms is dangerous territory, whether in terms of membership associations such as the NRA to clubs at local gun ranges to communities on firearms related blogs and so on... they're generally hostile to minorities who want to break into anti-minority pro-gun "safe spaces".

I, for one, am a Texan minority who doesn't own firearms because in part I know that they're not meant for me and that I'll never be accepted as a valid human being by your standard gun owner, most of whom (as one prominent conservative news-magazine aptly put it) fear the "Monsters Mutilating Children". The reason why they've got guns in the first place is in order to act against people like me. I'm the one that the paper target represents at the standard gun range.

I'm also wondering why you're denying that preventing minorities from being considered full citizens with full rights is something realistically possible. It sure is. Especially when conservatives have been hellbent on that during the four years of a Trump Presidency and have had a lot of success. The next conservative President will likely be even more of a government-worshipping statist than Trump. America's already teetering on the edge of conservatives winning and turning everything into a fascist dictatorship, why would they stop now?



The solution isn't to make benefits less beneficial, it's to make jobs more worth going to. You let wages stagnate for decades, slowly crumble union power, and chip away at benefits over time enough, and wages end up barely covering cost of living. That's where we're at now. Maybe companies could get more workers if they'd actually pay them more than what we've determined is the  bare minimum to survive.


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You want to challenge /townhall/ for mathematics?

Or is there a topic related that you want to see discussed?


Correct, saying it's well formed suggests the algebra will work out.



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Yes, that is indeed a twitter post.


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Would you prefer that one person be horribly tortured for fifty years without hope or rest, or that 3^^^3 people get dust specks in their eyes?  (See below link for what "3^^^3" means.)

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I'd prefer the dust specks, unquestionably.  With most things, not just something abstract like suffering, it's better to distribute the work load as wide as possible.  Do it enough, and almost no one has any work to do at all.


>it's better to distribute the work load as wide as possible.
It's not merely distributing the suffering though; it's increasing the sum total amount of suffering enormously.



Still ideal, though, clearly.  We could honestly allow the dust speck number to be literally infinite (which it essentially already is because we don't have a solution for dust specks).  If the question was "Would you allow one person to suffer for 50 years to eradicate dust specks forever, would you do it?"  I would still say no.  That is not something that is ever worth that cost, again, due to distribution of the suffering.


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How do workers in the US generally deal with the rules regarding to workdays?

I got basic info that there are no official rules regarding holidays and paid sick days, so to my understanding it mostly depends on the leniency of your employer.

Do people generally still have a positive experience in that?
Does anyone know people who have gotten the short end of the stick?
How easy is it to meet personal appointments during working hours? (like repair, administrative visits, planning a medical check up / emergency, being home when your kid has a sick day / vacation day from school)


Because of the general system of federalism, state laws about employment play a gigantic role in peoples' lives, and situations can vary widely depending on where one resides.

To pick just one state, here's some information about Texas:



There's a patchwork of state laws, but it all more of less depends on your employer.

I don't know.  I've had the flu, but still had to work in fast food.  And if the germs passed on, I think that was appropriate enough.  (The place subsequently went out of business, probably for various related management issues -- but it all goes to show it depends on your boss).


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So this got posted somewhere and it got me thinking.  What counts as "accepting" and "allowing" something?  Like for the purpose of argument, let's assume that white people are indeed overwhelmingly dominant and that black people are comparatively mistreated.  If you disagree with said mistreatment of black people...what are you supposed to do?  What are you morally required to do about it?

Is it enough to simply not mistreat people yourself?  Do you need to step in to prevent mistreatment when you see a friend or family member doing it?  How about a stranger?  Do you need to get up and actively seek out this mistreatment to remove it from society?  If so, is it enough to attend rallies and be a part of organizations that oppose these things, or should you go out on your own patrolling for these injustices?

A separate question:  how mistreated does a group have to be for it to trigger as actionable?  Does the severity of the mistreatment adjust the moral reaction?  What are the thresholds?
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There can be no authoritative "reasonable burden" standard of action in which the conditions for actionability are nebulous to this degree.

There cannot be an "appropriate" amount of burden, if the degree to which burden is necessary is not even understood.

To answer the question "how much work needs to be done?", the question "what are we building?" needs to be answered first. And what we are building is, in trying to figure out the puzzle of racial (in)equality, fundamentally not a practical function of law or logic that can be "solved."

How do we even begin to address a task as impossible to conceive of as establishing a burden of actionability for an undefined moral question?

Well, perhaps we start from a moral core, some fundamental principle, and work our way out of the problem.

