All of abstractapplic's Comments + Replies

What are the counterarguments to a Faustian Vaccine Hypothesis? ($2k charity bounty)

I know it's technically on-topic, but: downvoted. I have a specific question I want answered one way or another, and I think bringing up peripheral issues is unlikely to help me achieve that.

What are the counterarguments to a Faustian Vaccine Hypothesis? ($2k charity bounty)

unlike every other vaccine ever

mRNA vaccines are a new invention, so that line of reasoning isn't particularly reassuring.

Protection has shifted from protection against infection to infection against severe outcomes because of antigenic drift: the vaccines are most closely targeted to the ancestral strain. That match is most important for antibody protection: since antibodies are critical to protection against infection, the vaccines produce significantly less protection against infection as the virus drifts further from the ancestral type. T cell immunity

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What are the counterarguments to a Faustian Vaccine Hypothesis? ($2k charity bounty)

Good thoughts, but in this context I'm more worried about the future than the present, and I'm too introverted to have a statistically significant sample of people I know personally.

1cistrane1dWe all live in Dunbar sized bubbles. Very few people have more than 150 people for which they could know medical histories enough to answer these questions.
D&D.Sci Holiday Special: How the Grinch Pessimized Christmas Evaluation & Ruleset

Reflections on my attempt:

It looks like I was basically right. Even in the place I came up short – figuring out Trum-Troopas – I knew I was probably missing something, since it would have been weird for that to be the only not-perfectly-predictable part of the problem.

Reflections on the challenge:

This is the first D&D.Sci which is a pure puzzle; that is, the first one without randomness in the linkage between explanatory and response variables. I think this would be unfair for something presented as a social science problem, except that a) the Seussian... (read more)

D&D.Sci Holiday Special: How the Grinch Pessimized Christmas

Revised model:

Noise is generated per-present, and combined additively for each child. Under ordinary circumstances:

  • Blum-Bloopers produce 6 Noise.
  • Fum-Foozlers produce 8 Noise for girls, 4 for boys.
  • Who-Whonkers produce 5 Noise for girls, 9 for boys.
  • Sloo-Slonkers produce 5 Noise, plus 1 extra unit for every two years since birth.
  • Gah-Ginkas produce 5 Noise, plus 1 extra unit for every two years until teenagerhood.
  • Trum-Troopas usually produce 10 Noise, but occasionally only produce 5. (Figuring out what if anything predicts a halving here is the main unsolved p
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D&D.Sci Holiday Special: How the Grinch Pessimized Christmas

I haven't finished my analysis yet, let alone decided a strategy based on it, but I have made some progress.

Findings thus far:

Girls with a Blum-Blooper make 6 Noise.

Girls with a Who-Whonker make 5 or 10 Noise.

Girls with a Fum-Foozler make 8 or 16 Noise.

Boys with a Blum-Blooper make 6 or 12 Noise.

Boys with a Who-Whonker make 9 or 18 Noise.

Boys with a Fum-Foozler make 4 or 8 Noise.

Sloo-Sloonkers make 4+ceiling((1+Age)/2) Noise, except sometimes you give them to boys and they make more.

Gah-Ginkas make 4+ceiling((14-Age)/2) Noise, except sometimes you give the

... (read more)
DnD.Sci GURPS Evaluation and Ruleset

Sometimes, you have to make an educated guess what your clients will value most; and sometimes, a small dataset prevents you from uncovering beautiful latent structure. I agree it would probably have been more fun if we'd had clearer goals and more rows, but I can't fault this one for realism or artistic merit.

(Thank you again for making it, by the way. I enjoyed it, and I look forward to playing the next one.)

Working through D&D.Sci, problem 1 (solution)

I loved reading this. I hope you enjoyed playing my game!

1Pablo Repetto1moIt's great fun! I'm very pleased you are enjoying the posts. :)
D&D.Sci GURPS Dec 2021: Hunters of Monsters

That's fair. In that case, I'd just have her spend every day after the first in Thunderwood Peaks.

D&D.Sci GURPS Dec 2021: Hunters of Monsters

Thank you for making this, and for extending the deadline for me.

