All of huh's Comments + Replies

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It seems possible that the OpenWorm project to emulate the brain of a C. Elegans flatworm on a classical computer may yield results prior to the advent of experimental techniques capable of " probing the CNS at ... sub-picosecond timescales." Would you consider a successful emulation of worm behavior evidence against the need for quantum effects in neuronal function, or would you declare it the worm equivalent of a P-Zombie?

Huh, yes, in my view C. elegans is a P-zombie. If we grant reductive physicalism, the primitive nervous system of C. elegans can't support a unitary subject of experience. At most, its individual ganglia (cf. may be endowed with the rudiments of unitary consciousness. But otherwise, C. elegans can effectively be modelled classically. Most of us probably wouldn't agree with philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel. ("If Materialism Is True, the United States Is Probably Conscious" But exactly the same dilemma confronts those who treat neurons as essentially discrete, membrane-bound classical objects. Even if (rightly IMO) we take Strawsonian physicalism seriously (cf. then we still need to explain how classical neuronal "mind-dust" could generate bound experiential objects or a unitary subject of experience without invoking some sort of strong emergence.
Interesting project. I would consider such a result to be at least weak evidence against the need for quantum effects in neuronal function, maybe stronger. It would be still stronger evidence if the project managed to produce such an emulation on the same scale and energy budget as a flatworm brain. And strongest of all if they manage to hook the flatworm brain up to an actual flatworm body and drive it without external input.

Capitol One offers savings accounts yielding 0.75% APY with no minimum deposit. I've used them for over 10 years with no hassles. Your general point about low yields still applies, though.

I would estimate an opportunity cost of 3 hours per year to set up the account, shuffle money around, periodically monitor the balance, and pay taxes on the interest. This opportunity cost will vary depending on how efficient one is with paperwork. Whether this is worthwhile depends on the size of the emergency fund and the alternative options for increasing marginal income via an equivalent time investment.

I would seriously not be surprised to find that fat people have starved to death without their fat cells releasing fat, and blinded by preconceptions, nobody managed to notice or note down when this occurred. But I would expect that to be rare - most people, if their body tells them they're starving to death, will eat. This gets cited as weakness of will.

What outcomes would this metabolic hypothesis predict for obese people who undergo gastric bypass surgeries which render them physically incapable of eating much? What percentage of these patients would... (read more)

One of my friends who'd had weight loss surgery found that her treatment for pneumonia didn't work until they figured out that she wasn't absorbing as much of her oral antibiotics as people without the surgery would. I expect that sort of error is fairly common. I've heard that there's a 30% risk of alcoholism after WLS, and this is backed up by what I've heard anecdotally. The usual theory is "trading one addiction for another", but it isn't proven that people who are get WLS are that likely to be addicted to food. I've heard that the surgery makes alcohol hit faster, and that makes it a more interesting drug. I've wondered whether alcohol is simply a very compact way of getting calories. Some people find they have less appetite after WLS, but some don't.

Lots of people have system 1 processes governing calorie intake and expenditure that are maladaptive within their current environment. It's possible to overrule these maladaptive impulses with system 2, but that imposes lots of cognitive load so most people are only able to sustain such efforts for a short time before reverting.

The article describes the common experience of people who temporarily go on medically supervised diets. Once they are left to their own devices, bereft of the external support and close supervision, they rely entirely on ongoing eff... (read more)

I've been into fat acceptance for quite some years, and more than a little irritated at the idea that emotional problems are a major cause of people being fat. I knew I ate somewhat more than I was hungry for, but it wasn't a lot and didn't seem like it was worth the trouble to fight. I read some Eric Franklin-- probably in his Relax Your Neck, Liberate Your Shoulders: The Ultimate Exercise Program for Tension Relief, but possibly his Dynamic Alignment through Imagery-- about how the ribs connect to the breastbone, and I realized that I was holding my shoulders up all the time. I was able to lower my shoulders and found an immediate drop in my anxiety level. I was also doing heartbeat meditation (focus on heartbeat as well as breath) which was probably also helping with anxiety. In any case, I found to my surprise that my previous usual "I'm fed, but food is still interesting" had changed to "if I'm comfortably fed (in some cases, if I'm mildly hungry), food isn't interesting". I've lost seven pounds with very little effort, and I'm expecting that I'll be able to lose more weight stably. None of this is relevant to Eliezer's situation with losing weight, but might be of general interest.

I find this claim surprising. It is not obvious what evidence or line of reasoning would lead to this conclusion.

