I want to save myself

by DanArmak1 min read20th May 201164 comments

20

Motivations
Personal Blog

Related to: People who want to save the world 

I have recently been diagnosed with cancer, for which I am currently being treated with good prognosis. I've been reevaluating my life plans and priorities in response. To be clear, I estimate that the cancer is responsible for much less than half the total danger to my life. The universals - X-risks, diseases I don't have yet, traffic accidents, etc. - are worse.

I would like to affirm my desire to Save Myself (and Save The World For Myself). Saving the world is a prerequisite simply because the world is in danger. I believe my values are well aligned with those of the LW community; wanting to Save The World is a good applause light but I believe most people want to do so for selfish reasons. 

I would also like to ask LW members: why do you prefer to contribute (in part) towards humankind-wide X-risk problems rather than more narrow but personally important issues? How do you determine the time- and risk- tradeoffs between things like saving money for healthcare, and investing money in preventing an unfriendly AI FOOM?

It is common advice here to focus on earning money and donating it to research, rather than donating in kind. How do you decide what portion of income to donate to SIAI, which to SENS, and which to keep as money for purely personal problems that others won't invest in? There's no conceptual difficulty here, but I have no idea how to quantify the risks involved.

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How do you determine the time- and risk- tradeoffs between things like saving money for healthcare, and investing money in preventing an unfriendly AI FOOM?

Yes, I would like to see this being outlined as well.

This question must be especially fascinating if you are Eliezer Yudkowsky, in which case the answers to questions about your own survival and the future of humanity converge. Does he constantly wear a helmet? Since falling from the couch and hitting his head could impede a galactic civilisation...

I sometimes get questioned on why I don't drink, but my response of "I don't dare lose a single brain cell" [...] is usually accepted with a smile.

-- Eliezer Yudkowsky

PS: I am sorry to hear of your cancer diagnosis. I hope you get well!

Apparently you aren't signed up for cryonics. You should be; flying your near-corpse in ice to the US (or maybe Russia) is strictly better than letting it rot. Not sure how life insurance interacts with a cancer diagnosis.

Give to whichever charity you estimate is best. Your donations are always too small to affect which helps most at the margin.

I give 5% of my income, which will go to 10% once I reach financial security (defined as holding a job for six months and lack of terrifying immediate prospects). That's "all money going in", not just taxable income. If I acquire money illegitimately (finding it with no obvious owner, borrowing it and the lender not wanting it back), it all goes to charity. I try to be frugal, save for investments (nice shoes help get raises), but fail miserably. I donate once a year, for practical reasons.

Selfish motives are fine, but that's probably a typical psyche fallacy. A whole lot of people defend causes at great personal cost.

[-][anonymous]10y 5

I give 5% of my income, which will go to 10% once I reach financial security (defined as holding a job for six months and lack of terrifying immediate prospects). That's "all money going in", not just taxable income. If I acquire money illegitimately (finding it with no obvious owner, borrowing it and the lender not wanting it back), it all goes to charity. I try to be frugal, save for investments (nice shoes help get raises), but fail miserably. I donate once a year, for practical reasons.

Same here. I donate 10%, save 10% for emergencies. I donate immediately each month so I don't even get the temptation to use the money otherwise. I'm a starving undergrad as well, so those numbers might go up later.

I chose 10% for charity because the average donation seems to be about 3-4% of income (quick google confirmation) and I won't let those bastards be more charitable than me.

Selfish motives are fine, but that's probably a typical psyche fallacy.

Don't ignore warm fuzzies.

the average donation seems to be about 3-4%

Whoa. It's only 0.6% in France.

I just use my reluctance to steal to avoid using money I plan to donate.

[-][anonymous]10y 2

Whoa. It's only 0.6% in France.

To be fair, a significant amount of these 3-4% (American figure) are religious donations, but the difference between US and Europe is still notable.

To be fair, a significant amount of these 3-4% (American figure) are religious donations, but the difference between US and Europe is still notable.

To be fair, a significant amount of these religious donations (money and time given through religious organizations) are used in ways that non-religious people would find praiseworthy (like feeding people or providing them with health care).

