Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread

This article attempts to answer this: https://medium.com/@adamgries/how-to-decide-when-to-take-precautionary-action-about-coronavirus-covid-19-and-what-to-do-an-78d8bf231ebb

Quoting from it:

The United States: how COVID-19 could play out
The US currently has 15 confirmed COVID-19 infections but what we want to know is the number of infected at large.
Let’s try to estimate this number.
Around 3M Chinese visit the US annually not counting other foreigners or American citizens who travel to China and return.
Before US Borders were closed to China travelers the virus was already prevalent for at least ~14 days during which infected people traveled freely.
That implies at least 115,068 visitors who had recently been to China entered the US from Jan 9th — Jan 23rd. To guess how many may have been infected I noted that China’s initial quarantine area encompasses 60M people which is 1/23rd of China’s population.
Therefore ~5,000 suspected persons arrived in the US from affected areas. Assuming the infection rate was around 0.5%, we can guess there were around 25 infected people at large by January 23rd. But which 25 of the 5,000??
Note: some infected may continue to come in from China but only if they are US permanent residents or citizens (and they are forcibly quarantined in military installations). The US does not currently limit arrivals from Thailand or Singapore however, as opposed to Israel, which was the first to announce such limits today.
In an assertive scenario the US government would track down all 5,000 suspected infections above as well as anybody they interacted with and put them all in quarantine.
I have heard no reports in that vein and believe it’s likely not the case. On the other hand, there have been reports of dangerous mistakes, such as incorrectly removing an infected person from a hospital in San Diego.
Even worse, we can’t tell how many people are now infected but don’t have a reason to suspect they have it. They may have been around an asymptomatic infected person who came from Wuhan or touched a contaminated surface.
If in fact COVID-19’s “asymptomatic R0” is over 1, a single infected person would start an epidemic cascade. I think it is highly probably this is happening now but that we are in the early stages of the exponential curve and therefore the problem is invisible.
Furthermore, because most cases are mild, infected persons may be misdiagnosed or not seek treatment. The virus may go through 5–10 growth cycles before we realize a city outbreak is underway.
Once it’s clear there is an outbreak in say Columbus, OH, it’s hard to say how many people the local infected persons have already spread the disease to and it will be hard to find them all.
That’s one reason why the CDC instructed medical professionals across the nation to report cases of flu-like symptoms to monitoring centers and also released a diagnostic test for COVID-19 that it’s distributing to 115 labs. However, the test was faulty and for now samples are still going to Atlanta, which means results will be delayed.
Sadly, a faster acting, reliable test that could be delivered to thousands of labs will take months to develop.
My take is that if the number of total infected (not merely confirmed infected) in a city exceeds a few hundred, that city is in trouble.
With 25–100 infected people at large who may be anywhere in the US we should be very concerned.
When I would take action
If my city had more than 15 confirmed cases, I would take 2nd measures as noted below
If my city had more than 20 confirmed cases, which grew to 30 cases or more in less than 10 days, I would take 3rd measures as noted below
Precautions: 1st, 2nd and 3rd Measures
I’m currently based in San Francisco, a mere few blocks from UCSF, where two confirmed COVID-19 patients, diagnosed in Santa Clara, were transferred for treatment.
1st Measures (I’ve already taken these)
Buy six weeks worth of food in case self-quarantine is necessary
Cease attending local group events such as gyms
Cease using public transportation which I would otherwise do every other day. Instead I use my car or Lyft/Uber
Purchase $350 worth of masks for self and wife. Haven’t found a good solution for daughter
Avoid air travel to East Asia
Minimize air travel and when traveling, carry Lysol wipes to disinfect seating area, avoid using the toilet, wear a mask for the duration of travel. Avoid eating. Drink only from my own bottle.
2nd Measures
Expand food stocks to 4 months
Cease all air travel
Cease eating out at restaurants
3rd Measures
Self-quarantine for 2 weeks to observe whether things are static or worsen. If infected numbers are static, revert to 2nd Measures, otherwise keep self-quarantine.
Money isn't real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help?

Some directions I would go with this question myself:

  • How does shared cultural narrative affect human behavior, and is it more reliable than money?
  • Can money buy commitment? Personal development? Deep confusion and questioning about one's ethical choices?
  • What's the connection between money and relationship-building? (Especially with regards to fundraising.)
  • Can money buy coordination? How much coordination would it be able to buy? How reliable would it be?
  • What is a thing that is NOT money that can result in coordination, better shared narratives, personal development, a commitment to ethics, etc.?
Money isn't real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help?

