Lanrian's Comments

Taking the Outgroup Seriously

I think that the position put forward here could usefully be applied to parts of the post itself.

In particular, I'd say that it's quite uncommon for people to claim that abortion opponents "oppose abortion as part of a conspiracy to curtail women's rights". There's no reason to posit a conspiracy, ie., a large number of people who have discussed and decided on this as a good method of suppressing women. I think a fair number of people claim that abortion opponents are motivated by religious purity norms, though, such that they don't mind inflicting suffering on women who have sex outside of marriages; or perhaps that they generally don't care enough about the welfare of women, because they're misogynist. Justifications for why abortion opponents want to prevent abortions in the first place range from thinking that they hate promiscious women so much that they want to punish them, to acknowledging that they may care about foetuses to some extent, to thinking that they mostly care about repeating religious shibboleths. Some of these seem silly to me, but not all of them.

There's even some evidence that you could cite for these claims, e.g. that abortion opponents are rarely strong supporters of birth control (which I'd guess is the best method of preventing abortions). And there's some arguments you could put forward against this, in turn, namely that people in general are bad at finding the best interventions for the things they care about. I haven't thought about this in depth, but I don't think the most sophisticated version of any of these sides is silly and obviously wrong.

On the margin, I think it'd be good if people moved towards the position that you're advocating in this post. But I don't think it's obvious that people generally "tend to explain their actual reasoning". I think there's often a mix-up between conversation norms and predictions about how people act in the real world, when talking about this kind of thing:

  • In a 1-on-1 conversation, it makes sense to take the other persons view seriously, because if you think they're arguing in bad faith, you should probably just stop talking with them.
  • In conversations with lots of listeners, people might be able to convince a lot of people by putting forth arguments other than those that convinced them, so I can't why we should predict that they always put forward their true reasoning. Whether they mostly do so or not seems like an empirical question with a non-obvious answer (and I would actually quite like to read an analysis of how common this is). However, we still want to strongly endorse and support the norm of responding to points under the assumption that they were made in good faith, because accusations will quickly destroy all value that the conversation might have generated. I think it's extremely important that we have such norms on lesswrong, for example (and I also believe that lesswrongers almost always do argue in good faith, partly because we generally don't discuss hot topics like, uhm, abortion... oops).
  • When thinking about other people's actions outside of conversations with them (whether in our own heads or in conversation with a third party), I think we'd be unnecessarily handicapped if we assumed that people always meant everything they said. If a politician makes a claim, I predict that a person who has "the politician made that claim just to gain votes" somewhere in their hypothesis-space is going to make better predictions than someone who steadfastely applies the conversation norms to their own thoughts.
Some quick notes on hand hygiene

You mean this one? Yeah, that does suggest that there are increasing marginal returns to time spent per hand-washing session, at the typical level of effort.

Some quick notes on hand hygiene

Cool to see that they're in the same ballpark.

“Handwashing can prevent 21% of respiratory sicknesses”—

Do they say which conditions are being compared? Is it no handwashing at all vs 30 seconds 15 times per day, or something else? (I would look myself, but I can't find the quote with cmd-f.)

I'd guess that washing your hands has some diminishing marginal returns, so if washing your hands for 30 seconds 15 times a day is approximately as good as not washing your hands at all, you can probably do better than both by being somewhere in the middle (e.g. washing your hands for 20 seconds at the 10 points during the day when they're most dirty).

Moral public goods

According to the chart I linked earlier, the countries with highest ODA as %GNI are UAE, Norway, Luxembourg, and Sweden, all at around 0.9 %GNI.

Given random variation between countries, we shouldn't be surprised to find smaller countries on the top of such a list: (i) because there are more small countries than big countries, and (ii) because smaller countries are likely to be more internally homogenous, which means that e.g. the average inclination to give away money among the countries' population is likely to differ more from the global average.

I guessed that I'd find small countries at the bottom of the list, too. But then I actually looked, and found Thailand, Taiwan, Russia, and Romania on the bottom, two of which are big, and all of which are larger than UAE, Norway, Luxembourg, and Sweden. I don't know what's up with that, though part of the explanation might be that a bunch of poor, small countries are grouped as a single big "DAC-countries"-category. Edit: This last sentence is false, see Wei_Dai's comment ("DAC-countries" are apparently rich countries, rather than poor, and each of them are reported separately in the list). Seems like a lot of poor countries aren't included in the list at all.

Moral public goods

I think there has been attempts to coordinate around foreign aid, see for example

Also, several parts of the UN (e.g. WHO) does things that could be classidied as aid, and the UN is funded by member countries.

Dominic Cummings: "we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos"

And yet here's a rationalist who upturned global politics singlehandedly, and credits LessWrong with his success.

Source? I've googled his name and LessWrong, but can't find him saying anything about it.

Can fear of the dark bias us more generally?

This is just anecdotal, but me, a friend, and plausibly Randall Munroe are significantly more socially risk-taking at night than during other times of day. This might be directly connected to the time of day, or just be a consequence of sleep deprivation.

I also have irrational fears during the night, sometimes, but I would guess that this is largely due to being sleepy, stupid, and alone, which causes me to be more suggestible to stray thoughts in general. I wouldn't be surprised if darkness also contributes, though.

[Personal Experiment] One Year without Junk Media

You can sculpt a service like this out of pretty much any service that keeps its old shows around. For example, you can use ublock origin to remove all side-bar video-suggestions from youtube (and also remove comments, if you want). Then you can just forbid yourself from going to the home page (or automatically block it with something like leechblock), and only ever access videos by doing search directly. If you have a way of adding any search engine to your browser (which I recommend getting; I think there are easy ways to do this in most browsers, though I use vimium), you can add or or whatever you want to it.

How time tracking can help you prioritize

If you want automatic time tracking for a mac (with good support for manual assignment), and you're willing to pay for it, I tested several options two years back and decided that timing was best. I'm still happy with it. A nice thing with automatic time-tracking is that I have decent data for a year where I didn't use it actively at all.

That said, I don't want to ruin the call-to-action by forcing anyone to consider several options. I haven't tried toggle, but it seems like a good choice. Go forth and try time tracking!

When would an agent do something different as a result of believing the many worlds theory?

Wait, what? If compatibilism doesn't suggest that I'm choosing between actions, what am I choosing between?

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