On the population level, it is my understanding that people today (in industrialized western nations) have much higher likelihood of being overweight or obese at a given age than their very recent ancestors from 2-3 generations ago. Given the short time frame, this is likely due to changes in diet or activity level rather than inescapable genetic destiny.

Individual metabolisms will certainly differ. However, I believe that having a body composition at least as good as one's great-grandparents should be possible for most people. Is there evidence against this?

Losing weight and keeping it off is really difficult. It's pretty rare for people to maintain a weight loss over a number of years. I can't find reliable stats right now, but I believe the numbers are 10% regain within 1 year, and after 5 years only a very small number remain at a lower weight. I'm not , however, sure if metabolism is the reason or not. This article is interesting.
Those are not the only possibilities. For example, it's been hypothesized that obesity might be linked to some now-ubiquitous chemical exposure that messes with human hormone balances. If it's a novel environmental factor, some people might be especially genetically susceptible or resistant to the effect.

By the time you're diagnosed with Y it's way too late to do anything.

OK, that's probably true. It is also true in the case of deficiencies arising from a more conventional diet however. How frequently do micronutrient deficiencies occur under regular diets? How is the chance of timely detection and intervention affected by controlled intake in conjunction with deliberate ongoing monitoring versus an unmonitored ad libitum diet?

Let's consider two contrasting propositions regarding diet and nutrition: A) Consuming a varied diet of naturally occurring, unp... (read more)

The worst part is, a lot of that decline is from people trying to eat 'healthy' - and cut out as much salt as possible. Guess what the main source of iodine for people who can't afford seafood for every meal is? Iodized salt. (If you want US figures for deficiency, you can find some cites in my iodine page, or simply search for papers related to the long-running NHANES survey which is the main source of evidence.)
Interesting, googling around a bit it looks like it is basically soybean oil, whey, and dextrose with vitamin powders. So pretty much the same as Soylent. I guess worries about bioavailability are overblown given that coma patients survive indefinitely, but then again, their mixture is adjusted daily based on blood work.

I suspect most people considering Soylent aren't exactly eating like Michael Pollan in the first place. Anecdotally, I know several people who subsist on diets of fast-food takeout washed down by multiple liters of soda. It seems credible that Soylent might at least provide better nutrition than that. The scorn directed at Soylent by many of the Hacker News commenters strikes me as misdirected given the relatively poor quality diet of many Americans.

I have used other commercially available meal replacement shakes in the past - most don't even attempt to de... (read more)

And how would they know? Let's say a child develops a iodine deficiency -- a common consequence is the drop in IQ, 10-15 points on the average. You think this will be detected in time to fix this? Let's imagine -- not an improbable scenario at all -- that a deficiency of micronutrient X doubles or triples your risk of some old-age disease Y. By the time you're diagnosed with Y it's way too late to do anything.
If you're willing to guinea pig, please try this if you haven't already. It's short on macro-nutrients, but perhaps it would pair nicely with macro-nutrient focussed substitutes. I'm interested in comparisons between how these products compare to the actual constituent ingredients consumed normally, but don't value the information enough to try it myself.

I also think that the variant of the problem featuring an actual mugger is about scam recognition.

Suppose you get an unsolicited email claiming that a Nigerian prince wants to send you a Very Large Reward worth $Y. All you have to do is send him a cash advance of $5 first ...

I analyze this as a straightforward two-player game tree via the usual minimax procedure. Player one goes first, and can either pay $5 or not. If player one chooses to pay, then player two goes second, and can either pay Very Large Reward $Y to player one, or he can run away with the c... (read more)

When you say that player 2 "is obviously not going to pay out" that's an approximation. You don't know that he's not going to pay off. You know that he's very, very, very, unlikely to pay off. (For instance, there's a very slim chance that he subscribes to a kind of honesty which leads him to do things he says he'll do, and therefore doesn't follow minimax.) But in Pascal's Mugging, "very, very, very, unlikely" works differently from "no chance at all".

Friendly neighborhood Matrix Lord checking in!

I'd like to apologize for the behavior of my friend in the hypothetical. He likes to make illusory promises. You should realize that regardless of what he may tell you, his choice of whether to hit the green button is independent of your choice of what to do with your $5. He may hit the green button and save 3↑↑↑3 lives, or he may not, at his whim. Your $5 can not be reliably expected to influence his decision in any way you can predict.

You are no doubt accustomed to thinking about enforceable contracts between... (read more)

Caveat emptor, the boxes she gave me always were empty!