All of swarriner's Comments + Replies

Beware boasting about non-existent forecasting track records

I don't like this defense for two reasons. One, I don't se why the same argument doesn't apply to the role Eliezer has already adopted as an early and insistent voice of concern. Being deliberately vague on some types of predictions doesn't change the fact that his name is synonymous with AI doomsaying. Second, we're talking about a person whose whole brand is built around intellectual transparency and reflection; if Eliezer's predictive model of AI development contains relevant deficiencies, I wish to believe that Eliezer's predictive model of AI developm... (read more)

Thought experiment: Imagine you were assigned to help a random person in your community become as peaceful and joyful as the most peaceful and joyful person you'd ever met. What would you try?

Three pillars; body, mind, environment.

Body - A varied diet including lots of plants and a mix of proteins— with 5 or 6 figures to spend a month you never need to eat another low-quality convenience meal. An appropriate exercise routine for the subject's level, incorporating at least some light strength training and adding modules as the habits become ingrained and sustainable (candidate exercises include yoga, jogging, crossfit, and kickboxing in no particular order). Sleep hygiene— 6-8 hours on a consistent schedule according to the subject's needs. Quit... (read more)

Write posts business-like, not story-like

I don't agree with this as a principle, although it may be a correct output. I think the notion of "a decent default" misses the mark compared to "think about your audience and the key elements of your message before deciding your form and tone."

To use a simple metaphor, if you need to anchor two pieces of wood together, a hammer and nails are usually going to be the quickest and cheapest way to do it. A drill and screws are often overkill. However I don't think that makes the hammer and nails the default; I think it makes them the correct tool in the majo... (read more)

What We Owe the Past

I'm not the OP, but I bite that bullet all day long. My parents' last wishes are only relevant in two ways that I can see:

  1. Their values are congruent with my own. If my parents last wishes are morally repugnant to me I certainly feel no obligation to help execute those wishes. Thankfully, in real life my parents values and wishes are fairly congruent with my own, so their request is likely to be something I could evaluate as worthy on its own terms; no obligation needed.

  2. I wish to uphold a norm of last wishes being fulfilled. This has to meet a minimum

... (read more)
6Jackson Wagner18d
Your #2 motivation goes pretty far, so this is actually a much bigger exception to your bullet-bite than you might think. The idea of "respecting the will of past generations to boost the chances that future generations will respect your will" goes far beyond sentimental deathbed wishes and touches big parts of how cultural & financial influence is maintained beyond death.See my comment here. [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/JPiHkLKnmYguGTRAF/what-we-owe-the-past?commentId=Qy8Wad9YqNTcNFgfK]
A Quick Guide to Confronting Doom

Facts and data are of limited use without a paradigm to conceptualize them. If you have some you think are particularly illuminative though by all means share them here.

1Lorenzo Rex1mo
My main point is that there is not enough evidence for a strong claim like doom-soon. In absence of hard data anybody is free to cook up argument pro or against doom-soon. You may not like my suggestion, but I would strongly advise to get deeper into the field and understand it better yourself, before taking important decisions. In terms of paradigms, you may have a look at why building AI-software development is hard (easy to get to 80% accurate, hellish to get to 99%), AI-winters and hype cycles (disconnect between claims-expectations and reality), the development of dangerous technologies (nuclear, biotech) and how stability has been achieved.
A Quick Guide to Confronting Doom

As a layperson, the problem has been that my ability to figure out what's true relies on being able to evaluate subject-matter experts respective reliability on the technical elements of alignment. I've lurked in this community a long time; I've read the Sequences and watched the Robert Miles videos. I can offer a passing explanation of what the corrigibility problem is, or why ELK might be important.