[-][anonymous]10y 7

And to be fair to the Europeans, they have greater state involvement in providing those things, which is one of the reasons European society is more secularised. If you know the state will pay for your hospital visit, you don't need to rely on the Church to subsidise it.

What an extremely fair group of people we are.

That's often quoted as the reason for this, but I believe that a bigger factor is that Americans have a long tradition of "tithing", because many of their churches used to be insular and self-sustained by the local communities. With the secularisation of the 20th century, the same attitude has transferred over to all charities, even the non-religious ones.

By contrast, the vast majority of European churches are or used to be established, and financed themselves primarily through state support, their own income (land ownership and such), or both. You weren't expected to have to feed your village priest; in most Western European languages, "tithe" is a purely historical term.

So, while charity in Europe is something many people do, usually it happens irregularly as a form of impulse spending, or by giving to a specific cause or organisation that you have been helped by in the past. You're certainly not expected to donate regularly unless you're really ultra-rich (and even then, I doubt many would be seriously offended), and vice-versa, to talk openly about whom or what you donated money to would probably come off really, really awkward, like you're bragging about your generosity.

[-][anonymous]10y 2

That makes sense too, but I was looking at it from the other side - people know they need to rely on the churches for support in the US, so they stay with them so they have that support network in case of illness or disability. On the other hand in Europe people have felt free to leave churches because their taxes pay for that support.

In the UK, at least, there's even quite an anti-charity stance by a number of people, who consider it the State's role to, for example, provide foreign aid or fund cancer research, and condider donating directly to those causes to be encouraging the State to abrogate its responsibility.

[-][anonymous]6y 0

Now I understand a lot of things American conservatives say!

Cryonics aren't available in Israel. And I'm pretty sure they won't be, because our government enforces religious observances at time of death.

The most practical course for me might be to figure out myself that I was dying soon and fly to the US while I was alive, and get cryopreserved there. I don't know if this is legally possible for a non-US resident, or if it is economically feasible for someone already sick and uninsured. I'll have to find out. I don't have much hope of finding a way, though.

I give 5% of my income, which will go to 10% once I reach financial security

These are very round numbers and so, on the outside view, I suspect they are completely arbitrary. How did you choose them?

Cryonics aren't available in Israel. And I'm pretty sure they won't be, because our government enforces religious observances at time of death.

Yes, to live it's OK, but to die there?!

A 1996 law allows alternative civilian burials, and a judge authorized cremation in 2007, so maybe it'd be possible to get around that?

These are very round numbers and so, on the outside view, I suspect they are completely arbitrary. How did you choose them?

Oh, quite. From "Suggested tithe is 10% of income" I got "most people think a 10% income reduction doesn't terribly affect their finances", I divided by two because I'm a starving student and it's better if I adjust up more often than down.

Not sure how life insurance interacts with a cancer diagnosis.

Poorly. If you presently have cancer, I'm sure you can't get individual life insurance.

If you had cancer a long time ago and it hasn't been a problem for years, I don't know whether life insurance is impossible or you'll just have to pay a higher rate.

If you're employed have cancer and might get life insurance through your employer, I don't know.

financial security (defined as holding a job for six months and lack of terrifying immediate prospects).

I suggest a different definition. Having your finances in order, and having a net worth of at least n years worth of income. I read n=0,5 a lot, but feel more comfortable with n >3 or more depending on your distance to retirement.

and having a net worth of at least n years worth of income.

Income is irrelevant, you measure this in typical level of spending.

No, it serves as a metric. Many people treat their income (or their income minus what they've decided to save) as a budget where they must fit expenses. (Except some rare expenses which are allowed to eat savings.) So "six months of income" is immediately grasped, whereas "six months of typical spending" requires computing your average expenses and hoping nothing unusual happens.

I think either number is fine. Ballparked. The better your financial tracking the more complicated the number can be.

Make that "net worth not counting primary residence".

