All of siclabomines's Comments + Replies

Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension

It's unlikely that these corporations would make the assumption that all future IP would also be "confiscated"

Do you have a good explanation to Moderna's market price drop?

Even if they made that assumption, what are they supposed to do? Stop investing in future developments, and slowly go out of business?

Borrow less, invest less, or, as you say in your last line, focus on other ways of making money that don't require innovation and IP?

3CellBioGuy1mo1 - it was tiny compared to recent changes 2 - the efficient market hypothesis is quite quite false.
8tkpwaeub1moNeither the Moderna nor the Pfizer stocks dropped very dramatically - both had solid upward trends throughout the past month, and the prices are already bouncing back. Investors make mistakes too.
Scott Alexander 2021 Predictions: Buy/Sell/Hold

Right! My untrained intuition still resists a bit; I should play with the numbers.

Scott Alexander 2021 Predictions: Buy/Sell/Hold

Niice, it makes sense! Thanks!

So to recap, I was right in that riskier assets can have higher avg returns, but I was missing the usually bigger and opposing effect where as the assets gets riskier, the same avg returns rely more and more on lucky very big gains while doing worse more often (at least if they are sort of lognormal). 

My second point I still think was correct, right? -- i.e., that if Scott believed ETH had some chance of total collapse (a mixture distribution), then this skews it to the other side and pushes the median below the mean, and gives some reason to think ETH is more likely to outperform BTC. Does this make sense?

2SimonM1moIt is possible that Scott believed that ETH is negatively-skewed (ie small chance of collapsing, large chance of small increase) but this would be inconsistent with his probability that ETH is going to 5k. I think the vast majority of people think crypto is positively-skewed.
Scott Alexander 2021 Predictions: Buy/Sell/Hold

If ETH is less risky than BTC then the median performance of ETH will outperform BTC and his probability could be consistent with EMH

Wait. Does this mean that EMH expects less risky investments to have higher performance on average? That sounds shocking enough that I must be confusing something here. Or is this some sort of median vs mean distinction that I'm not seeing


3SimonM2motl;dr "some sort of median vs mean distinction" No, there's two things going on which act against each other: * Riskier assets have higher returns on average * Riskier assets are more skewed (mean higher than median) I've made the (I think safe) assumption that the skewness of the assets are more important than the relative differences in their expected return. You can have a play with some toy models for this, for example, fixed Sharpe, lognormal assets you will have something which looks like: log(X) ~ N(sharpe * vol - vol^2/2, vol) P(return larger than r) = P( Z*vol + (sharpe*vol - vol^2/2) > r) = P(Z > (-sharpe + vol/2 + r/vol)) If we're interested in r = 0 (outperformance of current price) then as vol increases, the probability goes down. (There's actually quite a bit of intuitive stuff which drops out of this model (if we're required to hit a given r, then increasing volatility makes it easier (up until vol = sqrt(2*r)))
Scott Alexander 2021 Predictions: Buy/Sell/Hold

About 17 and the EMH. Can't Scott be just thinking that ETH is sufficiently more risky than BTC so it may have higher expected returns even with the EMH (the EMH allows this, right?). Or even that he might think ETH has some chance of total collapse (like an outlier at 0) so even with equal expected returns it's much more probable that ETH outperforms BTC than the other way around (?)

1SimonM2moActually this is the other way around. If ETH is less risky than BTC then the median performance of ETH will outperform BTC and his probability could be consistent with EMH This is neither consistent with historical realised volatility (ETH is more volatile than BTC), nor is it consistent with the options market (ETH implied vols are all higher than the equivalent moneyness BTC implied vols)
Toward A Bayesian Theory Of Willpower

What's this supposed to be estimating or predicting with Bayes here? The thing you'll end up doing?  Something like this?: 

Each of the 3 processes has a general prior about how often they "win" (that add up to 100%, or maybe the basal ganglia normalizes them). And a bayes factor, given the specific "sensory" inputs related to their specific process, while remaining agnostic about the options of the other process. For example, the reinforcer would be thinking: "I get my way 30% of the time. Also, this level of desire to play the game is 2 times mo... (read more)

Covid 2/25: Holding Pattern

Whatever prevents the most infection, hospitalization and death is the right answer either way

I first read this sentence as suggesting that killing people is the best way to prevent infection.

3pjeby4moYes, apparently death is the right answer, either way. ;-)
Covid 2/18: Vaccines Still Work

Yeah, if R0 is held constant and also COVID-UK is going up in absolute numbers. 

