All of Emiya's Comments + Replies

Status Regulation and Anxious Underconfidence

Indeed, including the people who willingly caused it. But profiting from a problem is not the same as fixing it.

SSC Journal Club: AI Timelines

Since I wrote my comment I had lots of chances to prod at the apathy of people to act against imminent horrible doom.

I do believe that a large obstacle it's that going "well, maybe I should do something about it, then. Let's actually do that" requires a sudden level of mental effort and responsibility that's... well, it's not quite as unlikely as oxygen turning into gold, but you shouldn't just expect people doing that (it took me a ridiculous amount of time before starting to do so). 

People are going to require a lot of prodding or an environment whe... (read more)

3jeronimo1965moThe cure for bystander apathy is getting one person to lead by example. Since in this case there are several prominent such examples, a Tragedy of the Commons scenario seems more likely to me. You are right, it's not possible to tell if this happens implicitly or explicitly (in which case there is nothing to be done anyway).
Habitual Productivity

She gave me the answer of someone who had recently stopped liking fritos through an act of will. Her answer went something like this: "Just start noticing how greasy they are, and how the grease gets all over your fingers and coats the inside of the bag. Notice that you don't want to eat things soaked in that much grease. Become repulsed by it, and then you won't like them either."


This woman's technique stuck with me. She picked out a very specific property of a thing she wanted to stop enjoying and convinced herself that it repulsed her.

I completely... (read more)

Dark Arts of Rationality

I think I've been able to make outstanding progresses last year in improving rationality and starting to work on real problems mostly because of megalomaniac beliefs that were somewhat compartmentalised but that I was able to feel at a gut level each time I had to start working.

Lately, as a result of my progresses, I've started slowing down because I was able to come to terms with these megalomaniac beliefs and realise at a gut level they weren't accurate, so a huge chunk of my drive faded, and my predictions about my goals updated on what I felt I could r... (read more)

"If You're Not a Holy Madman, You're Not Trying"

Mh... I guess "holy madman" is a definition too vague to make a rational debate on it? I had interpreted it as "sacrifice everything that won't negatively affect your utility function later on". So the interpretation I imagined would be someone that won't leave himself an inch of comfort more than what's needed to keep the quality of his work constant.

I see slack as leaving yourself enough comfort that you'd be ready to use your free energy in ways you can't see at the moment, so I guess I was automatically assuming an "holy madman" would optimise for outp... (read more)

"If You're Not a Holy Madman, You're Not Trying"

I think that the approaches based on being a holy madman greatly underestimates the difficulty on being a value maximiser running on corrupted, basic human hardware.

I'd be extremely skeptical on anyone who claims to have found a way to truly maximise it's utility function, even if they claim to have avoided all the obvious pitfalls of burning out and so-so.

It would be extremely hard to conciliate "put forth your full effort" and staying rational enough to notice you're burning yourself out or noticing that you're getting stuck in some suboptimal route beca... (read more)

2abramdemski8moI bet if you said this to Nate he'd have a pretty convincing counter. Even though Nate works some ridiculous number of hours a week (in contrast to me; I'm closer to the standard 40 hours), I suspect he has enough slack, and thinks of this as part of the optimization problem. Part of the skill of optimizing without shooting yourself in the foot is explicitly counting slack as part of the optimization problem. Part of the meta-skill of learning to do this is always asking yourself whether you're falling into some kind of trap (mostly, forms of Goodhart), and prioritizing steps which avoid traps. EG if you were a self-modifying AGI, you would do well to self-modify in a cautious way, rather than as soon as something looks positive-EV. However, I'm not sure whether this caution eventually cashes out to "don't be a holy madman" vs "here's how to be the right kind of holy madman", in the terms of the post. Yeah, I feel that I can similarly look back at my history and say that in several cases, it either has been better or would have been much better to be more the detached academic.
Sex, Lies, and Dexamethasone

The review seem pretty balanced and interesting, however the bit about Bailey struck me as really misguided. 