Presumably because the point of having n years' worth of income is that if you need to, you can live off it for n years; whereas if much of that is tied up in your home then some of those n years are only available if you sell your home, which is a pretty drastic step to have to take. And because if your surviving-for-n-years plan involves selling the place where you live and using all that money, your measure of "income" needs to include any extra rent you'd be having to pay.

No. With decent assent management you can oversee the time delay to access each of the items you own. Cash is good, but not all the reserve needs to be in cash. In a country with a good capital market you can borrow against your house. In severe case where you are unable to acquire income for month that is a decent thing to do. I find it strange to just ignore the biggest asset one owns completely.

Of course this only makes sense if the house/appartment is actually paid for. If you still have a mortgage on it then the house is worth about (house - mortgage - transaction costs) for your reserve.

Yes, since you can borrow with your house as collateral its emergency value (so to speak) isn't zero, but it also doesn't equal its sale value. So the right thing would be something between "net worth" and "net worth not counting primary residence". (Other illiquid assets also need treating specially, for the same reasons.)

Yes, that. The omission was glaring to me because I'm in a situation where net worth is pretty comfortable overall, but discounting my apartment and looking only at my liquid assets and income, well, it's a different picture.

I wonder what other blind spots exist in standard financial advice. I'm unlikely to happen to fall in the one and only category that reveals a blind spot.

It is not a blind spot. The problem with financial advice is how to tailor it to the receiver. The idea of treating the house as special is good for everyone that otherwise would start to spend on it. For someone who one might call a real rational acting financial sound person it is possible to analyze his situation wholy.

I used to find it weird when people start cutting up their credit cards. It makes sense if you other wise use them, but if you do not, then you can just store them in a nice place and decide to not use them.

" worth of income" only works if your income is stable. I don't have a job yet.

I'm also afraid of vague criteria like "in order", because it gives me excuses to put it off. Do you have a precise criterion in mind?

You can also use 'expenses x time'. I just wanted to point out that a job in itself is not a security guarantee. Way to many people have high paying jobs, and no savings - which I consider stupid.

When you just start out, than having the job is a better situation than being unemployed. Having some savings later is even better than that.

'in order' means that you have a general overview about your finances, reasonable bookkeeping, keeping up with outside demands like taxes. It also means you are able to keep up with your bills. Keyword: liquidity management. There is a wide area on how to do it. And then there is the state of being completely lost.

To put it more general: everything strategic that needs to be taken care of is actually taken care off. Savings, special offerings for retirement, if you have dependents that also includes a live insurance.

Consider dealing with financial issues as applied rationality. One could probably estimate how one is saved by a reasonable dealing with the issue, and then donate that to SIAI.

Your advice seems optimized for... well, adults. Sure, if you can use your income as a metric, or your expenses, or some other way of measuring your financial situation - great.

Donating a fixed percentage of your income, then doing as you normally would if you had only gotten this reduced income in the first place, can apply to almost everyone. (People like you who don't have an income have other problems.)

Saving is a very good idea - actually, my idea of "financial security" is "being able to save money". It's just not compatible with the "starving undergrad" model. I'm not a responsible adult, I'm a crazy kid. I don't do responsibility. Sure, when I get a job (and it'll likely be high-paying) I'll start saving (also a fixed percentage, at least until I get the hang of things).

Prioritizing saving and vaguely defined necessary expenses... that's what I'm afraid of. If I say "I'll wait until I have enough savings to live on for six months", I'll just spend a little more every month, notice I haven't saved enough yet, and wait a little more. If I say "I'll wait until I can reliably pay the bills and track spending and get necessities like insurance", I'll just keep moving the goalposts - I'll start thinking I need a car, and I might get sick so I need to save more, and I'll have a big crash and drop accounting for six months.

Why do you prefer to contribute (in part) towards humankind-wide X-risk problems rather than more narrow but personally important issues?

