Open thread, Oct. 26 - Nov. 01, 2015

post by MrMind · 2015-10-26T08:34:29.940Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 106 comments

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.

Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should be posted in Discussion, and not Main.

4. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Elo · 2015-10-26T09:17:45.010Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

this week on the slack [LW · GW] discussions:

  • Art and media - HPMOR readership and considering spoilers. A few movie clips. microbiases, "Secret Habitat" game and abstract art analysis. Quality VS quantity, one hit wonder - and what effort it would take to make one (200-500 hours maybe). " short-circuiting happiness in the brain; by - instead of spending money on a bed (normal thing), spend money on icecream (happy thing), even when you neeeed a better bed in your life. In order to trick your brain to being happier than it is."
  • Bot test - We have a logging bot; and are building a prediction bot to help us keep track of predictions.
  • Business and startups - Comparing startup ideas, Thesaurus for words that don't exist - i.e. "logicalness" so you can find a real synonym to use instead. Healthy fast food opportunities (why isn't fast food already healthy - people probably don't care about healthyness when buying fast food QED healthy fast food is not as great an idea as it sounds.), living on a super-limited budget. Mealsquares.
  • effective altruism - provision of condoms to african nations to reduce the birth rate (and why that won't really work), looking to contact people within the EA movement who can explain what happened to the videos on the global conference, and maybe help us find the video in mountainview on x-risk. It's proving quite hard to do...
  • goals of lesswrong - determining success of lesswrong, (ways to show the world we are actually doing well - get us a few famous people made out of lesswrong growth). LW needs a symbol, like a logo but super cool. considering "¬□⊥", "how to function as an adult" as an article, website or guide in how to do that. because often enough people end up legal adults without knowing these things. learning how to teach, the nature of local lw groups.
  • human relationships - energy intake and exercise, alcohol and social lubrication, nootropics for improving social skills. establishing productive bandwidth with other intelligent humans. theories of confidence/prestiege/charisma (different but similar things that we defined in order to talk about them), fluids of human sexuality (and how much we don't know), owning/responsibility towards others/Significant others VS freedom and miscommunication around that, and the burden to communicate that is placed on people by their significant others. Polyamory. "twist yourself into noodles" (not sure what this related to), Smartphone to the rescue (reminders to do things i.e. remember birthdays, talk to friends who want to talk regularly, etc.)
  • linguistics - methods of communicating understanding; or asking for clarification in speech. "Decision making is a process", consider the intention behind the words (not just the words) (caveat: be careful with this)
  • open - running lw local groups, r/askscience, is stockholm syndrome real?, changing people's beliefs (specifically making atheists take up spirituality maybe), Aubrey de Grey and beard extension, Sidekicks, Meta: our channels, knowing things in advance does not decrease reported hedonic payoff. Too many messages to keep up with on the slack, sensory language and communication. And more - being the open channel, reasoning with the consultation of your feelings.
  • parenting - guilty parents for not knowing things they should know... Chocolate chip game trials are going excellently, kid-proof dividers, sickness during pregnancy, dealing with kid's monsters, (putting it in the wardrobe VS patting it and feeding it to make it friendly - the kid's idea)
  • philosophy - occam, occam as a rule/proof (but also not), bayes. CBT - cognitive behavioural therapy, ACT - acceptance commitment therapy.
  • projects - , some writings that are now lesswrong posts, how do I become a more interesting person, sleep post, AMA among friends on the slack.
  • real life - dieting, work hours, sleep, mealsquares, secular solstice, allergies, human superpowers, negotiating with other humans, bikeshedding, how to make complicated decisions, cheap food, advice should be specific, how other people perceive you, and how they act on those perceptions, and the differences. wearable BP monitors, and more...
  • resources and links - not much new here...
  • RSS feeds - we get a bunch of rss feeds from around the leswrong sphere.
  • Science and technology - evolution, space moths, facebook algorithms, chess, privacy in america, grey goo, successful businesspeople, getting data about the internet, cool cap for sleep
  • scratchpad - a place to ramble, just in case any of the other places weren't the right place for it, or they were busy with other conversations at the time.
  • welcome - introductions and also a discussion on wellbeing.
comment by satt · 2015-10-27T02:54:15.360Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


What are these?

comment by Elo · 2015-10-27T13:57:23.082Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

like clear and obvious biases; but in mild form. the kind that might affect you in split second judgements; then disappear leaving you wondering why you ended up making a certain decision. Can be hard to pin down.