None of that seems to count for much. Yitz made what I thought was a very lucid post from a similar level of knowledge, trying to bridge that gap, and got mos... (read more)

2johnlawrenceaspden7d
Well, at least one of us thinks you're going to die and to maximize your chance to die with dignity you should quit your job, say bollocks to it all, and enjoy the sunshine while you still can!
6Michael Chen1mo
This is probably pretty tangential to the overall point of your post, but you definitely don't need to take loans for this, since you could apply for funding from Open Philanthropy's early-career funding for individuals interested in improving the long-term future [https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/other-areas/early-career-funding-individuals-interested-improving-long-term-future] or the Long-Term Future Fund [https://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/far-future]. You don't have to have a degree in machine learning. Besides machine learning engineering or machine learning research there are plenty of other ways to help reduce existential risk from AI, such as: * software engineering at Redwood Research or Anthropic * independent alignment research [https://www.alignmentforum.org/posts/P3Yt66Wh5g7SbkKuT/how-to-get-into-independent-research-on-alignment-agency] * operations for Redwood Research, Encultured AI, Stanford Existential Risks Initiative, etc. * community-building work for a local AI safety group (e.g., at MIT or Oxford) * AI governance research [https://www.eacambridge.org/ai-governance-curriculum] * or something part-time like participating in the EA Cambridge AGI Safety Fundamentals program [https://www.eacambridge.org/agi-safety-fundamentals] and then facilitating for it Personally, my estimate of the probability of doom is much lower than Eliezer's, but in any case, I think it's worthwhile to carefully consider how to maximize your positive impact on the world, whether that involves reducing existential risk from AI or not. I'd second the recommendation for applying for career advising from 80,000 Hours [https://80000hours.org/speak-with-us/] or scheduling a call with AI Safety Support [https://www.aisafetysupport.org/] if you're open to working on AI safety.
2Thrasymachus1mo
I can't help with the object level determination, but I think you may be overrating both the balance and import of the second-order evidence. As far as I can tell, Yudkowsky is a (?dramatically) pessimistic outlier among the class of "rationalist/rationalist-adjacent" SMEs in AI safety, and probably even more so relative to aggregate opinion without an LW-y filter applied (cf. [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/dSaScvukmCRqey8ug/convince-me-that-humanity-is-as-doomed-by-agi-as-yudkowsky?commentId=SwDSKDALGa95Wqqk2] ). My impression of the epistemic track-record is Yudkowsky has a tendency of staking out positions (both within and without AI) with striking levels of confidence but not commensurately-striking levels of accuracy. In essence, I doubt there's much epistemic reason to defer to Yudkowsky more (or much more) than folks like Carl Shulman, or Paul Christiano, nor maybe much more than "a random AI alignment researcher" or "a superforecaster making a guess after watching a few Rob Miles videos" (although these have a few implied premises around difficulty curves/ subject matter expertise being relatively uncorrelated to judgemental accuracy). I suggest ~all reasonable attempts at idealised aggregate wouldn't take a hand-brake turn to extreme pessimism on finding Yudkowsky is. My impression is the plurality LW view has shifted more from "pretty worried" to "pessimistic" (e.g. p(screwed) > 0.4) rather than agreement with Yudkowsky, but in any case I'd attribute large shifts in this aggregate mostly to Yudkowsky's cultural influence on the LW-community plus some degree of internet cabin fever (and selection) distorting collective judgement. None of this is cause for complacency: even if p(screwed) isn't ~1, > 0.1 (or 0.001) is ample cause for concern, and resolution on values between (say) [0.1 0.9] is informative for many things (like personal career choice). I'm not sure whether you get more yield for marginal effort on object or second-order uncertainty (e.g.
4Ruby1mo
I'm sympathetic to the position you feel you're in. I'm sorry it's currently like that. I think you should be quite convinced by the point you're taking out loans to study, and that the apparent plurality of the LessWrong commentariat is unlikely to be sufficient evidence to reach that level of convincement – just my feeling. I'm hoping some more detailed arguments for doom will be posted in the near future and that will help many people reach their own conclusions not based on information cascades, etc. Lastly, I do think people should be more "creative" in finding ways to boost log odds of survival. Direct research might make sense for some, but if you'd need to go back to the school for it, there are maybe other things you should brainstorm and consider.
5Joe_Collman1mo
That part really shouldn't be necessary (even if it may be rational, conditional on some assumptions). In the event that you do decide to devote your time to helping, whether for dignity or whatever else, you should be able to get funding to cover most reasonable forms of upskilling and/or seeing-if-you-can-help trial period. That said, I think step one would be to figure out where your comparative advantage lies (80,000 hours folk may have thoughts, among others). Certainly some people should be upskilling in ML/CS/Math - though an advanced degree may not be most efficient -, but there are other ways to help. I realize this doesn't address the deciding-what's-true aspect. I'd note there that I don't think much detailed ML knowledge is necessary to follow Eliezer's arguments on this. Most of the ML-dependent parts can be summarized as [we don't know how to do X], [we don't have any clear plan that we expect will tell us how to do X], similarly for Y, Z, [Either X, Y or Z is necessary for safe AGI]. Beyond that, I think you only need a low prior on our bumping into a good solution while fumbling in the dark and a low prior on sufficient coordination, and things look quite gloomy. Probably you also need to throw in some pessimism on getting safe AI systems to fundamentally improve our alignment research.