As I've mentioned before, I consider my donations to existential risk to be a subtractive process brought on by depression. I care very little for my own life, but that lack of caring seems to enable actions which are selfless. On the other hand, it also tends to cause wild swings in spending. The easier it is for me to do, the quicker it gets over my action-threshold and becomes reality. Clicking a button on a website to donate a bunch of money is very easy. Much easier than going to the store. Setting up a recurring transaction with one button click which then translates to thousands of dollars over months or years is easier still. This mindset becomes dangerous when something shiny but low-utility catches my attention, like "style and fashion" or "expert wine tasting".

How do you determine the time- and risk- tradeoffs between things like saving money for healthcare, and investing money in preventing an unfriendly AI FOOM?

I use my internal Bayesometer after hundreds of hours of immersion in a topic. I do a quick mental check, "How do I feel about X?" and it spits out a response. From the results, it appears less biased in general than most of the methods used by other people, especially with regards to its self-reported confidence levels. This community may have more rigorous methods, but they're likely much more difficult to apply, and therefore unlikely to pass my action-threshold. Sitting and reading websites and books and research papers requires virtually zero action by my count.

How do you decide what portion of income to donate to SIAI, which to SENS, and which to keep as money for purely personal problems that others won't invest in?

I perform a quick and easy computation to see how much to donate to SIAI: how much money do I have in my bank account? It's typically a lot (more than 23% of my gross income last year), since I have a very low cost of living lifestyle and a good job. I donated a pittance to SENS so I could get the free book they were offering at the time. Personal problems get the minimal amount to keep me comfortable. I've often thought that if I got cancer with low odds of survival, I'd want to donate as much as I can, including all of my savings, to get it out of my hands. Stupid doctors take way too much of our money for a terrible return in QALY at the end. I've also thought about naming a charity as my beneficiary in a will or just on my savings accounts. Working on legal documents takes a lot of effort though.

I believe my values are well aligned with those of the LW community; wanting to Save The World is a good applause light but I believe most people want to do so for selfish reasons.

Yeah. My initial motivation was mostly having me and friends/family being able to be around for a while.

My values have since drifted to become more altruistic ("Well, even if hypothetically me, everyone I'll ever meet and like, and enough people to keep the economy running will be able to live, I might as well try to save other people because it's not like I'm really doing anything better").

I would also like to ask LW members: why do you prefer to contribute (in part) towards humankind-wide X-risk problems rather than more narrow but personally important issues?

Because I don't want to outlive everyone that I love.

Also yeah, cryonics. Good luck.

"I might as well try to save other people because it's not like I'm really doing anything better"

This made me think of a Kevin Smith-directed Superman.

In case the health treat is not trivially treatable you might read up on the science about the specific type of cancer you got. There are a few percentage points to be gained by knowing the important factors that you can actually influence for your treatment results.

It is also a good time to form a strong opinion on cryogenics. (disclaimer, I did not do so myself yet, and might actually decide against it. But people I respect are all in)

I currently do not donate to any causes due to a lack of income. I volunteer my time in one area, which I am involved in for more than 10 years. But I do not do so because I wholeheartedly support the cause, it is just a very convenient place to try things out and a lot of fun.

In donating one usually does not give out too much of the income. Figures like 10% get used, and do not hurt the donor. When picking charities there are some services that explore how efficient a charity works. (And rationally one should choose the best and give only to that. But often one wants to give to some local causes, and also some non-locals). I would not give more than a charity can safely handle.

Friends of mine have small foundations that run on 2000€. There is no point in donating a big chunk, but I might add another 500 at some point.

In donating one usually does not give out too much of the income. Figures like 10% get used, and do not hurt the donor.

They very much do hurt the donor. The hurt of donating incorrectly is exactly the negative of the benefit of donating correctly.

Don't think of it as spending 10% of my income, which I can live without. Think of it as spending 10% of my influence on my probability of not dying. I'm not looking for a charity to give to so I can feel better. I want to really actually increase my chances of survival as a result.

Actual longevity research is time consuming. Aubrey de Grey is support worthy, but I am not sure if that is the best way.

The futurist/longevity/SF cluster seems to systematically ignore some available influence factors on longevity. I am afraid if you are serious you have to dig into the topic yourself to some degree. But it looks difficult to do some spending now and actually get noteworthy effects from that in the near future. Getting rid of one cause of death still leaves the others out. I read somewhere that even beating all cancer types would only increase average livespans by 3 years.

