Angela Pretorius

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Worst Commonsense Concepts?

‘Justice’ has got to be one of the worst commonsense concepts.

It is used to ‘prove’ the existence of free will and it is the basis of a lot of suboptimal political and economic decision making.

Taboo ‘justice’ and talk about incentive alignment instead.

The Greedy Doctor Problem

This is my proposed solution:

I set aside a fixed amount of money per year that I am prepared to spend on healthcare. At the end of every year I rate my quality of life for that year on a scale of -10 to 10.

If my rating is 10 I give all the money to the doctor. If my rating is 2 I give 2/10 of the money to the doctor and burn 8/10 of the money. If my rating is -3 then I burn all the money and the doctor has to pay me 3/10 of my budget, which I then burn.

If I score 4 or less on the GPCOG (which is NOT to be administered by the doctor) then my quality of life rating is automatically set to -10. For context, the GPCOG is widely used to screen for dementia.

What health-related tips do you have for buying meat?

You might be right. I forgot that the OP is in the US, where healthcare is absurdly expensive.

What health-related tips do you have for buying meat?

If you are on an extremely high income then the health benefits might be worth it.

Otherwise go to Lidl or Aldi on a Saturday night when a lot of the meat has 30% off stickers. Buy whatever cuts are cheapest. Freeze the meat as soon as you get home. Then buy kale, broccoli and frozen mixed veg to eat with the meat and splash out on swimming pool fees or a day out hiking or trail running or mountain biking or wild swimming.

Successful Mentoring on Parenting, Arranged Through LessWrong

Don't make the mistake that I made when I was pregnant. I spent too much time planning parenting strategies years down the line and not enough time researching breastfeeding, and I ended up struggling with a tongue tied baby who would not latch.

Before the baby arrives make sure that, as a minimum, you know the following:

  • The side-lying, laid-back, koala hold, cradle hold, cross cradle hold, dangle and clutch hold nursing positions.
  • the flipple technique
  • how to cup feed a baby
  • how to use nipple shields
  • how to use a breast pump
  • how to do breast compressions
  • how many wet nappies a baby should have per day
  • how wet a nappy has to be to qualify as wet
  • that you should never hold the back of a baby's head while nursing even if the midwife tells you to.

The best online resources are La Leche League, Kellymom and Analytical Armadillo.

Autism And Intelligence: Much More Than You Wanted To Know

Imagine that the graph of IQ as a function of parameter p is left-skewed.

Then natural selection is going to produce a population in which values of p are clustered around the optimum with more values slightly below the optimum than slightly above the optimum. In such a population, genes which increase p would paradoxically appear to be associated with both high iq and extremely low iq.

Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity

You appear to be very knowledgeable about vaping. Can I ask you for some personal advice?

My husband tried to switch to e-cigs on several occasions. Every time he was back to smoking within a couple of days. He has been using cheap clearomiser e-cigs, and he says the vape liquid leaks into his mouth and leaves a nasty taste, and I suspect that the nicotine content of his vape liquid is too low.

I have been trying to persuade him to try buproprion or more expensive e-cigs or vape liquid with a higher nicotine content.

These are the replies that I usually get: 'I can quit without bupropion. I am smoking at the moment because of stressful event X, and I will quit on date Y when my life will be less stressful' 'I will have the same problems with the expensive e-cigs' 'I'm not really addicted to nicotine. I am just a puffer and I don't draw the smoke deep into my lungs. I only smoke to keep my hands busy/deal with stress/keep me awake at work.'

The Case Against Education

I won't deny that homework should be banned, school uniforms should be eliminated and school should be optional, but it must be remembered being in school has a few advantages.

  1. In school there are usually explicit rules and predictable punishments, whereas at home there are usually unwritten rules and unpredictable punishments.
  2. Most countries ban corporal punishment at school but allow corporal punishment at home.
  3. Schools provide a daycare service, although their inflexible start and finish times make them poorly optimised for this purpose.
Catching the Spark

By the way, if you want to really understand Pythagoras's theorem, Cut The Knot has a collection of 118 proofs.

As for the 'tricky seedlings' example, another question would be:

I would expect plants whose seeds are dispersed by animals to be more k-selected and have less 'tricky' seedlings compared with plants whose seeds are dispersed by the wind. Can I think of any counterexamples?

For the question about mould and seedlings, there are some interesting spin-off questions that you could come up with e.g.

I heard speculation somewhere that endothermy may have evolved to protect against fungal infections. If heat is good at killing off fungi, why do compost heaps work better when they are insulated so that they get hot on the inside?

Covid 1/21: Turning the Corner

My (highly speculative!) hypothesis is that the emergence of these variant viruses arises in cases of chronic infection during which the immune system places great pressure on the virus to escape immunity and the virus does so by getting really good at getting into cells. 11/19

That’s plausible, but doesn’t explain why the chronic infections hadn’t done this earlier, and the English strain doesn’t escape immunity in this way (and we don’t know about the others) so I notice it doesn’t feel like it explains things.

Here is a National Geographic article on how new therapies may have allowed chronic patients to be kept alive for longer and with higher viral loads, and may have influenced viral evolution. In particular, the article cites a preprint on Medrxiv which finds that convalescent plasma therapy leads to rapid changes in spike proteins and to the evolution of antibody resistance.

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