My Strategy:

After some thought and analysis, after reading everyone else’s research, and in the absence of a more specific evaluation function to optimize for . . . I’ve decided to go all-out on trying to bag at least one Crow That Breaks The Sky. They’re confirmed to be big enough to make the Hunters happy, they’re something Biologists have never seen before, and they’ve been slain 8 times in 260 weeks by a Hunter who wasn’t specifically trying. We have ten chances, and can improve on those

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1Jemist1moI'm afraid I didn't intend for people to be able to add conditions to their plans. While something like that is completely reasonable I can't find a place to draw the line between that and what would be too complex. The only system that might work is having everyone send me their own python code but that's not fair on people who can't code, and more work than I'm willing to do. Other answers haven't included conditions and I think it wouldn't be fair on them. I think my decision is that: I'm really sorry about the confusion, I should've made that all clearer from the start!
D&D.Sci GURPS Dec 2021: Hunters of Monsters

I've been meaning to play this one, but I spent the last week wrapping up work stuff before the holidays and worrying over Omicron. I suspect others may be in a similar position. Could you delay sharing the answer key until the end of the weekend?

1Jemist1moSure! I was planning to anyways but that plus my own busyness means it will more likely be early next week/even later if people would prefer.
Working through D&D.Sci, problem 1

I'm extremely happy, and slightly embarrassed, that people are still making use of my older challenges.

D&D.Sci Dungeoncrawling: The Crown of Command Evaluation & Ruleset

Reflections on my attempt:

I’m pleasantly surprised by how well I did in both a general and absolute sense (if you asked me yesterday I would not have put my strategy’s odds of overall success above 20%). Of course, ~half the credit for this victory goes to Measure, whose inferences about the dungeons’ likely populations I was shameless in making use of.

If I’d had more time and energy to spare, I would have looked into how reliably teams which counter all their encounters win, and how character levels affect this outcome; from what I read here, I think that... (read more)

D&D.Sci Dungeoncrawling: The Crown of Command

Thank you for making this.

Misc. Insights:

  • An adventuring party has a success chance of ~64%. We need to get three of them to win in a row. This is worrying.
  • It looks like level has almost no impact on chance of success, but there’s a major confounder in that more expensive teams get sent on longer and more arduous journeys: length of a dungeon correlates very strongly with the total price of an expedition, and dungeons with multiple dragons attract a disproportionate number of >level 6 adventurers.
  • Success rates for dungeons with ‘Goblin’ in the name are m
... (read more)
3aphyer2moEveryone's been getting all the names right this time. I'm quite surprised, and feel like I should be awarding roleplaying XP or something.
1Measure2moMy analysis found that for poison needle traps, clerics and druids were almost as good as rogues, especially at low levels, and the druid will be better for the snake pits. I admit that I made my choices without considering that later encounters are harder than earlier ones (I suspect this has something to do with lost hp, though I'm still confused by the sharp cutoff in success rates - not only to all parties beat their first encounter, for dungeons with eight or more encounters, the first two encounters are guaranteed wins, and longer dungeons have an even stronger effect.).
How to generate idea/solutions to solve a problem?

Disclaimer: I've never tried any of these things on real problems, they just seem like obvious answers.

The oldschool answer is to use Tarot or the Oblique Strategies, creatively interpret what you draw in the context of your problem, and evaluate whether that's an improvement over what you're currently doing. Personally, I'm more fond of the modern counterpart, Weird Sun Twitter's "Have you tried X?" meme, as incarnated here, here and here.

Creating a truly formidable Art

How does it work?


I think the name may have given the wrong impression. The 'D&D' part of D&D.Sci is mostly the trappings of the genre, not the substance; monsters, wizards and (simulated) dicerolls yes, anything resembling Actual Roleplaying no.

Since you asked . . . from the top, the typical/intended way to Consume my Product is:

  • Download the dataset provided in the introductory post.
  • Investigate the scenario and decide the best course of action, using the dataset, the problem description, and a vague sense of what tricks you think the GM will/
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1Valentine3moVery cool. Thank you for explaining all that.
Creating a truly formidable Art

What would pressure-testing in the context of rationality look like?

Well, honestly, I don't yet know.

I have a few bad examples that don't strike me as entirely wrong . . .


