Jack

Jack's Comments

Undiscriminating Skepticism

Feels like I should tie a bow around this, in memory of old Less Wrong. They got married 6 months ago.

Link: Biotech Corporate Email Hacked

If you could you might as well just register for the service and use it legally. It's not like any of those biology-as-a-service companies evaluate what their customers synthesize for pathogenicity.

Running the numbers: Cryo vs Discount rate

I'd say readers of Less Wrong are at least a standard deviation better off in life expectancy then what you get by just looking at age and sex (consider zip codes, income, race, substance abuse, risk-seeking etc.)

Open Thread April 8 - April 14 2014

Hey. You might have had this question answered already but just in case: they don't have housing or dorms. But they do have room and allow you to put up a cot or inflatable mattress and sleep there for the duration.

Truth: It's Not That Great

Truth-telling seems clearly overrated (by people on Less Wrong but also pretty much everyone else). Truth-telling (by which I mean not just not-lying but going out of your way and sacrificing your mood, reputation or pleasant socializing just to say something true) is largely indistinguishable from "repeating things you heard once to signal how smart or brave or good you are. "

Truth-seeking as in observing and doing experiments to discover the structure of the universe and our society still seems incredibly important (modulo the fact that obviously there are all sorts of truths that aren't actually significant). And I actually think that is true even if you call it information gathering, though 'information gathering' is certainly vastly less poetic and lacks the affective valence of Truth.

Truth: It's Not That Great

What is meant by heretical?

Open Thread April 8 - April 14 2014

Chris covered a lot of things. Re getting accepted, I think you'll be okay. You're ahead of where I was and I can tell you're smart. Do the prep work they give you, do some project Euler problems. I don't think you have to do the challenges in Ruby, but knowing at least one language well will help.

If you are accepted I strongly recommend a) Going to SF, not NY. The job market is better and I suspect the instruction is as well. B) If you don't mind too much: stay at App Academy (2016 edit: they no longer allow this). It isn't comfortable but you'll greatly benefit from being around other people learning web development all the time and it will keep you from slacking off. Remember that this isn't college. You don't get a certificate or degree. So the point isn't to get through the program. The point is to learn as much as you possibly can while you're there.

Also, If you're still on the edge about doing it, I strongly recommend it. App Academy easily had a bigger beneficial impact on my life than anything else I've done. Let me know if you have any specific questions.

Open Thread April 8 - April 14 2014

Hey Jayson. What's your programming background?

What legal ways do people make a profit that produce the largest net loss in utility?

...I think that's misleading. While smokers like and presumably enjoy the relief cigarettes provide from cravings, I doubt that at reflective equilibrium they'd want to be smokers, or would approve of their smoking. When samples of smokers in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia were surveyed, about 90% agreed with the proposition that if they could live their lives again they would not start smoking, and a clear majority (67% to 82%, depending on the country) reported an intention to quit within the next year. In Gallup polls, most US smokers say they believe they're addicted to cigarettes, and most say they'd like to give up the habit. The CDC reports that in 2010, 43% of US adults who usually smoked cigarettes daily actually did stop smoking for multiple days because they were trying to quit.

There is a lot of moralizing around smoking and I suspect those numbers are inflated. It's like if you call people up and ask them if they recycle or plan on voting. People give answers that they think others want to hear: that's not the same as reflective equilibrium. Also, the fact that people are interested in quitting doesn't have anything to do with whether or not it is pleasurable. It's very pleasurable, which is why people start and continue. They often want to stop because they know that it causes cancer. But they still derive pleasure from it.

Not true in general. Another paper based on data from that four-country survey tells us that "[a]bout 10% or more of smokers did not believe that smoking causes heart disease. Over 20% and 40% did not believe smoking causes stroke and impotence, respectively."

So up to 90% of smokers know some of the less well-publicized health risks? The numbers for lung cancer and emphysema must approach 100%. Don't cherry pick your evidence.

As to the rest of your comment: I'm not claiming cigarettes are a boon to humanity. The question was what ways of making a profit cause the largest loss of utility and I was objecting to an answer that failed to consider the actual value created by an industry.

What legal ways do people make a profit that produce the largest net loss in utility?

As someone who occasionally smokes while not being addicted to it: it is definitely enjoyable for people.

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