Covid 2/18: Vaccines Still Work

Israel's deaths are dropping more slowly than I would have intuitively expected given the vaccinations; I now wonder if it's because of longer duration of the new strains which means we may have to wait a little longer until most of the previous infections resolve. Anyone that's been looking at detailed data (like strain prevalence, the ages of the people still dying, etc) has an opinion? (I just looked at the daily death and vaccination rate)

Covid 2/18: Vaccines Still Work

I haven't read the papers so, please correct me if I guess wrong (most likely), anybody.

I'm guessing the UK strain was estimated from relative growth between strains when the UK cases were skyrocketing, and that gave around ~40% higher R0 than COVID-classic. 

Now, say they were underestimating the duration of the UK strain. That would mean it is actually more transmissible than estimated -- but it was masked by the long timescales (transmissibleness means R, right?). And that would mean that it's that much harder to contain than we thought (yet it was ... (read more)

7TheMajor4moI continue to be extremely surprised by the UK decline in numbers. The Netherlands is reporting a current estimated R of 1.1-1.2 for the English strain and 0.8-0.9 for the wild types. They furthermore estimate that just over half of all newly reported cases are English strain by now. But the UK daily cases have dropped by 80% in 40 days, which at a reproduction time of 6 days would mean R = 0.79 throughout. In the past I suggested a few potential, not mutually exclusive, explanations: 1. The UK has implemented significantly more effective measures, and if we just copy them we can totally beat the English strain. 2. The height of the UK peak in the second week of January was caused by Christmas and New Years holiday craze, which caused significant delayed reporting ('better take that test after I visit all my friends and family, otherwise I won't be allowed to join them') and massively overestimates the peak, and also the decay. 3. The Dutch models are crap. 4. The UK numbers are crap. 5. The English strain has spread throughout the London area so rapidly that it hit local group immunity, and the plummet afterwards is caused by a lack of geographical spread. Once this picks up again the UK will see a stark rise in cases. I previously put my money on hypothesis number 5, but as time goes on it steadily loses credibility. If anybody has a suggestion for what's going on in the UK right now I'm all ears, I am currently not taking their drop in cases at face value.
3Zvi4moDepends if you think the previous R0 calculations were based on getting the timing right, and how you think about what's acting on what. If this makes us update towards a much higher R0, then yes we are in more trouble rather than less trouble and it could end up here faster on net, whereas if we hold R0 as known then this slows things down.
Covid 2/11: As Expected

I think you get more points for earlier predictions.

Covid 2/11: As Expected

So one should interpret the points as a measure of how useful you've been to the overall predictions in the platform, and not how good you should be expected to be on a specific question, right?

3Davidmanheim4moNot really. Overall usefulness is really about something like covariance with the overall prediction - are you contributing different ideas and models. That would be very hard to measure, while making the points incentive compatible is not nearly as hard to do. And how well an individual predictor will do, based on historical evidence, is found in comparing their brier to the metaculus prediction on the same set of questions. This is information which users can see on their own page. But it's not a useful figure unless you're asking about relative performance, which as an outsider interpreting predictions, you shouldn't care about - because you want the aggregated prediction.
Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

Yeah, I wasn't trying to be tautological. 


I am under the impression that you are thinking something like: "Bezos has ~100 billion to spend. If he spends 1 million in X, then he has 1 million less to spend on the rest. But he won't even get to spend it in his lifetime, so that extra million in X doesn't change how much he would spend in Y. Therefore, it's wrong to say that Y will become more available because Bezos spent in X.".

I don't think that's the right way to think about all this. (Warning: oversimplification coming):


Bezos earns some ... (read more)

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

I think I disagree a bit with both (but what do I know).

For someone like Jeff Bezos, an increase in spending on Item A probably just results in slightly less money spent by his great-grandchildren in 100 years.

This doens't seem to me to be the right way to think about it. Short term, the more he spends on Item A will result in lower spending on Item B, or lower investment in his companies, a lower transfer of money from him to someone else (like through lower savings). Or more money being spent overall if he just uses up cash he had hidden in his pillow; w... (read more)

2jmh6moI agree that in a very strict sense money spent on X definitionally cannot be spent on something else (you already spent it so don't have it). But does that type of tautological view matter here? (And if that is not the basis of your point and I'm misunderstanding, sorry.) This kind of reminds me of the old Richard Pryor movie Bruster's Millions. I suspect the numbers have change but at one point I recall Bezos had a new worth of 90 billion. Even with a paltry 1% return on total assets that's like 900 million a year. Could you spend all that? I'm not sure I could really keep tracking of an income stream like that -- I suspect I would often be doing the equivalent of dropping a million on the floor now and then and forgetting to pick it up for a week or so. So the rich buying more vaccines doesn't really equate to not buying enough of other things that prices for those other things drop enough to make more available to the poor (who are budget constrained much more realistically than are the rich).
PredictIt: Presidential Market is Increasingly Wrong

I doubt that kind of hidden information can affect PredictIt betting odds as it limits the amount each person can bet. 