Do you want to increase general livespan and/or healthy years enjoyed over all of humanity, or do you want to specifically work on your own most pressing health needs. The resulting actions are different.

I currently do not donate to any causes due to a lack of income.

That usually leads to repeating "I can't this year, but next year". If you get money from any source at all, it may be a good idea to donate some of it. Now, if someone pays for your needs but doesn't give you any money directly, that won't work - but it's much rarer.

I currently life 100% off savings. And been doing this for a while, but in a few month that might change.

Any donation I would make now would directly reduce my time horizon.

I don't do selfishness. Partially this is because I don't believe in personal identity, partially because I feel like there's no fundamental difference between me and anyone else, and partially because it doesn't make sense to me intuitively. As such, I try to help myself as much as is necessary to help people in general. Anything more is akrasia.

You generally should donate all of your money to one cause. If you're "donating to yourself", there's significantly diminishing returns, so you'd figure out how much you value the two comparatively, and figure out at what point the marginal cost of your happiness is equal to the value of the best charity.

Incidentally, this works out as having a certain amount of money you keep, and then everything beyond that you donate, regardless of how much you actually make. As such, if you're Bill Gates, you'd donate virtually all your money to charity.

I would expect this to be at -1 or -2 ; I'm curious as to why this was downvoted so much, given that the author seems to be stating his views sincerely.

For clarification, the parent is at -4 as I post.

Having just read "I Am A Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter, I'm inclined to take Daniel's statement at face value as well. I am very put off by the kind of thinking that produces such a statement, but I guess if you REALLY think you have no personal identity, I can't argue too convincingly against you. The only thing I have to say is this: do you think that your own instance of yourself would mind if you used a destructive teleporter?

The only thing you could really say is "me" is the current instance of me. The later ones are, for all intents and purposes, other people.

A destructive teleporter can't destroy the current instance of me, since it can't erase the past.

I also note that of the anthropic trilemma, two cause paradoxes, and the other one (no personal identity) just seems counterintuitive to most people.

I don't do selfishness. Partially this is because I don't believe in personal identity, partially because I feel like there's no fundamental difference between me and anyone else, and partially because it doesn't make sense to me intuitively. As such, I try to help myself as much as is necessary to help people in general.

I agree with you about personal identity but I don't think this ontological fact implies that people have no reason to behave in ways we call 'selfish'. A person's seemingly irrational concern for 'themselves' can be regarded as a proxy for concern about the various projects that person is involved in, which would go awry in their absence.

(However, I suspect this is only a small ingredient of the psychological explanation for why people behave 'selfishly', and to the extent that other factors are involved, they are non-rational. But let's put this in perspective - the decision to digest or throw up your stomach contents is also non-rational. For the most part the 'decisions' made would seem 'sensible' to an outside observer. However, when your body is determined to make the 'wrong' decision one can't (always) override it with free will alone. (It certainly doesn't make sense to try to 'talk your stomach round', or 'punish' it if it chooses the wrong action.) Similarly, it's to be expected that a person who shares our view about the non-existence of identity will continue to act selfishly for hidden reasons, even when this has nothing to do with 'advancing their projects'.)

It's only when we start talking about cryonics, teleportation and cloning that the hidden absurdity of 'selfhood' comes to light.

It's only when we start talking about cryonics, teleportation and cloning that the hidden absurdity of 'selfhood' comes to light.

What absurdity? Here's you, Neil, and that's Tyler. It's possible to tell who of you two is Neil and who is not. A copy-Neil might be about the same thing as Neil, but this doesn't interfere with the simplicity of telling that Tyler is not the same thing. You can well care about Neil-like things more than about Tyler-like things. It's plausible from an evolutionary psychology standpoint that humans care about themselves more than other people. By "myself" I mean "a thing like the one I'm pointing at", and the rest is a process of evaluating this symbolic reference into a more self-contained definition; this simple reference is sufficient to specify the intended meaning.

