All of methree's Comments + Replies

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way to at least document random cures? Someone I know used to have problems doctors could not diagnose (lingua geographica was a symptom... one of those things nobody knows much about). Biopsies were made, blood levels were checked, a heroic efforts was put into trying to match the symptoms with something known. They disappeared all at once after a coloscopy, which requires, lo and behold, an intestinal cleansing that seriously disrupts the gut ecosystem. The moment the symptoms disappeared, doctors forgot about the issu... (read more)

Or you can choose to subvert the system from the inside, which would justify your being part of it in the first place, which would justify filling out those CVs and striving to get as much influence as possible in order to be more effective at you future plans to make the system less broken. Imagine yourself in a position to hire others and choosing not to fall into the trap. That would be subverting the system for the better, and you won't get there without getting hired first. Some people would find that motivating enough.

Fair points made, will take them and ponder.

To me, the idea of eliminating an entire species of insect that is part of a complex system sounds reckless. The consequences cannot be predicted and we continue the trend of destroying rather than adapting. Not to mention that DNA is complex in its own right and we cannot predict the consequences of introducing mutations at a faster rate than "nature" has stabilized coping with.

The objective is not to eliminate malaria, really; it's to eliminate the disease that is caused by malaria, for which there are many approaches that do not require messing with lar... (read more)

2Jeff Rose4mo
It does sound reckless doesn't it? Even more so when you consider that over time you would likely have to eliminate many species of mosquito, not just one to achieve the effect you desire. And, as the linked nature article noted, this could have knock on effects on other species which prey on mosquitos. I think your comment is important, because this is probably the heart of the objection to using gene drives to exterminate mosquitos. I think a few points are relevant in thinking about this objection: (1) We already take steps to reduce mosquito populations, which are successful in wealthier countries. (2) This shows the limited ecological effects of eliminating mosquitos. (3) The existing efforts are not narrowly targeted. Eliminating malaria and other disease causing mosquitos would enable these other efforts to stop, possibly reducing overall ecological effects. (4) Malaria is a major killer and there are other mosquito borne diseases. If you are looking at this from a human-centered perspective, the ecological consequences would have to be clear and extreme to conclude that this step shouldn't be taken and the consequences don't appear to be clear or extreme. (If there is another perspective you are looking at this from, I'd be happy to consider it.) (5) Humanity is doing its best to eradicate Guinea worm to universal praise. It's a slow process. Would you suggest reversing it? Why are mosquitos and Guinea worms different?
2methree4mo
Fair points made, will take them and ponder.
4ChristianKl4mo
Why would you expect those mutations to spread? The question is not about whether or not mosquitoes in general are ecologically important but whether if you get rid of less than 0.1% of the mosquito species, the niches covered by them are not just filled by other mosquitos.
Ben4mo1925

But enormous resources are already used destroying local mosquito populations. In many countries water in swamps is covered with a layer of oil to stop mosquitos breeding in it. Helicopters and planes I think sometimes spray insecticides over forests. In Singapore and parts of Malaysia these kinds of measures have successfully eliminated the local mosquitos.

A gene drive might be cheaper and more effective (and with less side effects) than blanketing the water with oil and the air with insecticides.

Malaria deaths are a crazy high number. How bad would the ecological side-effects need to be to make it not worthwhile? 

Humans have driven to extinction tens of thousands of species, and continue to kill more every year. Whilst mostly bad, very few of them have had terrible impacts on the ecosystem.

To then hyperfocus on one particular species, specifically one which kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, is essentially an isolated demand for rigour. If we wanted to reduce our impact on the ecosystem let's focus instead on saving some of the species that don't cause extreme human suffering.

I have a suspicion the guidelines are violated because "22" is a bullet caliber... a different number would probably work.

Hahaha! Of course. Thank you so much for running suggestions. This is what having young children with incredible artistic skills is like.

Is it ok if I hang the image of "a blog post on less wrong" on my wall? It speaks to my artistic sensibility.

5Dave Orr10mo
Fine with me! Open AI's guidelines say no commercial use, but this sounds personal and awesome.

It makes me wonder what 22 bucks in a glass of COVID look like. It also matches pretty well with my experience with dreams, where written words and letters are always fake even though I "know" what they stand for.