There is bias or Zvi is reaching wrong conclusions with the same info.

Why hasn't there been research on the effectiveness of zinc for Covid-19?

It's the placebo effect, obviously; you can't get sick if you zinc it works.

Six economics misconceptions of mine which I've resolved over the last few years

Do they really get higher expected returns from that?

I know they do when the market isn't efficient (relative to the specific investor), but that doesn't help me.

1jmh1yI think the answer is yes. I would say it is a very similar strategy to that of corporate financial management and using financial leverage to improve returns and earnings.
Six economics misconceptions of mine which I've resolved over the last few years

Why is it that riskier investments should give higher expected returns?

I ask not because I don't get that the avg person would rather invest on something safe than something unsafe, all else being equal. I get that. I ask because I imagine that investors could bring their total risk down through diversification without harming the expected returns, so big money would prefer the higher expected returns even if they are risky, and in doing that, they'd bring down the extra returns from the riskier investments.

Is it because investments options are so correlated that diversification isn't enough to bring the risk of a portfolio down to acceptable levels? Or some other reason?

1ChristianKl1yInvestors can always use leverage to get higher risk and higher returns if they want.
Causality and its harms

I have the opposite impressions. Science should embrace causality more and do it better. And as a layman term it should be refined so that we stop talking about the causes of any event as a cake where each slice has a name and only one name.

I find it hard to summarize why, at least right now, but my view is sorta similar to Pearl's (though I don't totally like how he puts it). Hopefully later I'll re-read this more attentively and comment something more productive (if no one has done a strictly better job already).

1George1yI believe the thing we differ on might just be a semantic, at least as far as redefinition goes. My final conclusion is around the fact that the term is bad because it's ill-defined, but with a stronger definitions (or ideally multiple definitions for different cases) it would be useful, it would also, however, be very foreign to a lot of people.
[META] Building a rationalist communication system to avoid censorship

I meant hiding just the CWish posts. There're enough non-CWish posts to attract people that value the way of thinking in general.

Also, it doesn't sound that bad to attract users through 1 to 1 recommendations only. Or allow unlogged people to read all, but only little by little release the power for new users to interact with the content. Maybe release it all at once if a high karma user vouches for you (they lose it that person gets banned or something). Maybe instead of karma, there could be another value that better reflects how much you are ... (read more)

[META] Building a rationalist communication system to avoid censorship

I was 80% kidding. I do believe that the type of people that could attack this community are hugely people that can't tolerate trying to read and understand the kind of content in here; let alone Scott's 999999 word analytical yet clear essays. They didn't sign up for real thinking and nuance when they went into activism.

And unlike others, I don't think mobs are organized. They look like it, but its some sort of emergent behaviour that can be managed by making it boring for the average mob member to attack.

8wizzwizz41yI agree with this assessment. It almost feels like a hive mind; I've dipped into the peripherals of online mobs before, and have felt "hey, this action is a good idea" thoughts enter my head unbidden. I'd probably participate in such things often, if I didn't have a set of heuristics that (coincidentally) cancels out most of this effect, and a desire not to associate with the sorts of people who form mobs. If the barrier-to-entry is increased to "requires two minutes of unrewarded drudgery, where it's not intuitively obvious what needs to be done" in such a way that a short, well-worded "mob instruction" message can't bypass the effect, it's unlikely a mob will form around such actions. Incidentally, I wonder whether programming for the mob is a field of social psychology.
SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott

I still don't get it. agc asked how is the retaliation NOT at attempt to stifle criticism. TurnTrout answered that it is not: it's retaliation for a doxing attack, not for criticism. Then wolflow said something that's "literally" wrong, and metaphorically I didn't get it; probably TurnTrout didn't get it too so he answered the literal interpretation. Etc etc.

But the upvotes-downvotes show I'm not seeing something here.

SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott

Of course, that was a given. I just assumed that most of us don't need days of exclusive focus to write an email.

