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NYC Rationalist Community

Since this very old post shows up prominently in the search results for New York rationality meetups, it’s worth clarifying that these are still going strong as of 2022! The google group linked in this post is still active and serves as the primary source of meetup announcements; good faith requests to join are generally approved.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Fabricated Options

Of course the utility lost by missing a flight is vastly greater than that of waiting however long you’d have needed to to make it. But it’s a question of expected utilities - if you’re currently so cautious that you could take 1000 flights and never miss one, you’re arriving early enough to get a 99.9% chance of catching the flight. If showing up 2 minutes later lowers that to 99.8%, you’re not trading 2 minutes per missed flight, you’re trading 2000 minutes per missed flight, which seems worth it.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Fabricated Options

Does “stamp out COVID” mean success for a few months, or epsilon cases until now? The latter seems super hard, and I think every nation that’s managed it has advantages over the US besides competence (great natural borders or draconian law enforcement).

New York City, NY – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021

Update: by 7:30 the meetup was maybe at 30% of peak attendance, at 8PM or so it migrated to another park because the first one closed, and the latest meetup interactions I know of went until around 12:40AM.

New York City, NY – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021

I think people typically hang out for as long as they want, and the size of the group gradually dwindles. There's no official termination point - I'd be a little surprised if more than half of people were left by 7:30, but I'd also be surprised if at least some meetup attendees weren't still interacting by 10PM or later. 

Why I Work on Ads

A path ads could take that seems like it would both be more ethical and more profitable, yet I don't see happening: actually get direct consumer feedback!

I like the concept of targeted ads showing me things I enjoy and am interested in, but empirically, they're not very good at it! Maybe it's because I use an adblocker most of the time, but even on my phone, ads are reliably uninteresting to me, and I think the fraction that I click on or update positively towards the company from must be far below 1%.* So why don't advertisers have an option for me to say "this ad is unappealing to me and I will never click on it, please show me ads related to the following keywords"?  This seems like useful information which many customers will be happy to provide, and should improve everyone's utility. What's stopping things?

Even if the returns from this kind of strategy were uncertain, or only worked on a few people, it still seems like it'd be worth trying, given that advertisers must know by now that I never click on the things - it's not like I can make them any less money if they screw it up. 

I don't know if this relates to the ethics of working on advertising in its current state, but it's something that would ameliorate most of my ethical concerns with ads, and which I would expect to be a net benefit to all involved. Does anyone working in advertising know why this isn't standard?

*In fact, the only times I can recall having clicked on ads are from Twitter, where I do have a limited ability to veto bad ads (by blocking the relevant account) - after a few thousand blocks of the most popular companies, I finally got to some things I found interesting and useful (but which Twitter would never have shown me normally).

Why are people so bad at dating?

You could pick many plausible metrics (number of matches, number of replies to messages, number of dates, number of longterm relationships) but it seems unlikely that any of them aren't impacted positively for most people in the online dating market by having better photos. Do you have reason to think that two reasonable metrics of success would affect the questions raised in this post differently?