I think we might have coined the term...

comment by satt · 2015-10-29T03:21:20.383Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


comment by SoerenMind · 2015-11-05T17:40:58.445Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The EA Global videos will be officially released soon. You can already watch them here, but I couldn't find the xrisk video among them. I'd suggest just asking the speakers for their slides. I remember two of them were Nate Soares and Owen Cotton-Barrat.

comment by Artaxerxes · 2015-11-06T09:29:14.382Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The videos you linked were already accounted for. The vid of the Superintelligence panel with Musk, Soares, Russell, Bostrom, etc. is the one that's been missing for so long.

comment by Elo · 2015-11-05T22:32:58.760Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Great! I passed that on to the slack EA's.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-10-26T11:54:37.520Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Awesome comment.

comment by MarsColony_in10years · 2015-10-28T02:40:42.124Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Today, October 27th, is the 53rd anniversary of the day Vasili Arkhipov saved the world. I realize Petrov Day was only a month ago, and there was a post then. Although I appreciate our Petrov ceremony, I personally think Arkhipov had a larger counterfactual impact than Petrov, (since nukes might not have been launched even if Petrov hadn't been on shift at the time) and so I'd like to remember Vasili Arkhipov as well.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-10-28T18:38:02.997Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Might need to add William Bassett.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-10-28T15:20:38.080Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also, Arkhipov is just a cooler name. It's hard to make a holiday directly before Halloween, though.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-10-31T13:51:30.093Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Posted a short story (1.3k words) to my Tumblr. Brushes against existential terror, so I'm going to call it 'horror,' and I made it for Halloween, but not all that spooky.

comment by jaime2000 · 2015-11-02T00:27:04.250Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The beginning is too slow (I would not have read past the first paragraph if I had come across this story randomly on the internet; consider starting at the second paragraph), but the idea was interesting.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-10-31T22:15:51.140Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Great story; it contained some LWian themes and was written in an style reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft.

The mirror displayed output in "Babylonian numerals". That would be sexagesimal wouldn't it? Who new that the first Oracle AI would use base 60? :)

comment by Vaniver · 2015-11-01T15:22:27.356Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! :D

That would be sexagesimal wouldn't it?

Yeah; there's a bit of awkwardness in that Babylonian mathematics fits in with the aesthetic much better but traditionally used context instead of a proper 0. Eventually they came up with a placeholder character, but they didn't use it on its own.

60 is the next most obvious base to use after binary, I think, unless you happen to have 10 fingers. ;)

comment by gjm · 2015-11-02T12:57:11.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the next most obvious base to use after binary

It seems to me you could make pretty good arguments for at least 3,4,6,8,12,16. Maybe 30 as well. You want a small base so you don't have to memorize lots of tables / build complicated circuits, but a large base so that numbers don't have too many digits; the tradeoffs here could push you to favour anything from 2 up to, I dunno, maybe about 20. You want a base with handy small factors because that makes some arithmetic tasks easier and introduces patterns into those tables that makes them easier to learn. Base 2 is particularly "natural" and has the advantage that single-digit multiplications can't overflow but base 3 scores well on that front too if you make your digits -1, 0, +1, and has the extra advantage that you don't need a special notation for negated numerals.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-11-02T15:10:19.795Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think the small base argument dominates the large base argument for most use cases.

The main place the 'too many digits' argument carries weight, I think, is divisibility. It's handy to be able to express a third as a single number instead of a sequence that consumes every bit you can give it. With 60, you have short representations of halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, tenths, twelfths, fifteenths, twentieths, thirtieths, and sixtieths.

