All of jimmy's Comments + Replies

For mRNA vaccines, is (short-term) efficacy really higher after the second dose?

(Technical point: the phase 3's still were randomized controlled trials, they just weren't double-blind. But double-blind is the relevant characteristic when asking whether the different results are due to partying Israelis, so that's fine.)


Yeah, the part I was objecting to there was "the placebo group was given a fake injection and everything". Not only did they do far less than "everything" that is supposed to go with giving fake injections, they also failed to give me a fake injection! My second "placebo" was a real vaccine and my dad's second "vaccine" was a placebo!

For mRNA vaccines, is (short-term) efficacy really higher after the second dose?

Shame on them for misreporting. It was not double blind. 

I wouldn't put it past this guy for not knowing anyway, but he was 2 for 2 in accidentally hinting at the right thing (one vaccine, one placebo)

For mRNA vaccines, is (short-term) efficacy really higher after the second dose?

The issue is that this number captures efficacy starting on the day you receive the vaccine (or sometimes 7 days later)


Do you know how the efficacy on a given day is defined? I'm assuming it's going by date of first reporting symptoms (because you can't always know when the exposure was), but it makes a big difference if you're thinking "when am I safe to expose my self to covid".

But it's equally important to note that the the phase 3's were true randomized controlled trials - the placebo group was given a fake injection and everything


I did the... (read more)

3Sam Marks9dYes cases show up in the data on the day that they first report symptoms, not when they were first exposed. As you say, this means that if the data show some efficacy on a given day, you should actually expect to be protected at that level a few days before. Wow. I know that because of side-effects these things can never be fully blinded, but this is just horrifying. (Technical point: the phase 3's still were randomized controlled trials, they just weren't double-blind. But double-blind is the relevant characteristic when asking whether the different results are due to partying Israelis, so that's fine.)
3ChristianKl12dAccording to [] it should have been double blind, so the doctor wouldn't know and might randomly say those things to people if he thinks they might skip wearing the mask afterwards.
Homeostatic Bruce

Could you clarify how those things are selected for in training? I am actually struggling to imagine how they could be selected for in a BUD/S context — so sharing would be helpful!

(Army special forces, not SEALs)

Scrupulosity: They had some tough navigation challenges where they were presented with opportunities to attempt to cheat, such as using flashlights or taking literal shortcuts, and several were weeded out there.

Reliability: They had peer reviews, where the people who couldn't work well with a team got booted. Depends on what exactly you mean by "r... (read more)

Homeostatic Bruce

I suspect it would only really be compelling to those who personally witnessed the rapid shift in personality consequent to elite military training in an acquaintance.


I kinda fit that. I know someone who went from a "pot smoking slacker" to "elite and conscientious SOF badass", which kinda looks like what you're talking about from afar. 

However, my conclusions from actually talking to him about it all before, during (iirc?), and after are very different. The training seems to be very very much about selection, everyone who got traumatized was we... (read more)

1matejsuchy25dThanks for offering this insight! Could you clarify how those things are selected for in training? I am actually struggling to imagine how they could be selected for in a BUD/S context — so sharing would be helpful! Also, you say that the training had effects but "not to that magnitude ... not necessarily even in that direction." I'm confused — it sounds like your friend enjoyed effects both to that magnitude and in that direction. Am I misunderstanding? Also, if he did enjoy such effects as you describe, do you have any hypotheses for the mechanism? Given that such radical changes are quite rare naturally, we'd expect there to be something at play here right?
On Changing Minds That Aren't Mine, and The Instinct to Surrender.

Originally, I had earned a reputation on the server for my patience, my ability to defuse heated disagreements and give everyone every single chance to offer a good reason for why they held their positions. That slowed and stopped. I got angrier, ruder, more sarcastic, less willing to listen to people. Why should I, in the face of a dozen arguments that ended without any change?  [...] What’s the point of getting people mad? [...] what’s the point in listening to someone who might be scarcely better than noise

This seems like the core of it right here.... (read more)

Making Vaccine

Being as charitable as the facts allow is great. Starting to shy away from some of the facts so that one can be more charitable than they allow isn't.