What I meant was that the common situation whereby a person both (i) believes in persisting subjective identity (sameness of Cartesian Theater over time) and (ii) attaches massive importance to it (e.g. using words like 'death' to refer to its extinction), doesn't obviously or frequently give rise to irrational decision-making until we start talking about things like cryonics, teleportation and cloning.

I apologise for the unclarity of my final sentence if you took me to be saying something stronger.

[-][anonymous]9y 0

A person's seemingly irrational concern for 'themselves' can be regarded as a proxy for concern about the various projects that person is involved in, which would go awry in their absence.

I think you might be under the illusion that desires are rational,

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions. - David Hume

after all.

Was this downvoted because people disagree with the ideas about the mind/personal identity or for some other reason?

I also think that I have no egoistic terms in my utility function and that utility functions which such term are likely incoherent due to being based on false ideas (as instantiated in humans, not in general; obviously it is possible to have a utility function that could be described as egoistic). I am unsure of whether my utility function has terms that are egoistic conditional on my philosophy of mind being wrong, which I assign maybe a 20% probability.

[-][anonymous]10y 0

If you have cancer and actually want to save yourself (rather than giving the appearance of wanting to save yourself, as all too many do), I would recommend buying and studying Cancer: Nutrition And Survival or The Cancer Breakthrough from http://www.lulu.com/ascorbate .

These may look like quackery to the casual observer, but the co-author, Dr Steve Hickey is very far from a quack. He is a relative of mine, and so I may be biased, but that means I can tell you that he is the single most intelligent human being I have ever had any contact with.

His doctorate is in medical biophysics, but it's from working with him (I proofread, fact-checked and helped research his books) that I first learned about Bayes' theorem, Solomonoff induction, and most of the other tools of advanced rationality. Unlike most people working in the medical sciences, he can actually think.

I have observed people with cancer who have read his books and followed his advice, and I have observed people with cancer who either haven't read these books or haven't followed the advice. In my experience the main difference between the two groups is that the former group are alive.

(I get no financial benefit whatsoever from these books, and any benefit to my uncle from a single sale is on the order of a latte from Starbucks. This is meant as as dispassionate a piece of advice as I can give.)

This would be good to know if true. Can we get a second opinion on this, preferably from someone with domain knowledge of medicine?

I'm a graduate student studying metabolomics, and my lab mate is actually doing her thesis research on cancer metabolism. My knowledge base is strong in the biology involved, and weak in the politics of medical studies and treatment preferences, as I have no direct interface with MDs.

Cancer has no 'silver bullet;' as is generally recognized in medicine nowadays, it is actually a collection of diseases with differing causes, that respond in different ways to various treatments because the mechanisms which promote cancer development, growth, and metastasis differ between forms. There is a consistent cycle in cancer research that pays homage to this fact - someone has good lab results with a new drug, everyone gets excited, and then it's found that its utility is extremely limited (or more often, impossible due to deleterious side effects). This knowledge causes me to have a very low probability estimate for the truth (of the magnitude, at least) of these claims.

Another red flag: If this was such a medical breakthrough, it would be backed up by controlled studies, and it would be a paper in Cell or Nature, not a self-published book announcing boldly that it has The Answer.

If you would like more specific information about cancer, I can either answer questions or send links, later, but at the moment, I need to leave my computer.

[-][anonymous]10y 2

The books in question are popularisations of many earlier studies, and certainly not 'announcing boldly that it has The Answer'. To quote from the material at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/cancer-nutrition-and-survival/243487

"Clinical trials are needed to test such non-toxic therapies. Biological research suggests that cancer is a treatable condition. Although current data is not sufficient to indicate the degree of life extension achievable, many terminal patients might die of other causes, before the cancer kills them. Cancer patients deserve to be offered this opportunity."

I'm trying to think how to frame my response to this. I will essentially never say that something shouldn't be studied (unless the act of studying would cause more harm than good to intelligent test subjects), and I don't know with certainty that vitamin C megadoses would not be helpful. I know a lot of reasons why they probably wouldn't be, but that's all I have.

