Re: The Great Extropian Fire Drill

From: Alex F. Bokov (
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 17:19:42 MDT


On Thu, 25 Oct 2001, Adrian Tymes wrote:

> I'm of two minds about this, but they both boil down to the same
> thing:
> * We are already coming upon dark ages, but fleeing to the hills will
> do us no good. It merely starves us of resources and takes us out
> of the worldwide conversation, thus handing victory to our enemies.

I disagree. Resources don't come from cities. They go there. If it all
goes down, that's the first place they'll stop going.

Also, note that I'm not advocating on living in Exclaves full time. The
whole point is that we go on with our lives wherver we are and have the
Exclaves for when we feel there is nothing further we can do.

> * The "dark ages" trigger can not usefully be tested in advance. 99+%
> probability it will either go off while the situation is salvageable,
> or fail to go off even after the situation has collapsed. Either
> way, evacuating upon this trigger is not useful.

I know that you're probably using 99% as a figure of speech, but if
not, knowing how you calculate these odds can itself be useful
information. Even if you are using it as a figure of speech, it would
still be useful to know what assumptions you're making about the sorts
of triggers that would be used.

The argument you're making applies to investment. You will either buy
too high or sell too low, so there is no hope of making money on the
stock market! Nevertheless I invest (or will when I get out of debt)
because I believe that if I'm even a tiny bit smarter than 'the herd'
it will make a big difference in the outcome. I believe that we as
individuals have the imagination and as a group the knowledge to see
which way the wind is blowing just a little bit sooner than everybody
else does. We even have a web-based tool for aggregating our
collective prescience-- Now, to come up with some
good claims (FXers: should this part of the question be moved to a
particular FX forum, or should I keep it here until specific claims
can be formulated?)

One very clear trigger is smallpox outbreak *anywhere* on Earth. The
conventional wisdom will be "It's a serious problem, and I'll probably
head for the hills if it spreads to my town."

The truth will be "It WILL spread to my town, and a goodly % of the
population will die. When that happens or even before, there will be
civil unrest. The current location of the outbreak matters only
insofar as it gives me an estimate of how much time I have before my
town is hit."

That's one trigger. To use another investment metaphor, I'd like to
put together a diversified portfolio of such triggers, weighted
according to their likely severity.

PS: Obviously, if you already live in "the hills" like Mike does, your
response to epidemic would be different. You might, for example, try
to convince the town leaders to cordon off the town and put cops in
protective suits at roadblocks to detain arrivals until they test
negative. That failing, you could cordon off your property and wait
for the epidemic to run its course.

- --
* I believe that the majority of the world's Muslims are good, *
* honorable people. If you are a Muslim and want to reassure me and *
* others that you are part of this good, honorable majority, all *
* you need to say are nine simple words: "I OPPOSE the Wahhabi cult *
* and its Jihad." *

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