I just want to say this is the best question I've seen asked online in a while.

I'm sorry this comment doesn't have anything much to add other than:

Wow this question is amazing, and I wish more people would ask it, and I'm better for having read it. So thank you for asking it.


My personal understanding of rationality is that Rationality(tm) was always open to being discarded along the way to attaining the 12th virtue.

If you speak overmuch of the Way you will not attain it.

To be clear, I still highly value truth-seeking, model-building, winning, etc. I just don't know what 'rationality' is actually trying to refer to these days. Maybe it feels small and incomplete to me, given my current perspectives.

Circling as Cousin to Rationality

I feel like Circling isn't that much stronger than meditation on this particular axis. You might be characterizing "mental universe" as very different from "interpersonal universe," but to me they're very similar—because in both cases you have to use your subjective experience as the medium of "evidence delivery" so to speak.

Circling as Cousin to Rationality

I think someone should maybe write a post describing how meditation is a form of empiricism, and then it should follow as a pretty easy corollary that Circling is also a form of empiricism.


I gave some of those details above. I don't have further thoughts.


One of the founders of Circling Europe sincerely and apropos-of-nothing thanked me for writing this post earlier this year, which I view as a sign that there were good consequences of me writing this post. My guess is that a bunch of rationalists found their way to Circling, and it was beneficial for people.

I've heard it said that this is one of the more rationalist-friendly summaries of Circling. I don't know it's the best possible such, but I think it's doing OK. I would certainly write it differently now, but shrug.

At this point I've done 1000+ hours of Circling, and this post isn't that far off from what I currently believe about Circling.

I'm less clear on the connection between Circling and 'rationality' because I have lost some touch with what 'rationality' is, and I think the concept 'rationality' is less personally meaningful to me now.

I do believe that Circling has a deep connection to epistemics, belief formation, and belief updating, and can teach us many things about how those things work. Similar to meditation, Circling can guide people to understanding perception and seeing through their own perceptions (the lens that sees its lens that sees its lens etc).

I believe the pitfalls are still more or less accurate, but I wouldn't quite frame them the way I did. I think I was catering to a rationalist audience then. But yeah I don't really personally agree with the perspective I took.

RE: how to learn about Circling. Right now I would recommend heavily people start with something like Aletheia or Integral-style Circling and then go on to try official Circling Europe events in Austin or SAS. Or maybe online at Circle Anywhere. For my first experience, I would try going to 'official' events and avoid 'wild west' style events / events with independent facilitators. That's my personal opinion.

The Five Main Muscles for a Full Range of Natural Movement, Dynamic Alignment & Balance.

I appreciate seeing this post here! I am very interested in this sort of topic, generally.

I'm confused why the post has such a low karma score. If nothing else, it seems like a useful reference for human anatomy.

One thing this post suffers from is, like, it's overwhelming for a noob to look at. Personally I'd much rather just hire someone to teach me all this in person, if at all possible.

That said, it still seems like a great reference for parts of human anatomy, and it contains a very interesting hypothesis. I wish LessWrong talked more about this stuff, as it seems very important for humans and how humans think.

Writing about anything RE: biology, life, anatomy, etc. seems difficult because it's all very 3D in nature, and it's best to have good visualizations. Which are not always available. That said, I am grateful that you put all this together. It seems like it took a lot of work. And I hope to see more in the future.

3 Cultural Infrastructure Ideas from MAPLE

Worth noting here that the Schedule at MAPLE is very conducive for creating these low-stakes contexts. In fact, inside the Schedule, you are always in such a context...

There is a world-saving mission at MAPLE, but at MAPLE, it does not define people's worth or whether they deserve care / attention or whether they belong in the community. I think the issue with both the EA and rationalist community is that people's "output" is too easily tied to their sense of worth. I could probably write many words on this phenomenon in the Bay community.

It is hard to convey in mere words what MAPLE has managed to do here. There is a clearer separation between "your current output level" and "your deserving-ness / worthiness as a human." It was startling to experience this separation occurring on a visceral level within me. Now I'm much more grounded, self-confident, and less likely to take things personally, and this shift feels permanent and also ongoing.

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