PhD in math. MIRI Summer Fellow in 2016. Worked as a professor for a while, now I run my family's business.

Wiki Contributions


Which booster shot to get and when?

I have decided to get my booster of the Pfizer vaccine and am scheduled to get it on Monday, November 29, the soonest day that was acceptably convenient with regard to my concerns about side effects the next day.

Reasons for the decision were as follows. I'm fairly confident that I'm making the correct decision to get a booster very soon. I'm less confident as to whether I'm choosing the best booster, but I don't think that's likely to make a big difference.


Decision to get a booster very soon

The new Omicron variant increases my risk from covid over the time frame of the next few months. I want my booster to have a substantial effect before Omicron becomes highly prevalent in the US. This was my main motivation to act very soon. I had been tentatively planning to get a booster within the next week, but may have put it off for longer before learning about Omicron.

I learned about original antigenic sin, which makes the concerns about waiting for a vaccine specific to new variants less relevant.

The CDC reported yesterday that covid boosters have less side effects than the second shot, which reduces the credence of the hypothesis of a lifetime limit on mRNA vaccines and also reduces my short-term concern about dealing with the side effects of the booster.

Decision as to which booster to get

Since I now want to get a booster very soon, the possibility of traveling to get a booster not available in the US is no longer appealing. And the risks of traveling are greater due to Omicron as well.

Convenience -- the first place where I went to book a booster (Walgreen's near my house) only allowed me to get a booster of Pfizer since my original vaccine was Pfizer. (In reality, this may have been the biggest reason.)

Getting a booster of the same vaccine as the original is the generally accepted establishment medical advice (based on Walgreen's requirement and also my doctor's advice).

The study referenced in this comment shows weak evidence that a Pfizer or Moderna booster after first two shots of Pfizer is more effective than a J&J booster. But Moderna might be the most effective of all.

Getting the same vaccine as I have already gotten in the past is dealing with something that's more of a known quantity to my body. It seems less likely that I would have unusual side effects with the same vaccine as compared with a new vaccine that I haven't tried yet.

Getting a booster of the same vaccine puts me in a more widely studied cohort, as noted here which might means I'll have more information relevant to my situation going forward than if I boosted with a different vaccine.

I have some thoughts that it might be better to get a J&J booster anyway since it is less likely to hit the lifetime maximum mRNA issue, or because it might do better in stimulating other areas of the immune system besides antibody production, but that is balanced out by the reasons above.

After a bit of research, I did not find any articles about a lifetime limit on mRNA vaccines. [Edit 1 -- found an article. See section But it's an expert opinion submitted in connection with a lawsuit] [Edit 2 and the authors are affiliated with an anti-covid-vaccination group so has a stronger likelihood of bias as compared with a journal article. So it is likely quite biased.]

Which booster shot to get and when?

Based on this argument. It's not especially strong but is enough to make me want to research further.

Covid 11/4: The After Times

I'd be interested to see a good estimate and analysis of this multiplier. In places and times when r>1 the multiplier would be quite large indeed, whereas if r<1 then the mutiplier would be more modest. Some sort of time analysis is needed as to how long r stays greater than 1. (r here is the average number of new people infected by a person with covid.)

Covid 11/4: The After Times

This is a bad analogy.  A DUI or speeding could be a one-time thing. Not getting vaccinated is a continuous decision. All you have to do to reverse it is make the right choice once (or twice if you get Moderna or Pfizer).

Also, drunk driving and speeding are not contagious.  A drunk driver can hurt or kill anybody they crash into, but that doesn't make those people go on to become drunk drivers as well.

How do you decide when to change N95/FFP-2 masks?

I use an antiviral N95 mask.

How well do you think this does against item (1)? And how would it affect your final recommendation?

Why are people so bad at dating?

I have used Photo Feeler. I think it may not actually be terribly helpful in improving dating outcomes. Photo Feeler might get more people to respond to your messages or message you. But that does not necessarily translate to increased success in dating, if the goal is to find somebody who makes for a good life partner. The good life partner would presumably be a good enough match that they would respond to you or message you regardless of whether you had good or bad photos, within reason. Using Photo Feeler was also kinda rough on me emotionally, getting all my photos judged like that. Not to say I wouldn't use it again, but still.

To answer the more general question, maybe dating is just an extremely hard problem because it doesn't have general solutions. Everybody is different and is looking for something different in a partner and has their own quirks and preferences. And there's no simple algorithm to match them up. That seems like kind of a cop out response to me, it seems like enough effort should be able to solve the problem. But it's my best guess.

My second guess is more cynical. The dating apps actually benefit from people failing at dating. Because once people succeed at finding a life partner, then, (assuming they're monogamous, which is still the dominant norm) they no longer need the dating apps. So for instance, maybe Match actively made OKCupid worse after they bought it, because it was too good at matching people and kept them from making as much money off the more lucrative Match.

Leaky Delegation: You are not a Commodity

How does take-out increase serving and cleanup costs? In my experience, take-out drastically reduces cleanup cost vs cooking. You don't need to clean the baking dish or pan, and those are often hard to clean, whereas plates can just be thrown in the dishwasher, or you can even eat out of the disposable container provided by the restaurant and not have to wash any plates.

Covid 5/20: The Great Unmasking

I don't understand why you feel children clearly shouldn't wear masks. They have a larger risk of spreading Covid than vaccinated adults. 

What weird beliefs do you have?

I  believe there is a nontrivial chance that plants experience consciouness. Like maybe 20% or so? I haven't thought about it carefully, and it would require a more operationalized definition of consciousness to assign a solid credence. I thought of this belief before reading the comments and was somewhat surprised to find another person espousing it.

What weird beliefs do you have?

I think Teerth's second statement is mathematically equivalent to their original statement (modulo strict versus non-strict inequality), and Richard's untangling is incorrect. 

Let A be the proposition that members of the Bush Administration had definite prior information of the events of 9/11 or played a role in it.  Let P(X) denote the credence in a proposition X. 

The original statement was as follows:

It is false that P() > 99%.

Equivalently, P( 99%

Equivalently, P(A) > 1%.

Almost equivalently, "there is at least a 1% chance of foreknowledge or involvement"

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