I'll try to explain why, I apologise if at some times I might come off as angry but the whole issue about autogynephilia annoys me both at a personal level as a trans person and at a professional level as a graduated in psychologist and scientist. Alice Dreger seems to have massively botched this part of her work.

In 2006, Dreger decided to investigate the controversy around J. Michael Bailey's book The Man Who Would be Queen. The book is a popu

... (read more)

I'll try my best to express it, even if I feel it makes me look stupid:

Short version:

Trying to improve how activism is done, figuring out ways to maximise the positive impact activists and activism organisations can have to advance their cause and that can be reasonably taught.



Activism organisations that are composed by volunteers and that don't hire professionals are limited in what they can learn about their craft. Typically, activists can figure out by trial and errors and by looking at others what seem to work or not, but only if there i... (read more)

3Crackatook8moEfficiency is everybody's concern, IMAO. I hope you can share progress on this issue later on:)
Status Regulation and Anxious Underconfidence

I'm not 100% sure I understood the first paragraph, could you clarify it for me if I got it wrong?

Essentially, the "efficient-markets-as-high-status-authorities" mindset I was trying to describe seems to me that work as such:

Given a problem A, let's say providing life saving medicine to max number of people, it assumes that letting agents motivated by profit act freely, unrestricted by regulations or policies that even be aimed to try fix problem A, would provide said medicine to more people than an intentional policy of a government that's trying to provi... (read more)

Status Regulation and Anxious Underconfidence

I actually can’t recall seeing anyone make the mistake of treating efficient markets like high-status authorities in a social pecking order.

I've seen often enough, or at least I think I've seen often enough, people treating efficient markets or just "free, deregulated market" as some kind of benevolent godly being that is able to fix just any problem.

I admit that I came from the opposite corner and that I flinched at the first paragraphs of the explanation on efficient market, but I still feel that a lot of bright people aren't asking the questions 

"I... (read more)

2CronoDAS1moSome people did see the mortgage-backed securities crash of 2008 coming and made money on it! []
1TAG8moYes In the same sense that's there's no such thing as being optimal but not optimising anything in particular, or optimising everything in general, there is no sense that a market being unspecifically efficient will solve a problem that has never been fed into it. There is also a constant confusion between unregulated markets and free markets. Unregulated markets can be captured by monpolies, and thereby cease to be free in important senses. What is the utility function of a market, absent regulation?
Moloch's Toolbox (2/2)

A journalist thinks that a candidate who talks about ending the War on Drugs isn’t a “serious candidate.” And the newspaper won’t cover that candidate because the newspaper itself wants to look serious… or they think voters won’t be interested because everyone knows that candidate can’t win, or something? Maybe in a US-style system, only contrarians and other people who lack the social skill of getting along with the System are voting for Carol, so Carol is uncool the same way Velcro is uncool and so are all her policies and ideas? I’m not sure exactly wha

... (read more)
My Journey to the Dark Side

I wonder about that. 

I'd expect we'd first see a huge number of newspaper articles and internet websites trying to make health scares about "lab meat" and an ungodly about of memes about "real men eating real meat", or "only real meat has real taste", and then governments would ramp up subsidies to traditional farms because "cultural activities" and whatever. Oh, and a lot of jokes about the synthetic meat that many sci-fi dystopias have as an element.

Old, powerful lobbies don't like the free market regulating itself, at all, and making harmful/obsole... (read more)

My Journey to the Dark Side

Computer game characters also exhibit ”intentions” and such, but there’s nobody home a lot of the time, unless you’re playing against another person.

Yes, but what we know about the structure of a computer program is greatly different than what we know about the structure of an animal brain. More complex brains seem to share a lot of our own architecture, mammals brains are ridiculously complex, and mammals show a lot of behaviours that isn't purely directed to acquiring food, reproducing and running from predators.

For animals such as frogs and bugs, which ... (read more)

My Journey to the Dark Side

I do agree on everything you said. 

