All of fischer's Comments + Replies

Excellent, this will be my first one.

Any other n00bs, feel free to come along and n00b it up with me :)

bummer, Wednesday at 7 is my OChem lab. Regular schedule is smart, but if there's a special event that calls for deviation from the schedule, I'd love to hang out with LW. Any other day of the week and I'm there.

I would reference the behavioral economics on loss aversion to up the value of a task. Rather than focusing on increasing the positive value via upping the reward, I would increase the negative value of inaction. Personally, I've taken to fining myself for not getting things done on time (all the money goes into a jar next to my desk, which goes to charity at the end of the month). This system has worked wonders - it even has power to control my less rational selves (e.g. drunk self and just-woke-up self)

That's actually a pretty good idea, shokwave - thanks

I'd be more interested to know what LW thought of creating a Probability Distribution for a continuous outcome. This seems to be cumbersome with all of the above tools, which I'll admit are quite helpful for binary events; but when you're purchasing a new computer, it's months that the computer will last before breaking, not whether it breaks in the first two years, that is relevant.

If taken to inanity, one could construct a large number of binary outcomes and try to smash them together to get a probability distribution for a continuous variable. But, that's pretty annoying - surely there are better ways

For this, I would use the 'smash-together' method. "How many months have contained an experience of a computer breaking on me?" over "How many months have I owned computers?" will give me the probability of the computer breaking in any given month, and then the graph y=(1-pr(break))^x represents the continuous variable "My computer is not broken". This takes about five minutes: it's worth it for cars, computers, homes, smartphones, etc. But you're right, too annoying for smaller cases.

"The plan is to roll an n-sided numbered die and have the faithful of all religions pray for the die to land on "1"

Elijah did this; from what I can tell, it was insufficient to end disagreement :) Read 1st Kings 18 (alternatively, wikipedia

I don't think experiments performed prior to the invention of video recording ought to count.

"The plan is to roll an n-sided numbered die and have the faithful of all religions pray for the die to land on "1"

Elijah did this; from what I can tell, it was insufficient to end disagreement :) Read 1st Kings 18 (alternatively, wikipedia

When you edit this comment, click the "Help" link to the lower right of the text box for more information on the Markdown syntax. It doesn't accept HTML, alas.
The god of the one true religion will refuse to intervene to punish its believers for cooperating with the members of all the other religions for the experiment.

I'm bothered by the intertemporal implications of this, i.e. if I have $100 that I will spend to help the most humans possible, then I could either spend it today or invest it and spend $105 next year (assumed 5% ROR). Will I then ever spend the money on charity? Or will I always invest it, and just let this amassed wealth be distributed when I die?

In order this to be true forever, the world would have to never end, which would mean that there's infinite utility no matter what you do. If this is false eventually, there is no paradox. Whether or not It's worth while to invest for a few centuries is an open question, but if it turns out it is, that's no reason to abandon the idea of comparing charities.
What's likely to happen is that the RoR and benefit of charity will fluctuate over time and over the size of your pot- so your pot will grow until there's a need, then you'll spend, and then it'll go back to growing. The problem is that requires active management (which is hard to continue after your death) and typically the view is that if you value warm fuzzies, you can find some charity that returns more than the RoR of profitable ventures. There is quite a bit of warm fuzzies in generating a giant pot of cash and then endowing it to stand perpetually- but beyond stability effects I'm not sure there is much to recommend that model of charity.

Assuming that charities can invest and borrow at prevailing interest rates (and large charitable trusts can in fact borrow from their endowment), you should be indifferent to this choice. Robin Hanson has addressed this issue here.

The good you do can compound too. If you save a childs life at $500, that child might go on to save other childrens lives. I think you might well get a higher rate of interest on the good you do than 5%. There will be a savings rate at which you should save instead of give, but I don't think we're near it at the moment.

I've often been curious as to what goes on at these, and this one would work (I'm a researcher at Cal). For a vet: how would describe a LW meetup?

Last time we met up at Starbucks, walked across the street where some people got food to go from Burgermeister, then found an open building at Cal with plenty of free space for us. Then it was wide ranging group conversation in mingle mode about the wide array of topics sometimes covered on LW. Then everyone was invited to my house to continue conversations and/or drink beer. It's very casual and very low pressure. No one will judge you for not having read enough of LW or anything.