My major problems with the book itself (from what I can see of it online, and what I've read of the studies on the subject) are:

1) It suggests ('Cancer patients deserve to be offered this opportunity') that some wrong is being done to cancer patients by not chasing this idea farther than it has already been chased. This is both somewhat sensationalist, and revealing that the authors either don't know much about or have chosen to ignore the cognitive environment of cancer research. Cancer researchers would love to find a silver bullet, or even a reasonably effective bronze one. Quite aside from the good it would do for humanity, it would bring them an awful lot of immediate prestige. Existing biases in the field are therefore very much in favor of pursuing avenues of research that might be a bit of a stretch, if there's any hope that it might lead to a breakthrough. This makes blind rejection of potentially useful ideas very uncommon, which strongly downregulates my estimate of the idea's merit.

2) If the authors think that this research has a high potential for payoff, why are they not conducting it themselves, instead of imploring others to do so? There is certainly a much higher personal payoff to be had if it were to actually work, if they were to do it themselves. (I do rather intimately realize that 'doing research onesself' is much simpler said than done, and therefore would accept it as an answer that they are making serious, concerted, and persistent efforts to begin the clinical trials they're calling for.)

[-][anonymous]10y 1

Point 1 is only sensationalist if not true. The fact is, there has been little research conducted in the area. This is mostly because, as far as I can tell, there were some supposedly 'definitive' studies in the 1980s which 'proved' there was no effect. Those studies, however, had serious flaws. More research has been conducted recently, some of it very promising, but still mostly of the 'kills cancer cells in a test tube' type rather than the 'large scale double-blind placebo controlled test' type.

Meanwhile, several individual doctors have used the techniques described and report great success.

As for point two, the authors are both retired former academics, not clinicians, and conducting clinical trials is not their area of expertise.

[-][anonymous]10y 0

I would advise that the person with domain knowledge of medicine should also be someone who has read the books in question. "Antioxidants have no/limited effect on cancer" is a cached thought among most medics, mostly based on some incredibly badly-run studies (especially the ones by Moertel which a high-school student should have been failed on). The wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redox_therapy sums up much of the arguments on both sides though.

I would advise that the person with domain knowledge of medicine should also be someone who has read the books in question.

There are less costly ways of signaling that it's worthwhile to study more (if it is) than having to read whole books. That and if there are no papers that hold any convincing power would be evidence for the ideas being wrong.

[-][anonymous]10y 0

True. There are papers that hold convincing power, but I couldn't (and currently can't) remember the references (there are roughly 1100 references in the longer of those books, and I checked most of them, but six years ago when it was written). I didn't mean to imply that those were the only sources of information (though to my mind they're the best and most complete). I probably shouldn't have said 'read the books in question', but definitely I think one needs to have at least looked at some of this information before discussing it.

The original paper by Pauling and Cameron (still, alas, the only formal study to be done on patients with more than relatively tiny dosages) can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC431183/?tool=pmcentrez , for example. I co-authored a paper about five years ago that showed that Cameron and Pauling's results couldn't be explained by any selection biases, but I can't find any record of us having got round to publishing it. I'll have to chase that up...

But there are lists of references at the end of both http://www.tomlevymd.com/news/VitaminC_Cancer_w_Comments.pdf and http://www.encognitive.com/files/Cancer%20and%20Vitamin%20C%20Therapy%20for%20Patients.pdf for example (two things I found by googling appropriate terms) that look like they contain a reasonable selection of papers.

(ETA added the last half of the last sentence in the first paragraph, because forgot to type it.)

Same content cluster: T. Campell: The China study. Not so much for treatment, more in regards of prevention.

[-][anonymous]10y -2

There was talk on another thread about members sharing their expertise so this is my attempt to do this even tho I'm probably too late to the party:

What this book cover tells me, no screams at me, is that this self-published author is above listening to advice of others or accepting offers of help. This probably means collaboration is off the table, too. They like to work in their own self-absorbed bubble of "genius" and much too readily pass off or ignore other's work or data that doesn't fit their own working narrative. Professional standards don't apply to them.