Right now farming animals seems to be a huge risk for zoonosis, if I remember correctly Covid-19 could have spread from exotic animals being sold in high numbers, and it jumped from man to minks in farms, spread like wildfire in the packed environment, gathering all sort of mutations, and then jumped back to man.

Farming animal is also not sustainable at all with the level of tech, resources and consumption we have now. I'd expect the impact of farming to kill at least some tens-millions people in a moderately bad glo... (read more)

How concerned are you about LW reputation management?
Answer by EmiyaMay 19, 202117

I generally avoid commenting only if I feel I have nothing relevant to say. The only thing that makes me delete a comment mid-writing is realising that I'm writing something that's wrong.

If I notice I made a mistake mid-discussion, or after I've already posted a comment people read, I admit it, and I've seen that usually up-votes show it's appreciated.

Usually when I comment it's because I have... let's call them "political beliefs", though they are always about concrete things and decisions, that are a lot more "left leaning" than the average position here... (read more)

My Journey to the Dark Side

"Meaningfully conscious" seem a tricky definition, and consciousness a rather slippery word.

Animals clearly aren't sapient, but saying they aren't conscious seems to also sneak in the connotation that there's "nobody home" to feel the pain and the experience, like a philosophical zombie.

It's pretty clear that animal seem to act like there's somebody home, feeling sensations and emotions and having intentions, and what we know about neurology also suggests that.

Given how some animals even pass self-recognition tests, sapience seems the only hard cut-off we ... (read more)

2Pattern8moThere might exist a number of animals (like the number of animals on Earth) such that, if they all died, people would die as a result - ignoring subsistence effects, we kind of need the biosphere to keep working. Also, if hunting or farming of an animal species is done in a way that creates bio-risks, that's a problem. I'm not sure where the 'covid comes from bats' theory is at now, but the Spanish flu [] was a big deal and it did come from animals []. While I'm not sure of how that happened - i.e. it might not have been factory farming - it seems important that we don't shot ourselves in the foot, globally. Additionally, if an animal produces stuff that can be made into medicine, driving them extinct in order to meet current demand is obviously bad.* In fact, even in terms of consumption and valuing that, over consumption is a problem.* *If you care about future people at all, wrt. that.
4Ben Pace8moI do mean to imply that animals that can pass the mirror test are much more morally meaningful than the others. Computer game characters also exhibit ”intentions” and such, but there’s nobody home a lot of the time, unless you’re playing against another person. I am fairly interested in knowing which animals are being factory farmed that pass the mirror test. If it’s anything like cows then I will be pretty upset.
My Journey to the Dark Side

Ziz adheres to a moral principle which classifies all life which has even the potential to be sentient as people and believes that all beings with enough of a mind to possess some semblance of selfhood should have the same rights that are afforded to humans. To her, carnism is a literal holocaust, on ongoing and perpetual nightmare of torture, rape, and murder being conducted on a horrifyingly vast scale by a race of flesh eating monsters. If you’ve read Three Worlds Collide, Ziz seems to view most of humanity the way the humans view the babyeaters.

... wel... (read more)

2Ben Pace8moYep. The animals aren't meaningfully conscious. That's such an argument. (And one that I believe.)
The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli”

I'm going to focus most of the post on the theme of trans people, I think it exemplifies the first of the two main problems behind a "social conservativism" approach.

  1. Conservatives generally don't provide good arguments for their worries.

The model they'll present will rarely stand as a coherent reasoning or have moving parts you can examine. "Gay marriage -> loss of societal cohesion", with a not really explained "loss of validity for traditional marriage" in between. 

When there are detailed models, usually scientific literature will prove most of t... (read more)

Internal Double Crux

Alright, I don't think I have any problem talking a bit about it in private with you, for the time being I'd rather avoid sharing more in public though.

If anyone else thinks information on this could be helpful they can contact me, put please only do so if you think it's really relevant you know.