The whole point is that this moderators actions aren't justifiable. If they have a "/r/neoliberal isn't the place for medicine, period" stance, that would be justifiable. If the mod deleted the post and said "I don't know how to judge these well so I'm deleting it to be safe, but it's important if true so please let me know why I should approve it", then that would be justifiable as well, even if he ultimatel... (read more)

5benjaminikuta3mo>The charity that there is room for is along the lines of "Maybe the line about misinformation was an uncharitable paraphrase rather than a direct quote" For what it's worth, it was a direct quote, and the entirety of the ban message, other than a link to the comment.
Making Vaccine

I think this is inaccurately charitable. It's never the case that a moderator has "no way" to know whether it checks out or not. If "Hey, this sounds like it could be dangerous misinfo, how can I know it's not so that I can approve your post?" is too much work and they can't tell the good from bad within the amount of work they're willing to put in, then they are a bad moderator -- at least, with respect to this kind of post. Even if you can't solve all or even most cases, leaving a "I could be wrong, and I'm open to being surprised" line on all decisions ... (read more)

5Yoav Ravid3moI agree i was being charitable. and yes, i was talking specifically about my expectations from a neoliberal forum moderator (if this was a biology or medicine forum i would have higher standards). my point wasn't necessarily that the mod did that out of good epistemics, just that the decision is justifiable, whatever method he actually used to take it. (i don't know the moderator in question either). actually I'd bet the moderator didn't do it with good epistemics, since he overreacted and outright banned him rather than just deleting it.
Covid 1/28: Muddling Through

Running some quick numbers on that Israel "Stop living in fear after being vaccinated" thing, it looks like Israel's current 7-day average is about 8000 cases/day, so with a population of 9 million we should expect about 110 cases/day out of 125k vaccinated if vaccines did nothing and people didn't change their behavior. What they actually got was 20.. over what time period? Vaccines clearly work to a wonderful extent, but is it really to the "Don't think twice about going out partying then visiting immune compromised and unvaccinated grandma" level?

On an ... (read more)

Everything Okay

"G" fits my own understanding best: "Not Okay" is a generalized alarm state, and the ambiguity is a feature, not a bug.

(Generally) we have an expectation that things are supposed to be "Okay" so when they're not, this conflict is uncomfortable and draws attention to the fact that "something is wrong!". What exactly it takes to provoke this alarm into going off depends on the person/context/mindset because it depends on (what they realize) they haven't already taken into account, and that's kinda the point. For example, if you're on a boat and notice that y... (read more)

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

"Content moderation" is not always a bad thing, but you can't jump directly from "Content moderation can be important" to "Banning Trump, on balance, will not be harmful". 

The important value behind freedom of association is not in conflict with the important value behind freedom of speech, and it's possible to decline to associate with someone without it being a violation of the latter principle. If LW bans someone because they're [perceived to be] a spammer that provides no value to the forum, then there's no freedom of speech issue. If LW starts ba... (read more)

-1ragintumbleweed4moAgain, Trump wasn't banned for his ideas. He was banned for actively inciting violence and for a long history of poisoning the well. Neither of us know what Twitter's "real" motivations were. Heck, the executives of Twitter might not know what their real motivations were. The real question is whether it is proper for a major media platform to remove a major political figure for ostensibly breaking the code of conduct associated with the platform and for actively engaging in incitement to violence. That activity ought not to be protected by free speech or society as a whole.
Motive Ambiguity

The world would be better if people treated more situations like the first set of problems, and less situations like the second set of problems. How to do that?


It sounds like the question is essentially "How to do hard mode?".

On a small scale, it's not super intimidating. Just do the right thing and take your spouse to the place you both like. Be someone who cares about finding good outcomes for both of you, and marry someone who sees it. There are real gains here, and with the annoyance you save yourself by not sacrificing for the sake of showing sa... (read more)

5ChristianKl5moThe problem here is not about whether or not you play favorites but how you can demonstrate that you are likely going to play favorites in the future. A politican who has a lunch where they chat with their largest donor and then does what the donor tells them to do is also demonstrating loyality. You only need to signal loyality via symbolic action when you can't provide value directly.
Number-guessing protocol?

This answer is great because it takes the problem with the initial game (one person gets to update and the other doesn't) and returns the symmetry by allowing both players to update. The end result shows who is better at Aumann updating and should get you closer to the real answer.

If you'd rather know who has the best private beliefs to start with, you can resolve the asymmetry in the other direction and make everyone commit to their numbers before hearing anyone else's. This adds a slight bit of complexity if you can't trust the competitors to be honest, but it's easily solved by either paper/pencil or everyone texting their answer to the person who is going to keep their phone in their pocket and say their answer first.

Covid 11/19: Don’t Do Stupid Things

The official recommendations are crazy low. Zvi's recommendation here of 5000IU/day is the number I normally hear from smart people who have actually done their research. 