I agree. I find myself in an epistemic state somewhat like: "I see some good arguments for X. I can't think of any particular counter-argument that makes me confident that X is false. If X is true, it implies there are high-value ways of spending my time that I am not currently doing. Plenty of smart people I know/read believe X; but plenty do not"

It sounds like that should maybe be enough to coax me into taking action about X. But the problem is that I don't think it's that hard to put me in this kind of epistemic state. Eg, if I were to read the right bl... (read more)

1Lorenzo Rex1mo
Don't look at opinions, look for data and facts. Speculations, opinions or beliefs cannot be the basis on which you take decisions or update your knowledge. It's better to know few things, but with high confidence. Ask yourself, which hard data points are there in favour of doom-soon?
Elasticity of Wheat Supply?

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/agec.12116

This indicates a range of .05 to .40. That's congruent with my experience in the ag industry; farmers tend to be risk-averse concerning price volatility and as such rarely scale up total production massively.

You can hedge against that volatility to some extent by signing purchase contracts in the spring during planting, but buyers obviously offer such contracts based on their own desire to not be stuck buying high at harvest time, so the hedging can't totally resolve the problem.

There's also the agr... (read more)

Experimenting with microsolidarity crews

I don't understand how this isn't just making friends and encouraging the formation of friend groups based on common interests.

24thWayWastrel4mo
ha don't worry it basically is 😄, it's just that (for me at least) the notion I could put effort into making strong 1-1 connections with people and forming intimate small groups online wasn't really something that occurred to me to do before I started reading about microsolidarity. May also be worth noting that the microsolidarity framework is about a bunch of other stuff beyond just crews and case clinics, notably dynamics that come into play once you try to take a bunch of crews and form a larger group of ~150 or so people out of them.

I mostly agree with swarriner, and I want to add that writing out more explicit strategies for making and maintaining friends is a public good.

The "case clinic" idea seems good. This sometimes naturally emerges among my friends, and trying to do it more would probably be net positive in my social circles.

Calibration proverbs

For the record, ISO 3103 is in no way optimized for a tasty cup of tea; it's explicitly standardized. Six minutes of brewing with boiling water can "scorch" certain teas by over-extracting tannins and other bitter compounds. If you dislike tea there's a decent chance you would like it better with shorter brews or lower temperature water (I use 90C water for my black teas and 85C for greens, for example).

2Malmesbury4mo
I stand corrected. I'll never trust the ISO norms for my tea again.
1FireStormOOO4mo
More explicitly calibrated: If your green tea is reminicent of grass clippings you likely overdid it on brew temp and/or time.
A review of Steven Pinker's new book on rationality

I find myself concerned. Steven Pinker's past work has been infamously vulnerable to spot-checks of citations, leading me to heavily discount any given factual claims he makes. Is there reason to think he has made an effort here that will be any better constructed?