Internal Double Crux

Pick as small of an internal conflict as possible and try to IDC it.

Whoops. Yeah, starting small definitely sounded like an obviously good idea, in hindsight.

I might have gone ahead and used as my first try figuring out my... gender identity, yeah.

It frigging worked as far as I can tell, I've used this yesterday and ever since I've felt a lot better than I've been in days. This was unbelievably helpful to me, and I'm really grateful for you having written this post.


To clarify my experience, in case someone is considering trying this for something on ... (read more)

This is fascinating and I'd love to hear more depth on whatever you'd be willing to share.

Regarding the suggestion to start with something small, I think in hindsight it was kind of a manipulation on my part to make the tool seem safer and to try to get more people to try it. In my limited experience, internal conflicts that seem small rarely turn out to be. 

When I first tried IDC at CFAR, the initial "small starting point" of "Should I floss?" dredged up a whole complex about distrust of doctors in particular and authority in general. A typical experience with watching myself and others IDC is that regardless of the starting point, one ends up in a grand dramatic battle of angels and demons over one's soul.

Why We Launched LessWrong.SubStack

I have to say this looks like a long due change of policy. I seriously hope that this site will finally stop talking all day long about rationality and finally focus on how we can get more paperclips.

Please kindly remove the CAPTCHA though, I'm finding it a slight annoyance.

2Ben Pace10moWhere is the CAPTCHA?
Masculine Virtues

In contrast, APA is a professional organization of health care providers, writing guidelines for practicing therapists who deal with vulnerable men who come to them for help. The standards are quite different.

The content is quite different also.

Here is a list of things APA considers “harmful”, under the umbrella term of “traditional masculinity”:

Saying that the lists of items below are the most likely problem you are going to see in the subgroup of men who end up looking for therapy is not the same as saying that these traits are always harmful. 

Simil... (read more)

Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots

Sadly, I think that briefly stopping the AstraZeneca vaccine (In Italy it got restarted about today, I think) was a rational decision, made necessary by absolute rampant stupidity. 

I've heard of several people I know getting unreasonably scared about blood clots, and several people had commented over the vaccine being "unsafe" before that. If they didn't suspended it after those nonsense reports then we'd have faced months of general idiocy about it, with every single case of thrombosis in people having received the AstraZeneca vaccine becoming a news... (read more)

2MalcolmOcean10moThis is a good point, and suggests that the bigger issue was whatever caused anyone to publish anything saying there seemed to be an association between the vaccines and blood clots in the first place.
How can we stop talking past each other when it comes to postrationality?

One perspective would be to say that when Ben read the sequences at 13, he adopted a suboptimal paradigm and later moved on from that paradigm. From the perspective of Kegan's framework, adopting that paradigm was however likely very good for Ben's development as it allowed him to go from Kegan 3 to Kegan 4 which is an important step in development. Not everyone moves from Kegan 3 to Kegan 4 and many people need a good university education to make the transition. Making that step at 13 is fast cognitive development.

I think this would be more smooth to unde... (read more)

2ChristianKl10moKegan stages are a complex concept and I don't think I can do a good job for getting the concept accross by writing a one-paragraph definition. That's not the claim I'm making. You can read the sequences in many different ways and depending on where you start it will have a different outcome. If you read it in a state where you are at Kegan's stage 4 and have an established paradigm according to which you can reason you get into a situation where you are faced with two competing paradigms. It's not surprising if that can have the effect of going "There's not one paradigm that has all the answers, different paradigms have their use at different points in time" and opening up to more different
Sacred Cash

It has less benign forms. Governments and other bandits look for wealth and take it. Sometimes those bandits are your friends, family and neighbors. A little giving back is a good thing, but in many cultures demands for help and redistribution rapidly approach 100% – life is tough, and your fellow tribe members, or at least family members, are endless pits of need, so any wealth that can be given away must be hidden if you want to remain in good standing. Savings, security and investment in anything but status are all but impossible. There is no hope for p

... (read more)
The Intelligent Social Web

Characters often want change as part of their role. And just as importantly, their role often requires that they can't achieve that change. The tension between craving and deprivation gives birth to the character's dramatic raison d'être. The "wife" can't be as clingy and anxious if the "husband" opens up, so "she" enacts behavior that "she" knows will make "him" close down. "She" can't really choose to change this because "her" thwarted desire for change is part of "her" role.