The RCT showing vitamin D to help with covid used quite a bit. This converter from mg to IU suggests that the dose is at least somewhere around 20k on the first day and a total of 40k over the course of the week. The form they used (calcifediol) is also more potent, and if I'm understanding the following comment from the paper correctly, that means the actual number is closer to 200k... (read more)

2AllAmericanBreakfast6moThanks for that information. I'll pass it along.
Simpson's paradox and the tyranny of strata

(If you're worried about the difference being due to random chance, feel free to multiply the number of animals by a million.)


They vary from these patterns, but never enough that they are flying the same route on the same day at the same time at the same time of year. If you want to compare, you can group flights by cities or day or time or season, but not all of them.


The problem you're using Simpson's paradox to point at does not have this same property of "multiplying the size of the data set by arbitrarily large numbers doesn't help". If you ... (read more)

1dynomight6moI see what you're saying, but I was thinking of a case where there is zero probability of having overlap among all features. While that technically restores the property that you can multiply the dataset by arbitrarily large numbers, if feels a little like "cheating" and I agree with your larger point. I guess Simpson's paradox does always have a right answer in "stratify along all features", it's just that the amount of data you need increases exponentially in the number of relevant features. So I think that in the real world you can multiply the amount of data by a very, very large number and it won't solve the problem, even though in a large enough number will. In the real world it's often also sort of an open question if the number of "features" is finite or not.
2Pattern6moSo you just need enough data that the events involving entities is much greater than the number of parameters.
Covid 9/24: Until Morale Improves

Hypothetically, what would the right response be if you noticed that one of the main vaccine trials has really terrible blinding (e.g. participants are talking about how to tell whether you get the placebo in the waiting room)?

It seems like it would really mess up the data, probably resulting in the people who got the the vaccine taking extra risk and leading the study to understate the effectiveness.  Ideally, "tell the researchers" would be the obvious right answer, but are there perverse incentives at play that make the best response something else... (read more)

1MichaelBishop7moResearchers should 1) survey participants regarding their possible exposure risks, and 2) ask them whether they think they got the placebo, and with what degree of confidence. Adjusting for these should reduce the problem.
2Owain_Evans7moI presume the blinding is imperfect because some of the vaccines cause mild reactions that the placebo wouldn't. I doubt it's a big problem. The people doing the trial are selected for being more conscientious than the average person. (For one of the two trials, the rate of Covid seropositivity was only ~1% for people starting the trial, which is lower than the general US population). They will not want to risk their household members getting Covid, and they will have been warned that that the vaccines are unlikely to work perfectly.
4Zvi7moTell the researchers seems right. But I'd note that if blinding is bad, that seems like it would make the control group take relatively less risk, so the results should still be valid?
Covid 9/10: Vitamin D
There were 50 patients in the treatment group. None were admitted to the ICU. There were 26 patients in the control group. Half of them, 13 out of 26, were admitted to the ICU. So 13/26 vs. 0/50.

That's not what the paper says

Of 50 patients treated with calcifediol, one required admission to the ICU (2%),

The conclusions still hold, of course.

Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be?

Adjusting in the other direction seems useful as well. If someone Strong Upvotes ten times less frequently than average I would want to see their strong upvote as worth somewhat more.

4Raemon8moThere's a hypothetical direction we could go where voting-weight is determined based on your vote frequency. The main disadvantage of this is that it becomes a lot harder to predict and conceptualize what voting does. One hesitation habryka had about penalizing excessive strong downvotes is people would end up trying to conserve them as a resource, like a videogame where you end up hoarding all your potions because you "might need them some day" and never actually use them.
Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be?
Answer by jimmyAug 24, 202026

Voting based on current karma is a good thing.

Without that, a post that is unanimously barely worth upvoting will get an absurd amount of upvotes while another post which is recognized as earth shatteringly important by 50% will fail to stand out. Voting based on current karma gives you a measure of the *magnitude* of people's like for a comment as well as the direction, and you don't want to throw that information out.

