All of AspiringRationalist's Comments + Replies

How would you recommend shorting long-dated bonds? My understanding is that both short selling and individual bond trading have pretty high fees for retail investors.

I absolutely do not recommend shorting long-dated bonds. However, if I did want to do so a a retail investor, I would maintain a rolling short in CME treasury futures. Longest future is UB. You'd need to roll your short once every 3 months, and you'd also want to adjust the size each time, given that the changing CTD means that the same number of contracts doesn't necessarily mean the same amount of risk each expiry.

Anna: Papa, I have a problem: [explains problem in detail]

Me: Is it a problem you can fix?

Anna: Yes! [Fixes problem]

I need to do a better job of asking myself this question.

An important thing that this analysis leaves out is the uncertainty regarding feedback loops. If e.g. warming causes permafrost to melt and release more greenhouse gasses, there is a possibility of a runaway process that results in catastrophic warming. We don't know how bad the tail risks are, and an analysis that looks at the median case doesn't address that issue.

The deadline to post your blind mode predictions is coming up on the 10th. This weekend is a great time to do them if you haven't yet.

His 80000 interview suggests that he thought the chance of FTX blowing up is something between 1% and 10%. There he gives 50% odds for making more than 50 billion dollars that can be donated to EA causes.

If someone is saying that his action was negative in expectation, do they mean, that Sam Bankman-Fried lied about his expectations? Do they mean that a 10% chance of this happening should have been enough to tilt the expectation to be negative under the ethical assumptions of longtermism that puts most of the utility that's produced in the far future?

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Zombie banks would be one type of organization in that reference class. 

I think approximately no one audits people's books before accepting money from them. It's one thing to refuse to accept money from a known criminal (or other type of undesirable), but if you insist that the people giving you money prove that they obtained it honestly, then they'll simply give that money to someone else instead.

This is basically a Quirrell moment in real life; a massive proportion of people on LW are deferring their entire worldview to obvious supervillains.

Who are the obvious supervillains that they're deferring their entire worldview to? And who's deferring to them?

This comment had negative karma when I looked at it. I don't think we as a community should be punishing asking honest questions, so I strong-upvoted this comment.

If in a job that's important for the war effort, be a stickler for following all rules and official procedures. Escalate decisions so that things don't get done without official input from higher-ups.

5Zac Hatfield-Dodds2y
As per the 1944 Simple Sabotage Field Manual, of course. (very little of which remains relevant today, and all of which regards the non-US-citizen saboteur as expendable)

The majority rent (I've lived in a few, all of which, including the one I live in now, rented).

I believe the main reasons for this are:

  • People who live in rationalist group houses are disproportionately young and live in expensive areas, which makes it hard to buy a house,
  • There's a lot of variability in how long people live in rationalist group houses, and
  • Figuring out the ownership structure is complicated.

The first point is fairly self-explanatory, but I'll say a bit more about the other two.

There are several sorts of people who choose to live in a r... (read more)

There's also an asymmetry between gains and losses, partly due to prospect theory, and partly due to decreasing marginal utility. I bet a lot of people would answer differently if they were asked what they would choose if given the choice between receiving the money vs. going back to the way things were before.

I think it depends on whether you think there will be an omicron booster by the time the next variant comes along. If there is, you'll have gotten Covid for nothing.

From what I understand, individuals with natural immunity, who contracted COVID pre-vaccine,  have a stronger antibody count than those who were vaccinated when vaccinations became first avaliable, but not as strong as those who were recently boosted. The data, along with the recent CDC guidlines make it clear that the effectiveness of vaccinations and boosters diminishes at a faster rate than that of natural immunity. Also, what makes you confident that an Omicron booster will develop before the next varient? Genuine question. Not trying to be combative. @Randomized_Controlled : This is a question I too am asking myself. Its definitely a controversial question any political ideology or corporate agenda would never allow to be posed mainstream, but from a purely rational persepective, I think is is 100% worth asking. No reason why you couldnt locate a friend who tested positive with the mild or no symptoms of Omicron , spend some time, and then immediately isolate until a negative test... seems reasonable to me honestly. As always, I am open to any response that includes a well though out argument and, most importantly, DATA, that indicates I am wrong. Ive been wrong before and am always looking to learn.

Abbot flat out denies the FDA’s claim of potential lowered test sensitivity, says their tests are as effective against Omicron as they were against previous variants.

The link here appears to be a mattress ad.