I'm conflicted about drawing this kind of conclusions from people behaviour, it ... (read more)

The Meaning That Immortality Gives to Life

Given what I’ve actually seen of people’s psychology, if you want anything done about global warming (like building 1000 nuclear power plants and moving on to real problems), then, yes, you should urge people to sign up for Alcor.


I realise this is a 13 year old post, but please don't dismiss global scale problems with the first idea that comes to mind and without doing serious research first, your opinion is (to say the least) really respected on this site and lots of people would assume you were right about it.


By IPCC datas from 2014, electric... (read more)

Ingredients of Timeless Decision Theory

Can anyone suggest me good background reading material to understand the technical language/background knowledge of this and, more generally, on decision theory?

Nobody Is Perfect, Everything Is Commensurable

I'm puzzled by a really effective activism post that manages to get me to commit to give 10% of my income to charity saying that activism and spreading the cause isn't an effective way to get things done.


I also think protesting can buy a lot more political shift for a cause than the average hourly pay of the participant. Millions of protesters seem to shift the political landscape a lot more than tens of millions of dollars spent in lobbying and ads.

The Parable Of The Talents

I shouldn’t pretend I’m worried about this for the sake of the poor. I’m worried for me.

At this point I should just try ask in a poll if there's a level of intelligence where you eventually stop worrying if you could ever catch up to the level above yourself.

Maybe if you were literally the highest-IQ person in the entire world you would feel good about yourself, but any system where only one person in the world is allowed to feel good about themselves at a time is a bad system.

Well, that's fricking encouraging.

Meditations On Moloch

This was amazingly good.

On a side note:

But things that work from a god’s-eye view don’t work from within the system. No individual scientist has an incentive to unilaterally switch to the new statistical technique for her own research, since it would make her research less likely to produce earth-shattering results and since it would just confuse all the other scientists. They just have an incentive to want everybody else to do it, at which point they would follow along. And no individual journal has an incentive to unilaterally switch to early registratio

... (read more)
Killing the ants

This was pretty interesting, and pretty different from the kind of content you usually find on LessWrong.

I often see arguments against "spontaneous inconvenient moral behaviour", such as worrying whether to kill ants infesting your house or stop eating meat, that advocate these behaviours should be replaced with more effective planned behaviours, but I don't really think most of the first behaviours prevent the others.

Suggesting that someone currently in his house should stop thinking about how to humanly get rid of ants, start working for an hour and usin... (read more)

Short, Extreme, Forgotten Torture vs Death

Inquire about the subjective vs objective duration of that millisecond. If there aren't any bad surprises there, pick torture before my mind can try to make a guess of how bad it will hurt. 

In the torture vs dust specks I choose dust specks if they weren't allowed to cause ripple effect and if they were guaranteed to be spread with only 1 dust speck for humans. Here there is a similar consideration, how the pain is spread in a time interval so small that it will basically be inconsequential (since he guaranteed that I won't suffer lasting consequences... (read more)

Guided By The Beauty Of Our Weapons

I think the only... slight divergence of the situation from reality is that the bad guys figured out most of this stuff already (though I doubt they did so explicitly).

There has been a lot of talk about how "the political divide has grown harsher than ever" as if this kind of shift just happened because of random cosmic variations.

