All of Elizabeth's Comments + Replies

TopWrong, PeakWrong, MountWrong, ...

I'm not sure if this is a disagreement or supporting evidence, but: I remember you saying you didn't want to teach SPARC kids too much [word similar to agency but not quite that. Maybe good at executing plans?], because they'd just use it to [coerce] themselves more. This was definitely before covid, maybe as far back as 2015 or 2016. I'm almost certain it was before QC even joined CFAR. It was a helpful moment for me. 

"have one acceptable path and immediately reject anyone who goes off it" cuts you off from a lot of good things, but also a lot of bad things. If you want to remove that constraint to get at the good weirdness, you need to either tank a lot of harm, or come up with more detailed heuristics to prevent it

Curiosity killed the cat by exposing it to various "black swan" risks.

If you've already played Baba Is You and are looking for other options: Humble Bundle has a puzzle bundle going for the next 5 days. It's $10 for 7 games, of which The Witness is the lowest rated at 85% positive, and the rest range from 93-99%

Baba Is You is an unusual puzzle game in a way that seems relevant here. One way of classifying puzzle games might be on a continuum from logic-based to exploration-based (or, if you like, between logical uncertainty and environmental uncertainty). At the first extreme you have stuff like Sudoku, or logic grids, or three gods named True, False, and Random, or blue eyes.  In these puzzles, you are given all necessary information up-front, and you should (if the puzzle is well-constructed) be able to verify the solution entirely on your own, without requiring an external authority to confirm it. At the opposite extreme, there's 20 questions or mastermind or Guess Who?, where the entire point is that necessary information is being withheld and you need to interact with the puzzle to expose it.  Knowing all the information is the solution; there would be no point without the concealment. Baba Is You is pretty close to the first extreme, but not all the way there.  It does ask you learn the basic rules of the game by interacting with it, and it does gradually introduce new rules, but most of the difficulty comes from logical uncertainty.  Some puzzles do not introduce new rules at all, or only introduce new rules in the sense of exploring the edge cases of a previously-established rule.  It also makes the entire puzzle visible at once, so once you understand the rules it becomes a pure logic puzzle. This exercise relies on the possibility of being empirically surprised, but also on being able to make fairly detailed plans in spite of that possibility.  This seems like it requires (or at least heavily benefits from) being at a pretty narrow area within the logic <=> exploration continuum, which Baba Is You happens to be exactly situated at. Most puzzle video games lean more heavily on exploration than that.  You mentioned The Witness, which I would classify as primarily exploration-based:  each series of puzzles centers around a secret rule that you need to infer th
1Malentropic Gizmo8d
Or Understand for 4 EUR which has a highly upvoted lesswrong post recommending it.

Lord grant me the strength to persevere when things are hard the courage to quit when things are impossible and the wisdom to know the difference.

But it's somewhat broader. I think "could I 10x my plans?" can be useful frame even if you feel averse to "what's literally the most important problem I could focus on?".


Even more baby-step version: come up with two plans instead of one and choose between them. The second plan probably won't be 10x better, but count of two (2) is easier than 10x, and builds the necessary muscles of looking for alternatives and choosing.

Yeah something like this has already come up as a necessary stepping stone. See also: ‘have a plan, at all’

I think that explains some but not all of the sorting (e.g. the niacin post was partially about long covid, and similar posts about the flu should be and previously have been approved).

I think this is probably not worth the effort to fix, which is why I didn't push back. But I do think it's worth making common knowledge of the inconsistency of the sorting process.

Oh, yeah, I totally think what happened here is "we had more rules/guidelines about COVID, which increased the complexity of the rules we had to follow, which caused us to be more inconsistent in applying those rules". I didn't mean to imply that we actually flawlessly followed the rules.
For COVID in-particular we added a specific threshold that is "yes, this is news based, but important enough that we will frontpage the most important posts in this category anyways". I think we announced it somewhere, let me look it up...  Here is the comment where we announced we would no longer frontpage Zvi's COVID updates:  Here is where Ruby writes about "Long COVID" posts being frontpage:  I feel like I remember a comment or post where we stated publicly we would start frontpaging some COVID stuff, but I can't find it quickly.  In any case, in the domain of COVID the frontpage/personal stuff is particularly confusing.

data point: when I got my scribe, I was shocked at how good writing on it felt. It might or might not beat my favorite pen on the best possible paper, but it certainly beat anything less than that. I've tried the remarkable, and ipencil-on-ipad and didn't have this experience. Maybe that's because the scribe hasn't seen much use and it will feel worse once it accumulates dirt, but I think Amazon did a really good job with the feel of it. 

