The LessWrong 2018 Book is Available for Pre-order

Other timeless but year-of-publication restricted anthologies like "Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror" and  "Year's Best Science Writing"  have either "Nth annual" or [year the entries were published] prominently on the title.  This is an established convention. The problems of "what the hell book did I read that in?", "Finding the books on Amazon" and "Have I read this already? Who's to say." seem much bigger to me than a fraction of the audience that hasn't picked up that convention AND will be blocked from reading by it.

Prize: Interesting Examples of Evaluations

Have moved to comments. Thank you both for the feedback.

Why are young, healthy people eager to take the Covid-19 vaccine?

My risk model treats all the available vaccines as "drug that was developed under political and financial pressure and whose trials ended much sooner than is normally the case".


I think we can do better than that, even in the current information climate. Drugs can be almost anything and have almost any goal. Vaccines are a pretty narrow class of treatment that are attempting to do one thing- give you an immune memory that will trigger if infected by a disease. They do that by exposing you to some part of the disease. The natural cap of badness of that attempt is giving you the disease itself- anything more needs an explanation.

Some examples off the top of my head where a vaccine caused effects you wouldn't get from the disease itself (not all of which rendered the vaccine net negative):

  1. certain adjuvants encouraged cancer (e.g. some pet vaccine)
  2. the vaccine triggered an immune overreaction that left people worse off if actually infected (there was an STD vaccine that did this, and I believe SARS-1)
  3. Allergy to something else in the vaccine (e.g. eggs in the flu vaccine).

Of these, we'd expect #3 to show up nigh immediately upon immunization, and is not dependent on how many people were exposed to actual covid, so we have a fairly large sample size.  I vaguely recollect that where #2 was a factor, it was pretty universally true, not a rare reaction- so the sample size is probably large enough for that too. 

This is complicated by the fact that at least one of the covid vaccines is using an entirely new mechanism. This could leave us vulnerable to certain problems like the adjuvants, that take a long time and large sample size to catch. 

Certainly some people are very sensitive and medically excused from vaccines- but those people are pretty screwed if they catch the actual disease too. The only reason not getting the vaccine is viable for them is herd immunity.

I'm not an expert and I haven't looked into this very long. But there are mechanistic models that can help us predict the risk here, and I think it's a mistake to use the entire collection of FDA-monitored treatments as a reference class.

Final Babble Challenge (for now): 100 ways to light a candle

Eli was in fact checking in while I babbled, in retrospect he was putting out feelers for redirection but I was so happy with how generative I was being I wasn't that responsive, and I think he was reluctant to push back because what if strict separation of babble and prune was the best process? It also might not have been obvious how much transformation my babbled ideas needed to be usable until we did the next step.

Final Babble Challenge (for now): 100 ways to light a candle

Follow up: @elityre asked to discuss doublecrux ideas and I spent a little more than an hour spewing forth topics. There were 74 in the first 30 minutes and its slowed down from there. I don't think I would have done that nearly as easily without the babble challenges.

It turns out these were answers to the slightly wrong question, so we had to do a prune pass. I'm not sure if it would have been better to clarify first, or if the absolute babble freedom ended up  leading to better post-pruning ideas.

Why are young, healthy people eager to take the Covid-19 vaccine?

What's the model under which the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus it's based on? That's not unknown, but it would be quite weird.

The (Unofficial) Less Wrong Comment Challenge

I wonder what could be done to make commenting more rewarding for people.

My understanding is that flushable is not a legally protected term, and many things labeled flushable will clog your pipes or the sewage system. Any thoughts on this?

Using false but instrumentally rational beliefs for your career?

I can't say it's impossible, but you would have to constantly go back and forth whenever you got new information, while hiding from yourself that you were doing so, and at a certain point it becomes psychologically easier to work hard despite a lack of guaranteed success.

Using false but instrumentally rational beliefs for your career?

I agree the post strongly frames things as for potential winners who aren't considering other options, but I think that's a mistake for this exact reason. Even if a set that benefits from self-deceit exists, you can't know if you're in it while you're self-deceiving.

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