At the risk of being accused of flagrant self-promotion, I also have a few bad examples that don't strike me as entirely wrong. My data science challenges are only tractable to players with the appropriate skillset, and resemble real-life problems the same way mystery novels resemble real-life detective work . . . but if you're looking for novel ways to test for skill at Inferring T... (read more)

1Valentine3moI like this. Thank you for bringing it up here. How does it work? I'm not finding an obvious instruction manual or introduction. The first one seems like the first puzzle, but I'm not quite sure how it works. Would someone who wants to jump in just… reply in the comments with what they try to do? Or is this a template for an RPG session someone could run with others? Or something else? I'd shied away from RPG style simulated practice because of the difficulty with embodied integration. I find it far too easy to view my character from the outside and solve their situation like a puzzle, rather than experiencing myself as the character who's actually encountering the confusion and psychological states and trying to navigate them from the inside. From a skim, it looks like you're navigating this in roughly the same way Eliezer seemed to be trying to do in creating the genre of "rationalist fiction" (where you show rather than describe the experience of making the inner mental movements that produce clarity).
5GuySrinivasan3moAs a most-of-the-time participant, I can definitely agree. What's going on behind the scenes, at least for me, is much more than what you'll see in the comments. Most frequently practiced, I think: * Noticing Confusion [] - I will often see a curve or scatterplot that inspires a feeling of that's different. It's great to get practice noticing that over and over, and then digging into how well that intuition tracks truth. * Curiosity [] - almost of course. But it's good practice at finding things to be curious about. And then also good practice knowing that you won't actually spend 20 hours on this project so evaluating: I'm curious; is it worth my time to follow up on this, or should I pursue even more promising avenues?
D&D.Sci 4th Edition: League of Defenders of the Storm Evaluation & Ruleset

This was extremely good. In particular, I like that you managed to make the challenge tractable to both Analysis and Machine Learning. I also appreciated that you included an explicit Real-world Data Science Moral in the wrap-up; I should try to do that more often.

D&D.Sci 4th Edition: League of Defenders of the Storm

. . . I feel oddly proud to have continued the tradition of D&D players getting in-universe names wrong.

D&D.Sci 4th Edition: League of Defenders of the Storm

Thank you for making this.

Regular team:

Nullifying Nightmare, Blaze Boy, Greenery Giant, Tidehollow Tyrant, and . . . yeah, okay, Phoenix Paladin.

(I was on the fence about whether the last spot should go to Paladin or Ranger, but when I saw Measure's answer I decided to let hipsterism be the deciding factor.)

Key Insights:

There seems to be a rock-paper-scissors thing going on here: Earthy fighters have an advantage over Watery fighters, Watery fighters have an advantage over Flamey fighters, and Flamey fighters - kinda, sorta, unreliably - have an advantage

... (read more)

I made a Sequence for my replayable challenges, but think we should keep the tag. That way people wanting to make posts about D&D.Sci will have something to tag them with.

2Multicore1moChiming in later to say that I think the tag should stay, especially now that multiple people are doing them. Compare "Rationality Quotes" and "Open Threads" for other tags that could be accused of just being sequences.
D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan Evaluation & Ruleset

You may want to include a link to the challenge in this post, so people seeing it on the frontpage know what you're referring to.

3aphyer5moDone, thank you!
D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan Evaluation & Ruleset

Thank you again for making this; it’s been enlightening to play one of these for a change.

Reflections on my attempt:

It appears my obliviousness to Encounter Frequency concerns didn’t damage my plans as much as I feared. It’s hard to say how much of my better-than-random result was down to good analysis vs careful management of unknowns vs sheer good luck: if damage from Pirates and Harpies weren’t dependent on things that happened earlier in the voyage (an effect to which I was also oblivious), or if the Atlanteans had been in a different position on their... (read more)

D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan

Some thoughts and insights from my notes that I somehow forgot to write up the first time:

  • Galleons, Barquentines and Carracks have eerily similar average planned route lengths, suggesting the Admiralty treat these three ship types as interchangeable in their planning.
  • This is important because it means that [number of sinkings]/[number of trips taken] is an unusually selection-bias-proof estimator of sinkability for everything but Dhow.
  • This estimator says pretty clearly that Galleons>Barquentines>Carracks.


  • The Admiralty keeps recklessly sending
... (read more)
D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan

After reading your analysis, I think your strategy has a higher chance of success than mine. On reflection,

I'm still wary of sending any ship that spent <5 weeks in port - that rule's probably there for a reason - but you've convinced me I should have sent the Galleon to L13 and the Barquentine to E8.

