# Sequences

Re-reading Rationality From AI To Zombies

# Posts

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(USA) N95 masks are available on Amazon

I never quite got these questions answered and I guess this would be a good place to ask: what is the difference between KN95 and N95?

My understanding is it's about the shape/fit of the mask rather than the filter. If so, is N95 better fitting? Always/usually, or does it depend?

Singlethink

I have a similar story.

When I was a senior in highschool, I took microeconomics. Before senior year I never tried in school. Senior year I started to care about intellectual things and started trying. I hated my teacher and openly read the textbook in class instead of listening to her lectures.

When it came time for finals, I had a good grade in the class, some sort of high A, and had already been accepted to college. I figured out that if I don't do the final project, my grade would be a B.

I told this to my teacher. She was so angry at me and said she'd fail me. I said she can't, at least not without going against the grading rubric she had established in our syllabus.

I explained to her that I was frustrated because she was missing the most important concept in all of economics: incentives! How can she design the incentives and then be mad at me for acting accordingly? What kind of economist does that? Moreover, the whole system is set up with bad incentives. She should thank me for exposing them, recognize that I've grasped the important concepts, and give me an A.

At least that's the story I like to tell myself. And other people! It's not the truth though. The truth is I have major public speaking anxiety and didn't want to do the public speaking the final project would entail. That's all it was. I don't even think I grasped the centrality of incentives at the time. I think I learned about that about a year later once I discovered LessWrong.

Well, even that paragraph isn't really the truth, but it's something I tell people sometimes too. The reason I tell people these untrue stories is when I figure the truth doesn't matter much and because the story is just meant to convey a point, not be a description of who I am as a person. This comment itself is probably being made less clear and more awkward by this last paragraph, and I considered not including it for that reason. But things like that are a bit of a slippery slope. I noticed myself starting to believe the fake stories to some extent, and that's probably not worth the price of telling a less awkward story to people who I don't care about.

Evaluability (And Cheap Holiday Shopping)

This seems related to scope insensitivity. In talking about 200,000 dead birds, 200,000 has low evaluability. Same with having a 1/X chance of dying in a car crash.

Every Cause Wants To Be A Cult

I feel confused about the distinction between ingroup behavior and cult-like behavior. It makes sense to me that groups would, as a default, regress towards ingroup behavior without a force pulling them away from it. But it doesn't seem accurate to say that they will naturally move towards cult-like behavior.

Maybe cult-like behavior is similar to ingroup behavior. We only label things as cults when the behavior gets extreme enough/far enough along the spectrum. And so, maybe it is accurate to say that groups naturally move towards cult-like behavior.

But even so, the equilibrium point surely isn't anything close to an "actual" cult. Ingroup behavior can certainly be very powerful, but rarely powerful enough to cause you to given away all your property in anticipation of the saucers landing.

Covid 1/14: To Launch a Thousand Shipments

He also points out that there was never an expected value case that could be made in defense of the policy of holding back doses. The simple argument for First Doses First is not only compelling, it is overwhelming. If you can make two people 80% protected, or make one person 95% protected, and you want to turn the tide of a pandemic and protect people, that’s that.

Also, I would expect less risk compensating from people who have received only one dose.

Thoughts on Mustachianism

I think that is true for a typical Mustachian, but at the same time there's nothing about Mustachianism that says you should do this. The idea is to be frugal and retire early because retiring early allows you to pursue what you are passionate about and stuff. If making more money and donating it to effective causes is what you are passionate about, Mustachianism doesn't say to avoid it. (That's my interpretation of it anyway.)

(Average lifetime income is in the range of $1M, is beside the point, but I couldn't resist looking it up.) Huh, that seems low, at least for a wealthy western country. Iirc average income in America is around$50k. Over 40 years that is \$2M. Adding on interest makes it even more.

Thoughts on Mustachianism

I don't share that impression. A central and overarching claim that he makes on his blog is basically that everyone is doing it wrong. I think it is difficult to make that claim while also appearing tolerant. Given that it is the claim he is making, I think he does a solid job of also appearing tolerant. Could be better, could be worse.

In my reading of his blog, he strikes me as someone who values open-mindedness and epistemics, and generally a lot of the same virtues we value here on LessWrong. I think like everyone else he can get carried away and have some biases and stubbornness shine through, but at his core I don't think he is the type of person who would be intolerant.

Thoughts on Mustachianism

Yeah, to some extent. My impression is that the evidence is somewhere in the ballpark of moderate to strong. I could see an argument for why it should be considered weak, but it's hard to see an argument for it being zero evidence (I'm not sure if that's what you're implying or not).

Creating new types of threads like these are cheap experiments that seem worth doing more of.

Thoughts on Mustachianism

Thanks for the input!

To me, the early retirement option has always seemed like it was better suited to people who had unrewarding jobs that paid better than any of the jobs they would like more (for MMM, this was programming).

Yeah. And I think I've always underestimated how many people have a job doing exactly what they want to be doing. For me, I really, really enjoy teaching and could see myself wanting to spend my life doing that. I could also see myself at the right programming job wanting to do that forever.

On the other hand, even if you like your job it's hard to see how having substantial savings in case of layoffs or unforeseen circumstances could be a bad thing (see Richard Meadows' post on this point).

Well, I wouldn't go that far. There is a tradeoff in play. You could go on a lot of awesome vacations with that money you'd need to retire in your mind :)

I also find that the parts of my job I like the most require physical infrastructure that is effectively only accessible within institutions, so I favor a path that lets me retain access to that while not worrying about the periodic layoffs endemic to my chosen industry.

As a programmer, I see some parallels here. Mainly that you get to interact and learn from other smart people when you work at a (good) company, but also that you get to solve problems that you otherwise wouldn't get to work on alone. Caveat is that if you look hard enough you can find these things in the world of open source.

I don't think we can learn too much about what people want to do with large amounts of free time from what they have done during Covid.

Hm, I think that's a good point and that there's definitely truth here. But I also think that there are things that we can learn. Covid means people can't do certain social things with their free time, but it doesn't prevent them from doing things like art or music. So if people don't take up art or music during Covid with their excess free time, that seems like reasonably strong evidence that they also wouldn't take up art or music in a non-Covid world with excess free time.