Alternative interpretation is that the book is meant to look this way because it is targeted to people that don't regularly read books and are doing so only because they are in a desperate situation.

[-][anonymous]10y 0

Well, given that I have collaborated with him and know many other people who have, that those books were written modified after advice I and others have given (and that all the books on that page were collaborations with at least one other author, some two or more), your first interpretation is incorrect.

And given the content of the books, which in most cases seemed to me (having read them) to be aimed at medical professionals or biochemists, your alternative interpretation is also incorrect.

Therefore I would advise that you reconsider your habit of judging not only a book but its author's personality by the book's cover.

[-][anonymous]10y -2

My comments weren't meant as judgements. They were what I read off the look of the cover. They were also meant to be helpful. That cover will turn away potential readers.

I'm not a word person so I apologize if my criticism came across as too harsh. (I'm used to working with word people who translate my words for me.) It wasn't the personality of the author I was describing, but the my expectations of what I would find inside the book.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

As for "It wasn't the personality of the author I was describing," what else is "What this book cover tells me, no screams at me, is that this self-published author is above listening to advice of others or accepting offers of help. This probably means collaboration is off the table, too. They like to work in their own self-absorbed bubble of "genius" and much too readily pass off or ignore other's work or data that doesn't fit their own working narrative. Professional standards don't apply to them." ?

[-][anonymous]10y -1

I will try again although since you just went thru and downvoted every one of my posts I question your maturity level and your ability to understand what I'm saying. (That is considered bad form here at LW btw. )

When we look at an image we receive and process information immediately--or at least at a speed at which we are not consciously aware of. There is no particular order. It happens all at once. It is not linear. All sorts of assumptions will be formed. Reactions too. The stronger reactions will overwhelm the reasonable ones. I am trained to understand visual signals. I could have just written: "Professional standards were not important to the producer/s of the book which would lead the suspected reader to believe that the lack of professional standards applied to the research presented as well." but that would have only been a fraction of what I "read" from that cover. I was personally offended. The most offensive reaction coming first as that was the strongest. Then I was able to calm down and offer something reasonable. Try reading my comment backwards. I could have eliminated the offensive speculation in my interpretation. I took a risk at including it as it makes me look silly. But I did because without it there didn't seem a point in commenting at all.

[-][anonymous]10y 0

I will just point out here that: You still haven't explained what caused this completely insane over-reaction that led you to judge not a book by its cover but the personality of the author based on a thumbnail of the cover, despite claiming you 'want to help'.

You have made a further, equally unwarranted assumption here. I didn't go through and downvote every one of your posts. Multiple people have downvoted your posts in this thread, and any one of them could have done so. Or it could just be that a lot of people find your posts downvote-worthy. Or you could easily be lying. I am not, incidentally, the person who downvoted the post to which I'm replying (which stands at -1 as I type, and if you doubt this I will gladly prove it to you by doing so.

You made very, very serious allegations against the professional ethics of multiple people (because as I pointed out, all those books were written by multiple authors, despite your expert opinion on the covers leading you to think they were written by someone incapable of collaboration. Clearly your expert knowledge of the covers didn't go so far as looking at the bits where the authors were listed).

As for the last:

"I could have eliminated the offensive speculation in my interpretation. I took a risk at including it as it makes me look silly. But I did because without it there didn't seem a point in commenting at all."

Quite. So you'd rather 'look silly' by speculating offensively about people and subjects you know less than nothing about, because if you didn't do so there would be no point in commenting. In which case I'd suggest just not commenting unless you have something worthwhile to say.

Point taken.

Apologies to all involved, especially to DanArmak for muddying up his post.

I'd be happy to delete any comments that came across as offensive.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

Well possibly if instead of just posting a list of (as it turns out) utterly inaccurate and incredibly insulting speculation about the personal character of a close relative of mine, you'd actually said what, specifically, you found problematic about the cover (or even which of the several linked books you were talking about), it might have had some use.

Saying "that cover will turn away potential readers" is not helpful unless accompanied by suggestions as to what to change.