I also find there's a difference emotionally between "this note is not optimized for reference and will be a pain i... (read more)

It's funny. I've had friends make confident statements that I was missing something quite stupid, with a smirk in their voice, and it felt good because they were right. A friend pointing out something I was missing felt good and safe, and necessary, because no one can catch everything and everyone has blind spots, especially when they're upset. 

So while "have you tried...?" or "what do you think about...?" are marginal improvements over "you should...", they're not getting at what I really want, which is highly skilled people who have my back. 

A non-rationalist friend of mine spontaneously said one thing he appreciates about me is that I vibe "taking action against problems". This is from a guy I already estimate to have much higher than average agency. Part of that vibe in me is directly traceable to Raemon, and probably some other part is to rationalist community as a whole. So when Raemon says this about Critch I believe him.

Yeah. This is a real problem and the world is full of people leaving $100 bills on the table, but I can think of situations I expect the other person would describe as "Elizabeth isn't even trying to solve her problem" and I would describe as "Alice jumped to idiot-level solutions without even a token attempt to understand the context, she is clearly not going to be helpful and there isn't a point in trying to bring her up to speed". I suspect this is common, which is why "the kind of person who would suggest yoga for depression" is a codified insult. ... (read more)

Agree. The advice I've heard for avoiding this is, instead of saying "try X", ask "what have you already tried" and then ideally ask some follow-up questions to further probe why exactly the things they've tried haven't worked yet. You might then be able to offer advice that's a better fit, and even if it turns out that they actually haven't tried the thing, it'll likely still be better received because you made an effort to actually understand their problem first. (I've sometimes used the heuristic, "don't propose any solutions until you could explain to a third party why this person hasn't been able to solve their problem yet".)

I'm offended by this relatable content

When I recently had covid I did a 10 day course of paxlovid, but it's a treatment not a prophylactic. 

0Gerald Monroe24d
Very likey paxlovid works well as a prophylactic. What anti viral moa would cause it not to work?

I've referred to "I should have bet on 23-type errors" several times over the past year. Having this shorthand and an explanation I can link to has sped up those conversations.

Have AI text-to-speech read your work back to you. I catch a lot of tense mismatches and bad phrasings this way. 

I've used two different benzodiazapenes at the dentist with very different results. Halcion is great, I hadn't realized just how traumatic each visit was until Halcion made it stop. But Xanax suppressed my coping mechanisms more than my anxiety, so it made it worse. 


A few month's ago, twitter's big argument was about this AITA, in which a woman left a restaurant to buy ranch dressing. Like most viral AITAs this is probably fake, but the discourse around it is still revealing. The arguments were split between "such agency! good for her for going after what she wants" and "what is she, 3?". I am strongly on the side of people doing what they want with their own food, but in this case I think the people praising her have missed the point, and the people criticizing her have focused on the wron... (read more)

I've only read some of his work, but I didn't walk away with a sense he wants everyone to be Buddhist. My sense was more that he was pushing back against things he didn't like within Buddhism, including changes it made to become more memetically fit.

I think is true but applies at least as strongly for a culture that disproportionately rewards small altruism. If tipping an extra 5% makes people much more willing to invest in your start-up, people will tip better. 

repurposed from my comment on a FB post on an article criticizing all antidepressants as basically placebos

epistemic status: kind of dreading comments on this because it's not well phrased, but honing it is too low a priority. Every time you criticize insufficient caveating an angel loses its wings. 

medical studies are ~only concerned with the median person. Any unusual success or failure is written off as noise, instead of replicable variability. As conditions get defined they narrow that to "median person with condition X" rather than "median person... (read more)

I think it's helpful to think of sociopaths as sociopathic towards the original topic of a group, not necessarily towards people. The most giving, proscocial people can end up the most sociopathic-in-that-sense, because they want to make whatever they're involved in as accessible as possible to bring joy to as many people as possible, and don't care about the topic for its own sake. 

The thing that kills freedom for me is that I still see the webpage for a second before it redirects. I can see notification badges and tab into forbidden programs, but not interact with them. It gets me too close to the heroin before taking it away. 

I had better luck with 5seconds, which genuinely prevents access, but it doesn't interact well with in-app browsers, and that turned out to be an enormous pain. 

Less Wrong has put a lot of effort into creating other options and automating them. Downvoted allow subtle user feedback. Mass sock puppet voting previously ruined down votes, so they put effort into controlling sock puppets. Weighted votes so trusted people have more impact. Too many downvoted comments will lead to throttling but not bans.