D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan

This challenge is very interesting; thank you for making it. I don't think I've found all the answers, but I've gotten as far as I'm going on my own.


  • Take The Bloody Diamond to L13, Q6-P6-O6-N6-M7-M8-L8-K9-K10-K11-L12-L13, then (hopefully) back the same way.

(I thought about a detour to avoid whatever's (not?) going on in L12, but decided it's probably fine.)

  • Take The Orange Falcon to E8, Q6-P6-O6-N6-M5-L5-K5-J5-I5-H5-G5-F5-F6-E7-E8, then (hopefully) back the same way.

(I considered alternate routes that punch through F8 and G8 while avoiding icebergs

... (read more)
2abstractapplic5moSome thoughts and insights from my notes that I somehow forgot to write up the first time: However And also Unrelatedly:
D&D.Sci August 2021: The Oracle and the Monk

NOTE: Because reasons, I've decided to release the evaluator and answer key next Monday instead of this Friday. I'd apologize for the inconvenience but I'm pretty sure nobody minds.

2GuySrinivasan5moSweet, I didn't get much of a chance last weekend. :)
D&D.Sci August 2021: The Oracle and the Monk

1. How big a deal is "an immortal demon, wreaking horror and bloodshed upon the world"?


Morgan seems to think that ensuring this doesn't happen should be your top priority, but he's biased for obvious reasons. If you feel increasing the probability and/or magnitude of success is worth risking the worst outcome, that's a valid decision.

2. Can the ritual in someway counteract that? Any specific bonuses, or things that are stronger against demons, or more helpful in a world where one is running loose?


3. How would multiple rituals (separately interac

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D&D.Sci August 2021: The Oracle and the Monk


  • Morgan is the only monk at his temple making use of this particular opportunity.
  • The effect of channelling two tainted mana types is the same as channelling a tainted mana type alongside a weaker untainted one. For this reason, Morgan will refuse if you advise him to channel (for example) Spite alongside Doom.
  • The ritual takes the entire ten days to prepare, and the details vary greatly based on which mana types he channels; he's also the only monk at his temple who can do his kind of meditation, and won't have time to meditate while laying the groundwork; as such, Morgan can't make use of any information past day 374 when predicting day 384.
2Pattern5mo1. How big a deal is "an immortal demon, wreaking horror and bloodshed upon the world"?* 2. Can the ritual in someway counteract that? Any specific bonuses, or things that are stronger against demons, or more helpful in a world where one is running loose? 3. How would multiple rituals (separately interact)? 4. An ideas at all around probability of other people doing a ritual like this one? Across the entire world?* This particular factor suggests...that there is a calculation that could be performed, taking into account the possibility of someone else turning into a demon, in order to guess if it would be beneficial to intentional channel one of Void, Doom, or Spite, so that any advantage a intentionally evil ritual would have, you would also have (if they happened at the same time). That's unlikely to be the result of such a calculation (especially because, say, if they all happened at the same time, then...if things go south, that is more demons...depending on the procedures involved). *As the saying goes, expected value is probability times magnitude.
D&D.Sci August 2021: The Oracle and the Monk

The supernova Morgan mentioned happened partway through the span of time covered by the dataset; however, due to complexities and delays in the relationship between the event and its impact on mana flows, he doesn't know where or whether its effects would show up in his records.

D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021 Evaluation and Ruleset

Also I think I was modeling the precision incorrectly, probably. I took "for example, since they say Earwax has an amplitude of 3.2 kCept, you can be 100% sure the true value is between 3.15 and 3.25 kCept" to mean that every value could be plus or minus 0.05, but I think now it actually meant that values were rounded to the nearest digit shown, so a listed value of 0.28 kCept was not between 0.23 and 0.33, but rather between 0.275 and 0.285?


Yes, that's exactly what happened. That ambiguity didn't occur to me; I've now edited the original post to clarify so future players won't have the same issue; mea culpa.

D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021 Evaluation and Ruleset

Now it’s all over, I would just like to make sure everyone appreciates the restraint I demonstrated in not using any of the following lines:

“Earwax really shouldn’t have been able to reach you so quickly: it’s a heteropneum, not a heteronyoom.”