You pay for that in having a larger alphabet, of course, which the Babylonians cheated on by using tallies (really, you should think of the Babylonian system as alternating places of (0-9) ones and (0-5) tens).

but base 3 scores well on that front too if you make your digits -1, 0, +1, and has the extra advantage that you don't need a special notation for negated numerals.

Hmm, that is interesting. It's also neat that it looks like truncation is a pretty natural form of rounding.

comment by gjm · 2015-11-02T17:07:21.370Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

it looks like truncation is a pretty natural form of rounding.

When you truncate after (say) the units digit, the error is a sum of +- 3^-n, whose absolute value is at most 1/3 +1/9 + 1/27 + ... = 1/2. Therefore, truncation equals round-to-nearest with the sole exception that if it happens that the digits after you truncate are either an infinite stream of '+' or an infinite stream of '-' then there was another equally-near way you could have rounded, which you might have preferred for one reason or another.

Does this rounding rule introduce any bias, as e.g. rounding halves consistently up or consistently down does in decimal arithmetic? Well, it seems like there's symmetry between the two representations of 1/2 -- 0.+++++... (which gets rounded down) and +.-------... (which gets rounded up) -- and unlike the situation in decimal you don't have one getting preferred because an expansion ending in all-0 is representable and one ending in all-9 isn't.

So yeah, I think it's fair to say that truncation = rounding and that exact halves are handled nicely. On the other hand, exact halves have two representations that round in different ways, whereas e.g. in binary at least 0.0111... and 0.1000... both round to 0.1. (I think there's no way to make all these niggles go away together in any number system; there's a certain ambiguity about halves however you write them, and the only question is exactly how it manifests.)

comment by gjm · 2015-11-02T16:44:28.380Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I agree that the allegedly-sexagesimal notation of the Babylonians is better thought of as a sort of compound alternating-base system. That seems inelegant enough to me that it's not at all obvious that 60 is a better choice than, say, 12.

Note, by the way, that the same things get terminating expansions in base 30 as do in base 60, it's just that some of them take longer to terminate. (Just as fractions like 1/16 terminate in base 10, just more slowly than they do in base 4, 8, or 16.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-27T06:53:04.932Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Is having your attention grabbed by quarrels a bias? If it's not a bias, what is it?

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2015-10-27T15:16:42.345Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It is a bias in your attention allocation system, which irrationally overestimates the value of thinking about quarrel-related issues.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-10-27T22:09:32.570Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I assume by "irrationally" you mean relative to the risk a quarrel posed in the ancestral environment? That would apply to all attention direction of modern humans. If so we should call this the modern society attention misapplication bias.

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2015-10-28T02:48:49.908Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That would apply to all attention direction of modern humans.

Sure, we're biased in many ways, but we're especially biased about quarrels. A political argument in the EEA could be a matter of life or death; in the modern world it has almost no importance whatsoever.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-27T12:03:11.883Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do you want to learn by deciding whether or not it is a bias?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-27T17:13:53.976Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I hear a lot about biases. I think being (over?) fascinated by quarrels is at least in the neighborhood of biases, but the typical bias is cognitive rather than related to which percepts get attention.

If being fascinated by quarrels is connotatively different from "bias", then I may need to take that into account when I'm talking about that fascination. It may open up the subject of perceptual biases.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-27T18:00:51.549Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just reading Kuhn book an scientific progress. In it he gives the example that chemists had a different opinion on the question whether a helium atom is a molecule than physicists.

The answer to such as "Is a A a B" can tell you often more about the person you are talking with than it tells you about the A and B. When looking at the notion of biases of Kahnemann I don't think that "having your attention grabbed by quarrels" is a cognitive bias.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-27T17:22:07.286Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If being fascinated by quarrels is connotatively different from "bias".

I think these things are different. A bias is a persistent error in your estimates, you can treat it as a mistake in reasoning. Being fascinated by X is an attention allocation issue -- you may or may not think it's good to spend your attention this way, but there are no estimates and no mistakes in reasoning are necessarily involved.

I'd rather keep the definition of "bias" tight.

comment by moridinamael · 2015-10-28T02:32:27.974Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Everything everyone else said is right, but I do see this as being an edge case.

