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.

Rationality Retreat in Europe: Gauging Interest

"Retreat" in the sense of a spiritual retreat, but with the topic of rationality instead of meditation or spirituality. Following the same principle as, e.g. the Czech EA retreat.

"Rationality" as it is generally understood on LessWrong. So this is aimed at people who aspire to be more rational and want to interact with like-minded people.

Rationality Retreat in Europe: Gauging Interest

Good point! I hadn't really thought of Facebook and the local groups for advertising.

My attempt to explain Looking, insight meditation, and enlightenment in non-mysterious terms

[Note: mostly just me trying to order my thoughts, kind of hoping someone can see and tell me where my confusion comes from]

So the key insight regarding suffering seems to be that pain is not equal to suffering. Instead there is a mental motion (flinching away from pain) that produces (or is equal to?) suffering. And whereas most people see pain as intrinsically bad, Looking allows you to differentiate between the pain and the flinching away, realizing that pain in and of itself is not bad. It also allows you to get rid of the flinching away, thus eliminating the suffering, but without eliminating the pain. But is the flinching away intrinsically bad? Or is it also possible to defuse from the flinching in a way that makes it less unpleasant?

And then, is there also an equivalent for good experiences? Pain is to suffering as pleasure is to…? Is there a mental motion of turning towards, or welcoming an experience, which is ultimately responsible for seeing pleasurable experiences as good? And if the flinching away is in some way intrinsically bad, is this opposite motion intrinsically good?

Now, once you get that pain is not equal to suffering, and you've thus managed to eliminate suffering for you personally, what reasons remain to try to change something about what you expect to experience in the future? If you still care about other people suffering, then of course there is plenty to do, to reduce other people's suffering by reducing the pain they experience. But it wouldn't really be about the pain, just the reaction to the pain.

Then, suppose we somehow managed that all people (or conscious entities) no longer experience the flinching from pain suffering. Would there still be reasons to make the world "better", or would we be content with things just unfolding however, because as long as we don't suffer over it, nothing is intrinsically bad? Is the kind of suffering that comes from the flinching away from pain maybe the only thing that is bad in a morally relevant way? Once suffering is out of the picture, what kinds of wants, preferences, reasons or values remain, that actually make a difference to how the world is supposed to look? Intuitively, a world in which suffering is eliminated via getting rid of an aversion to pain feels very much like a world where everyone is wireheaded and would contain very little value, if any. I have a sense of it being a bad thing if people are feeling okay (or great, in the case of actual wireheading) while the world is actually really shitty. Now is this sense of it being a bad thing due to values that I hold which go beyond pleasure and suffering, and are they stable under reflection? Or is the correct conclusion that yes, once nobody suffers anymore, it doesn't matter if the rest of the world looks really bad? Is the reason it feels so bad simply because I still have the alief that pain is intrinsically bad, and Looking would allow me to see that pain really is in a way irrelevant?

if you truly step outside your entire motivational system, then that leaves the part that just stepped out with no motivational system,

And if you see yourself going to the store to get some food, well, why not go along with that? After all, to stop acting as you always have, would require some special motivation to do so.

Even if you do manage to defuse from everything that causes you suffering, your existing personality and motivational system will still be in charge of what it is that you Look at in the future.

These quotes, as well as what I remember others saying about enlightenment, make it sound like there is still ultimately a "self" or "I" that is the one that "steps outside your motivational system", "sees yourself going to the store", "manages to defuse", or "sees through the illusion of the self". But if I understand correctly, what actually happens is that there is a conscious process that makes one of these motions, but it doesn't have any privileged position and is no more the "true self" than e.g. the urge to go to the store. So ultimately all these different parts, insights, and thoughts are just part of the same single person. I would have initially expected this to mean that there would be feedback between the different parts (e.g. realizing pain isn't so bad should also eliminate the motivations for avoiding pain). But upon reflection, it seems like those kinds of insights are only possible because there is no feedback between the different parts? I feel like I may be mixing together some things here that are actually separate.

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