If everyone votes based on what they think the total karma should be, then a post's karma reflects [a weighted average of o
... (read more)
5Lanrian8moI could see this argument going the other way. If a post is loved by 45% of people, and meh to 55% of people, then if everyone use target karma, the meh voters will downvote it to a meh position. As you say, the final karma will become people's median opinion; and the median opinion does not highlight things that minorities love. However, if everyone votes solely based on their opinion, 45% will upvote the comment, and 55% won't vote at all. That means that it will end up in an overall quite favorable spot, as long as most comments are upvoted by less than half of readers. I think both systems would have to rely on some people not always voting on everything. The nonTK system relies on there being large variability in how prone people are to voting (which I think exist; beware the typical mind fallacy... maybe another poll on how often people vote?) whereas the TK system relies on people abstaining if they're uncertain about how valuable something is to other people.
2GuySrinivasan8moI think you mean that having a measure of the magnitude of people's like for a comment is a good thing, and voting based on current karma is the only easy way to get that, at present, even though voting based on current karma is an abjectly silly thing. Or I hope you mean that.
6Bucky8moThis is an interesting point that I hadn't thought of. I think this oversells the problem somewhat. First a technicality - strong votes are, at least for active members,≥3×stronger than a weak vote. Second, if a post is earth shatteringly important to some then it is likely to be net positive to many others so would also receive a large number of weak upvotes. So a more realistic scenario would be: 100% weakly upvoted post is similar to 20% strongly upvoted, 30% weakly upvoted. These would clearly both be very high scoring posts so would certainly stand out from the crowd, exactly as they should. It doesn't seem obvious to me that the former should stand out significantly less (or be rewarded significantly less) than the latter.
3Rafael Harth8moOops. Yes, this seems pretty obvious now that you've said it. I've edited the correction into the post.
Highlights from the Blackmail Debate (Robin Hanson vs Zvi Mowshowitz)
You are very much in the minority if you want to abolish norms in general.

There's a parallel here with the fifth amendment's protection from self incrimination making it harder to enforce laws and laws being good on average. This isn't paradoxical because the fifth amendment doesn't make it equally difficult to enforce all laws. Actions that harm other people tend to have other ways of leaving evidence that can be used to convict. If you murder someone, the body is proof that someone has been harmed and the DNA in your van points toward... (read more)

What counts as defection?
I actually don't think this is a problem for the use case I have in mind. I'm not trying to solve the comparison problem. This work formalizes: "given a utility weighting, what is defection?". I don't make any claim as to what is "fair" / where that weighting should come from. I suppose in the EGTA example, you'd want to make sure eg reward functions are identical.

This strikes me as a particularly large limitation. If you don't have any way of creating meaningful weightings of utility between agents then you can... (read more)

4TurnTrout10moThis just isn't what I want to use the definition for. It's meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive. Similarly, while other definitions of "defection" also exist, I'm interested in the sense I outlined in the post. In particular, I'm not interested in any proposed definition that labels defection in PD as not-defection.
What counts as defection?

As others have mentioned, there's an interpersonal utility comparison problem. In general, it is hard to determine how to weight utility between people. If I want to trade with you but you're not home, I can leave some amount of potatoes for you and take some amount of your milk. At what ratio of potatoes to milk am I "cooperating" with you, and at what level am I a thieving defector? If there's a market down the street that allows us to trade things for money then it's easy to do these comparisons and do Coasian payments as n... (read more)

7TurnTrout10moI actually don't think this is a problem for the use case I have in mind. I'm not trying to solve the comparison problem. This work formalizes: "given a utility weighting, what is defection?". I don't make any claim as to what is "fair" / where that weighting should come from. I suppose in the EGTA example, you'd want to make sure eg reward functions are identical. Defection doesn't always have to do with the Pareto frontier - look at PD, for example.(C,C),(C,D),(D,C)are usually all Pareto optimal.
Noise on the Channel

To the extent that the underlying structure doesn't matter and can't be used, I agree that technically non-random "noise" behaves similarly and that this can be a reasonable use of the term. My objection to the term "noise" as a description of conversational landmines isn't just that they're "technically not completely random", but that the information content is actually important and relevant. In other words, it's not noise, it's signal.

The "landmines" are part of how their values are ... (read more)

Noise on the Channel

I think it's worth making a distinction between "noise" and "low bandwidth channel". Your first examples of "a literal noisy room" or "people getting distracted by shiny objects passing by" fit the idea of "noise" well. Your last two examples of "inferential distance" and "land mines" don't, IMO.

"Noise" is when the useful information is getting crowded out by random information in the channel, but land mines aren't random. If you tell someone their idea is stup... (read more)

2abramdemski10moI edited my post to insert this distinction. You're totally right that I'm really focusing on bandwidth and calling it low-noise. But I disagree about the degree of the distinction you're making. In the case of the already-standard usage of "signal/noise ratio", there's no worry over whether the "noise" is really random. Twitter injects advertisements regularly, not randomly, but they still dilute the quality of the feed in the same way. Similarly, conversational land mines are functionally similar to distractions. First, because they tend to derail lines of thought. But second, and more frequently, in the way they influence conversation when they're merely a threat looming on the border of the conversation rather than a certainty. We avoid deep topics both because they're more likely to trigger defensiveness and because they aren't so valuable (and indeed may even be harmful) if they're interrupted. Indeed, I'm clustering them together because the two are somewhat exchangeable: a touchy subject can become quite approachable if you have a lot of quality time to feel it out and deal with misunderstandings/defensiveness (or any of the other helpful variables I mentioned).
Fight the Power

In general, if you're careful to avoid giving unsolicited opinions you can avoid most of these problems even with rigid ideologues. You wouldn't inform a random stranger that they're ugly just because it's true, and if you find yourself expressing or wishing to express ideas which people don't want to hear from you, it's worth reflecting on why that is and what you are looking to get out of saying it.