What is our moral core? Why do we seek "equality" and what does that mean? How do "accepting" and "allowing" fit into that equation, and what do they mean?

What does overwhelmingly dominant mean? In what ways?

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I think of racial prejudice as both an individual and systemic problem that's an aberration to how people inherently, at a gut level, want to treat others and be treated. It's in the vein of other afflictions that happen to humanity that we want civilization to fight to point of near elimination if not outright elimination. Think of brain cancer, car accidents, depression, earthquakes, hurricanes, pneumonia, polio, train crashes, tuberculosis, and the like. At a personal level, you try to give others the decency and respect that they inherently deserve as your fellow human beings. You also work to 'raise the sanity waterline', as the saying goes, of broad culture as much as possible.


>Is it enough to simply not mistreat people yourself?
Yes.  Everything else you asked about is supererogatory.

Also: Even with discrimination, most black people in America still have lives worth living. Some people might think it more important to devote one's energies to avoiding existential risk than things such as fighting discrimination.


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Should the U.S. federal government be in the business of forcing people to get the coronavirus vaccine, whether they like it or not?

Story: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/09/biden-vaccine-mandate-republicans-dont-believe-own-arguments.html

My personal opinion is that mandates are justified. Lives are literally at stake. Children have been suffering. The immunosuppressed have been suffering. They can't get the vaccine and rely on others for their own safety. We should care about them and protect them. Other reasons exist as well.
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This how I feel as well, broadly speaking.

My personal viewpoint is that the OSHA mandates are clearly legal, but I'm far from an expert in the area. Still, I hope that the courts side in favor of the Biden administration. Lives are at stake.


Yes. Force them. I don't care about personal opinion at this point because it harms others.


Heh, can't speak for the US.
But I have seen articles go by in Europe stating that even requiring a proof of vaccination to have access to stuff is a violation of human rights. And courts are willing to annul any sanctions against the unvaccinated in this.
Heck, there's been a long standing discussion if there was even a legal grounds for closing down public life / barring large gatherings and mandating masks during the "height" of the pandemic.

Me personally, I don't know if mandating a vaccine is really necessary. you can go by and let everyone sit on their own risk by not getting vaccinated.

But I personally wouldn't blame the healthcare personnel to peace out on this. Honestly, they are set up with cleaning the proverbial bathroom that people try their hardest to cover in rotten faeces.


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Even after the U.S. military has left Afghanistan, concluding the U.S.'s longest war, massive efforts remain in order to help stranded individuals who seek assistance leaving the country. They've much to fear given recent actions by the Taliban, including mass assault upon female protesters. This exodus still includes American citizens as well as many others. Desperate times.

Story: https://news.yahoo.com/blumenthal-furious-biden-administration-over-202200285.html

Given that it appears safe to say that the Biden administration has bungled the situation in Afghanistan badly, what if anything can be done to make things better past this point? What would accountability look like? And is all this likely to damage U.S. foreign policy moving on in other places?
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It's the middle east. Big-headed countries have tried to conquer it for milenia and never succeeded long-term. It was total idiocy to try and take it over in the first place. While i do think Biden's withdrawl exacerbated issues, it was always going to be a shit-show.


A fiasco for years to say the least...


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The terrorist attacks that occurred two decades ago set into motion a profound bunch of changes in America that we're still grappling with today. Personally, most of these appear to have been misguided at best and nightmarish at worse. Still, history is history, albeit recent history.

Interesting report on some regrets from seminal foreign policy figure David Petraeus here: https://news.yahoo.com/gen-david-petraeus-2-regrets-032857899.html

Thoughts on what Petraeus said? And reflections in general? What does this anniversary mean to you as an individual?

To be honest, I don't quite see where to go from here. Although, looking back, I sure as hell would've done a gigantic number of things differently (i.e. avoided invading Iraq, refrained from linking the separate issues of Iraqi actions to that of Iranian and North Korean behavior via the "axis of evil" approach, worked to advance alternative energy so that fossil fuel dependence was less of a problem, et cetera). I don't feel safer than I did on September 12th, 2001. Do you?
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>If anything, we have much more to fear from our own government and fellow countrymen than we've ever had from terrorists.



The terrorism of 9/11 always seemed very distant, and while people talk about its impact, the only impact I've actually felt is from what we've done about it, and all of that impact has been negative.  While nothing as grandiose as 9/11 has happened again (yet), we seem to have failed at any attempt to prevent what caused these attacks in the first place.  We've finally pulled out of Afghanistan, a Taliban victory, all while making everyone angrier in the process.  I can honestly say that I don't think a single thing we did in response to 9/11 was the correct choice and that moving forward from here our main goal should just be to continue to reverse what we've done and attempt to seek amends.


