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Wes Winham
Works at PolicyStat
Attended Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Lives in indianapolis, indiana
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Wes Winham

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I'm very glad nobody was seriously injured, but there was likely no reason those officers needed to be put in harm's way. SWAT teams are a great resource for the situations they were created (hostages, truly time-sensitive violence-preventing operations, etc), but creating high stakes situations to serve drug search warrants (of which <40% have been shown to locate illegal narcotics[1])? We should not be OK with putting lives on the line for that.

Readers will please forgive me for attempting to speak of the broader trend displayed by this incident. My aim is not to insult the officers putting themselves in harm's way, as they are generally not the people directly responsible for the suboptimal policy. I don't mean to presume that the tactic used in this specific instance wasn't optimal. Perhaps it was, but I would ask you to compare to a realistical second-best alternative. In this specific case, perhaps all of the alternatives were investigated and a high-stakes confrontation was indeed the best way to serve this particular narcotics search warrant.

In the general case, though, it is clear that alternatives to SWAT raids (increasingly "no-knock") for non-violent warrants are generally ignored. I care about officer safety and I care about the safety of citizens that are the targets of these warrants, especially considering the alarmingly-high rate of "wrong door" raids and embarrassingly-low rate at which these SWAT raids uncover criminal behavior[1].  In the early 1980s, police performed ~3k SWAT-style raids. In 2005 (the last year with good data), there were 50k raids. 

To the officer safety and potential alternatives end, I think it's instructive to look at what tactics are used in situations where the targets of search warrants are known to be violent and dangerous. For example, in this case where a known violent criminal had a stash of guns, instead of a SWAT raid on his home, they called his cell phone and said that his storage locker had been broken into so that he could be apprehended without incident (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304791204576402742970279686). I'm very confident that officers smarter than me and with better understanding of specific situations can come up with a myriad of other methods. Effort is worthwhile to avoid putting officers, drug dealers (who are not the brightest of the bunch and are tasked with defending themselves from others of their type), drug users and innocent citizens (35-65% of narcotics warrants result in no contraband) into situations where they must make split-second decisions involving lethal force.

Every time one of those high-stakes situations is converted into a search on an empty house, an arrest in a driveway or is deprioritized entirely, that's one more Officer Jared Francom that gets to go home to his family (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/17/internal-documents-show-that-utah-police-did-little-investigation-before-fatal-drug-raid/).

I think that the use of SWAT raids to serve narcotics warrants is unconscionable, that the system that creates those encounters must change and that it will take recognition of that fact from rank and file police and from ordinary voters in order to reduce the potential for tragedy that they cause. 


[1]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/08/17/data-show-that-in-utah-swat-style-tactics-are-overwhelmingly-used-to-serve-drug-warrants/
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I didn't test drive my car before buying it and I still think it was the best decision. It was inspected by a mechanic, however.
Why should you?  They want you to do it, which is already reason to be suspicious. It makes you all the more emotionally committed to buying a car whose immediate feel you enjoy.  You might save a few hundred dollars […]
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And a minivan exception. Those must be tested as well, and if possible shove your whole family, or a minimum 75% of them in there. 
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Big Data > Big Gladwell
Here is a news article about a Malcolm Gladwell speech. This news article is of great interest to me, since it suggests that it's not actually very hard to build a lucrative career going around and giving knowledgeable-soundi...
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It's sadfunny, because it's true.
 
HOBOKEN, NJ—In a concerted effort to eliminate any possibility of perceived resentment or antagonism, local account manager Jessica Koerper reportedly cycled through a variety of non-threatening voice inflections in her head Friday before vocalizing a concern to her manager.
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Ha! Last line is my favorite.
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Wes Winham

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Preliminary, very speculative data on the impact of the minimum wage hike in the LA hotel industry. It doesn't look good. Worth keeping an eye on.
Employment data suggests that a big hike for L.A. hotel workers is starting to cost jobs.
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Whelp. I'm now convinced that the hamburger menu is not a great idea. Hooray new information!

cc: +Michael Zoller +Tony Dewan 
 
This is a hamburger menu: It’s called a “hamburger” because it it looks roughly like a bun-meat-bun sandwich. (Others have insisted that it looks much more like a triple hot-dog, but they’ve thus far been unsuccessful in winning the public’s hearts and minds.) The idea behind the hamburger menu is that you can use it …
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sniff sniff I'm navigating
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Scott Alexander wonders if there's a G factor for correctness (I'll call it the C factor for this post) that is independent of intelligence and knowledge. I think there is and I think that it's maybe the thing I value most in other people.