What exactly happened is that, invariably in different country, the local "bag guy" wannabe grabs the loudest mic it can get and starts saying something absolutely hateful over and over, doing everything he can to poison the well... (read more)

In Favor of Niceness, Community, and Civilization

Creationists lie. Homeopaths lie. Anti-vaxxers lie. This is part of the Great Circle of Life. It is not necessary to call out every lie by a creationist, because the sort of person who is still listening to creationists is not the sort of person who is likely to be moved by call-outs. There is a role for organized action against creationists, like preventing them from getting their opinions taught in schools, but the marginal blog post “debunking” a creationist on something is a waste of time. Everybody who wants to discuss things rationally has already fo

... (read more)
Hammertime Day 9: Time Calibration

"Yeah, I can totally do my master thesis in six months, even it if involves examining a large database of newspaper articles by myself, inventing a methodology to analyse them that translates in quantitative data, invent an observation grid for what people would usually treat as subjective evaluations, mapping and quantifying the business relationships between newspapers and other industries, and generally pushing past the methodology limits that prevented studies I saw so far to actually prove quantitatively that there were in fact a relationship between ... (read more)

Book Review: Age of Em

The more I read about simulated humans the more I'm convinced that a hard ban on simulating new humans and duplicating existing one is a key point of what differentiates dystopias too horrible to even grasp and hyper-existential failures from sane futures, at least until we have aligned AI.

He’s even right that on utilitarian grounds, it’s hard to argue with an em era where everyone is really happy working eighteen hours a day for their entire lives because we selected for people who feel that way. But at some point, can we make the Lovecraftian argument of

... (read more)
Don’t Fear The Filter

I'd think that some of these alien civilisation would have figured it out in time, implanted everyone with neural chips that override any world ending decision, kept technological discoveries over a certain level available only to a small fraction of the population or in the hand of aligned AI, or something.

An aligned AI definitely seems able to face a problem of this magnitude, and we'd likely either get that or botch that before reaching the technological level any lunatic can blow up the planet.

SSC Journal Club: AI Timelines

How many of the experts in this survey are victims of the same problem? “Do you believe powerful AI is coming soon?” “Yeah.” “Do you believe it could be really dangerous?” “Yeah.” “Then shouldn’t you worry about this?” “Hey, what? Nobody does that! That would be a lot of work and make me look really weird!”

It does seem to be the default response of groups of humans to this kind of crisis. People died in burning restaurants because nobody else got up to run. 

"Why should I, an expert in this field, react to the existential risk I acknowledge as a chance... (read more)

1jeronimo1965moFallacies leading to inability to take action in accordance with their values is one explanation for people's apathy. Another is that they simply prefer their own short term comfort more than most other values they would care to espouse. I know this to be the case for at least one person, and I am pretty sure there are more. I am somehow convinced that a perceived loon like Elon Musk opening 20 positions for AI safety researchers, $10 million yearly salary, will have much better luck recruiting, than an elite university offering $100 000 (or the potential candidate's current salary, whatever). In the first case, 5% existential risk for humanity will finally become intolerable. In the second - not so much. Edit: people leaving Neuralink citing "premature push for human experiments" are evidence against my previous paragraph.
Superintelligence FAQ

This was a remarkably successful attempt to summarise the whole issue in one post, well done.


On a side note, I think that getting clever people to think as if in the shoes of a cold, amoral AI can be an effective way to persuade them of the danger. "What would you do if some idiot tried to make you cure cancer, but you had near omnipotence and didn't really cared one bit if humans lived or died?" It makes people go from using their intelligence for arguing why containment would work to use it to think how containment could fail.

When I first met the subject in the sequences I tried to ask me what I would do as an unaligned AI. Most of my hopes for containment died out in half an hour or so.

How The West Was Won

A common complaint about immigration is "they're taking our jobs." For a group whose primary asset is their ability to do labor, this seems pretty fair to characterize as "our resources are being appropriated," and it's easy to notice that many billionaires who are made better off by mass immigration support decreasing regulatory barriers to immigration.