My sense is these have improved things a lot, but we're also far from my ideal outcome.

They reasonably chose to disengage with the process that was miserable for them and had a low expected pay off.

I've also learned: It is easier to remove good people from your community than to remove people who are aggressive, manipulative, narcissistic, or psychopathic, because the former will remain reasonable throughout the process, while the latter will fight dirty.

To give a concrete example: the original ACDC memo says Brent cooperated with the panel while the complainant did not, and that's one reason they trust him (recalled from memory, didn't double check my wording). Which is insane; an abuser who is good at manipulating people and not traumatized finds i... (read more)

I feel like this is the opposite of the quoted text? Or your example is of the bad actor both "remaining reasonable" and "fighting dirty"

I haven't checked but believe you that R:A-Z actively argues against that mistake. But DiamondSolstice is correct that there are strains of RCT-or-nothing and if-formal-science-doesn't-understand-it-it-doesn't-exist on the site. All the examples on this post are low karma, but I've seen them do better elsewhere. 

They have the benefit of being slightly costly signals, requiring significantly more time and attention and a much greater degree of disclosure than can be devoted to a traditional online dating profile


This feels like a very cynical view of dating docs. The advantage is that they give you a lot more space to share a lot more detail. 

It's still valid to ask if they work, but if you're viewing it all as signalling and disclosure you're missing the actual upside. 

Things You're Allowed To Do has dozens of these

From my personal list:

  1. buy produce and leave it out, knowing it will go bad faster. A lot of it goes bad, but it's worth it because I'm eating more produce overall.
    1. Eat 2 pounds of watermelon every day because I like it
  2. For medical anxiety
    1. walk out of a doctor's appointment if it feels bad
    2. ask for anesthetic for routine dental cleanings
    3. get anxiolytics for visits
    4. bring a support person with me
    5. refuse to change into a medical gown if it's not necessary for the procedure
  3. buy stock options for specific plays, rather than
... (read more)
3Saul Munn2mo
+1 on Things You're Allowed To Do, it's really really great

Overall I'm delighted with this post. It gave me a quick encapsulation of an idea I now refer to a lot, and I've received many reports of it inspiring other people to run helpful tests.

A number of my specifics were wrong; it now looks like potatoes were irrelevant or at least insufficient for weight loss, and I missed the miracle of watermelon.  I think this strengthens rather than weakens the core philosophical point of the post, although of course I'd rather have been right all along. 

This post didn't lead to me discovering any new devices, and I haven't heard from anyone who found something they valued via it. So overall not a success, but it was easy to write so I don't regret the attempt. 

This was a simple review, but strong-upvoted for the clearly stated negative result.

This experiment didn't really work out, but it's the kind of thing I expect to produce really great results every once in a while. 

Shoulder!Justis telling me to replace "it", "this", etc with real nouns is maybe the most legible improvement in my writing over the last few years.

I'm thanked in the post so I'm gonna give it a little more time for someone else to post. 

Why does that mean you shouldn’t post it?
It would make sense to do so, but I'm neither the author of the post nor very active on EAF, so I'd encourage someone else to do it.

For anyone who is struggling with iron but reluctant to drink pig's blood: there's one brand of iron on amazon that uses heme iron (the kind found in animals). Some people find this easier to absorb than non-heme iron.

And timely reminder to take with Vitamin C which promotes absorption, and not with Zinc which is absorbed competitively.

It was surprisingly impactful to tell myself and my parents I identified as male for purposes of elder care. Obviously I had the option to say "I will manage finances and logistics but not emotional or physical care labor" the whole time, but it was freeing to frame it as "well this is all my uncle was doing and no one thought he was defecting". 

Often I write big boring posts so I can refer to my results in shorter, more readable posts later on. That way if anyone cares and questions my result they can see the full argument, without impairing readability on the focal post. 

I think your conclusion is right but the mechanism is different.

"offending a whole polycule" isn't really a thing. Lots of people don't care about their partners' partners' opinions, and care a great deal about their friends' opinions. So poly is a wash here (although the part where a bad impression on one person can spread is real).

I think the place where poly really matters is that it means there's never an end to hitting on people.  A friend who went from poly to mono says one of the best parts is how much it simplifies his relationship with women-... (read more)

Abstract issues raised by the Nonlinear accusations and counter-accusations

  1. How do you handle the risk of witness tampering, in ways that still let innocent people prove themselves innocent? Letting people cut corners if they claim a risk of tampering sure sets up bad incentives, but it is a real problem the system needs to be able to deal with
  2. How do you handle the fact that the process of providing counter-evidence can be hacked, in ways that still let innocent people prove themselves? People can string it out, or bury you in irrelevant data, or
... (read more)
I think you are trying to reinvent law. I think all or at least most of these points have decent answers in a society with working rule of law. Granted, social media makes things more complicated, but the general dynamics are not new.

