just_browsing

I am trying to stay anonymous on this account in order to encourage myself to post more. If you think you can deduce my identity based on what I have posted, I would really appreciate it if you let me know so that I can scale back revealing details.

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Tasker actions which save me time and sanity

Wow thanks for sharing. I might steal the NFC / walk scheduling ideas -- those sound like they could be useful. 

Long shot but you haven't happened to figure out how to get Tasker to interface with "Focus Mode" have you? That's one thing I haven't managed to get Tasker to detect yet.

just_browsing's Shortform

"Don't make us look bad" is a powerful coordination problem which can have negative effects on a movement. Examples:

  • Veganism has a bad reputation of being holier than thou. It's hard to be a vegan without getting lumped in with "those vegans". So, it's hard to be open about being a vegan, which makes making veganism more socially acceptable tricky.
  • Ideas perceived as crazy are connected to the EA movement. For example, EAs discuss the possibility that we are living in a simulation seriously. So do flat earthers. Similarly, outsiders could dismiss EA as being too crazy for many other superficial reasons. The NYT's article on Scott Alexander (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/13/technology/slate-star-codex-rationalists.html) sort of acts as an example -- juxtaposing "MIRI" and "NRx" implicitly undermines the credibility of AI Safety research. EAs trying to work in public policy for example might not want to publicly identify as "EA" to the same extent because "the other EAs are making them look bad". 
  • A person who is part of a movement does something controversial. It makes the movement look bad. For example, longevity has been getting negative press due to the Aubrey de Grey scandal. 
     
  • The coordination problems the US democratic party faces, described by David Shor in this Rationally Speaking podcast episode (http://rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/rs248transcript.pdf). 

And that’s -- coordination's a very hard thing to do. People have very 
strong incentives to defect. If you're an activist going out and saying a very 
controversial thing, putting it out there in the most controversial, least 
favorable light so that you get a lot of negative attention. That's mostly 
good for you. That's how you get attention. It helps your career. It's how 
you get foundation money. [...]

And we really noticed that all of these campaigns, other than, I guess, Joe 
Biden, were embracing these really unpopular things. Not just stuff around 
immigration, but something like half the candidates who ran for president 
endorsed reparations, which would have been unthinkable, it would have 
been like a subject of a joke four years ago. And so we were trying to figure 
out, why did that happen? [...]

But we went and we tested these things. It turns out these unpopular 
issues were also bad in the primary. The median primary voter is like 58 
years old. Probably the modal primary voter is a 58-year-old black woman. 
And they're not super interested in a lot of these radical sweeping policies 
that are out there.

And so the question was, “Why was this happening?” I think the answer 
was that there was this pipeline of pushing out something that was 
controversial and getting a ton of attention on Twitter. The people who 
work at news stations -- because old people watch a lot of TV -- read 
Twitter, because the people who run MSNBC are all 28-year-olds. And 
then that leads to bookings. 
And so that was the strategy that was going on. And it just shows that 
there are these incredible incentives to defect.

One takeaway: a moderate democrat like Joe Biden suffers because the crazier looking democrats like AOC are "making him look bad", even if his and AOC's goals are largely aligned. I can only assume that the republican party faces similar issues (not discussed in this podcast episode though)

Are there more examples of "don't make us look bad" coordination problems like these? Any examples of overcoming this pressure and succeeding as a movement? 

How much to extreme people harm movements? What affects this?

  • For example, in politics, there are a few high-stakes all or nothing elections, where having extreme people quiet down could be beneficial to a particular party. On the other hand, no extreme voices could mean no progress. 
  • In veganism/EA, maybe extreme voices have less of a negative effect because there aren't as many high-stakes all or nothing opportunities. Instead, a bunch of decentralized actors do stuff. Clearly so far EAs seem to be doing fine interfacing with governments (e.g. CSET) so maybe the "don't make us look bad" factor is less here. 

This seems interesting and important. 

How hard is it to disguise my gait?

This is a good point concerning current gait recognition technology. However, I don't doubt it will improve. On longer timescales, this should happen naturally as compute gets cheaper and more data gets collected. On shorter timescales, this can be accelerated using techniques such as synthetic data generation. 

Perhaps there is a natural limit to gait recognition, if it turns out that people can't be uniquely identified from their gait, even in the limit of perfect data. But if there isn't, then in 10 years, "94%" will turn into "99.999%", or whatever is needed for gait recognition to be worth thinking about. 

In this situation (and in the situation where I leave my phone at home), this question becomes relevant again. 

Is sitting in the sun much better than sitting in the shade?

I could see the spotlight being unpleasant because the brightness differences might cause eye strain, unless the light is really perfectly placed. Sunlight (or even shade) seems much better in this regard. Interesting idea though—I'm surprised how affordable that spotlight is. 

Is sitting in the sun much better than sitting in the shade?

Does Kelvin Color Temperature change much in the sun compared to the shade? Based on feel, the shade feels way brighter to me than even the brightest warm (= low Kelvin) lights indoors. This intuition could be wrong though. 

What books are for: a response to "Why books don't work."

I really like your way of thinking about why books are useful!

This reminds me of another argument for why books are useful which came up in this 80,000 Hours podcast episode with Julia Galef. 

Julia Galef: [...] You know, the thing that I think books do really well is provide a nice container for a thesis or ideas, such that it’s easy to spread and talk about. And they do this better than blog posts, for the most part. I’ve heard people sometimes say, “Most books should be blog posts,” or “Most books should be articles,” or something like that, and I sympathize with that view.

Another way of phrasing this: when two people have read the same book, even if they don't remember the details, they can reference the book as a "pointer" and make deeper arguments (held up by their intuitions about the book, ingrained because they spent so much time engaging with its entirety) than they would have been able to make if they had only read summaries. 

What books are for: a response to "Why books don't work."

What blog posts are for: a response to "What books are for: a response to 'Why books don't work.'"

I read this blog post carefully yet absorbed only a small fraction of the total details it contains. You're only communicating one key idea here. For greater learning efficiency, you may as well replace this post with a one-sentence summary: "Anyway, I think that books are basically mechanisms to leverage this availability heuristic."

If my previous research is wrong, what are my options ?

If you want more opinions on your situation than whatever you get on LessWrong, you could try asking this question on https://academia.stackexchange.com/ ). They have an entire tag on errors in published papers. 

List of things I think are worth reading (last updated 3/1/2021)

Glad to hear I pointed you to some helpful stuff!

The log(popularity) is to discourage me from populating this list with lots of insightful but really well-known or easy to find stuff—I think this would make it less interesting or useful. Then "log" was arbitrarily chosen to weaken the penalty on popularity (compared to if I just divided by it). I'm not doing any of this quantitatively anyway, so it's really just me rationalizing including "Doing Good Better" but not the n other good popular things I 'should' similarly recommend. 

Menstrual cycle effects—Clue study summary and commentary

Yes, I completely agree with this point. I hope I made it clear that I like thinking about data like this exclusively for personal "outside view"-y reflection. So things like, "Oh I haven't gotten anything done this morning, maybe it's because of (x cycle variable), so maybe I can do (y intervention) to fix things". And then, generalizing to other women only in the sense that they might find it helpful to think similar thoughts. 

They didn't mention sex drive, but the binary variable "had sex" did come up in the study. However individual fluctuations cancelled out any patterns beyond "more sex on weekends" and "less sex during periods". 

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