I think I get the general idea of the thing you and Vaniver are gesturing at, but not what you're trying to say about it in particular. I think I'm less concerned though, because I don't see inter agent value differences and the resulting conflict as some fundamental inextricable part of the system.

Perhaps it makes sense to talk about the individual level first. I saw a comment recently where the person making it was sorta mocking the idea of psychological "defense mechanisms", because "*obviously* evolution wouldn't sele... (read more)

Simulacra Levels and their Interactions
Whereas, if things are too forsaken, one loses the ability to communicate about the lion at all. There is no combination of sounds one can make that makes people think there is an actual lion across an actual river that will actually eat them if they cross the river.

Hm. This sounds like a challenge.

How about this:

Those "popular kids" who keep talking about fictitious "lions" on the other side of the river are actually losers. They try to pretend that they're simply "the safe and responsible people" and pat themselves on t
... (read more)
I described what happend to the other post here.

Thanks, I hadn't seen the edit.

I'm having the same dilemma right now where my genuine comments are getting voted into the negative and I'm starting to feel really bad for trying to satisfy my own personal curiosity at the expense of eating up peoples time with content they think is low quality (yes yes, I know that that doesn't mean it is low quality per se, but it is a close enough heuristic that I'm mostly willing to stick to it). But the downvotes are very clear so while I'm
... (read more)
I should also declare up front that I have a bunch of weird emotional warping around this topic; hopefully I'm working around enough of it for this to still be useful.]

This is a really cool declaration. It doesn’t bleed through in any obvious way, but thanks for letting me know and I’ll try to be cautious of what I say/how I say them. Lemme know if I’m bumping into anything or if there’s anything I could be doing differently to better accommodate.

I think you're interpreting “this is not how human psychology wor
... (read more)
1Rana Dexsin1yI've put a few cycles into trying to come up with a better way to point at the thing/model I'm thinking of. (I say “thing/model” because in the domain of social psychology especially, Strange Loops between a phenomenon and people's models of the phenomenon cause them to not be that cleanly separable. Is there a word for that that I'm missing?) I haven't gotten through much of it, but in the meantime, I've also just noticed that a recent second-level comment by Vaniver [] on their own “How alienated should you be?” post has description that seems to come from a similar observation/interpretation of the world to the part of mine I'm trying to point at, and the main post goes into more detail. So that may help. I think there is a streak of variants of this idea in LW already, and it's possible that what I really want to do is go through the archives and find the best-aligned existing posts on the subject to link to…

It's not an attack, and I would recommend not taking it as one. People make that mistake all the time, and there's no shame in that. Heck, maybe I'm even wrong and what I'm perceiving as an error actually isn't faulty. Learning from mistakes (if it turns out to be one) is how we get stronger.

I try to avoid making that mistake, but if you feel like I'm erring, I would rather you be comfortable pointing out what you see instead of fearing that I will take it as an attack. Conversations (philosophical and otherwise) work much mor... (read more)

5Bob Jacobs1yAttack is just the way in which 'verbal arguments against X' are often shortened to, but while it is the common way of phrasing such a thing, I agree that it is stylistically odd. I didn't assume you had any malice in mind, I was just using it the common way but will refrain from doing so (in similar context) in the future. Alright no problem, things like that happen all the time so I will just delete it. I described what happend to the other post here [] . This was one of the difficult cases where I had to balance my desire to have a record of the things (and mistakes) people (including me) said and not wanting to clog the website with low-quality (as the downvotes indicated) content (I think I found a good solution). I'm having the same dilemma right now where my genuine comments are getting voted into the negative and I'm starting to feel really bad for trying to satisfy my own personal curiosity at the expense of eating up peoples time with content they think is low quality (yes yes, I know that that doesn't mean it is low quality per se, but it is a close enough heuristic that I'm mostly willing to stick to it). But the downvotes are very clear so while I'm disappointed that we couldn't talk through this issue, I will no longer be eating up peoples time.

There's no snark in my comment, and I am entirely sincere. I don't think you're going to get a good understanding of this subject without becoming more skeptical of the conclusions you've already come to and becoming more curious about how things might be different than you think. It simply raises the barrier to communication high enough so as to make reaching agreement not worthwhile. If that's not a perspective you can entertain and reason about, then I don't think there's much point in continuing this conversation.

