Wiki Contributions


Thanks, I found this interesting! I remember reading that piece by Froolow but I didn't realize the refactoring was such a big part of it (and that the GiveWell CEA was formatted in such a dense way, wow).

This resonates a lot with my experience auditing sprawling, messy Excel models back in my last job (my god are there so many shitty Excel models in the world writ large).

FWIW if I were building a model this complex, I'd personally pop it into Squiggle / Squigglehub — if only because at that point, properly multiplying probabilities together and keeping track of my confidence interval starts to really matter to me :)

I also spent a cursed day looking into the literature for NONS. I was going to try and brush this up into a post, but I'm probably not going to do that after all. Here are my scrappy notes if anyone cares to read them.

You're citing the same main two studies on Enovid that I found (Phase 3 lancet or "Paper 1", Phase 2 UK trial or "Paper 2"), so in case it's helpful, here are my notes under "Some concerns you might have" re: the Lancet paper:

  • The study was funded and conducted by the drug manufacturer (the first 3 authors of the study all work at the manufacturer).
    • The smaller UK study, which also found that NONS significantly reduced viral load, was conducted by an independent academic researcher.
      • On the other hand, this study was still funded by the manufacturer, and reports that “the funder of the study conducted the randomisation of the anonymised participant data” (??) which I find pretty weird.
  • We don’t know about the long term effects — including even relatively short term stuff like whether any patients got rebound COVID after their negative PCR tests.
    • The study stops following patients after their first negative PCR, so we don’t really have evidence on long term consequences.
    • Nitrix oxide is supposed to be pretty safe, since it’s produced by your body in response to e.g. eating leafy greens.
    • But you might worry about mechanism of delivery here — these sprays don’t actually contain NO, they contain agents that combine to produce NO. Might this combination process also create harmful byproducts?
      • Very very anecdotally, this random science writer on Twitter is worried that combining sodium nitrite in acidic solution could produce nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. I don’t know any chemistry and can’t quickly check whether this is a valid concern.
  • The study is supposed to study the effects of nitric oxide. But the treatment spray differs in two ways: it contains NO-creating agents, and an additional gelling agent (HPMC).
    • This might be a problem as people have suspected HPMC could independently be protective against COVID for a while, and one observational study seems to back this up. 
    • So you might just be picking up on the effects of HPMC, not nitric oxide. Despite being a fairly common food additive, HPMC isn’t well studied as a COVID treatment, so it’s hard to tease these effects out — Here’s a quick summary.
    • The UK study doesn’t report what exactly they put in the placebo spray, so I can’t verify whether this issue applies to that study.
    • The in vitro study finds that gaseous NO does not have virucidal effects on SARS-CoV-2, which makes me wonder if in fact HPMC is the real reason why these sprays are effective?
    • In practice, since there’s only one company that currently sells these sprays, and their product in fact contains HPMC, you might not care about this. But this might tip you in favor of buying a cheaper HPMC spray instead of this product.


Note the evidence base on explicitly prophylactic use of NONS is not very good. Here's the only study I could find (after maybe an hour of searching), and it's a retrospective epidemiological case study (i.e. not randomly assigned), again by the manufacturers. 

They're running a Phase 3 prophylactic RCT right now, which in theory is supposed to wrap up this month, but who knows when we'll see the results.

For example: let’s say you want to know the impact of daily jogs on happiness. You randomly instruct 80 people to either jog daily or to simply continue their regular routine. As a per protocol analyst, you drop the many treated people who did not go jogging. You keep the whole control group because it wasn’t as hard for them to follow instructions.

I didn't realize this was a common practice, that does seem pretty bad!

Do you have a sense of how commonplace this is?

What’s depressing is that there is a known fix for this: intent-to-treat analysis. It looks at effects based on the original assignment, regardless of whether someone complied or not.

In my econometrics classes, we would have been instructed to take an instrumental variables approach, where "assignment to treatment group" is an instrument for "does the treatment", and then you can use a two stage least squares regression to estimate the effect of treatment on outcome. (My mind is blurry on the details.)

IIUC this sounds similar to intent-to-treat analysis, except allowing you to back out the effect of actually doing the treatment, which is presumably what you care about in most cases.

I have built three or four traditional-style lumenators, as described in Eliezer and Raemon’s posts. There’s a significant startup cost — my last one cost $500 for the materials (with $300 of that being the bulbs), and the assembly always takes me several hours and is rife with frustration — but given that they last for years, it’s worth it to me.

Reading this post inspired me to figure out how to set up a lumenator in my room, so thank you for writing it! :)

I just set mine up and FWIW I got 62,400 lumens for $87 ($3.35 / bulb if you buy 26, 2600 lumens, 85 CRI, 5000k, non-dimmable). These aren't dimmable, but are over half the price of the 83 CRI Great Eagle bulbs you mentioned (which are $6.98 / bulb right now).

My full set up cost $212.

June 2023 cheap-ish lumenator DIY instructions (USA)

I set up a lumenator! I liked the products I used, and did ~3 hours of research, so am sharing the set-up here. Here are some other posts about lumenators.

  • Here's my shopping list.
    • $212 total as of writing:
      • $142 for bare essentials (incl $87 for the bulbs)
      • $55 for the lantern covers
      • $17 for command hooks (if you get a different brand, check that your hooks can hold the cumulative weight of your bulbs + string)
    • 62,400 lumens total(!!)
  • Here are the bulbs I like. The 26 listed come out to $3.35 / bulb, 2600 lumens, 85 CRI, 5000k, non-dimmable. This comes out at 776 lumens / $ (!!!) which is kind of ridiculous.
    • The only criteria I cared about were: (1) CRI >85, (2) Color temperature of 5000K, and then I just tried to max out lumens / $.
    • These are super cheap. @mingyuan seemed to have spent $300 on bulbs for their last lumenator. They had a stricter CRI cutoff (>90), but the price difference here means it might be worth considering going cheaper.
    • I don't understand if I am missing something / why this is such a good deal? But IRL, these are extremely bright, they don't 'feel' cheap (e.g. are somewhat heavy), and don't flicker (as of day 1).
    • They aren't dimmable. I wasn't willing to pay the premium for the dimmability — TBH I would just get another set of less bright lights for when you don't want it to be so bright!
  • To set up (1-2 hours):
    • Set up the command hooks, ideally somewhere kind of high up in your room, wait an hour for the backing to dry.
    • Plug in the switch, and then plug the wire into the switch. Run the wire through your hooks.
    • Screw in the bulbs. With this brand of wire, you have to screw them in with a lot of force (more than you would think). I kept the switch near me, and periodically checked if all the lights turned on as I went along.
    • Set up the lantern covers (you could do this in parallel with the bulbs).
  • I initially used a couple older bulbs at my house instead of entirely using the MAXvolador ones throughout to save money, but I'm probably going to go back and replace all the older bulbs with the above product (it's just so much brighter!).

LW bug(?) report:  All of the inline footnotes are pointing to the Cold Takes references, even though the backref links in the Notes section are pointing to the LW post (screenshot of what I see on hover). Same issue with the alignment forum post.  I'm wondering if there's any way to fix that?

Here's a Share-a-cart link to grab all of the 6 basic pills + pill organizer on Amazon for ~$57. (Click on the link, click "Send all to cart", and then "Add to cart" at the bottom).

I did very minimal research for this and mostly just clicked on the first fine-seeming product per item on the list, and did not check whether things were vegan, the best possible product in each category, etc. Commenting mostly to encourage people to use services like Share-a-cart when publishing shopping lists to make it super easy for people to buy things you recommend.