You (i.e. your System 1) anticipates some kind of excitement from reading or being involved in an online quarrel. I found myself drawn into one recently, and when I unpacked my feelings I realized a large component of my impulse originated in a desire to look smart. Of course, in the moment, you are feeling a strong and probably complex impulse, and don't have the time or inclination to name all the components of that compulsion.

To my mind, it does fall into the same family of cognitive glitches as biases, because it's a powerful, fast, automatic response which is usually wrong, i.e. usually just wastes your resources and leaves you feeling bad.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-27T13:12:21.278Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Only quarrels, or loud noises regardless of origin? I seem to remember that corpora quadrigemina already have a built-in eye-looks-towards-the-sound feature, so perhaps you should not treat it as a failed heuristic:)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-27T18:33:16.553Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking about online quarrels. It's not just that I notice this in myself, there are websites (or at least one) for people who want to know about other people's quarrels.

I've also noticed a preference in the news for reporting on people who disagree with each other. I think this goes beyond just wanting to show differing points of view.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-27T18:37:01.451Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is the relevant word "drama"?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-27T20:16:26.224Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Probably. Some people prefer the more neutral term "conflict".

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-10-27T20:04:38.034Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is a bias only if it is present in most humans. I can't see that in me (but maybe I'm biased :-o). Can it be that you have developed a special interest or attention or curiosity in this? I mean some predisposition for being interested in social intercourse is surely normal (wouldn't call that a bias). If it gets reinforced you might develop that into an individual bias.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-27T20:17:42.666Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's present in at least a fairly high proportion of humans.

comment by Larks · 2015-10-27T00:06:30.149Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Has anyone been to the Young Cryonicists Gathering? Is it worth going to? Anyone planning on attending the one in California in April?

Previous coverage on LW: positive and negative.

comment by Artaxerxes · 2015-11-01T12:47:52.639Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are still plenty of videos from EA Global nowhere to be found on the net. If anyone could point me in the direction of, for example, the superintelligence panel with Elon Musk, Nate Soares, Stuart Russell, and Nick Bostrom that'd be great.

Why has organisation of uploading these videos been so poor? I am assuming that the intention is not to hide away any record of what went on at these events. Only the EA Global Melbourne vids are currently easily findable.

comment by Panorama · 2015-10-28T12:10:22.046Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Tech Elite’s Quest to Reinvent School in Its Own Image

A Day in the Life

Like a true startup, Khan Lab School constantly changes its schedule to accommodate evolving workflow and logistical demands. Different age-groups follow different self-paced lesson plans, but here’s an example of a day at the Lab School.

9–9:15 am: Morning Meeting

A daily all-school meeting where students learn about things like current events, view the work of their fellow classmates, and focus on relationships.

9:15–9:45 Advisory

Students break out into cohorts sorted by age. They attend one-on-one meetings with advisers to set personal goals. (One ambitious 12-year-old hopes to launch a small-scale NGO.) Some days include “Goal Studio” time to work on these independent passion projects.

9:45–10:45 Literacy Lab, Part 1

Teachers cover all the essentials, from developing main ideas to composing blog posts.

10:45–11 Morning Break

11–11:30 Literacy Lab, Part 2

Instructors use digital tools like Lexia and LightSail to assess students’ reading levels and work with individuals on problem areas.

11:30–12 Inner Wellness

Students improve their mental well-being by practicing mindfulness.

12–12:45 pm Lunch

12:45–1 Afternoon Meeting

Another schoolwide gathering for announcements and updates.

1–2:30 Math/Computer Science Lab

Using videos from Khan Academy, students practice skills at their math level. Younger students receive more direct instruction, while older students might work on a collaborative engineering project.

2:30–3 Outer Wellness

Students participate in physical fitness activities, including gardening and playing sports like field hockey, soccer, and Ultimate Frisbee.

3–4 Cleanup, Read Aloud, Flexible Pick Up/Recess

4–6 Studio Time/Pick Up

During this optional period, students work on their own without direct supervision, though the staff is available for help.

comment by Viliam · 2015-10-29T08:45:12.714Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Students ... attend one-on-one meetings with advisers to set personal goals.