If you can find another way to convey the same message that would be more acceptable to you, let me know.

-1Bob Jacobs1yI would favor a conversation where we keep attacks on the persons to an absolute minimum and focus instead on the arguments being made (addressing the person is sometimes necessary, but entirely ignoring the argument in favor of attempting to psychoanalyze a stranger on the internet is not a good way to have a philosophical discussion). Secondly I would also like to hear a counterargument to the argument I made. And thirdly I have never deleted a comment, but you appear to have double posted, shall I delete one of them?

1) Isomorphic to my "what if you know you'll do something stupid if you learn that your girlfriend has cheated on you" example. To reiterate, any negative effects of learning are caused by false beliefs. Prioritize over which way you're going to be wrong until you become strong enough to just not be predictably wrong, sure. But become stronger so that you can handle the truths you may encounter.

2) This clearly isn't a conflict between epistemic and instrumental rationality. This is a question about arming your enemies vs not doing... (read more)

3lsusr1yI think your comparison to spam in #4 works well. Reading spam has negative expected utility and small possible positive utility. Negative-sum advertising in general and spam in particularis a real-world example, at least in principle.
I'm very glad that you managed to train yourself to do that but this option is not available for everyone.

Do you have any evidence for this statement? That seems like an awfully quick dismissal given that twice in a row you cited things as if they countered my point when they actually missed the point completely. Both epistemically and instrumentally, it might make sense to update the probability you assign to "maybe I'm missing something here" . I'm not asking you to be more credulous or to simply believe anything I'm saying,... (read more)

4Rana Dexsin1y[This is condensed and informalized from a much longer and more explicit comment which I'm not sure would have been worth wading through, which still seemed hazy in important ways, and which seemed like it needed me to open more boxes than I have energy for right now. This one still seems hazy, but hopefully it wears it more on its sleeve. I should also declare up front that I have a bunch of weird emotional warping around this topic; hopefully I'm working around enough of it for this to still be useful.] I think you're interpreting “this is not how human psychology works” in a noncentral way compared to how Bob Jacobs is likely to have meant it, or maybe asserting your examples of psychology working that way more as normative than as positive claims. I have a completely different tack in mind: how do we know that the sort of mental maneuvers you describe don't become harmful in their aggregate effects when too many people do them, or do them without coordinating enough, or something along those lines? I would like to point out the following: “felt foolish” together with the consequences looks like a description of an alief-based and alief-affecting social feedback mechanism. How safe is it for individuals to unilaterally train themselves out of such mechanisms? Some detachment from it seems to be part of emotional maturity, but that's coupled with a lot of other mediating material. Further detachment seems to be part of various spiritual traditions—also coupled with even more mediating material. That's not very promising for any implied “there's no such thing as too much”. More specifically, I would like to consider the possibility that many of the sort of false aliefs you're talking about act more like restraining bolts imposed by the social cohesion subunit of a human mind, “because” humans are not safe under amplification with regard to social values. (And notably, “hypercompetent individuals are good for society” is by no means a universal more.) Or: indi
-1Bob Jacobs1yYou could probably write the same answer without the snark. Your study on placebo only mentions it working on IBS patients so its not the grand dismissal of placebo that you claim it is, but even if it was there are still plenty of similar phenomena. The easiest to adapt would be the nocebo-effect, just switch the positives with the negatives in the example and you have your nocebo argument.

Placebo doesn't require deception.

Just like with sports, you can get all the same benefits of placebo by simply pointing your attention correctly without predicating it on nonsense beliefs, and it's actually the nonsense beliefs that are getting in the way and causing the problem in the first place. A "placebo" is just an excuse to stop falsely believing that you can't do whatever it is you need to do without a pill.

And I don't say this as some matter of abstract "theory" that sounds good until you try to put it int... (read more)

1Bob Jacobs1yI'm very glad that you managed to train yourself to do that but this option is not available for everyone. I see a lot of engaging the details and giving singular instances of something not occurring, but I don't see a lot of engaging in the least convenient possible world [] . As I was writing this reply it became longer and longer, so I decided to rewrite it and make it it's own post. You can check out some more inconvenient counterexamples I thought up here []. [Edit: I saved the post to draft by accident. I didn't want to reupload it, but if we ever get a way to have 'unlisted' posts I will upload it unlisted. Until that time I have changed the link so you can still see my post and the comments it received]
What something is worth is not an objective belief but a subjective value.

