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MikkW's Shortform

I think I want to try this. What was your hot cocoa recipe? Did you just mix it with hot water? Milk? Cream? Salt? No sugar, I gather. How much? Does it taste any better than coffee?

Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination?

February averaged 71 bpm. March 68 (only one reading though). April, the month of both doses, 81. May 82. June 80. So maybe by 10-13 bpm. The data is pretty sparse though.

Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination?

Sorry, I really can't recall. I'm probably more out of shape than usual due to mostly staying indoors for the pandemic year. Also higher than usual anxiety due to work recently. That could almost explain my symptoms, at least at first. That's why I thought nothing of it when it started, and also why I can't recall exactly when it started.

I do have some sparse fitness tracker data from that period. From that, it looks like my resting heart rate became elevated the week of the first dose, and has persisted until now. The two months before that were noticeably lower. But that's going by just a few manual readings per month, which is inconclusive.

I don't have the cough, but I had the vaccine, not the disease.

Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations?

I've watched the whole thing now, at 2x speed. We've also got your summary with time index.

There are a lot of points in there, and we could try to verify each one. Anything particularly salient that you'd like us to focus on first?

To call the vaccines harmful on net, we have to compare that to the alternatives. Even if we accept (for the sake of argument) that the vaccine is toxic, presumably an actual infection has the potential to be much worse, since it produces the same spike protein. In my view, a lot of this case hinges on the availability of an effective prophylactic option as an alternative to the vaccines, or on the possibility that mass vaccination is somehow worse than the risk of infection.

So, in particular,

  • is Ivermectin (or some cocktail containing it) effective enough to be a viable alternative to vaccination?
  • Is the risk of female reproductive harm from the vaccines any worse than the risk from infection?
Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination?

Pfizer. I'm not sure if I recall the first dose that well. There was some inflammation in my shoulder area, near the injection site. Kind of expected with all vaccines. Nothing else that made an impression on me.

The second dose was a bit worse. The inflammation resulted in some deeper, but mild soreness in the shoulder joint. I also noticed some mild lower-back soreness, perhaps in the kidney region. I did not bother taking any painkillers because it was pretty mild and didn't last very long. Maybe a couple of days, so not really significant. This was also within expectations.

Lately, I've been having palpitations, sometimes enough to cause some insomnia. Also some intermittent chest aches, but it's very mild. It was noticeable enough that I've been checking my heart rate more than usual. It seems a little elevated, even at rest, maybe in the 80 bpm range. I'm normally in the 70 range at rest, and can get down into the 60s when I'm very relaxed.

I thought nothing of it at first, because occasional palpitations due to stress are not unusual, and I had reasons to be stressed. But it's been unusually persistent for probably over a month now, even though I'm feeling less stressed than usual, which is more concerning. I don't recall exactly when it started, but it was definitely some time after the second dose. It probably started more than two weeks after (although I can't recall exactly) so maybe it's unrelated. It did not occur to me that this could be due to the vaccine until I saw that Dark Horse video.

Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations?

Informed consent is important. I don't recall being informed about accumulation in bone marrow or ovaries, or the risk of myocarditis or the risk of brain fog at the time I got my shots. Maybe some of these side-effects weren't known at the time. But that the vaccine didn't stay in the muscle and therefore might have systemic effects was news to me, and they're asserting that this was known at the time.

I've been experiencing persistent palpitations recently. It had not occurred to me that this could be due to the vaccine until I watched this video. I believed the mainstream line that the vaccines are safe and effective. I still think they're effective. The evidence for that is very strong. I'm less confident that they're safe now.

Confirmation bias is a serious concern when reactions are this delayed though. People develop health issues all the time for all sorts of reasons. If they're primed to think the vaccine could have long-term side effects, they'd probably attribute all sorts of things to the vaccine that are mere coincidence. So individual anecdotes are pretty weak evidence, but this noisy data is still worth collecting to see if any patterns emerge. On the other hand, if we've all been primed to think the vaccines are safe (and we have been), then we won't make the connection at all and don't even report the data, and this is one of the main concerns from the video. The issue has become too politicized for society to be objective about it. Legitimate concerns get you labeled as an antivaxxer.

Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations?

Don't know yet. I've watched about half so far. My first impressions are similar to DPiepgrass.

Typical conspiracy theorists are fairly easy to recognize. They seem to take the axiom that everything happens on purpose. They don't notice the inconsistencies in their own models, and their bald assertions often don't stand up to easy verification, if you bother to check.

These are not crazy conspiracy-theory types. (That doesn't make them right.) They understand scientific thinking, are using the biology vocabulary correctly, and are trying to use gears-level models. They understand how the vaccines work, and what might go wrong. They accept the possibility that this isn't happening on purpose, but is just a bad outcome of incentives, something we already believe happens.

Kirsch (blue shirt guy) seems less careful than the other two, and may or may not be a crackpot. This doesn't necessarily make his concerns wrong. We should still try to verify their claims. Are these guys who they say they are? Do they have valid credentials? Does the spike protein break off so it could have systemic effects? How toxic is it? The vaccine might still win a cost-benefit analysis.

I've watched IDW videos before. They're an interesting bunch, some of them might even be rationalist adjacent, but this varies. They seem to like long conversations.

Whether or not this case has merit, the systematic censorship thing seems real to me. We've had measles outbreaks here in the U.S., despite having an effective vaccine. This is mainly due to the antivaxxers swallowing bullshit, and there's been a mainstream pushback. But Arguments Are Soldiers, so even when the antivaxxers have a point, the mainstream isn't allowed to admit it, especially in the face of the clear and present danger posed by the current pandemic.

The media's recent about-face on the lab-leak hypothesis is a recent example of this effect: it was on the "wrong" side politically, even though it had merit. Weak evidence is still evidence, and the truth doesn't become a lie just because the Enemy says it. Social media has been (fairly) blamed for spreading conspiracy theories, and so under pressure to take responsibility, they're trying to control the damage using blunt instruments, even if that means causing some collateral damage themselves.

How is a rational scientist supposed to navigate this environment? Often the answer has been "study something that isn't (politically) radioactive instead". That's not good enough this time.

Tips/tricks/notes on optimizing investments

Two reasons why I think reducing exposure during market volatility is a good idea.

First, volatility is predictable. (I don't think this fact violates the EMH, so it should be uncontroversial.) Future volatility is highly correlated with recent volatility.

Second, the Kelly strategy is optimal. More exposure only helps to a point, and after that increasing leverage actually reduces gains. The right amount depends on the future payoff distribution and the size of the current bankroll.

Given those two points, Kelly implies that if your bankroll just shrunk due to a losing bet, the previous amount of exposure you calculated is now too high, and you would need reduce your exposure to maintain the target fraction even if the payoff distribution didn't change. But we also know that the variance of the future payoff distribution is higher than what we calculated before, because volatility is somewhat predictable, and it just got higher, which suggests that you should reduce exposure even further.

Core Pathways of Aging

One interesting observation about transposons is that they were likely more plentiful millions of years ago given that our DNA is full with mutated transposons.

I don't think this follows. Transposons are parasitic; they're detrimental to their host. If our ancestors millions of years ago had many more active transposons than we do now, they would not have survived to reproduce.

The mutated transposons are better explained by occasional lapses of control in the germline that accumulated gradually over time.

The dumbest kid in the world (joke)

How else are we supposed to get a punchline?

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