But the contract was shared after she started (after flying to a foreign country?). I don't know how much that weakens its supremacy, but surely it's more than zero. Postnups are easier to break than pre-nups, pre-nups are easier to break when sprung at the last minute. 

We also haven't seen evidence Chloe agreed to the deal Kat screenshotted, or even her reaction to it. The fact that she didn't pay herself seems like a costly signal of belief she was entitled to more. Maybe that's because Kat was inconsistent, maybe she hallucinated, but the current e... (read more)

That’s where the discussion prior to hiring is important for me, and there it was clearly laid out that the compensation would be $1k/month plus cost of living. If there were material inconsistencies between that and the actual contract, I’d be sympathetic, but I just didn’t see any. I do agree that getting into writing earlier over later is better and that (inasmuch as we understand the timing) starting with no written agreement was imprudent, but it doesn’t sway me on the broader picture there.

I'd agree with you if the contract had been shared ahead of time (instead of six days after starting), or signed, or if she'd continue to work after accepting the payment specified in the contract. But she didn't get paid until she left (which Kat says was her choice, since she ran payroll), which sounds very consistent with an ongoing salary dispute. 

I can accept that there was an ongoing dispute. I cannot accept that Chloe had any grounds on which to dispute it. They told her what compensation would be going in; they provided a contract consistent with that; she accepted the job knowing precisely what the compensation was. To be blunt, I think it speaks very poorly of someone to accept a position and then immediately dispute the compensation they accepted and, having been in very similar positions myself, have no sympathy whatsoever for Chloe in the dispute. She is in the wrong and should not have accepted the job if she was not satisfied with the compensation package.

And that was also viewed fairly differently than chattel slavery.

Re: ancient shepherds.

Achilles in Vietnam has a thesis that ancient warriors had a lot of respect for their enemy, but modern armies tend to position enemies as weak and low-status. Those give death and losing a very different valence. Obviously you prefer winning, but if you lose, well at least some of you got to die gloriously. This is pretty much lost today, and makes losing or watching your friends die in battle feel much worse. 

This attitude[1] seems really easy to transfer to hunting, which takes a lot of skill and some risk. I imagine that... (read more)

Ancient warriors enslaved their captives.

Was medical considered part of compensation? In the appendix you describe it as Emerson "generously covering" them, and that Alice never had an agreement to have them covered.

Your document says you sent the contract to Chloe 6 days after her start date. When did she sign it? 

Isn't it Ben and Chloe who are bringing this up? And then NL is engaging because the amount spent does seem to matter to some people?


My original comment is pushing back against habryka doing so. 

Whoops, thanks! Lost the thread here...

I stand by what I said here: this post has a good goal but the implementation embodies exactly the issue it's trying to fight. 

I think "Chloe made an informed decision to do this" is a reasonable argument. I don't think the evidence so far proves that was what happened[1], but if proven I’d agree it answered my concern on this front.

But if that’s the argument, why bring up the amount Nonlinear spent on her at all? The question would be whether they covered the agreed upon expenses to the agreed upon level (no promising luxury housing and delivering tenements- admittedly unlikely to be the problem here- and no promising medical care and then arguing about necessary expenses- and it... (read more)

The evidence that she made an informed decision are: * Interview transcripts where you can see how we explained it to her. We recorded the actual conversation in question, so you don't have to try to guess * Work contract * Text messages she herself sent before joining us showing that she understood how the compensation package worked Her correctly explaining in her own words how the compensation package works seems like more than enough evidence that she understood the compensation package she was signing up for. The fact that we also sent her a work contract and also recorded the original conversation in question and you can see it yourself I think proves more than can usually ever be proven in such cases that she made an informed decision about the compensation package. 
  1. Nonlinear and Chloe agreed she’d be paid travel expenses + a stipend. The $ total of the expenses is irrelevant as long as they covered what they said they would.

That's currently my view, yes. The evidence NL has provided for this (contract, texts, transcript) seems pretty strong to me, and while I could imagine Chloe presenting counter evidence (was never sent the contract, screenshots are misleadingly cropped) it's not what I'm expecting?

EDIT: But thanks for pointing out the job ad: if a role is advertised that way and someone applies expecting that... (read more)

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