Would you say "this hot dog is worth eating" is similarly "a subjective value" and not "an objective belief"? Because if it turns out that the hot dog had been sitting out for too long and you end up puking your guts out, I think it's pretty unambiguous to say that "worth eating" was clearly false.

The fact that the precise meaning may not be clear does not make the statement immune from "being wrong". A really good start on this... (read more)

1Bob Jacobs1yThis is entering the domain of axiology. Nothing wrong with debating axiology per se, but I would rather not get too much off topic. So I'll drop this argument for simplicities sake. But placebo on the other hand is a very [] real [] phenomenon [] in human beings where we think (e.g) a pill is a pharmaceutical but isn't (epistemically irrational), but our irrational belief still helps us achieve our goals of (e.g) not dying ( instrumentally rational).
These two options do not always coincide. Sometimes you have to choose.

I'll go even further than Zack and flat out reject the idea that this even applies to humans.

The most famous examples are: Learning knowledge that is dangerous for humanity (e.g how to build an unaligned Superintelligence in your garage), knowledge that is dangerous to you (e.g Infohazards)

This kind of problem can only happen with an incoherent system ("building and running a superintelligence in ones garage is a bad thing to do"+"I should build and run a superint... (read more)

1Bob Jacobs1yWhat something is worth is not an objective belief but a subjective value. This is not how human psychology works. Optimism does lead to better results [] in sports.

That's an interesting hypothesis, and seems plausible as a partial explanation to me. I don't buy it as a full explanation for a couple reasons. One is that it is inherently harder to read and follow rather than being an equally valid aesthetic. It may also function as a signal that you are on team Incoherent Thought, and there may occasionally be reasons to fake a disability, but generally genuine shortcomings don't become attractive things to signal. Even the king of losers is a loser, and generally the impression that I get is that the... (read more)

If your website looks like this people don't need to read your content in order to tell that you're a crazy person who is out of touch with how he comes off and doesn't have basic competencies like "realize that this is terrible, hire a professional". Just scroll through without reading any of it, and with your defense against the dark arts primed and ready, tell me how likely you feel that the content is some brilliant insight into the nature of time itself. It's a real signal that credibly conveys information about how unlik... (read more)

6bbleeker1yI'm not sure that sites like that look that way because they just don't know any better. I think they may be signaling they're not an 'establishment' site, and so *increase* their trustworthiness in the eyes of their target audience.
Updated Hierarchy of Disagreement
a "steel man" is an improvement of someone's position or argument that is harder to defeat than their originally stated position or argument.

This seems compatible with both, to me. "You're likely to underestimate the risks, and you can die even on a short trip" is a stronger argument than "You should always wear your seat belt because it is NEVER safe to be in a car without a seat belt", and cannot be so easily defeated as saying "Parked in the garage. Checkmate".

Reading through the hyperbole to the r... (read more)

Is fake news bullshit or lying?

I think the conflicting narratives tend to come from different sides of the conflict, and that people generally want the institutions that they're part of (and which give them status) to remain high status. It just doesn't always work.

What I'm talking about is more like.. okay, so Chael Sonnen makes a great example here both because he's great at it and because it makes for a non-political example. Chael Sonnen is a professional fighter who intentionally plays the role of the "heel". He'll say ridiculous things with a st... (read more)

Updated Hierarchy of Disagreement
You don't want your interlocutor to feel like you are either misrepresenting or humiliating him. Improving an argument is still desirable, but don't sour the debate.

There are a couple different things I sometimes see conflated together under the label "steel man".

As an example, imagine you're talking to the mother of a young man who was killed by a drunk driver on the way to the corner store, and whose life could likely have been saved if he had been wearing a seat belt. This mom might be a bit emotional when she says "NEVER... (read more)

1Bob Jacobs1yIn writing this article I did some digging into the history of steelmanning in order to find the original meaning and I got to say I'm not sure your description totally fits. The Black Belt Bayesian quote I mentioned wasn't talking about that, but maybe that doesn't count because he didn't call it a steelman (I'm not sure the term was invented yet). The Lukeprog post I linked to did say but that might've been edited in later. I found this post [] by 'the merely real': This is a very early mention and it's also the source wikipedia uses. But I've also seen plenty of people use steelmanning the way you explained it. Your definition of steelmanning would be fine during the debate but the other definition wouldn't be. I solved this dilemma by just not mentioning the term steelmanning in my post and instead using the original Black Belt Bayesian quote.
Is fake news bullshit or lying?

I think another distinction worth making here is whether the person "bullshitting"/"lying" even expects or intends to be believed. It's possible to have "not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly" and still be saying it because you expect people to take you seriously and believe you, and I'd still call that lying.

It's quite a different thing when that expectation is no longer there.