Of course, if we just observe who is correct, we're mostly going to pick up intelligence + knowledge + status quo bias, so observing the C factor is difficult.

## Why I think it's real

1. Some very smart people have strong biases towards not changing their minds. I think there's a conflict here between desire to see past-you as being correct and desire to actually be correct. If your brain gets more dopamine and lovely-feeling chemical shots from being smart than from becoming smarter, that's going to hurt your C factor.

2. Some people respond to the incentives created by social pressure much more readily than others. That's an effect that would contra-indicate a high C factor.

3. From a neurodiversity perspective, some brains are much more biased towards narrative-formation. Folks on the autism spectrum are much less biased towards narratives, for example. Narratives are a good heuristic in some cases, but at least one study I'm aware of shows the mechanism by which they actually hide information [1]. A bayesian system that starts from a narrative will produce a much lower C factor than a system that starts from facts that can change. It's much easier to adjust ones opinion in the correct direction upon arrival of new information if you have the full model of the informational inputs to that opinion, versus just the concluding narrative.

Effectively, I would love to see a study comparing folks on the autism spectrum versus neurotypical folks for their ability to update an evaluation based on changed facts. I think that's the model of decision-making that most closely mirrors the real world search for "correctness".

Basically, someone with a high C factor will possess the following traits:

1. Gets more reward/status from dynamic learning/improving than from seeing themselves as statically "correct".
2. Does not respond strongly to social incentives for opinion holding (in either direction).
3. Thinks more in webs of facts than a one-directional narrative chain.

[1]: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811915006588
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We're all working in an economy increasingly dominated by "superstart effects", where the returns to being the absolute best are much higher compared to the almost-best. It's important for tax policy to be designed with this fact in mind.
Here is yet another NBER Working Paper to shout from the rooftops: How are optimal taxes affected by the presence of superstar phenomena at the top of the earnings distribution? To answer this question, we extend the Mirrlees model to […]
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A claim I hear often taken for a given is that the pressure from Wall Street to chase quarterly profits actually hurts the long-term prospects of public companies. Advocates claim that this is an advantage of private corporations and that companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook (whose control resides in the hands of the founders) also have this huge advantage. I now have evidence that this might not actually be true, so I'm adjusting my probability that it's true downward.

Thinking about it, I now find it easy to construct a narrative whereby public company CEOs and executives propagate that story because of the natural human tendency to resist outside criticism. 
That is the title of a working study from Credit Suisse (pdf), here is one excerpt: The problem is that short-termism is very difficult to prove. As we will see, many of the common perceived symptoms of short-termism don’t hold […]
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Rent control is still a really bad idea. There's a 10-20 year wait to get an apartment in downtown Stockholm, as a result.
Here’s an interesting letter from “Stockholm” to Seattle Dear Seattle, I am writing to you because I heard that you are looking at rent control. Seattle, you need to ask your citizens this: How would citizens like it if they […]
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User Experience design is a fun process. It's great when people share the iterations they went through before arriving at a finished design.
 
How to Design a Credit Card Form

#ux #design  
Paying for something online with a credit card is simple, right? Yes and no. Yes, because we’ve been doing it since the …
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Front desk staff was very friendly and helpful. We were buying bandaids in the convenience store and they offered to give us some for free instead. A small thing, but generally indicative of their helpfulness. I also definitely recommend a room with access to the concierge suite if you're going to be there during the week. Solid breakfast in the morning and desserts plus drinks in the evening.
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
Great food with good prices and quick, friendly service. Right off the highway (google maps was wrong). Went there for breakfast with group of five. Seated right away and served quickly. Standard breakfast menu fare with some twila's-themed special items. Food arrived very quickly and was universally good. We had twila's omelette (great usage of sweet peppers), french toast, cinimon toast, hash browns (crispy and very good), scrambled eggs. bacon (crispy, good), and toast. All food was good, service was great, prices were great. Plan on stopping here again.
• • •
Public - 4 years ago
reviewed 4 years ago
3 reviews
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Service was friendly, but incredibly slow. Went for lunch with a group of 5 at 11 with 3 other tables in the place. Hamburger and tuna melt took 15 minutes with a turkey sandwich and philly cheese steak taking 20 after that (first two were basically finished). Waited 15 after that and they forgot about the omelette (with 15 customers in the whole place). Home fries were bland. Philly cheese steak was ok. Tuna melt was good. Burger wasn't quite as good as wendys. omelette was good. Prices were high for the quality ($6 for turkey lunch meat sandwich with no cheese) Keep driving if you're on the highway, otherwise bring a book and get the tuna melt.
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Public - 4 years ago
reviewed 4 years ago