More importantly, what does it produce when you ask it to draw the future (maybe in the style of the 70s)?

Okay, seriously, this is a great way to explore how "common sense" differs between humans and this AI and highlight the risks, visually and viscerally, of relying on a technology that is fundamentally alien to humanity. Images are innocuous, but what happens when you apply AI to other objectives?

[22 bucks in a glass of covid] gets back an error message that the request violated guidelines.

 

[the future in the style of the 70's] is probably too vague to end up being awesome, but trying it... guess I can't put it in a comment. I'll add a request section to the post.

3methree10mo
Is it ok if I hang the image of "a blog post on less wrong" on my wall? It speaks to my artistic sensibility.

That is a very interesting proposal indeed, a search engine that doesn't return links to existing pages but instead generates them on the fly based on the query and the knowledge it has, like an aunt who just must have an answer to everything, even if it's made up, would be a lot more entertaining and possibly even more useful than existing ones. It would no longer be a search engine, but an answering machine, which certainly fits Google's goal of making knowledge find-able.

Ok, that's not what you meant, but I think it has potential.

1NicholasKross10mo
I've considered how this could be used to e.g. teach difficult concepts like in math. Collate the best info from different sources, then a reader sees the same idea explained 20 different ways = the reader gets it.
5David Gross10mo
That's pretty much exactly what I meant.

It is being done, search for inactivated vaccines in https://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker . I seem to recall there's a tiny, tiny, tiny chance of some viruses not being inactive, so I don't see an advantage. Also, all the adverse reactions of an mRNA vaccine seem to be related to the configuration of the spike protein they produce because it is very similar to the virus' spike protein, and an inactivated virus vaccine has the actual spike protein, so no gain there either. It is an alternative, though.

Also, th... (read more)

4DanArmak1y
A potential advantage of inactivated virus vaccine is that it can raise antibodies for all viral proteins and not just a subunit of the spike protein, which would make it harder for future strains to evade the immunity. I think this is also the model implicitly behind this claim [https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415v1] that natural immunity (from being infected with the real virus) is stronger than the immunity gained from subunit (eg mRNA) vaccines. (I make no claim that that study is reliable, and just on priors it probably should be ignored.)

I finally got around to fixing the diagrams. It wasn't an iPad-specific problem, just the way diagrams are "pasted" into the editor when copied directly from PlantUML... apparently, it's not the image that gets pasted, but the URL to a diagram rendered server-side which has a limited lifetime.

Just a note that this has a very anthropocentric perspective about utility. Humans do not live in isolation, however, and our numbers and behaviours affect the rest of the "system" (essentially, all other macroscopic life forms and plenty of microscopic ones). Taking a step back, human happiness may not be a good indicator, at all, of total utility to the system. There is probably a number of humans that just about maximises total utility and going beyond it only hurts the whole.

1David Hugh-Jones1y
Yup, definitely true that I haven't considered the effect on non-humans. I think you'd have to be very pessimistic to say that agriculture was a mistake from this perspective. That might be true (1) if agriculture involved so much animal suffering that it outweighed the human good involved. Or (2) if from agriculture on, humans were set on a path that inevitably led to the destruction of life on earth, e.g. by runaway global warming or nuclear war. I think (1) might be true of modern factory farming, but is less likely true of traditional farming. (2) is as yet unknown, but I hope that it will not be so.

I'm not sure everyone thinks death is bad. I mean, it's been a "feature" of being human since before there were humans and it has worked quite well so far to have a process of death. Messing with a working system is always a dangerous proposition, so I, personally, wonder if it is wise to remove that feature. Therefore, I do nothing about it (maybe I should be more active in opposition? I don't know).

Dangerous proposition in what sense? Someone may die? Everyone may die? I have, um, not very good news for you...

6[anonymous]1y
I can think of 100 billion reasons death is bad. I struggle to come up with a single reason why it is good that my grandma was forced to die. Are you sure you are not subject to motivated reasoning here?

The whole point of using a model is to explain and predict without the sometimes prohibitive costs of not modelling, but it comes at the price of losing "resolution of reality". That loss is what leads to uncertainty. Understanding enough about the immune system to know how current vaccines operate in the body and how risks add up differently in different bodies (ecosystems, really) could take several generations of dedicated research... we've collectively been at it since before Pasteur, keep making amazing discoveries, and still can't provide really good answers. So I feel you will only get half-baked guesses in this forum and slightly better ones if you ask COVID experts.

