All of MichaelDickens's Comments + Replies

What's going on with /r/AskHistorians?

AFAIK, /r/AskHistorians is the best place to hear from actual historians about historical topics. But I've noticed some trends that make it seem like the historians there generally share some bias or agenda, but I can't exactly tell what that agenda is.

The most obvious thing I noticed is from their FAQ on historians' views on other [popular] historians. I looked through these and in every single case, the /r/AskHistorians commenters dislike the pop historian. Surely at least one pop historian got it right?

I don't know ... (read more)

I am pretty uncertain about whether this change is good, and I don't think anyone can confidently say it is or isn't good. But no other forum with voting does this (AFAIK), so it's good to try it and see what happens.

Something to think about: What sorts of observations might constitute evidence in favor of or against this system?

3Ben Pace5mo
Something I'm hoping to see (and would constitute positive evidence for me) would be seeing a comment with a high/low agree score, and someone responding along the lines of "Huh, seems like lots of people agree/disagree with this comment, which seems wrong to me, let me flesh out a counterargument here" and that post leading to many users changing their minds, and future comments about that point getting a v different agree/disagree score.

I agree. OP is saying people should be more willing to make low-confidence predictions, whereas the type of rambling that people do too much of is information-sparse (taking too many words to say something simple). More rambling about meaningful but low-confidence claims, and less meaningless/redundant rambling.

IMO, articles should include TLDRs, but shouldn't just be TLDRs. You have a short, high-context, high-trust summary. Then you write a longer article for people who don't have all the necessary background to understand your summary, or don't immediately trust that your summary is correct.

As a silly example, if you did an experiment to determine the acceleration due to gravity, your TLDR could simply be, "The acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 m/s^2." And for many readers, that's all they need to know. But you should definitely also explain your methodology and present the data from your experiment.

I thought it was obviously fiction, but I didn't know that it was set in Dath Ilan, and the fact that it's set in Dath Ilan would give away that the red hair thing is fake.

You see this sort of thing with acquisitions. Say company A is currently priced at $100, and company B announces that it's acquiring A for $200 per share. A will jump up to something like $170 per share, and then slowly increase to $200 on the acquisition date. The $30 gap is there because there's some probability that the acquisition will fall through, and that probability decreases over time (unless it actually does fall through, in which case the price drops back down to ~$100).

I get motion sickness easily, but I don't often suffer from nausea because I avoid doing things that make me motion sick (e.g., reading in the car). If I took anti-nausea pills, I could do those things more.

I "know" that nausea can be handled with a pill, but it had never occurred to me to carry around a couple anti-nausea pills.

1Alex Vermillion8mo
How often do you suffer from nausea? I'll admit to the fact that I carry around none of these because I never need them (except for the fact that I keep a bottle of melatonin on my bed).

[P]eople don’t know whether they dream in colour. Dreams may not even have associated colours one way or the other! Indeed, when I asked a few friends and family whether they dreamed in colour, a surprising number of them answered “I don’t know”.

I don't know much about the science of dreams, but I suspect that the answer may be that many dreams activate rods but not cones (or, at least, activate the parts of the brain that receive signals from rods). When it's dark, and my cones are not receiving enough light to function, I wouldn't describe the world I... (read more)

I have a question about COVID spread. Based on what I know of the numbers, the rate of spread + immunity doesn't add up, but my numbers could be wrong.

It seems to me that one of two things must be true:

Before the vaccine launched, r0 was greater than 1, but still low enough that most people didn't catch it. Then, after ~50% of people in the developed world got the vaccine (and ~20% of people had already gotten COVID), r0 was low enough that COVID died out in the developed world within a few months. After the vaccine launched and most people got it, r0 was ... (read more)

10 million dollars will probably have very small impact on Terry Tao's decision to work on the problem.

That might be true for him specifically, but I'm sure there are plenty of world-class researchers who would find $10 million (or even $1 million) highly motivating.

4Tomás B.1y
I'm probably too dumb to have an opinion of this matter, but the belief that all super-genius mathematicians care zero about being fabulously wealthy strikes me as unlikely.

When people sneeze, do they expel more fluid from their mouth than from their nose?

I saw this video (warning: slow-mo video of a sneeze. kind of gross) and it looks like almost all the fluid is coming out of the person's mouth, not their nose. Is that typical?

(Meta: Wasn't sure where to ask this question, but I figured someone on LessWrong would know the answer.)

This could be tested by a) inducing sneezing (although induction methods might produce an unusual sneeze, which works differently). and b) using an intervention of some kind. Inducing sneezing isn't hard, but can be extremely unpleasant, depending on the method. However, if you're going to sneeze anyway...

The high-level explanation I'd give for this is that smart people make better decisions in general, and certain classes of bad decisions are also illegal. So perhaps the reason smart people follow rules more isn't that they're more inherently rule-abiding, but that they behave in more reasonable ways, and rules tend to be reasonable (obviously not always, but they're more reasonable than if they were assigned at random).

Intelligent people tend to be more rule abiding in general

As an aside, do you have a source for this? A quick search didn't turn up anything useful.

My intuition would be the opposite: if people are acting meta-rationally, then less intelligent people should be more rule-abiding because they know they're not smart enough to figure out when exceptions are worth it. But I don't have anything to back that up.

Stupider people get arrested more often for committing violent crimes. On the other hand, smarter people may commit more nonviolent crime and definitely get caught less frequently. ¯\(ツ)/¯ Perhaps we have different reference classes for "less intelligent people". When I think "less intelligent people" I think about this man who bought beer while carrying an alligator [].

My attempt to answer my own question:

The preference to get/not get a refund is a derived preference. My true preferences are to both owe and pay as little tax as possible. If I am in a situation where I can change how much tax I pay, but not how much I owe (by setting my withholding), then by maximizing my preferences I happen to minimize my refund. And if I can change how much I owe (e.g., by taking different deductions), but not how much I pay, then by maximizing my preferences I happen to maximize my refund.

I believe [this]( is what you are referring to. I have the same preference as you and I use Marcello's script.