Covid 6/24: The Spanish Prisoner

I don't necessarily agree with your impression of the McAfee thing. The man was by all accounts a very strange person; it doesn't seem overly credulous to think that he might have been both suicidal and paranoid about being murdered and made to look like a suicide.

Sleep math: red clay blue clay

Your notation is confusing but I achieved a similar result.

1Stevie Lantalia Metke1y
It isn't really notation so much as a recording of the 3 states each of the pieces goes through (each piece is equilibrated n times for when the other block is split into n pieces, so I record the state of the piece after each of it's equilibrations), expressed as how much of the maximum temperature the piece has (I suppose it would have been cleaner if I'd included the implicit initial states of 0 for the blue pieces, and 1 for the red pieces)
Killing the ants

>It seems to me much safer to lay the burden of proof on the moral indulgence--at very least, the burden of proof shouldn't always rest on the demands of conscience. 

I think I disagree. It seems to me that moral claims don't exist in a vacuum, they require a combination of asserted values and contextualizing facts. If the contextualizing facts are not established, the asserted value is irrelevant. For instance, I might claim that we have a moral duty not to brush our hair because it produces static electricity, and static electricity is a painful e... (read more)

Killing the ants

One human's moral arrogance is another human's Occam's razor. The evidence suggests to me, on grounds of both observation (very small organisms demonstrate very simple behaviour not consistent with a high level awareness) and theory (very small organisms have extremely minimal sensory/nervous architecture to contain qualia) that dust-mites are morally irrelevant, and the chance that I am mistaken in my opinion amounts to a Pascal's Mugging.

Killing the ants

From Ozy:

"I recently read an essay by Peter Singer, Ethics Beyond Species and Beyond Instincts, in which he defined the moral as that which is universalizable, in this sense: “We can distinguish the moral from the nonmoral by appeal to the idea that when we think, judge, or act within the realm of the moral, we do so in a manner that we are prepared to apply to all others who are similarly placed.”

I read that, sat back, and said to myself: “I cannot do morality.”

I cannot do it in the same sense that an alcoholic cannot drink, and a person with an eating di... (read more)

The GameStop Situation: Simplified

I am not a true expert, but there is one major element of this narrative that most coverage leaves out— no matter what happens to the short-sellers, the price of Gamestop and other short squeezed stocks must eventually normalize to a "truer" valuation.

I have seen a truly alarming lack of recognition of this fact, with some people apparently believing the squeezed price is the new normal for GME. Here's why that probably isn't the case:

The value of a stock is tied to two factors. One is (broadly) the cash flows one can expect to receive in the form of divid... (read more)

9Vaniver1y
In particular, my understanding is that most people who shorted in the early days are now out (including, for some, giving up on shorting entirely) and have realized billion dollar losses, but short interest remains approximately the same, because new funds have taken their place. It was quite risky to think a stock at $4 would decline to $0, but it's not very risky to think a stock at $350 will decline to $40. It remains to be seen where the price will stabilize (and, perhaps more importantly, when) but I think the main story is going to be "early shorts lost money, late shorts gained money, retail investors mostly lost money).
3Dagon1y
There are a lot of paths where the "truer" value is actually quite high. Some amount of buyers will forget about it, and just hold the stock long-term. The company itself could find a way to capitalize (heh) on this, before it drops by too much - buy complementary valuable companies with stock, for instance. Even the press is probably valuable, and gives GameStop a great starting buzz for it's (future) online platform. I'd bet (at lower odds than are implied by price of put options) it's going back down under $75, but no clue if that's over weeks or months, and that's STILL almost 5X where it started the year.
5Annapurna1y
I agree with you, but that goes beyond the scope of my intention when writing this post. This post was meant to be as elementary as possible.
8Borasko1y
I haven't seen almost any traders going off a "real value" analysis for Game Stop. Almost everybody believes Game Stop has a broken business model with no fundamentals, but are all buying it and taking losses just to screw over hedge funds. This is coordinated short-sited financial shitposting out of spite. There is bound to be many losers, but man is it interesting to watch. Edit: I would also love to see an analysis at one point of the game theory involved getting so many individual traders to coordinate.
Covid Canada Jan25: low & slow