“There’s no I in [teem].”

“Good Floornight, sleep Floortight, don’t let the heteropneums Floorbite.”

D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021: The Duel with Earwax

The phrase "previously considered benign" was intended to convey an unexpected change in attitude, not amplitude; Earwax did not and will not become stronger. Apologies for the confusion.

D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021: The Duel with Earwax

If your EFS is more than double a heteropneum's amplitude, you can get a (perfectly accurate) recording of what your EFS would have been had you used a different resonance on it. The in-universe justification for this is that Sphere scientists can observe - and infer things about - alternate timelines under the right conditions.

D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021: The Duel with Earwax

The record is a complete list of all fights. Usually heteropneums can be detected, predicted and managed such that the Sphere never needs to have more than one fight per floorday, and they can send a pilot they feel confident will win; Earwax's actions are unprecendented.

D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021: The Duel with Earwax

So the 'resonances' are the

Pilot Strength (alpha),Pilot Strength (beta),Pilot Strength (gamma),Pilot Strength (delta),Pilot Strength (epsilon),Pilot Strength (zeta),Pilot Strength (eta)

things, from the data file?



What are floordays?

The Sphere has an idiosyncractic timekeeping system, as regular 24-hour days have been found not to be optimally conducive to keeping your colleagues' souls in their most useful state.

And how do you distinguish between heteropneums? I.e. how do you know that earwax (weak, benign) and Earwax (powerful, malevolent) ar

... (read more)
D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021: The Duel with Earwax

I hereby affirm that observations of EFS derived via Branch-Loop Analysis are just as reliable as those gained via direct observation. As such, distinctions based on 'what actually happened' - itself a slippery concept for people who regularly work with multiple timelines - are irrelevant.

1rk7moTo check understanding: if in the first timeline, we use a radiation that doesn't exceed double the heteropneum's EFS, then there remains one timeline. But if we do, there are multiple timelines that aren't distinguishable ... except that the ones with <2x the EFS can't have been the original timeline, because otherwise there wouldn't be branching. I guess I'm confused
2GuySrinivasan7moOh! Branch-Loop Analysis is much different than I expected. Good to know.
A.D&D.Sci May 2021: Interdimensional Monster Carcass Auction

The "Mild Boar and Jungle Mammoth are just what the person from the Harsh Survivalist Ice Village calls pigs and elephants" speculation is hilarious and I wish I'd done that on purpose; I hereby retroactively declare it canon.

8Measure8moIf there are multiple universes, will the actual lot values be independent draws/rolls in each universe or one draw/roll for all universes?
A.D&D.Sci May 2021: Interdimensional Monster Carcass Auction

 Regarding PCs & NPCs: My plan for handling the NPCs is pretty much as you said; if I end up needing multiple worlds, I'll make sure the human players are distributed as close to evenly as possible.

Regarding the premise: Being better at interdimensional travel than at regular teleportation produces some weird incentives. Also, magic-users are generally understood to be crazy; "that mage is doing something unusual!" is about as concerning as "that fire is hot!"

2simon8moIs our profit evaluated based on actual results, or based on expected value?
D&D.Sci May 2021 Evaluation and Ruleset

Thanks, yes, you're completely right; I wrote this for an older version of the scenario and forgot to change it. Edited now.

D&D.Sci April 2021 Evaluation and Ruleset

Your theory is correct. I had some sort of clever justification for why that made sense in-universe but I forget what it was; the Doylist reason was that I wanted the red herring in this puzzle to be as simple as possible.

The original generation code is up here if you want to take a look.

D&D.Sci April 2021: Voyages of the Gray Swan


(Good question, by the way; I added a note to the main post to clarify this.)

2GuySrinivasan9moI thought it was unambiguously 72% except for the weirdness of "2%, ten times, is 20% rather than ~18%".
D&D.Sci April 2021: Voyages of the Gray Swan

Yes to the first question.

To the second: you can aim to reduce repair costs with your interventions, but since they won't come out of your budget that's more of an optional extra for further impressing the brass.

D&D.Sci April 2021: Voyages of the Gray Swan

All your assumptions are correct, with the debatable exception of the last one: you have a record for every voyage

  • made along the same route you're taking
  • by a supply ship
  • working for the same Navy as you
  • in the span 1396-1405.
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