[Of course, open borders seem like a good idea to economists, and billionaires are more likely to have economist-approved views on economic policy, so I don't think this is just a 'self-interest' story; I j

... (read more)
1jeronimo1965moA redneck has seen gay marriage legalised in his lifetime, while homosexuality is still illegal in 71 countries. Islam seems to get a lot more leniency on this topic, compared to Christianity. If I remember my history correctly, the Industrial Revolution didn't go so smoothly for the Rural Brits either. And from a certain point of view (Marx, mainly) a redneck is exploited by the same people pillaging the resources of Burkina Faso (and everywhere else). Whatever one's opinion on capitalism, seeing the claim that small countries are exploited for resources, while rednecks are not, is bizarre to me.
How The West Was Won

Edit: I've changed my original post a bit because I couldn't tell if it came across as aggressive and I was starting to really obsess about it.

I'm... kinda puzzled by the questions and the situation described by this post. It seems it's missing a couple points that are a relevant part of the whole picture. These points are also extremely relevant in the motivations of those who support differently "local conservatives" and "foreign populations that try to defend their cultures" and in most reasoned objections to the spread of "universal ideology" (I've als... (read more)

3Vaniver1yA common complaint about immigration is "they're taking our jobs." For a group whose primary asset is their ability to do labor, this seems pretty fair to characterize as "our resources are being appropriated," and it's easy to notice that many billionaires who are made better off by mass immigration support decreasing regulatory barriers to immigration. [Of course, open borders seem like a good idea to economists, and billionaires are more likely to have economist-approved views on economic policy, so I don't think this is just a 'self-interest' story; I just think it's worth noticing that the same "disenfranchised group having their resources appropriated" story does in fact go through for those groups.] I feel like this is missing the core point of the article, which is that the "colonizer / colonized" narrative misses the transition from the 'traditional cultures' of Britain and America to universal culture. Why did universalism win in Britain and America? If it was because those places were torn apart in order to exploit the hell out of them, then the flavor of this analysis changes significantly.
Things Probably Matter

I'd strongly suggest that anyone looking into this kind of issues explored more the current research on how wealth distribution affects wellbeing. I recommend The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett as a point to start, is the single most relevant book I've read in my whole psychology curriculum.

Countries hardly find themselves better off due to economic growth and GDP alone, what matters the most is how this increased wealth is distributed, and economic growth is getting more and more decoupled with people finances.


A separated problem is that peop... (read more)

Against Tulip Subsidies

A few years later, another Dutch trader comes to the little kingdom. Everyone asks if he is there to buy tulips, and he says no, the Netherlands’ tulip bubble has long since collapsed, and the price is down to a guilder or two. The people of the kingdom are very surprised to hear that, since the price of their own tulips has never stopped going up, and is now in the range of tens of thousands of guilders. Nevertheless, they are glad that, however high tulip prices may be for them, they know the government is always there to help. Sure, the roads are fallin

... (read more)
RationalWiki on face masks

People also stocked up with disinfectants. (I don't remember whether authorities mentioned these, or it was just common sense.) This seemed more tricky, because making disinfectants at home... well, you couldburn some strong alcohol, you wouldn't even have to worry about toxicity if you do not intend to drink it;

This one they handled better, I'm 99% sure that the government started to hand out instructions on how to make disinfectants at home the minute people started trying doing it on their own... I guess it fits my hunch of "prevent flashy, showy bad co... (read more)

4Viliam1yThere is also uncertainty, and the producers don't want to oversupply. Starting the panic "collapses" the uncertainty. If some families are going to buy 3 years worth of disinfectants, I want the market to know this, not as a possibility, but as a fact. So that the result is that some families have 3 years worth of disinfectant, and the remaining families have enough. I agree with the political backlash. Doing the right thing on object level may be a mistake on political level. When you do something, you become responsible for everything that happens [], and in situation of pandemic, all outcomes are bad, so the optimal political strategy is probably to stay in background until the situation gets really bad, and then come and save the day. One does not get political points for preventing problems. (After Slovakia successfully defeated covid during spring, many people concluded that it was just a hoax and that all measures were unnecessary. This probably contributed to the reluctance of government to do anything when the numbers started growing exponentially in autumn.)
Hammertime Day 6: Mantras

This was a more embarrassing question than I was expecting... well, here it goes.

