ESRogs's Shortform

Good year for this portfolio. Any new tips? :P

Bet On Biden

There are three arguments (1) polls underestimating Dems in Southern states, and (2) benchmarking against 2018 senate, and (3) some low-quality Tweets.

It's weird to hold a lot of stock in (2), given noise from candidate selection and other variables.

If you place a lot of weight on (1), the actually sane bet would be Biden in AZ. It's rated 2nd and 4th most likely to go dem by Cohn and Wasserman respectively.

Biden for AZ: 77% likely (Economist), priced at 54% on Election Betting Odds.

Bet On Biden

The Texas bet (TX) seems EV neutral to me, and clearly far worse than the nationwide electoral college (EC) bet.

Biden for EC: 95% likely (The Economist model), priced at 62%

Biden for TX: 26% likely (The Economist), priced at 29%

The two Twitter feeds are full of a lot of shitposting, and don't update me much.

The bads of ads

It bears noting that ads can do good - they can spread important messages. They can encourage people to make purchases that they actually benefit from. And they can help especially with launching new projects that people aren't yet aware of. 

So ideally the advertiser would pay a price for inflicting these negatives, so that we would get the benefits with fewer of the costs.

The rationalist community's location problem

The same is basically true for any niche interest - it will only be fulfilled where there's adequate population to justify it. In my case, particular jazz music.

Probably a lot of people have different niche interests like that, even if they can't agree on one.

Why Boston?

He is even more effusive in his essay "cities and ambition" (which incidentally is quite relevant for figuring where rationalists should want to live):

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder. The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer. What I like about Boston (or rather Cambridge) is that the message there is: you should be smarter. You really should get around to reading all those books you've been meaning to.


As of this writing, Cambridge seems to be the intellectual capital of the world. I realize that seems a preposterous claim. What makes it true is that it's more preposterous to claim about anywhere else. American universities currently seem to be the best, judging from the flow of ambitious students. And what US city has a stronger claim? New York? A fair number of smart people, but diluted by a much larger number of neanderthals in suits. The Bay Area has a lot of smart people too, but again, diluted; there are two great universities, but they're far apart. Harvard and MIT are practically adjacent by West Coast standards, and they're surrounded by about 20 other colleges and universities. [1] Cambridge as a result feels like a town whose main industry is ideas, while New York's is finance and Silicon Valley's is startups.


When I moved to New York, I was very excited at first. It's an exciting place. So it took me quite a while to realize I just wasn't like the people there. I kept searching for the Cambridge of New York. It turned out it was way, way uptown: an hour uptown by air.

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: A summary

Given that the policies are never going to be reverted, maybe better questions would be: which of the policies were the ones that mattered, are any of them political feasible, and if none of them are feasible in the US, then where?

Open & Welcome Thread - September 2020

I guess it's because high-conviction ideologies outperform low-conviction ones, including nationalistic and political ideologies, and religions. Dennett's Gold Army/Silver Army analogy explains how conviction can build loyatly and strength, but a similar thing is probably true for movement-builders. Also, conviction might make adherents feel better, and therefore simply be more attractive.

Comparing reward learning/reward tampering formalisms

It would be nice to draw out this distinction in more detail. One guess:

  • Uninfluencability seems similar to requiring zero individual treatment effect of D on R.
  • Riggability (from the paper) would then correspond to zero average treatment effect of D on R
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