How many students? How many advisers? How much minutes per one? What are the remaining students doing?

Teachers cover all the essentials, from developing main ideas to composing blog posts.

This is the only hour in a day where students [EDIT] learn [/EDIT] something other than math or reading. Nice to know that if you compress all the remaining subjects into one hour daily, there is enough time left for composing blog posts.

I suspect this will go like most of the educational suggestions:

  • an article full of applause lights
  • social media hype
  •, there is no step 3; specifically you will never see the experimental results
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-29T14:58:50.415Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is the only hour in a day where students do something other than math or reading.

Do you consider mindfulness practice math or reading?

I suspect this will go like most of the educational suggestions:

The article isn't about a suggestion but a real world experiment.

Nice to know that if you compress all the remaining subjects into one hour daily, there is enough time left for composing blog posts.

There no suggestion that subjects get compressed into one hour daily. It a shedule of a single day without a suggestion that every day is the same.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-10-29T17:10:08.189Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nice to know that if you compress all the remaining subjects into one hour daily, there is enough time left for composing blog posts.

One assumes that during the 'reading' section one could be reading nonfiction material on the other subjects.

comment by ZankerH · 2015-10-28T17:32:57.743Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I need some calibration here. Is this satire?

comment by Panorama · 2015-10-28T11:57:41.359Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Way to Help the Poor by Dean Karlan

You can't make money without money. That was the exciting and intuitively obvious idea behind microloans, which took off in the 1990s as a way of helping poor people out of poverty. Banks wouldn't give them traditional loans, but small amounts would carry less risk and allow entrepreneurs to jump-start small businesses. Economist Muhammad Yunus and Bangladesh's Grameen Bank figured out how to scale this innovation and won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for their work.

The trouble is that although microloans do have some benefits, recent evidence suggests that on average they increase neither income nor household and food expenditures—key indicators of financial well-being.

That a program could be celebrated for more than 20 years and lavished with money and still fail to help people out of poverty underscores the paucity of evidence in antipoverty programs. Individual Americans, for instance, spend $335 billion a year on charity, yet most people give on impulse or a friend's recommendation—not because they have evidence that their giving will do any good. Philanthropies also often give money to projects without really knowing if they are successful.

Fortunately, we are living in the age of big data: decisions that used to be made on instinct can now be based on solid evidence. In recent years social scientists have begun to marshal the tools of big data to ask the hard questions about what works and what doesn't. The goal is to turn philanthropy into a science, where money gets directed to programs for which there is strong evidence of their effectiveness.

comment by Panorama · 2015-10-28T11:48:54.683Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students

In some educational settings, the cost of textbooks approaches or even exceeds the cost of tuition. Given limited resources, it is important to better understand the impacts of free open educational resources (OER) on student outcomes. Utilizing digital resources such as OER can substantially reduce costs for students. The purpose of this study was to analyze whether the adoption of no-cost open digital textbooks significantly predicted students’ completion of courses, class achievement, and enrollment intensity during and after semesters in which OER were used. This study utilized a quantitative quasi-experimental design with propensity-score matched groups to examine differences in outcomes between students that used OER and those who did not. The demographics of the initial sample of 16,727 included 4909 students in the treatment condition with a pool of 11,818 in the control condition. There were statistically significant differences between groups, with most favoring students utilizing OER.

comment by Dues · 2015-10-30T02:20:31.236Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I know a lot of less wrongers are big fans of nootropics and y'all could probably recommend some forums to ask questions about the effectiveness of strange drugs. Did anyone know of forums for strange health products? I was thinking of trying AO+ body spray, but at $50 for a month's supply I want to know if it is effective before I buy it. AO body spray is a new product by an MIT startup that is supposed to replace the good bacteria on your skin that bathing with soap removes. These bacteria are supposed to be to break down your sweat to make you smell better and have healthier skin. ttps:// If this stuff works, I think that lends credence to the historical viewpoint that bathing is unhealthy. But right now we only have a few case studies and no controller trials.

comment by Artaxerxes · 2015-10-30T04:24:07.114Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW is a decent start, also check the sidebar

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-30T14:57:48.382Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I want to know if it is effective

Define "effective".

comment by Dues · 2015-10-31T03:24:23.085Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does it work as advertised? Does it kind of work but only a little bit? I'd it basically a really expensive placebo? These are the kind of questions I would want answers to. I doubt anyone here would actually know about this product specifically, but maybe someone knows of a site like for health stuff.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-01T22:20:26.654Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The question is, what do you want it to do?