Who the hell do you think we are?


Do the impossible, break the unbreakable 

Row, row, fight the power! 


Kick reason to the curb and do the impossible.

These three are straight from Gurren Lagann. I use them often as mental rally cries when I feel I'm at loss for hope or about to give up on something.

The first is a vague "don't give up and persevere" mostly for getting grit in the moment.

The second is more for my long term plans that are a long way from my rea... (read more)

Instrumental Rationality: Postmortem

Thanks, I'll check them out as well!

RationalWiki on face masks

So, I remain firmly convinced that discouraging people from wearing masks caused deaths. In short term, by making the pandemic spread faster. In long term, by undermining public trusts in experts.


It might be I guess... I'm starting to wonder if my memories about the "no mask" period are how most people lived it.


The way it happened for me was that in Italy masks quickly started to go sold out. People started making masks at home here too, I don't trust my memories 100% but I think that in a week or so most people I saw outside were wearing one.&... (read more)

4Viliam1yI attributed the Slovak reaction to cultural experience from socialism. Like, when the authorities told you: "comrades, do not panic, there is no shortage of toilet paper", you knew you had to run immediately to the nearest shop and stock up, because in the evening it will already be sold out. So when the authorities told us not to buy face masks... :D People also stocked up with disinfectants. (I don't remember whether authorities mentioned these, or it was just common sense.) This seemed more tricky, because making disinfectants at home... well, you could burn some strong alcohol, you wouldn't even have to worry about toxicity if you do not intend to drink it; and some people actually did this (I think there was a guy in Czechia who started mass-producing alcohol-as-disinfectant, got into legal trouble, there was a public outrage and he was pardoned)... anyway, what happened was that shelves were empty for two or three weeks, and then the shops resupplied. Which again makes me think that if there is a risk of panic and shortage, you might want it to happen sooner rather than later, so that the market has enough time to adapt before the worst happens. As a government, you could even contribute to the shortage, by buying tons of stuff... and later redistributing it to the places of greatest need: sell it to hospitals for the original price, thus shielding them from shortage and price hikes. My reasoning was: people in Asia seem to have more experience with this type of situation, and they wear masks; case closed. Also, this song [] (note: February 2020; English version [] made in April). But yes, common sense also seemed on the side of wearing the masks. Like, maybe they won't filter all viruses, but at least they should filter some. I guess you needed a "gears model" of infection, so you knew it was not "one particle or millions of particles, you are doomed either way" but ra
RationalWiki on face masks

Part of the problem is that facebook has a lot of moderators who can just ban people. Ron Paul is strong enough to complain and get a decision reversed but average people who get banned by a random moderator can't. 

I agree it's a big problem, the inability of average people to complain worries me as well. 

I think Facebook should elaborate a strict guideline for its moderators, hold them accountable on how they decide and keep track on how they acted in the past, rewarding accuracy and punishing "interpretations". For such a big organisation it wo... (read more)

Instrumental Rationality: Postmortem

It's very late feedback, but I think this was easily in the top three of the most well written self-help advice I've ever read.

It's early to judge, but I also think it's been one of the most useful. I have been kinda doing stuff similar to some of what you describe for a while, and I kept doing it because it was effective, and in the few days I had to try it having a more... explicit and systematic model of what actually works to shape my behaviour turned out to be useful. 

So far I haven't tried to apply it to too much stuff at once for fear of burnin... (read more)

5lifelonglearner1yThanks for the feedback Emiya! I hope it ends up being useful for helping you get what you want to get done, done. I never got the chance to update here, but I cleaned up some of the essays in the years since writing this series. They can now be found here []. Of note is that I massively edited Habits 101, and I think it now reads a lot tighter than before.
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