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Omicron Variant Post #2

There are now enough cases in Europe to get a faint idea of local transmission dynamics. Of the 11 known cases so far in Germany, only one has transmitted the virus. Israel has 4 cases, with one local transmission attributable to them. Portugal has 13 cases, with 12 of those being local transmission all attributable to the same index case.

If we can collect similar information from other countries, we could get reasonable estimates of R_eff.

Source for Germany: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/d/1BA2GoeVMhC_dCcnl5qtR-fxpCwVH6xu8T3LxHUss1Gw/htmlview

Visible Thoughts Project and Bounty Announcement

This looks exciting! I wonder about the proposed training setup: If one model produces the thoughts, and another one takes those as input to the prompts, are we actually learning anything about the internal state of either model? What is the advantage (beyond scalability) of this training setup vs just using the second model to produce continuations conditional on thoughts? 

Paxlovid Remains Illegal: 11/24 Update

For an unreasonable narrow interpretation that only counts those for whom the medicine was already sitting in a warehouse waiting for approval, and treat that shortage as a ‘whoops, making things is hard and takes time’ rather than a directly caused effect, the FDA is going to directly murder about 20,000 people in the United States. 


I disagree with this, in that my lowest count on FDA related deaths is approximately zero, or less than 100, for the exact reason that Gurkenglas mentioned below. The post already recognizes that there is a manufacturing bottleneck, so if we assume that the FDA approval process has not caused the bottleneck, the 180 000 pills available by the end of the year will be given out later, with an admittedly non zero loss of efficiency. 

Why should we assume that the FDA approval has not caused that bottleneck? Because we should assume that if a prediction market knows the drug is getting approval, Pfizer knows it as well, and will manufacture as quickly as possible once they know the efficacy numbers. Sells of the drug will  be supply, and not demand constrained, even through 2022. 50 million doses (the projected capacity for 2022) is not enough to cover the developed world. 

Weak evidence: Molnupiravir was approved in the UK earlier this month, but is still not available. I am not certain whether that is entirely due UK's decision to further test it in a trial for vaccinated people (which indeed will cost many lives). 

Caveats: I am not saying that the FDA would act differently if there was no manufacturing bottleneck, just that in this case the slow FDA decision is much smaller.    

Pfizer might also have some uncertainty because they do not know whether the FDA will approve the use of the drug for vaccinated people, which indeed might reduce upfront investment. But that is not directly related to the delay of the approval in itself.

Covid 11/18: Paxlovid Remains Illegal

Seems like Austria quickly acquiesced to your viewpoint, today they announced mandatory vaccination starting February, and in the meantime a lockdown for everybody. Personally, I would be fairly disappointed in their legal system if mandatory vaccination is allowed to stand, as the more sensible solution (mandatory vaccination and boosters for 65+ like France) would do the trick as well.    


I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should)

Yes, absolutely. But that is not my definition, just the one that (as I understand it) DiAngelo gives.

I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should)

I would argue that DiAngelo's and the progressive left definition of racism is not congruent and contradictory. On the one hand, it is defined by consequences alone : "Beliefs and actions are racist if they lead to minorities continued  disadvantage compared to Whites." Regardless of the connotation and baggage of the word, this is a useful concept.

 However, this also means that pretty much everything you do is racist if you actually follow the definition: You do not want to attend a diversity seminar, forget about race and just do your work? By not addressing racist structures, you are enforcing them, and that is therefore racist. You merely want to read a fantasy novel before going to bed? Well, that keeps society the way it is, and therefore contributes to racism. Sounds extreme, but I contend that this is the logical consequence of that definition. And as an aside, a white CEO publicly using the n-word, and thereby being fired and replaced by a person of color, would not be racist by that definition.  

Online LessWrong Community Weekend

Hey, we sent out our first batch of responses on Friday, could you kindly check your spam folder? 

Online LessWrong Community Weekend

Hey, we sent out our first batch of responses on Friday, could you kindly check your spam folder? 

A Response to A Contamination Theory of the Obesity Epidemic

Obesity rates in China are rapidly rising, I doubt that there is a strong corresponding increase in soybean oil.

A Contamination Theory of the Obesity Epidemic

Note that Korea and Japan have very low obesity rates (around 2-3%), despite being highly developed and having widespread availability of hyper-palatable food. Definitely worth to check whether some chemicals are more present literally everywhere else  than in those two countries. 

Contra the obvious genetic hypothesis,  genetically similar China and Taiwan have very high rates of obesity.  I don't know whether Koreans and Japanese might be genetically closer to each other than to Han Chinese. 

Given the Confucian influence on the culture of Korea and Japan, maybe it is peer pressure that keeps people from becoming overweight? Plausible, so it might be worth to look into the case of hikkikomoris, which is the Japanese phenomenon of  refusing to leave your room/apartment  for months or years while being supported (usually) by your parents. As such, they are likely not actively managing their weight. They are obviously a hard group to survey, but these studies looked into characteristics of hikkikomori and neither mentioned overweight,  so that is a point for cultural or genetic reasons.

However, your linked paper says that Japanese that move to America do tend to gain weight, so it cannot all just be genetics. 

I wonder whether Asian kids adopted by non-Asian parents are more often overweight than kids raised by Asian parents.

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