There is a lot of distance between not bathing, using AO+, and being allowed onto a subway, and not bathing, using AO+, and have girls like the way you smell :-P

comment by Dues · 2015-11-02T02:09:00.475Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure if I'm reading you right, but if I am, you are saying that it takes a long time to kick in. Therefore I need to give up bathing while I wait for it to kick in. Therefore I would need to give up swimming because it's not useful if I want to replace the good bacteria lost from swimming in a chlorinated pool and then showering off the chlorine.

I did read one article (after I posted) where the reporter skipped showering for a month then took one shower and washed it all away (according to the bacterial swabs he took).

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-02T04:45:37.118Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I still do not know what do you want to do. What is the goal you're trying to achieve by using that thing?

comment by Dues · 2015-11-05T03:07:34.656Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Their ads say that AO spray makes your sweat smell less bad and it helps clear up acne. I've had zits since I hit puberty and a product that cuts down on the amount of caustic chemicals I need to rub all over my body would be great. I also commute to work by bicycl I'm 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather, and my office has no shower, so if AO actually cuts my BO then it might be a good investment.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-05T05:15:31.848Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not a specialist in acne, but it's basically an infection and I would want to see some hard evidence before believing that some other extra friendly bacteria will make it better. As to sweat, I don't know, it's different for different people, but since you can't shower or the whole thing washes away, I have my doubts...

Anyway, if you don't want to be a guinea pig, find some people who have tried it (not me). My uninformed guess is that it's diluted bullshit and I wouldn't bother.

comment by Dues · 2015-11-07T01:21:41.643Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Most acne medications work by drying out your skin, not by being antibacterial out anti viral. The infections are a symptom of greasy skin and I think they claim that skin products less grease when it has the right bacteria is on it. But that still leaves me only 50% confident that it would work under optimal conditions.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-30T09:34:26.217Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Smelling better" isn't a straightforward claim. It depends very much on how you smell by default.

I believe that some nerds smell bad because their body is afraid of social interaction and therefore produces substances that repell other people and indicate that other people should keep distance. In that case I don't think that those bacteria are enough even if they manage to solve the issue of smell for the average person.

When it comes to healthy skin and reducing acne, I guess that it's often important to try a lot of products till you find the right one.

If you want to know whether it's effective, what effects do you want to achieve with it?

comment by Panorama · 2015-10-28T11:35:48.201Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset' by Carol Dweck.

Recently, someone asked what keeps me up at night. It’s the fear that the mindset concepts, which grew up to counter the failed self-esteem movement, will be used to perpetuate that movement. In other words, if you want to make students feel good, even if they’re not learning, just praise their effort! Want to hide learning gaps from them? Just tell them, “Everyone is smart!” The growth mindset was intended to help close achievement gaps, not hide them. It is about telling the truth about a student’s current achievement and then, together, doing something about it, helping him or her become smarter.

comment by Elo · 2015-10-29T03:49:01.044Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This concerns me greatly. I will post more thoughts in it's own post when I get around to writing it.

comment by Elo · 2015-10-26T22:30:02.600Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

following a post on the LW facebook group, I have started compiling comments to put towards a draft article about depression. If you would like to contribute words; or try to organise things, the document can be found here: Please do not delete anything. Feel free to add comments (in a new colour) that things should be removed.

The policy of my creating this document is to enumerate possible solutions; as we all know - advice on the internet is expansive and various. I hope to help by listing options, not necessarily providing a go-to-guide here. Keen for all help I can get. PM me if you want to provide help privately.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-26T23:35:40.159Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW provides a good overview over options. After exercising the option that people reported to be best was getting a pet.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-26T19:07:12.712Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A nice aspirational overview of applied economics.