It is great for holding discussions when there are more people involved in a decision. 

As for the calculation, can you help me spot the mistake? I can't find it!

1Thomas Sepulchre1y
You have to replace the right term599.976by599.9976. This makes the sum equal to 600.000079976, or600.00if you keep only two digits after the decimal point. Still pretty close to 600 though :)

I read studies (seriously, it's super time-consuming!) and consider the best evidence available. Because of the lag introduced by studies, sometimes hearsay is enough to put in a guesstimate. It's interesting to play around with the values, however, and see what magnitude change in a single one would lead to a change in the ultimate decision. Sometimes you find out it doesn't make a difference, and more precise information would be irrelevant, so you can move on.

It's hard, and I find that I need to update my models every now and then. Practice makes better.

You can reduce the risk of cavities. X-ray technology was invented in Germany, where I live, and they have had a history of regulating its use. I have my teeth checked twice a year and have never been asked to get an x-ray. This is in contrast to my experiences growing up in the American continent, where, despite all the x-rays, I developed a lot of cavities. Using an electric toothbrush, buying toothpaste with a small amount of fluoride and flossing twice a day have been effective for me in drastically reducing the risk of cavities and obviating the need ... (read more)

1Joachim Bartosik1y
I too want to say that my dentist never even suggested getting an x-ray during a routine check up. I’ve had a dental x-ray once but it was when looking into a specific problem. I didn’t have any cavities in years. Back when I had cavities dentist found them by looking at my teeth no x-ray needed.
1[comment deleted]1y
2Kaj_Sotala1y
I also came here to say that I've never had a dentist even suggest an x-ray in the course of a routine checkup (living in Finland). The only time I recall having had one taken was when I had an issue of grinding my teeth while sleeping, and they did some extra investigation.

He provides circumstantial evidence that this pandemic was the result of the research. His purpose, however, doesn't seem to be the assignment of blame on political grounds but making sure that a very possible origin of the virus is not dismissed as a conspiracy theory, rendering prevention measures suboptimal in the future.

A physics professor at the university of Hamburg, in Germany, spent over a year putting together research papers and publications from labs dedicated to that kind of research, like the one in Wuhan, and published significant bits of them along with commentary to instigate public discussion about Covid and the need -- or lack thereof -- of research related to making viruses more dangerous. He asks a great point: even in the best case, the research done so far on Coronaviruses from bats, manipulated to be more dangerous in a lab, has not helped us prevent a ... (read more)

3methree2y
He provides circumstantial evidence that this pandemic was the result of the research. His purpose, however, doesn't seem to be the assignment of blame on political grounds but making sure that a very possible origin of the virus is not dismissed as a conspiracy theory, rendering prevention measures suboptimal in the future.

Usonian = from the USA, which doesn't offend the sensibilities of the rest of the countries in the continent of America

This video on how Usonian CIA operatives disguise themselves claims a simple piece of gravel in your shoe will change how you walk completely: https://youtu.be/JASUsVY5YJ8

2ChristianKl2y
It will change some patterns of how you walk. Likely, those visible to most people. There are other things that it likely won't change. If you for example take the gait pattern of police officers to hold their hands more laterally then the average person which comes from walking around a lot with a gun on your belt I would be surprised if that pattern simply disappears when you put a gravel in someone's shoe. I'm uncertain to what extend a gravel in someone's shoe would affect my recognition if the gravel is just there for the interaction and not walking around a month with the gravel. The gravel changes muscle activiation but it doesn't do anything to change the fascia patterns in a short amount of time. It's worth noting that gait patterns are more central to me perception of other people then most people. One example for that was a workshop at a dance festival where the dance instructor was demostrating how he changed the way he was doing a dance step and then asked what he changed. I was able to pick it up, but it seems like I was the first person to do so and the dance instructor asked whether I have been at the workshop before (he did the same workshop at many different festivals). One interesting aspect of the video is the claim that while women can manage to pass as men, men can't manage to pass as women. From what I know about transpeople, there are transpeople who manage to present as the opposite sex in both directions. It might take more work for a male to present as female but it's possible.
1methree2y
Usonian = from the USA, which doesn't offend the sensibilities of the rest of the countries in the continent of America

I agree with the majority of what you speculate about concerning the effects of an ad-oriented internet, although I keep seeing very good science and engineering content produced exclusively for the web and paid for through a mix of advertising and some form of sales (merchandise, the right to access early content, etc.).

