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Much of this sounds very speculative, to be completely honest, and I'm not sure I agree with your diagnosis of what "rationalists like Scott care" about.

I would be interested in hearing what prediction, specifically, would be interesting and specific enough to put up on metaculus. Or was that the one about the data not being released? Because I'm actively working on multiple fronts to get it released, so "predicting it won't" just feels wrong.

Admittedly I've not looked into how metaculus works. How would I go about registering such a prediction?

Understanding that there was randomization failure, and that that failure was at the expense of ivermectin takes about 10-15 minutes for someone who can do addition and subtraction to understand -- I've got all the receipts here:

Maybe a little more time if they want to confirm the receipts and make sure there's no credible counter-argument to be made. It's either that, or the numbers coming out of the trial are false -- not sure which is worse.

Ever since I've written that post, I've seen more internal data from the trial that confirms it. 

How would I go about getting people to bet against me on this? And crucially, how would it help get the data released? I already offered to donate $25k to ACX Grants if Scott helps get the data released, which is my main objective. Will this help in that direction?

Given that I have access to insider sources of information and a lot of inside data that I can't yet release publicly (you will have to take me on my word on this, sadly) it would be pretty bad form of me to make predictions other than the ones I have already made (many of which were made before I had that inside data): 

The together trial suffered randomization failure: the placebo group is not concurrent, and that triggered a chain of events that led to it allocating disproportionately sick patients to ivermectin, and disproportionately healthy patients to fluvoxamine, with placebo being in the middle. This was amplified by several puzzling decisions by the together team. All this in a backdrop of indefensible dosing for ivermectin, and widespread community use in brazil, where it was available OTC.

I've summarized many of my concerns here:

And I've shared my model of what I think happened here:

There's a lot more to go over, but long story short, what I do doesn't involve a lot of probabilistic arguments, it's just logical inference for the most part, inference that anyone can replicate since I try to post receipts as much as possible. As a result, whenever I've had the chance to see internal data, it's matched my models pretty well.

LW has a BDFL already. He's just not very interested and (many) people don't believe he's able to restore the website. We didn't "come to believe" anything.

An additional additional point is that the dictator can indeed quit and is not forced to kill themselves to get out of it. So it's actually not FL. And in fact, it's arguably not even a dictatorship, as it depends on the consent of the governed. Yes, BDFL is intentionally outrageous to make a point. What's yours?

I've done my fair bit of product management, mostly on and related projects ( and and can offer some help in re-imagining the vision behind lw.

that's awesome. I'm starting to hope something may come of this effort.

Who is empowered to set Vaniver or anyone else as the BDFL of the site? It would be great to get into a discusion of "who" but I wonder how much weight there will be behind this person. Where would the BDFL's authority eminate from? Would he be granted, for instance, ownership of the domain? That would be a sufficient gesture.

Hi Anna,

Please consider a few gremlins that are weighing down LW currently:

  1. Eliezer's ghost -- He set the culture of the place, his posts are central material, has punctuated its existence with his explosions (and refusal to apologise), and then, upped and left the community, without actually acknowledging that his experiment (well kept gardens etc) has failed. As far as I know he is still the "owner" of this website, retains ultimate veto on a bunch of stuff, etc. If that has changed, there is no clarity on who the owner is (I see three logos on the top banner, is it them?), who the moderators are, who is working on it in general. I know tricycle are helping with development, but a part-time team is only marginally better than no-team, and at least no-team is an invitation for a team to step up.

  2. the no politics rule (related to #1) -- We claim to have some of the sharpest thinkers in the world, but for some reason shun discussing politics. Too difficult, we're told. A mindkiller! This cost us Yvain/Scott who cited it as one of his reasons for starting slatestarcodex, which now dwarfs LW. Oddly enough I recently saw it linked from the front page of, which means that not only has discussing politics not harmed SSC, it may actually be drawing in people who care about genuine insights in this extremely complex space that is of very high interest.

  3. the "original content"/central hub approach (related to #1) -- This should have been an aggregator since day 1. Instead it was built as a "community blog". In other words, people had to host their stuff here or not have it discussed here at all. This cost us Robin Hanson on day 1, which should have been a pretty big warning sign.

  4. The codebase, this website carries tons of complexity related to the reddit codebase. Weird rules about responding to downvoted comments have been implemented in there, nobody can make heads or tails with it. Use something modern, and make it easy to contribute to. (telescope seems decent these days).

  5. Brand rust. Lesswrong is now kinda like myspace or yahoo. It used to be cool, but once a brand takes a turn for the worse, it's really hard to turn around. People have painful associations with it (basilisk!) It needs burning of ships, clear focus on the future, and as much support as possible from as many interested parties, but only to the extent that they don't dillute the focus.

In the spirit of the above, I consider Alexei's hints that Arbital is "working on something" to be a really bad idea, though I recognise the good intention. Efforts like this need critical mass and clarity, and diffusing yet another wave of people wanting to do something about LW with vague promises of something nice in the future (that still suffers from problem #1 AFAICT) is exactly what I would do if I wanted to maintain the status quo for a few more years.

Any serious attempt at revitalising should focus on defining ownership and plan clearly. A post by EY himself recognising that his vision for lw 1.0 failed and passing the batton to a generally-accepted BDFL would be nice, but i'm not holding my breath. Further, I am fairly certain that LW as a community blog is bound to fail. Strong writers enjoy their independence. LW as an aggregator-first (with perhaps ability to host content if people wish to, like hn) is fine. HN may have degraded over time, but much less so than LW, and we should be able to improve on their pattern.

I think if you want to unify the community, what needs to be done is the creation of a hn-style aggregator, with a clear, accepted, willing, opinionated, involved BDFL, input from the prominent writers in the community (scott, robin, eliezer, nick bostrom, others), and for the current to be archived in favour of that new aggregator. But even if it's something else, it will not succeed without the three basic ingredients: clear ownership, dedicated leadership, and as broad support as possible to a simple, well-articulated vision. Lesswrong tried to be too many things with too little in the way of backing.

Reminds me of the motto "Strong Opinions, Weakly Held". There's no point having a blurry opinion, or not expressing what you believe to be the most likely candidate for a good way forward, even if it's more likely by only a small margin. By expressing (and/or acting on) a clearly expressed, falsifiable opinion, you expose it to criticism, refutation, improvement, etc. And if you hold it weakly, then you will be open to reconsidering. Refusing to make up your mind, and kindof oscilating between a few options, perhaps waiting to see where the wind blows, has its advantages, but especially when it comes to getitng things done, is most often a clear loser. Despite this, our brains seem to prefer it instinctively, maybe due to some ancestral environment echoes about being proven wrong in the eyes of the tribe?

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