Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021

I'm planning to post a few essays on LW soon, on my experiences with topics like productivity systems, inner resistance, akrasia etc.

Do you have any tips for posting your first essay to the site, e.g. re: style, or re: obvious things to do or to avoid, in order to get a better reception and maybe some comments?

Currently I'm planning to at least reread the SSC essay on Nonfiction Writing Advice.

Open and Welcome Thread - May 2021

I think I've found another small Less Wrong bug:

  • I wanted to tag this post with the "Health" tag, but while tagging it with any other tag was possible, trying to use this tag bugged out, i.e. the action timed out or something, and the tag wasn't applied.
  • The "Health" tag is not listed on the Concepts Portal tag page.
  • Using Less Wrong's search functionality to search for Health shows this:
  • And that Health link leads to this page (the URL contains a "health-1" for some reason), which causes a 404 error.

In conclusion, some parts of the website think the Health tag exists, and other parts think it doesn't exist.

Covid 5/27: The Final Countdown

I've been recommending the Rootclaim article on the Covid origin question for a while as an example of Bayesian reasoning (with likelihood ratios, priors and posteriors, etc.) that features reasoning so transparent that it seems valuable irrespective of whether it's correct or not. That is, if your priors on the various Covid origin hypotheses differ, or your interpretation of various pieces of evidence differs, then your conclusions will also differ, but at least you could argue fruitfully with the authors of the piece.

Industrial literacy

There's a whole popular genre of stories about someone from our world being transported to another (isekai), and a subset of those stories involves kickstarting (parts of) an industrial civilization via mostly just your own knowledge. Examples include the manga Dr. Stone and the Chinese webnovel Release That Witch. Throne of Magical Arcana does the same with scientific knowledge, in a world where the power to cast magic spells derives from understanding the world. And more broadly, there are tons of stories with the same theme that focus on one smaller body of knowledge, like agriculture or medicine.

There is no No Evidence

I've gotten pretty exasperated by the "there is no evidence" issue in public health communication in the last year or so, and hence appreciate this post.

Side note: There's a screenshot of a twitter conversation in this post, which doesn't load on, but does load when I copy the screenshot's URL into a new window.

What will 2040 probably look like assuming no singularity?

I understand that Malaria resists attempts at vaccination, but regarding your 80% prediction by 2040, did you see the news that a Malaria vaccine candidate did reach 77% effectiveness in phase II trials just last month? Quote: "It is the first vaccine that meets the World Health Organization's goal of a malaria vaccine with at least 75% efficacy."

Open and Welcome Thread - May 2021

LW Front Page: Is the following intentional behavior, i.e. seeing the same essay twice in the Latest list because it's been curated?

MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion

FYI, your post seems to be full of missing pictures; all the missing pictures seem to point to Gmail, so presumably they didn't survive being copy & pasted from an email conversation. (If the post isn't missing pictures for you, I recommend logging out of google and refreshing the comment, or looking at the comment from an incognito / private browser tab.)

Better air is the easiest way not to die

To add some value to this linkpost, here are my notes from reading this long article:

  • It's an article on an anonymous blog in 2020. The author does cite their research, though, so you can draw your own conclusions.
  • The section "What I recommend" lists ten lifestyle recommendations (many of which are quite unintuitive) to reduce the effect of bad air quality on your life expectancy.
  • Every item in the initial table comparing lifestyle / single event to life cost due to bad air quality is explained and accompanied with citations. Specifically, here's how the article quantifies harm by PM 2.5 particles in the air (the math is based on two big papers, but I couldn't tell whether the interpretation or implication were plausible):

A heuristic to quantify harms

How much do particles hurt you? While it’s hard to be precise, this section will give two simple heuristics:

  • A life-long exposure of 33.3 PM2.5 costs 1 DALY. This is best for lifestyle changes. For example, moving from somewhere with no particulates to somewhere with a level of 100 costs 3 DALY.
  • At 2500 PM2.5, you lose disability-adjusted life in real time. This is best for one-off events. For example, if you’re exposed to a level of 5000 for 3 hours, you lose 6 disability-adjusted life hours.
  • In any case, you can disregard this specific heuristic and just act based on the article's specifics:
    • Air quality in trains and underground stations is apparently *extremely bad*. The numbers are truly ridiculous.
    • Ultrasonic humidifiers and incense are also really bad.
    • Candles emit most of their particulates when extinguished, so if you must use candles regularly, extinguish them with a lid.
    • Cooking emits lots of particulates, so opening a window or using a kitchen range hood helps a ton.
    • and more; see the section "What I recommend" at the top of the article, with elaboration and caveats at the bottom.
Don't Sell Your Soul

I had heard about the poisoning explanation before, and was amused to find that it constitutes a relevant part of the wikipedia article on haunted houses.

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