Saskatchewanian checking in here. As with your Vancouver Island example, there's a lot of heterogeneity here too. The south of the province, where I grew up, has extremely low numbers of cases even relative to the sparse rural population, while anywhere north of Saskatoon where I currently live is doing fairly badly relative to their sparse rural population. I don't have a strong gears-level understanding of why this should be except some vague notion that the North sees more traffic entering and exiting in the course of resource extraction industries, and close living quarters associated with the same. Plus something something rampant spread in First Nations which I don't even want to get into. 

2MalcolmOcean1y
Appreciating you chiming in. That's a great point about how different rural communities are doing different. I kind of had the impression some rural areas in the prairies were doing bad, but I didn't off-hand have a sense of where or why. Your rough sketch with vague notions is helpful on that front. I drove across the country on the way out to BC a couple months ago, and it's indeed hard to imagine the farming areas in the south half of the prairies having much covid spread, whereas it makes sense that resource-extraction areas would for the 2 reasons you describe. That plus exponentials/nonlinearities seems sufficient to explain most of the discrepancy, maybe.
Public selves

The notion of weirdness points has never spoken to me, personally, because it seems to collapse a lot of social nuance into a singular dichotomy of weird/not weird, and furthermore that weirdness is in some sense measurable and fungible. Neither, I think, is true, and the framework ought to be dissolved. So what's goes into a "weirdness point"?

  • How familiar is the idea? - Vegetarians/vegans are a little weird, but most people probably know a handful and most have a notion that those people care about animal welfare and maybe some even know about nutritional
... (read more)
1Kenny1y
I very much think I understand this perspective but yet I also sometimes find that a specific "gameplay" to be, e.g. restrictive, 'degenerate' (in a gameplay sense), or some degree of un-fun/bad. Just considering the 'gameplay mechanic' 'smalltalk' – I can and often do enjoy it, but it can also be a thankless chore (or worse). The phrase "correct gameplay" makes me think of consequentialism and 'shutting-up-and-multiplying'. But beyond understanding that there is a best 'move', I can't perfectly escape thoughts about the possibility of playing different games. There's also not just one 'game', as you and others have pointed out, but there's also not just one level of games either and an aspect of 'meta-gaming' is deciding whether or not to play specific games at all. In the expansive myriads-of-games-at-criss-crossing-levels-of-meta-gaming perspective, there isn't even any obvious "correct gameplay" at all, which is part of what I think this post was gesturing at.
Stupid Questions October 2020

Are there any resources that amount to "80,000 Hours for (hopefully reformed) underachievers"? I've been weighing the possibility of going back to school in the hopes of getting into a higher-impact field, but my academic resume from my bachelor's is pretty lackluster, leaving me unsure where to start reconstruction. My mental health and general level of conscientiousness are both considerably improved from my younger years so I'm optimistic I can exceed my past self.

1aa.oswald2y
80k has changed the general plan that they push (People took "earning to give" too seriously). This post here [https://80000hours.org/career-decision/article/] is probably the article that you're looking for with regards to "what should I do now?"
Is Stupidity Expanding? Some Hypotheses.

Not necessarily. If I am an academic whose research is undermined by bias, I may be irrational but not stupid, and if I am in a social environment where certain signals of stupid beliefs are advantageous, I may be stupid but not irrational. It seems to be the latter is more what the author is getting at.

Industrial literacy

See my comments above for some discussion of this topic. Broadly speaking we do know how to keep farmland productive but there are uncaptured externalities and other inadequacies to be accounted for.

