Alex Power

Sometimes I comment here.

Wiki Contributions


No, "raising awareness" is not a solution. Saying "all we need is awareness" is a lazy copout, somewhere between an appeal to magic and a pyramid scheme.

If other people here agree with this, I will have to add it to

Gestalt means "an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts". It is something like that; but sometimes more and sometimes less. The best way to describe it is the operation on a vector-based NLP system that takes {cat|dog} and returns "domestic pet".

There is a bit of a trick with the first example, {take a card|take a page} and "take a {card|page}" may mean something different.

For the second example, setting up a fork of Debian and setting up a mirror of Debian look very similar up to a certain point, but very different after that point. The term is intended to refer only to the attributes during the timeframe where they look similar.

I've called this the "phlogiston" theory of obesity - something systemic and undetected is at work.

It's not necessarily wrong, there's certainly some evidence that the same behavior 100 years ago would have had different results. On the other hand, the general alleviation of poverty and famines, as well as the presence of "hyper-processed" foods like Oreos are certainly part of the reason and are largely ignored.

If I had to guess what the "phlogiston" is, I would guess CO2 concentration. I don't have any evidence whatsoever, but it's a politically-convenient theory and the timing mostly works.

Answer by Alex Power30

Because it's political.  Some people are invested in Ivermectin being effective, other people are invested in it not being effective.  The extant studies are all inconclusive due to a small N, and mostly have problems with their methodology; if you pick and choose your studies in the right way you can get whatever result you want.

And the individual studies are often extremely bad.  I note Cadegiani et al, who claim that Ivermectin (and also Hydroxychloroquine, and also Nitazoxanide) are each so effective, either individually or combined (they didn't bother to track which patients got which drugs) that it is unethical to use a placebo group in studying those drugs.  I'm not sure how Elsevier can be affiliated with a journal that publishes material like that and retain any credibility.

Answer by Alex Power110

The answers suggesting "this shouldn't be a test you can study for" seem very misguided. This is a yellow belt, not a black belt.  If you think you can become a card-carrying Rationalist without studying books, you are mistaken.

I would expect a battery of short-answer questions, maybe 6 hours/75 questions.  Prove the Pythagorean Theorem.  What is Bayes' Theorem?  Is Pascal's Wager accurate? What impact do human emotions have in decision making?  If humans evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?  Was George Washington a myth?

There is an aesthetic desire for a more flashy test, a gom jabbar for the rationalist.  I would expect that would be an intermediate test between the yellow belt and the black belt.  The various "Explain this mysterious system" questions are good, so I'll suggest some puzzle where "what do you think you know and why do you think you know it" is the key to the solution.

I do need to explicitly call out one point here.  Making edits to an existing page is often ignored.  Creating a new page is always reviewed by somebody; and there is a consistent backlog due to a lack of volunteers to do the reviewing.  As a result, many promising stub articles are treated quickly and poorly.  There's no solution here other than to find more reviewers (which does take quite a bit of project-specific knowledge; you need to understand reference formatting, categories, article structure, etc.).

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