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Covid 7/29: You Play to Win the Game

The preprint for the article on cognitive decline due to long COVID was shared in the LessWrong Telegram group last October. I looked over it at the time and wrote down some notes, which I will reproduce here. Note I haven't looked through the final version of the article to check if things still match up.

I skimmed the article a bit, some things I noted:
- N=84,285 is the number of people who took the cognitive tests. Only 361 had a positive corona test
- In the abstract they say they controlled for age, gender, education level, income, racial-ethnic group and pre-existing medical disorders. In the main text they say they factored out age, sex, handedness, first language, education level, country of residence, occupational status and earnings... And then they did an additional analysis where they also considered pre-existing conditions.
- Some to my mind interesting statements from the discussion:
"Previous studies in hospitalised patients with respiratory disease not only demonstrate cognitive deficits, but suggest these remain for some at a 5 year follow-up. Consequently, the observation of post-infection deficits in the subgroup who were put on a ventilator was not surprising. Conversely, the deficits in cases who were not put on a ventilator, particularly those who remained at home, was unexpected. Although these deficits were on average of small scale for those who remained at home, they were more substantial for people who had received positive confirmation of COVID-19 infection."
"... we emphasise that longitudinal research, including follow-up of this cohort, is required to further confirm the cognitive impact of COVID-19 infection..."
"It also is plausible that cognitive deficits associated with COVID-19 are no different to other respiratory illnesses. The observation of significant cognitive deficit associated with positive biological verification of having had COVID-19, i.e., relative to suspected COVID-19, goes some way to mitigate this possibility."

My personal conclusions and takeaways:
- most severe illnesses negatively impact cognitive performance
- it is probable that COVID has a neurological component such that the cognitive impact is worse
- the worse the symptoms, the worse the effect on cognitive performance --> effects from mild cases may be insignificant
- people with a compromised spleen are smarter than average (p>0.05) :D

Covid 7/1: Don’t Panic

I would not interpret your case as severe according to this grade. The specification "some assistance usually required" seems like they mean your reaction is so bad you need help eating/washing/using the toilet, which I assume was not the case for you. While -- especially for a young healthy person -- staying in bed all day is a "marked reduction" of activity, there's still quite some room for further worsening before you're at a point where it's life threatening.

While the wording could be more clear, if my interpretation is correct I would agree this is an OK grading to use.

Covid 7/1: Don’t Panic

What about Israel? R-value is the highest since the first wave despite ~60% vaccinated with afaict mostly mRNA vaccines: OurWolrdInData Link.

Luckily hospitalizations/deaths also appear to be not strongly affected.

Alcohol, health, and the ruthless logic of the Asian flush

The main advantage for underage drinking is that a bartender only has to check the birth date on the ID, whereas for self-exclusion, they would have to check the id against a database or there would have to be some kind of icon on the id.

Covid: Bill Gates and Vaccine Production

What was wrong with the original plan to open source the vaccine to any company that wanted to make it and have them compete to scale up production?

Bill Gates himself addresses this question here: https://youtu.be/Grv1RJkdyqI?t=558

The reasoning as I understand it: Vaccine production is too complicated for open access to work well. There is a significant risk that something goes wrong and the vaccine factory has to shut down, so it is better for that factory to be producing a vaccine they know exactly how to do. Oxford partnering with AstraZeneca ensures they can work closely together to get the production right.

Could they have made a non-exclusive deal? Probably, but (a) AstraZeneca might not have been interested in that case and (b) Oxford might not even have the capacity to work with more than one partner.

Could they have ensured better incentives to ramp up production quickly? Definitely, but that seems like a decision mostly independent of making an exclusive deal.

European Community Weekend 2019

Some information regarding the start and end times:

  • Lunch + Shuttle (included) 30.08. 12:00-14:00 @ Akazienstraße 27, 10823 Berlin
  • Regular check in 15:00-16:00 @ Badeweg 1, 14129 Berlin
  • Check out on 02.09. until 10:00
  • Meeting Rooms are free to use until 15:00 on 02.09 for co-working after the event
In My Culture
Most importantly, this framing is always about drawing contrasts: you're describing ways that your culture _differs_ from that of the person you're talking to. Keep this point in the forefront of your mind every time you use this method: you are describing _their_ culture, not just yours. [...] So, do not ever say something like "In my culture we do not punish the innocent" unless you also intend to say "Your culture punishes the innocent" -- that is, unless you intend to start a fight.

Does this also apply to your own personal culture (whether aspiring or as-is), or "just" the broader context culture?

Because in my (aspiring) culture simple statements of fact are generally interpreted at face value and further evidence is required to make less charitable interpretations. This is especially true for interpretations that assume the speaker has made some kind of judgement.

So, let's go meta here and see whether I intended to say "Your culture generally makes less charitable interpretations of statements than mine." I guess the answer is yes, though I would like to point out the distinction here between personal culture and broader context culture, hence my question at the beginning. [Writing this I'm also realizing it's really difficult to disentangle statements about culture from judgments. I'm noticing cognitive dissonance because I actually do think my culture is better, but I don't like myself being judgmental.]

Now why did I write the comment above? Because in my culture-as-is the language used in the OP ("always", "do not ever") is too strong given my epistemic status.

Again, we can analyze the intent of this "In my culture"-statement. Here my intent is to say "your culture uses language differently from mine" OR "My epistemic status is different from yours."

Not a direct response to your comment, but related and gives background to my initial question: In my aspiring culture a straightforward question (whatever that means) is by default meant and interpreted (primarily) as an expression of genuine curiosity about the answer.

Thinking about and writing this comment, I've realized that my own culture may be a lot more idiosyncratic than I thought. I also found it really interesting to see my initial prompt to write this post (an immediate gut reaction of "I don't agree with that") dissolve into an understanding of how the disagreement can be due to either cultural or epistemic differences.

NB: There is some entanglement here between intentions, interpretations and responses. In describing a "perfect" culture intentions and interpretations can be freely interchanged to a large extent because if everyone has the same culture they will make the correct assumptions about other people's intents and states of mind. So saying "In my culture people say X because they want Y" is equivalent to saying "In my culture when someone says X people know that that person wants Y". And then there is to an extent a disconnect between the epistemic status of your interpretation of the other person's state of mind and your own reaction, because different reactions entail different costs. Even if an uncharitable interpretation has the highest probability of being correct it often makes sense to act under the assumption that a more charitable interpretation is correct.

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Rationality Retreat in Europe: Gauging Interest

I agree in principle, though this depends of course how far in advance it is announced. If it's reasonable to expect that it's possible to fill 20 slots with 2 months advance notice this gives more flexibility in planning.

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