1HarperSachs1yThanks for the comment, jimmy! That's a good point, and I wonder if it apples to what we're seeing in some of the political misinformation today, where the objective isn't so much to be believed, but to bombard a person with so many conflicting views and narratives that they lose faith in the process and institutions altogether.
Reflective Complaints

I used "flat earthers" as an exaggerated example to highlight the dynamics the way a caricature might highlight the shape of a chin, but the dynamics remain and can be important even and especially in relationships which you'd like to be close simply because there's more reason to get things closer to "right".

The reason I brought up "arrogance"/"humility" is because the failure modes you brought up of "not listening" and "having obvious bias without reflecting on it and getting rid of it"... (read more)

4Raemon1yThanks, this was a good neat point that gives me a conceptual handle for thinking about the overall problem.
Reflective Complaints
It seems to me that I'm explaining something reasonable, and they're not understanding it because of some obvious bias, which should be apparent to them. 
But, in order for them to notice that, from inside the situation, they'd have to run the check of:
TRIGGER: Notice that the other person isn't convinced by my argument
ACTION: Hmm, check if I might be mistaken in some way. If I were deeply confused about this, how would I know?

The fact that the other person isn’t convinced by your argument is only evidence that you’re ... (read more)

2Raemon1yAh. I think this didn't occur to me because I have a different set of habits for "Mostly don't end up in conversations with flat earthers in the first place." This advice was generated in the process of interacting with coworkers, roommates, and friends that are pre-filtered for being people I respect. There certainly are people I sometimes bump into who aren't filtered for such, who sometimes I have important disagreements with. In those cases, the correct approach depends a bit on the situation. I think I'd stick by this advice for discussions where the outcome actually matters (i.e. where you're not just talking with some internet rando for fun. Conversations with actual stakes, where you're building a product [http://localhost:3000/s/hBFDRZCPLcrRDubgm/p/i2dNdHrGMT6QgqBFy]).
Consistent Glomarization should be feasible
With close friends or rationalist groups, you might agree in advance that there's a "or I don't want to tell you about what I did" attached to every statement about your life, or have a short abbreviation equivalent to that.

This already exists, and the degree of “or I’m not telling the truth” is communicated nonverbally.

For example, when my wife early in her pregnancy we attended the wedding of one of her friends, and a friend noticed that she wasn’t drinking “her” drink and asked “Oh my ... (read more)

Meditation skill: Surfing the Urge
Understand that the urge to breath is driven by the body’s desire to rid itself of carbon dioxide (CO2)--not (as some assume) your body's desire to take in oxygen (O2).

Interestingly enough, this isn't entirely true. If you get a pulse oximeter and a bottle of oxygen you can have some fun with it.

Because of the nonlinearity in the oxygen dissociation curve, oxygen saturation tends to hold pretty steady for a while and then really tank quickly, whereas CO2 discomfort builds more uniformly. In my experience, when I get that really "pani... (read more)

Meditation skill: Surfing the Urge

Certainly not in any obvious way like people that suffer repeated blows to the head. There's some debate over whether loss of motor control (they call it "samba" because it's kinda like you start dancing involuntarily) can cause damage that makes it more likely to happen again in the future, but I haven't been able to find any evidence that there is any damage at all in normal training and even the former seems to be controversial.

On Platitudes

This is a big topic and I think both slider's "Part of the problem about such tibits of wisdom that they are about big swath of experience/information and kind of need that supporting infrastructure." and Christian's "It seems to me that the skillset towards which you are pointing is a part of hypnosis" are important parts of it. In particular, hypnotists like Milton Erickson have put a lot of time into figuring out how to best convey the felt sense that there is a big swath of experience/information in there that needs to be ... (read more)

Reflections on Arguing about Politics
>really want to change the other’s mind
Which is very zero-sum, and indicates that to the extent a discussion is productive for one, it's counter-productive for the other. I recommend NOT HAVING those arguments. If you're going in with goals of understanding their position, changing your own mind, or better modeling the universe (and those in it), then you might actually be productive.

Not quite. If my goal is to change your mind and I succeed, you don't lose and therefore it's not zero-sum.. If I succeed it's probably be... (read more)

Hanson & Mowshowitz Debate: COVID-19 Variolation

It depends on what you mean by "unpopular". If you mean that someone is going to ignore the lives that would be saved and accuse you of being uncaring, then that's certainly true and you would need to be ready to deal with that.

On the other hand, if you mean that everyone would actually be against this idea then I think you're wrong. I've been floating the idea every time I end up in a discussion about this virus, and while my conversations can't be taken as completely representative, it's worth noting that not once have... (read more)

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