Agree that its interesting to see how fields come to consensus on path-dependent decisions. Rickover arguably forced the entire field of nuclear reactors into pressure water reactors over some of the more exotic reactors being explored at the time (I'm certainly not in a position to judge if that was right or not, but simply the observation that at least one agentic government official was in a position to make such path-dependent funding). I've written previously about other examples of how government funding leads to different path-dependent technology develop, notably for quantum computing(https://charlesyang.substack.com/p/real-life-examples-of-path-criticality) but it would be interesting to find more examples

Expand full comment

Totally. I think this is almost another form of market failure - essentially decisions that *constrain* the possibility frontier. This isn't always bad! I do think that sometimes committing to path-dependent decisions accelerate progress down certain channels that can be net positive overall - but it's interesting thinking about the ex ante heuristics that would suggest that having that lock-in is premature or ill-advised.

Expand full comment
Sep 6, 2023Liked by Tim Hwang


Perhaps making grants to people (as HHMI does) rather than for ideas solves this pretty well.

Make some grants based on a smaller pool of Yes votes. One way to do this is give committees a stack of grants and a number of Yes votes, then allow them to allocate more than one vote to a given grant.

Expand full comment

Nice! Yeah, one variant of this that I'm watching very closely is pilots around "golden tickets" https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00579-z

Expand full comment

Scientific funding, present day, is consensus pHARMing. Outsiders are not funded.

Guess what! Paradigms fall under scrutiny not consensus.

You may like to test your resistance to conformity and read my articles ...

We breathe air not oxygen. I logically dismiss the gaseous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and provide a better explanation based on hydration not oxygenation.

Moisture vs dryness

Air being measured by moisture.

Oxygen being calibrated by its dryness, medical oxygen has 67ppm of water contamination. Oxygen toxicity being directly related to its power to dehydrate.

How does salt restriction lead to heart dis-ease and fear based reactionary thinking?

I explain what symptoms to monitor to maintain adequate hydration.

I explain why the physiology of dehydration is controlled by the adrenals and how this is like driving a car in reverse instead of drive, setting the kidneys up for an early demise.

Chronic dis-eases have increased dramatically since salt was demon-eyed.

It’s time to wise-eyes and understand hydration equals salt plus water. Healing is underpinned with hydration.

Get salty!

Expand full comment