Was supposed to be this: Mattress ad was from the same website so I assume I clicked on it by accident then copied the url from the browser window, or something.
I was wondering if it would turn out to be a princess and the pea joke...
3Ben Pace2y

How often do people talk about tradeoffs between multiple sacred values?

I think he means that your argument:

When it's not socially acceptable to have a frank discussion of the real costs and benefits of various restrictions, it becomes easier for people who oppose the restrictions to pretend that the benefits of the restrictions don't exist (aka the disease isn't real or isn't serious).

also applies this way:

When it's not socially acceptable to have a frank discussion of the real costs and benefits of various restrictions, it becomes easier for people who support the restrictions to pretend that the costs of the restrictions do... (read more)

This story makes sense for describing how people might believe conspiracy theories because they oppose lockdowns, but I don't think a similar story would apply for opposition to vaccines. Following this line of thinking, I think the sequence of events is:

  1. Disease breaks out.
  2. Public health authorities respond to the disease with high-cost preventative measures.
  3. People respond to those preventative measures by becoming hostile to public health measures.
  4. People's hostility to public health measures oppose vaccines even though they're much lower cost and much more effective than the measures that led to them becoming hostile to public health measures in the first place.

Similarly what I have seen from by my friends and acquaintances is.

  1. Disease breaks out.
  2. Public health authorities/pharmaceutical companies push a new vaccine and claim it is X% effective/prevents the spread.
  3. Later it is found to be less effective than initially promised/new variants make it less effective and boosters are now announced as needed.
  4. People feel lied to, believing they were originally told vaccine was more effective than evidence shows it is/the fact that restrictions are still in place with the vaccine makes reduces its credibility in their eyes.
Opposition to vaccines comes in various gradings and flavors. I think it's pretty clear that initial vaccination has positive expected value for almost everyone. But it's much less clear if a booster shot can claim the same value proposition: it has a much smaller direct benefit to the bostee, so the argument for it is mostly based on solidarity. Is that enough to make it mandatory? You can also be pro vaccines but against public policy about them. There has been some amount of goalpost shifting, e.g., in the scope and duration of covid passes. In some places, there was an implicit deal on the table: get vaccinated and you will be allowed to visit restaurants and bars. But a few months later this was changed to requiring recent vaccination (4 months instead of 12). Regardless of whether you think that's a good motivation to get vaccination, the promise has clearly been broken.
This is exactly right. By the time the vaccine became widely available, resistance to public health measures was already baked in and broke down along culture war lines, so nothing else really mattered at that point.
We live in in a roughly Dunbar-sized group. If no one died of Covid in your group but one or two people were hurt by vaccines, you will be scared of vaccines.

An important aspect of this is that it involves a tradeoff between a sacred value (preventing death) and a secular value (avoiding restrictions). When it's not socially acceptable to have a frank discussion of the real costs and benefits of various restrictions, it becomes easier for people who oppose the restrictions to pretend that the benefits of the restrictions don't exist (aka the disease isn't real or isn't serious).

Even aside the sacred/secular dichotomy, you still need to be able set an exchange rate between different things (mental health, economic damage, hospitalisations, deaths) to establish whether lockdowns are nett negative . Or you could just state your conclusions without showing any workings like the OP did .

Freedom is a sacred value for many people as well. 

Vaccination with three doses is protective against infection by Omicron, but less protective than vaccines were against Delta. As a rule of thumb I am currently acting as if a booster shot is something like 60%-70% protective against infection but I don’t have confidence in that number. The main protection is still against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

Two questions about this:

  1. Do you mean that a booster is 60-70% effective relative to being "fully" vaccinated but not boosted, or do you mean that being boosted is 60-70% effective relative t
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What was the weather like? I like this idea, and I wonder how well it would work under different weather conditions.

If you're doing darkness solstice in particular my take is that as long as everyone has appropriate gear, worse weather actively adds to the experience. California is easy mode but I wouldn't be surprise if the correlation holds at least as long as driving is safe.

In this case it was literally raining the whole time. (The six people who showed up were filtered for "willing to put up with that"). We had umbrellas.

In past smolstices it's been clear sky winter berkeley weather.

Either it’s bad or weird data, or Omicron somehow puts a ton more virus into the wastewater, and then there’s nothing to see here.

If Omicron somehow puts a ton more virus into the wastewater, that tells us something interesting about the virus. Maybe it somehow infects the digestive tract more effectively than other strains.

Or it has a higher viral load.

How should we determine when there's adequate supply? I imagine calling pharmacies and asking "if, hypothetically, I got Covid, would everyone in my household be able to get Paxlovid?" would work very well.

