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Rationality Quotes: November 2010

This one felt quite LW-relevant:

If $1 million makes you happy, that doesn't mean $10 million will make you 10 times as happy.

It's good to be reminded now and then that dollars are not, in fact, utilons.

Optimism versus cryonics

The lack of an automatic repair mechanism makes things hairier, but while frozen, the radiation damage will be localized to the cells that get hit by radiation. By the time you get the tech to revive people from cryonic freezing, you'll most likely have the tech to fix/remove/replace the individual damaged cells before reviving someone. I think you're right that radiation won't be a big limiting factor, though it may be an annoying obstacle.

Optimism versus cryonics

I don't know so much about C-14, but wouldn't potassium decay's effects be small on timescales ~10,000 years? The radioactive natural isotope K-40 has a ridiculously long half life (1.25 billion years, which is why potassium-argon dating is popular for dating really old things) and only composes 0.012% of natural potassium. Potassium's also much less abundant in the body than carbon - only about 140g of a 70kg person is potassium, although admittedly it might be more concentrated in the brain, which is the important part.

ETA - I did calculations, and maybe there is a problem. Suppose 0.012% of K is K-40 by mass. Then I get 0.0168 grams of K-40 in a body, which comes out as 0.00042 moles, 2.53e20 K-40 atoms. With a 1.25 billion year half life that makes 1.40e15 decays after 10,000 years. In absolute terms that's a lot of emitted electrons and positrons. I don't know whether the absolute number (huge) or the relative number (miniscule) is more important though.

Problems in evolutionary psychology

This is a nice example of the slipperiness I sometimes notice when I think about how one could test an ev. psych hypothesis. My first thought after reading your comment was 'but won't all those factors be just as correlated with unhappiness and depression as with genetic fitness? Surely there's a less complex explanation here: unhappy people don't like living as much, so they try killing themselves more.'

Then I thought a little more and realized that could also have an ev. psych basis: maybe we evolved to kill ourselves more when we're unhappy with life. But that's a different ev. psych argument than 'we evolved to kill ourselves more when we have low genetic fitness.' Or is it? Maybe we evolved to kill ourselves more when we're unhappy because unhappiness correlates with low genetic fitness? What would it even mean in concrete terms for all of these possible evolutionary explanations to be false?

Five-minute rationality techniques

'Why would I need to demand evidence? My wife freely gives me evidence of her love, all the time!'

Open Thread, August 2010

Maybe the salesman mostly sells temporary life insurance, and just means that no clients had died while covered?

Open Thread, August 2010

I'm sorry, this is just an open thread comment, not a top-level post. Aren't we allowed to just chat and get feedback without thoroughly contemplating a subject?

There's nobody compelling you to reply to the comments you feel are too thoroughly contemplating a subject.

Open Thread: July 2010, Part 2

Who's right? Who knows. It's a fine opportunity to remain skeptical.

Bullshit. The 'skeptical' thing to do would be to take 30 seconds to think about the theory's physical plausibility before posting it on one's blog, not regurgitate the theory and cover one's ass with an I'm-so-balanced-look-there's-two-sides-to-the-issue fallacy.

TV-frequency EM radiation is non-ionizing, so how's it going to transfer enough energy to your cells to cause cancer? It could heat you up, or it could induce currents within your body. But however much heating it causes, the temperature increase caused by heat insulation from your mattress and cover is surely much greater, and I reckon you'd get stronger induced currents from your alarm clock/computer/ceiling light/bedside lamp or whatever other circuitry's switched on in your bedroom. (And wouldn't you get a weird arrhythmia kicking off before cancer anyway?)

(As long as I'm venting, it's at least a little silly for Kottke to say he's posting it because it's 'interesting' and not because it's 'right,' because surely it's only interesting because it might be right? Bleh.)

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