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There you made a slight of hand by exchanging good for health with "there's little room for doubt that it's good for health".

I guess it depends on how much that "room for doubt" translates into being adopted as standard practice (i.e. if doubting the efficacy of vitamin X leads to it not being widely adopted, I might not recommend it either), which leads to

Essesentially, you put wearing a mask in the US in April as non-medical personal into the same category as believing in Fairies.

Basically this - thanks for pointing this out because I agree that's where my heuristics would have landed me and what actually happened at first, and it's a big source of my discomfort with this reasoning. That said, why some things are widely adopted or not is generally not that clear-cut to me (e.g. was the reason the lack of evidence or to save masks for healthcare workers?), which is why I just "go with the mainstream flow" in many situations in which I don't know better. I feel I'm starting to reduce the confidence I put onto health organization/standard guideline statements just because they're standard, but I'm not sure if there's something else in heuristic-space I should use to anchor (e.g. believing in Z person?) before getting more information.

Of course, I didn't mean to group fairies and vitamin X in the same category and convey that their odds were comparable (the odds of the existence of fairies are surely many times lower than the odds of vitamin X being effective). I rather meant to showcase the heuristic by which I tend to group fairies and trolls into "artifacts of the human tendency to anthropomorphize everything" to dismiss them as imaginary, which I think is the same heuristic by which I tend to group vitamin X and Y into "sounds like bogus" to dismiss them as ineffective. Grouping these into "sounds like bogus" might be done with a lower level of confidence, but I think it still stands. If there were a line of people, each holding a branch of one of every exotic plant on Earth, waiting to ask me "should I try this? (without any further justification)," I would say no to all of them, even if there's a good chance that one of them could provide a health boost.

Hi! I first learned about LW and its corresponding memespace from reading SSC and gwern. I've semi-lurked on the site for various years now and was attracted to it because of how often it activated my insight antennae, but I only started seriously reading the sequences (which I have yet to finish) since last year. I have always wanted to join the site in some capacity or another, but I didn't really believe I could come up with anything meaningful to add and didn't feel godly enough to post. Now I do have some things I want to write about, so I finally came up with an excuse to create an account (not that I feel any more godly though). I am kind of afraid of creating noise - since I don't have a good enough picture of what's the expected signal/noise ratio while posting, or if I can just throw ideas out of the blue - but I also have a strong feeling I will ultimately end up learning much more if I join now than if I wait longer.