How about number of cases times average household size?

If there are specific problems with those regulations, shouldn't a legislator representing a district with a lot of forestry or ranching be able to propose a sensible solution with little opposition?

The default approach is to try to get the attention of the highest-ranking person they can think of, but this runs afoul of the exact mechanism you mention where attention is precious and the higher the rank, the more fierce the competition for it, and the higher the threshold we need to reach to direct them. But I think this is a power-law distribution, which is to say that as you go down the ladder of hierarchy the attention threshold drops rapidly.

To sum up, we can mitigate the attention problem by aiming as low on the totem pole as possible, and pr

... (read more)

Right, but that impacts whether it's actually profitable to build them.

If you buy one, l assume you can't then rent it out at market rate? What restrictions are there on your ability to resell it? I would expect that to massively decrease these units' value to potential buyers.

Massively decreasing the value (and hence the price) is the point! You can rent or sell, at a specified maximum rate, to anyone whose income is under a limit.

As long as we're going off on tangents, does anyone know a name for the bias where Oxonians look like they're doing things effortlessly?

I suspect the following is a common psychological failure mode, and I want a term to refer to it:

  1. See someone doing something amazing and making it look easy
  2. Try to do something similar (or imagine trying to)
  3. Realize (or assume) that it's hard and will take a lot of work
  4. Conclude that because it's easy for the other person and hard for you, you must be bad at it (when actually it's hard for the other person too, but you just don't see the work that they put into it)
  5. Since you've concluded that it's hard and you're bad at it, you give up

The intuition might also come from whole grains generally being healthier and darker than refined grains. A naive attempt to generalize that might conclude that the darkest part of the bread is the healthiest.

Given the following charts, statistics, and arguments based on those charts and statistics, point out the important flaws in the arguments and state what unjustified conclusions the arguers are trying to cause you to reach.

For wood and charcoal to be expensive, forests don't necessarily need to be depleted. Instead, it can be due to higher transportation costs (wood and charcoal are heavy). As the empire became less secure during and after the crisis of the 3rd century, I would expect long-distance transportation to have become less safe (due to banditry) and therefore more expensive.

2Zac Hatfield-Dodds3y
Wikipedia has a page on Roman deforestation, which even uses the phrase "peak wood" - so depletion was definitely a concern (and Italy has never recovered the pre-Roman forests). All that said, I think you're still underestimating the costs of transport! * Overland transport - i.e. wagons, and perhaps draft animals - is prohibitively expensive for anything more than a single-day journey of up to ~10 miles. Fuel is bulky, heavy, and frankly not that valuable. * Moving bulk freight by water is much better - whether floating logs down a river canadian-style, or loading boats for riverine or ocean transport. Even so, I don't know of any cases where fuel was transported or traded like this - and shipping enough grain into Rome was a constant and difficult problem. Population density was much more even before the industrial revolution (smaller cities, more farmers, etc.), and it's reasonable to explain depletion solely in terms of local fuel for local use. If timber was valuable enough to transport, it was almost always as a material rather than fuel.

The important question about Alaska opening up vaccines to tourists is whether non-Americans will be able to get in.

TIPS aren't great for betting on inflation: * Embedded option on deflation * Liquidity issues * Difficult to short for a retail investor If you have the kind of ability to short TIPS, you have the kind of ability to trade inflation swaps which are a much purer way to bet on inflation. (That's not to say TIPS aren't a useful product - as an investment vehicle with the risks it mitigates they are excellent, but for betting on inflation they aren't especially useful for retail)

Is the idea to watch it when the event starts or to watch it beforehand?

2Ben Pace3y
Watch it at the event.

But elections determine who appoints the judges and bureaucrats who make most policy. And some areas of policy, e.g. tax policy, are mostly decided by elected officials, not appointed judges or bureaucrats.

A remarkable empirical finding across many scientific fields, at many different scales and levels of abstraction, is that a small set of control variables usually suffices.

I'm skeptical that this is true for most things we care about. It's true in the scientific fields where we have the most accurate models, such as physics, but that's likely because there are so few relevant variables in those fields.

Most new drugs that go into clinical trials fail. Essentially, a pharmaceutical company identifies a variable that appears to be the mediator of a medic... (read more)

Most new drugs that go into clinical trials fail. Essentially, a pharmaceutical company identifies a variable that appears to be the mediator of a medical outcome, they create a drug that tweaks that variable, and then it turns out not to produce the outcome that they thought it would. There are too many other relevant variables that are poorly understood.