The Mozilla Foundation publishes excellent articles on privacy on the web in their newsletter and then actually takes action, as does the Electronic Frontier Foundation; those would be good groups to contribute to if you want to support ac... (read more)

This site attempts to provide a forecast for 130 countries, India included, and provides information on both sources and methodology. The data appears to be refreshed regularly, so it isn't stale. https://covid19.healthdata.org/india?view=total-deaths&tab=trend Maybe it will be of help to you.

1digital_carver2y
The policy briefing file [http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/Projects/COVID/2021/163_briefing_India_8.pdf] is pretty useful, a useful summary and then a bunch of neat graphs. (I've been jealous of Zvi's posts on Covid-19 in the US for quite some while, and this is probably the closest we'll get for India.) They also include comparison with other model projections from different groups at the end, which gives some other possible projections to look at.

Indeed, since each body is a different ecosystem and each body exists inside larger, distinct ecosystems, you'll have to decide what your objective about health is and be satisfied with "good enough" and letting your body do its thing.

To illustrate the complications, people who descend from groups adapted to particular regions and who have now migrated or been forcibly relocated to others may have different dietary needs than the adapted, local groups. For example: someone living away from the equator traditionally consumed a lot more fish and milk derivat... (read more)

There is a Dr. Greger whose speech I can't stand but from whose books and online videos I have learned a lot (search for nutritionfacts and How Not To Die. Also, there are many, free online courses on health topics like the microbiome, epigenetics, diseases, nutrition, etc. that you can take through the years as they keep getting updated with the latest learnings (currently in vogue is the role of the microbiota in the gut, for example, so every few months new information is made available). What I've learned is that the human body is incredibly resilient ... (read more)

3ChristianKl2y
Somehow that phrasing triggers my alarm bells. There are plenty of people from which you can learn enough. The important criteria rather seems to be whether the source is trustworthy.

There is a Dr. Greger whose speech I can't stand but from whose books and online videos I have learned a lot (search for nutritionfacts and How Not To Die. Also, there are many, free online courses on health topics like the microbiome, epigenetics, diseases, nutrition, etc. that you can take through the years as they keep getting updated with the latest learnings (currently in vogue is the role of the microbiota in the gut, for example, so every few months new information is made available). What I've learned is that the human body is incredibly resilient ... (read more)

I would much rather rinse a mobile phone regularly if it is water-proof (an increasing number is!) than use copper tape, although I would not use soap on the screen, to preserve its oleophobic properties; alternatively, if I were in a very susceptible group or if the virus were much more dangerous to me, I would find it more effective to put the phone in a plastic bag and either exchange it often or wash it as often as my own hands.

The thought process here is that copper tape cannot be applied to screens, which can end up very close to faces, but washing with soap is effective.

5benwr3y
It is possible to both rinse your phone and put copper tape on it.

Just curious, how much would you be willing to pay for a mail-based, yearly subscription to a service that takes care of the more onerous things you mentioned: planning, logistics, rotation; one that ensures you always have a one-week supply of essentials available (something to eat, medical, charger, etc) and manages their disposal (reuse and recycle) and refreshing on a regular basis?

I'm sure it's not necessary to have entire populations be prepared as long as enough individuals can help the rest (like the example of a neighbor with a pool), so I'm wondering how low the barrier for preparation needs to be to reach that amount of people, in monetary terms.

2jefftk3y
Water doesn't make much sense to do by mail, since a full water container is so much heavier and more hassle than an empty one. Food that you buy and keep until it expires and needs to be thrown away is much more expensive than food you rotate through, and is less useful in cases where you forget to go to the store and want some extras of things. It also doesn't let you buffer occasional trips to cheap stores or buffer buying things on sale. Medicines are tricky legally (I want to write a follow-up about this) and are different person to person. I'm not seeing much of a market here?