Industrial literacy

That's fair, and I'm grumbling less as an ag scientist or policy person than as a layperson born and raised in the ag industry. It is my opinion that the commercial ag industry in my country both contains inadequacies and is a system of no free energy, to borrow from Inadequate Equilibria.

To elaborate, I observe the following facts:

  • Conventional agriculture using fertilizer and pesticide creates negative externalities, notably by polluting runoff and consuming non-renewable resources (fertilizer is made from potash, a reasonably abundant but not infinite mi
... (read more)
6Davidmanheim2y
That all makes sense - I'm less certain that there is a reachable global maximum that is a Pareto improvement in terms of inputs over the current system. That is, I expect any improvement to require more of some critical resource - human time, capital investment, or land.
Industrial literacy

Agricultural practice is my Gell-Mann pet peeve. While it's true that fertilizer and pest control are currently central to large swaths of the commercial ag industry, this is not necessarily a case of pure necessity so much as local maxima— for many crops we could reduce dependence on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides by integrating livestock, multi-cropping land, etc. Some of them are also ecologically unsustainable as practiced and may eventually need to be replaced.

That said, this doesn't actually detract from the central point; I would very much lik... (read more)

4eyesack2y
My dad and uncle can farm 2,000 acres between them because of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides. I would like to see you do the same with integrated livestock and multi-cropping.

This isn't critiquing the claim, though. Yes, there are alternatives that are available, but those alternatives - multi-cropping, integrating livestock, etc. are more labor intensive, and will produce less over the short term. And I'm very skeptical that the maximum is only local - have you found evidence that you can use land more efficiently, while keeping labor minimal, and produce more? Because if you did, there's a multi-billion dollar market for doing that. Does that make the alternatives useless, or bad ideas? Not at all, and I agree that changes ar... (read more)

If Starship works, how much would it cost to create a system of rotable space mirrors that reduces temperatures on earth by 1° C?

Seems like this question relies on a huge number of technical questions and assumptions such that a back of the envelope estimate would be meaningless and a rigorous examination would be highly difficult, nigh impossible. Natural albedo fluctuates wildly on a global scale from year to year and there are so many confounding factors and feedback systems in global climate that it seems insane to even estimate how much artificial mirror surface is needed, let alone how much it would cost not just to launch all that material, but to coordinate orbital patterns and control systems for it.

5Vladimir_Nesov2y
I think it's useful to distinguish knowledge of truth from gears-level understanding, these two different things can occur in any combination. Your point is that attaining specific understanding of a plan that's good enough to make the estimate in question is a hopeless endeavor, and you list particular issues with getting such a plan fleshed out. But it's also possible to know truths about the world without understanding why they are true or how they came to be known (originally). The main example of this is seeking expert consensus in an area you don't understand: by finding out what the consensus is, you get a reasonable credence in what the truth of the matter is, without necessarily understanding why it's this way, or how specifically anyone came to know it's this way. This post asks for a Fermi estimate, which is another way in which a very vague model can yield truths about the world. Even if a detailed model is unattainable, such truths might be in reach. (It's often a lost purpose to seek truths about the world instead of seeking understanding, so it's natural to scorn some forms of pursuit of truths. I have a lot of sympathy for this position. That doesn't make such forms of pursuit of truths unworkable, just not relevant to improving understanding of what's going on.)
What would be a good name for the view that the value of our decisions is primarily determined by how they affect causally-disconnected regions of the multiverse?

Elsewherism strike me as the most usable of these options for aesthetic reasons. Spooky Axiology at a Distance is the name of my new prog rock band.

Pantry Staples for DIY

Duct tape is a stereotype, but having a few kinds of tape including duct, electrical, and athletic can be useful. Less so for building objects like you've shown but often for fixing or sealing.

Steel wire is cheap and sometimes comes in handy for providing simple shaped objects or securing pieces together flexibly.

Wooden pallets can often be acquired for free and either used as-is (I have two serving as gardening boxes in my backyard) or stripped down for wood.