The Taliban victory clearly makes the entire Afghanistan war enterprise seem pretty pointless.


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With several months of leadership to go by, has Joe Biden fulfilled his promises to be a fundamentally just, reasonable President? What's your opinion of him so far? Are you surprised? Or no?


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- Hasn't made any completely insane out-of-left-field decisions (which is more than can be said for our previous president.)
- Hasn't tried to pack the Supreme Court.

- He royally fucked up withdrawal from Afghan.
- Still insufficient production of N95 masks.  Most Americans still lack N95 masks.
- FDA is killing Americans with its insane bullshit.  (E.g., no authorization of boosters, no authorization of vaccination of under-12-year-olds.  Mifepristone and misoprostol still aren't available over-the-counter.)


That's a good point about the FDA. It's slowness is legendary, yes, but what's happened in terms of it over the past multiple months has been horrid.


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In political science, the horseshoe theory asserts that the far-left and the far-right closely resemble one another in many respects, analogous to the way that the opposite ends of a horseshoe are close together.  What do you think of this theory?
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>What do you mean by that? Only agents (not ideas) can be properly said to be disingenuous.

I'm using "idea" as a rough synonym for "rhetoric"


So I thought of this in the other thread, considering how a lot of political visualizations falsely imply a spectrum of beliefs, and I thought of a good example for this thread: vegans vs carnivores. There are people who, for various ideological reasons and nutrition beliefs will only eat phony cheese made from soybeans. There are people who for various ideological reasons and nutrition beliefs will only eat the burger patty and they will never put tomato ketchup on it. It's tempting to put them on a visualization of how much meat a person will eat implying that somebody's opinions about meat are the justification for that decision.

Except meat has nothing to do with it.

There are people who have strong arbitrary ideologies that they impose on everybody around and who expect everybody to understand them and have equally intense opinions regarding food just waiting to be broadcast, and you have people who eat things because they feel like it. And then you have weirdos who once encountered a hobo who shouted at traffic that eating asparagus means you are possessed by hitler and now they eat nothing but asparagus to spite nobody in particular.

And the tricky thing is that using a number line arrangement for visualizing this makes the hobo a centrist and asparagus guy a vegan, but I don't think it would be appropriate to put either in those groups.


I think that there's a saying in the social sciences that goes something like "Logic and facts aren't judges. They're lawyers for emotions." Or something like that.

In short: people tend to have snap reactions to problem solving situations in life first, gut instincts happening, and then afterwards there's a long, belated chain of rationalizations that usually comes about to support those first reactions.

With enough time and effort, rational thinking can overcome first instincts. But that's quite difficult. When it comes to politics especially, irrational emotions are in the drivers' seats a lot.


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So, we're coming up on 20 years.  As I read, I see the words "Islamic," or "religiously motivated."

I've taken, by definition, that religion is good.  This allows us to respect religion, to protect the freedom to practice it, and appreciate the cultural impact.  It appears to me to be the pro-social thing to do.

We don't respect or protect something that motivates terrorism.  Or that discriminates (in a bigoted way) or hurts people in any way.  So anything harmful must have a different name.

Perhaps we have a language problem.  Do you think there are better phrases we could use rather than "religiously motivated," "Islamic extremism", "Christian fundamentalism," etc?  (A good thing should not be terrorism when stripped to its fundamentals, after all.)
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We obviously can't see either magnetism or gravity, but we can experimentally prove that they exist in some physical fashion. Perhaps love is the same? Maybe consciousness as well? Actual ripples in space-time that cause matter and energy to alter? I don't know.


I suppose.  Few bounds confine possible assertions about what's yet to be measured.


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Hope springs eternal.


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With Texas having put into effect what's de facto a complete ban on abortions, with Roe v. Wade being essentially overturned in terms of the state's administration, the question has suddenly become rather clear-cut: should all abortions be banned, regardless of context?

For information about public opinion and context, see: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-texass-abortion-law-may-go-too-far-for-most-americans/
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Given that an adult person can receive a transplanted heart without in any way, shape, or form be considered to have 'died' or 'come back to life' or have their fundamental nature as a person changed, then I absolutely agree that using the heart as a metric for who or what counts as a 'person' is absurd.


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>>9762 >>9772 >>9777
Perhaps people who think that the heartbeat is morally significant are emotionally driven and using sloppy System-1 thinking rather than engaging in rational System-2 thinking.


It's perhaps inevitable given that "hearts" and "heartbeats" have such strong cultural association in people's minds with a bunch of things from the media.


Case in point, this kickass 80s synth tune:

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