[ExI] it was the best times, it was the best of times

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Oct 8 10:23:10 UTC 2013

On 2013-10-08 10:49, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> On Mon, Oct 07, 2013 at 09:36:33PM -0600, Kelly Anderson wrote:
>> As usual, you want to use metrics of things that cannot be measured. It is
> Bull. I can trust a long-term freegan to recognize subjective trends
> in a given area, and integrate multiple such data points into a global
> trend.

Bad method. (down, bad method! down!) Subjective trends are strongly 
biased, especially  when linked to highly valued beliefs. Aggregating 
them from independent sources with the same rough biases is worse than 
selecting random anecdotes. This method will strongly tell you that the 
moon has a major influence on health-care admission types; just ask some 

Now, waste numbers are tracked in an objective way by various agencies 
since they have to deal with landfills, and this is where you would get 
not just samples but aggregated numbers for entire societies.

I do not have the time to delve deep into this, but looking at
suggests that municipal waste per capita remains fairly constant in the 
core EU - the variations we see are far smaller than anything that could 
be reliably observed on the ground. West Balkan shows a markedly rising 
trends as their living standard improves (there the freegans ought to be 
able to notice year-by-year changes). Maybe the composition of the waste 
is changing; I leave that for other data dumpster divers.

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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