3ChristianKl1yIt's quite possible to invest more time into "contacting the NYTimes" then writing a single email. You could for example encourage other people to write as well. Especially people who they NYTimes might more care about than random people.
[META] Building a rationalist communication system to avoid censorship

Simply requiring log-in to read some posts, and limiting the rate of new users (maybe even make it invite only most of the times, like a private torrent tracker), should go a long way to prevent mob attacks.

5Spiracular1yA quiz and a day's wait before adding a new user is another option. Make it something that a regular lurker who read the rules would be able to pass easily, but a rando couldn't. SCP wiki did something like this, it seemed to help with quality control. Rotate through 3 different quizes, or scramble the quiz order sometimes, if you want to make automated sign-ups annoying for mobs and spammers. Have the web people track the number of sign-up-quiz fails (it's a nice metric for "is there a mob at the doorstep"). (Edit: Ah, someone already proposed a more-elaborate variant using GPT-X. Simple quizes with a few mild gotcha-questions should be enough of a screen for most cases, though.) A proposal I think I haven't seen posed is giving new members a "trial period." If an average (or randomly-selected) post doesn't have a karma score of at least X by the end of the period (or if it dips below Y at any point), they're out and their stuff is deleted. Ban them from handing out karma until after the trial, or this quickly breaks. This probably still has weird incentive consequences that I'm not seeing, though... does mean having a bit of an evaporative-filter for quality-ratings, and it means links to crappy posts turn into deadlinks in just a matter of time.
7Viliam1yIf log-in is required to read posts, I am afraid there would be no new users. How would anyone find out that the interesting debate exists in the first place? But if you have no users, there is no one to talk to.
[META] Building a rationalist communication system to avoid censorship

Make a captcha with GPT-X rationalist content against real rationalist content. If you can't tell the difference, you are out :P

Also, train GPT-X on content that triggers mobs, and then use it to keep them busy elsewhere :P

3Rudi C1yI have seen some captchas like "What's the capital of [Some Country]" in some forums. We can add some basic captchas that need some level of highschool math and basic familiarity with the sequences for verifying new user registrations, and then wall-off certain posts from unverified users. I'm not sure this will be that effective though. All it takes to defeat it is some screenshots.
4niplav1yThis might become difficult with values of X≥4, though…
SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott

Given the news cycle speed, it makes sense to get ready for the likely scenarios.

It likely makes more sense to follow Scotts advice to contact the NYTimes to advice not to doxx him then focus on preparing for retaliation.

BBE W1: Personal Notetaking Desiderata Walkthrough

I've been mostly using a mix

  • vimwiki for the Babble
  • TeXMacs for the Prune
  • Anki as a bucket for short insights, with very good retrievability (from PC and phone): click "browse", and search. (I don't use it as much to memorize, though I really like to just be able to pop something out without noticing the ever growing mess, yet knowing that everything will EVENTUALLY come out. Also, I love to be able to easily set if I want to see the card again sooner or later. Honestly, I wish these kinds of systems weren't limitted to "memoriza
... (read more)
2Spiracular1yIt's kinda weird to me how limited the options seem to be for flashcards and annotation/marginalia. While plenty of things perform the core functionality, I haven't seen anywhere near as many interesting experiments with these formats as I have with outliners. And for flashcards particularly? You'd think it'd be the simplest damn thing to program! I'm not much of an index card person, but there seem to be a lot of people who swear on elaborate index-card set-ups. That I haven't seen more of them implemented as software confuses me too. (It does seem like it would be a good use of flashcards to set up a rudimentary priority queue, or stack. Possibly with added randomness. I'm honestly a little surprised it doesn't allow that.)
Covid-19: My Current Model

My intuition is that the effect of the most infectious people getting infected first is even bigger than you suspect. It will not be herd immunity what brings this under control. Herd immunity would be if the infected person has a harder time infecting because some are immune already, and that requires some significant % of people being immune (unless it's juuuuust R=1.04 or something very near 1 but bigger, too much of a coincidence). Yet most countries got it under control at low %s with either lots or little action (even when at first many of the ... (read more)

The EMH Aten't Dead

You write quite entertainingly.

There's no room for luck in the "realistic" half of your diagram.

Why is this utilitarian calculus wrong? Or is it?

I think the calculus is correct, in the "non-iterated" game. The conclusion is correct in the same sense that it would be even better to donate $101 and come back the next day with a black sock on your head and steal a widget.

There's just something about the iterated exercise of mixing up donations and transactions that you don't like, and I share that intuition. I think in my case I feel that their strategy of selling at a high price discourages other potential transactions from people that value the widget between $20 and $100 and don... (read more)