Paint! Anything you build can be made 75% less obviously DIY with the appropriate coat of pai... (read more)

No, don't do this. If you threaten someone with a higher level of violence than you can deliver, it's more likely they try to pre-emptively attack you (i.e. shoot you first) and you will have no defense against this. If you cannot win a violent encounter then compliance is generally the safest strategy.

0lincolnquirk2y
I understand that - if you’re facing down someone else who’s armed you should obviously just comply. I’m mainly expecting this strategy would work against e.g. unarmed looters. Do you not think it would?
Some quick notes on hand hygiene

Droplets would be number one on my list of transmission vectors for people other than the hand hygiene intensive cases I mentioned, yes.

3willbradshaw2y
Also worth noting that, depending on the virus, particles outside a host can often survive for hours or sometimes days. To get infected by direct inhalation you'd need to be fairly close to a sick person when they were shedding virus into the air – i.e. to be very close to them in both space and time. To get infected through surface contamination the time requirement is much less stringent: you only need to be where an infected person was fairly recently. If you don't have good hand/face/mouth hygiene, they can infect you without your ever seeing them or knowing they were there.
6Davidmanheim2y
Droplets don't usually float around very long. It seems most transmission would still require something going into a person's mouth. A small portion of these droplets hang around in the air and can be breathed in, but poor hygiene seems like a far bigger issue given how often people touch their face, mouth, and food.
Some quick notes on hand hygiene

I don't want to come down against good hygiene practices, exactly, but my prior is that this is a completely unimportant change for most people to make. The waterline of sanitary practices in Western nations is high enough that increasing the frequency and thoroughness of the average person's handwashing seems likely to be subject to serious diminishing returns.

Consider that we're starting from a status quo where most people's hands are washed 3-5 times a day, even if lazily. Yeah it's not 100% effective, but I don't think it... (read more)

4Davidmanheim2y
"it's not 100% effective, but I don't think it has to be in most circumstances." Ineffective handwashing is basically useless other than removing visible dirt. The difference between doing a good job and doing a typical job is the difference between actually getting rid of the germs and preventing and infection or not. "Is there good epidemiological data that estimates how many disease transmissions have insufficient hand hygiene as an important/necessary vector?" Yes, and that's why epidemiologists and health economists keep recommending people washing their hands, putting up posters to that effect, etc. "Because I would bet that outside of unusual cases like food service and medical workers, the number is low." Yes, for food workers (who also do a bad job washing, and can't/don 't take time off when sick,) the impact is far worse. Source: Forthcoming paper I wrote with Dave Denkenberger.
3Dagon2y
There's enough variance that relative recommendations ("more often", "more completely", "more time spent") are difficult to take seriously. I wash my hands maybe 2-3 times per day and apply Purell (the brand provided at work) another 1-2. I don't spend over 10 seconds, though I do try to get all surfaces. Will the marginal improvement of adding one instance or 5 seconds of additional scrubbing noticeably reduce my risk? I can't find any study that has this level of granularity.

> Consider that we're starting from a status quo where most people's hands are washed 3-5 times a day, even if lazily.

Disagree, many people probably fall below this.

3willbradshaw2y
As opposed to what? Direct airborne transmission via breathing in droplets? My model of the spread of colds and flu and so forth is that it is primarily down to bad hand hygiene. I'd predict (with pretty low confidence) that more people get infected through getting virus on their hands and then onto their face / into their mouth than by breathing in virus directly. I'll look into this more when I get the chance, though, since lots of people are asking about this.
What is Success in an Immoral Maze?

I'll agree that "they couldn't pay you enough" is technically hyperbole but I can't imagine taking that sin seriously enough that it damages the credibility of the argument.

As for the message, here's how I interpret the thesis: "immoral maze work environments have large hedonic costs of a type that are not well offset by monetary compensation (or other promised rewards)". Which is distinct from, although related to, "money doesn't buy happiness".

I also disagree that all advice has to be positive to be ... (read more)