I love this example in particular, because as I understand it, this is exactly what pharma companies do not do. What they actually do is target some variable which is correlated with the medical outcome, ... (read more)

Near the end of the linked malaria article, it says:

Bucala and Geall have placed their vaccine in the hands of the Oxford University institution that facilitated the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. It is one of the only places in the world that is doing phase 1 studies in malaria, meaning researchers infect human volunteers with the disease after immunizing them.

So it sounds like maybe they are in act doing human challenge trials.

Do you have a link to a higher resolution copy of that poster? The text is too blurry for me to read.

1Andrew Vlahos3y
Sorry, that was the biggest I could find

Strong upvote even though this is kind of a meh update, because I want to encourage actually gathering the data and reporting on it.

I also strongly upvoted for the same reasons. Very much looking forward to the results of the ELISA mucus test!

Some people are willing to pay a premium for the ability to buy something legally.

1Stuart Anderson3y

I'm confused why your lab didn't know about sleep as memory post-processing. My high school psych class in 2005 taught that.

Consider a case where someone dies in an industrial accident , although all rules were followed: if you think the plant manager should be exonerated because he folowed the rules, you are siding with deontology, whereas if you think he should be punished because a death occurred under his supervision, you are siding with consequentialism.

That's not how consequentialism works. The consequentialist answer would be to punish the plant manager if and only if doing so would cause the world to become a better place.

In jurisdictions where there's an exam required to graduate high school, let students of any age take the exam, but have a sufficiently higher cut-off to graduate early. Anyone who graduates early is automatically admitted to a university (e.g. in the U.S. it might be to their choice of state university) and received a tuition subsidy at least equal to the amount it would have cost the public school system to keep them in high school.

I remember fantasizing about this sort of thing in high school. Would have made my life sooo much better for a few years.

A school where students spend much of their time in mostly-unsupervised independent work and/or socializing, and they are (individually or in small groups with similar ability) matched with tutors on specific topics. I think this would work much better than the one size fits all model we use now.

An elected office where there's a term limit, and some length of time after someone leaves office (e.g. in the following election), voters vote on how good a job they did, and the former office-holder receives a cash payout or pension based on the result of the vote.

The benefits of this system would be:

  • Politicians would have an incentive to focus on how their performance in office will be judged on a longer time-horizon.
  • If the payout is large enough, it would incentivize politicians not to take sinecures and "speaking fees" that would be seen as corrupt
... (read more)

Equity markets for individual products. Essentially, a company with a design for a new product creates a Kickstarter-like campaign where you can back the product, but in addition to (or instead of) getting the product when it's released, you get royalties on each one sold (e.g. a company promises $5 in royalties per unit sold and sells that for $250k, and investors can buy fractions of that).

This would enable companies (and individual inventors?) to de-risk and apply wisdom of crowds to new product development.

Some way to publish a book as an excludable good. For example, you could have a movie theater, but instead of a movie screen, you have temporary access to a book. Someone watches to make sure you don't copy the book.

That sounds like Kindle.

One thing I'm curious about - what did the process of the border closing off look like, and what was going on in the weeks leading up to it? While I have no near term plans to emigrate, I often wonder what the warning signs are that it's time to start seriously looking, and what the warning signs are that it's time to GTFO.

In general, I think people try to time markets much more than they have skill for. Suppose you think there's a stock bubble; the temptation is to buy, hold as it rises, and then sell at the top of the bubble before everything comes crashing down. But enough people are trying to do that that you need some special skill in order to be in the leading edge, able to sell when there's a buyer. It's much less risky to just sell the stocks as soon as you think there's a bubble, which foregoes any additional gains but means you avoid the crash entirely (by taking i... (read more)

1Nicole Ross3y
I'm interested in this question as well.

It's not a good idea to rely too heavily on a single source, even a good one. Every source will have some errors, and ideally you want to follow multiple sources whose errors are relatively uncorrelated.

5Wei Dai3y
Upvoted for the important consideration, but your own brain is a source of errors for which it's hard to decorrelate, so is it really worse (or worse enough to justify the additional costs of the alternative) to just trust Zvi instead of your own judgement/integration of diverse sources? ETA: Oh, I do read the comments here so that helps to catch Zvi's errors, if any.

It's also worth looking into what possibilities exist for cashing out your stock. Markets exist for private company stock, though they're much less liquid than that of public companies, and your stock may come with restrictions on your ability to sell it.

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