Don't hold your breath.

comment by Artaxerxes · 2015-11-06T09:32:47.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

it's rather depressing that progress of this kind seems so impossible. Thanks for the link.

comment by roland · 2015-10-26T13:45:11.099Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Using statistics to evaluate lawyer performance

Hello I remember reading an article somewhere about lawyer performance based on statistics of past successes. Does anyone know where it is? I googled but didn't get anywhere.

The reason I'm asking is that I'm looking for a lawyer right now, it involves international law.

comment by dutchie · 2015-10-26T09:31:26.869Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure whether this is worth a whole post on its own or not, but I've been wondering about X-risk, particularly the utilitarian/EA justification of donating to charities dedicated to reducing its risk, and how it seems similar to Pascal's mugging. Perhaps I'm just rationalising my unwillingness to donate to charities with hazier benefits than mosquito nets, but I'd like to discuss it with the community.

As I understand it, in Pascal's mugging, Pascal is walking down the street when a mugger comes up to him and says "Give me £100 or I'll torture 3^^^3 consciousnesses in the simulation I have in my pocket". However unlikely Pascal thinks it is that the mugger has such a pocket simulation, the amount of suffering is high enough that it swamps the doubt and Pascal is morally compelled (whatever that means) to hand over the money.

I'm aware that many people reject this in some way. But many people also donate to x-risk charities, and I don't see how you can consistently tell Pascal not to give the mugger his money and simultaneously allow yourself to be "mugged" by the x-risk charities.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-26T10:34:55.189Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Most people who donate to Xrisk charities consider the probability a lot higher than a person saying "Give me £100 or I'll torture 3^^^3 consciousnesses in the simulation I have in my pocket" to speak the truth.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-10-26T23:15:41.316Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Pascal's mugging applies when the sheer magnitude of the benefit is a substitute for any argument that the benefit is actually likely. X-risk charities typically are of the form, "This probability is small but nonvanishing because Y, and Z. When you multiply it out, the big benefit makes the expected gain large despite the attenuating factor". Some go further and argue that the probability is not small. None simply rely on the magnitude of the benefit without also arguing for plausibility.

comment by mkf · 2015-10-31T11:48:50.856Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The All-Nighter Experiment: What Worked and What Didn't

"I spent a week researching the best advice I could find from seasoned bankers, "Hackathon" sleep doctors, and the military elite. Then I stayed up all-night and experimented on myself, trying the techniques and figuring out what worked and what didn't.

Even though I'm self-employed and I set my own "deadlines", I still chose to stay up for 36 hours straight. I don't know if that makes me crazy, or dedicated, or maybe crazy dedicated... probably just crazy.

This post contains the most useful takeaways from the experience, including three things that worked and three things that didn't."

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-10-31T14:09:59.430Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just take a modafinil in the evening.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-30T11:20:08.268Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone aware of recorded cases of using Donepezil, known to induce hypergraphia (compulsive writing) as a side effect, as a work or study aide?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-26T15:52:19.081Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How was the xy problem possibly identified?

It's seems like the kind of abstraction that is impossible from object level analysis of others' questions or one's received answers.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-26T16:11:39.894Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think it got identified because people saw communication going wrong repeatedly in similar ways, and looked for commonalities. It's also possible it's a sufficiently common mistake that people could look back over their own history and realize they'd made it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-27T17:00:14.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's simply about having a decent mental model of other people. If you look at the example of a user asking for the last three characters of file names, it's not hard to understand what the user wants to do.

In general a lot of social interaction works in the way that people don't outright state what they want. That makes life difficult for autists but most people can cope.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-31T04:44:59.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe this is a deficiency specific to me. I don't know what the user wants in the example you give for instance. Out of curiosity, what is it?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-31T13:22:49.600Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A file is named:


Having the last three character means that you get the type of the file. You can decide whether a file is a mp3 file or whether it isn't. At least that's true with standard file endings. However there's no gurantee that the ending is 3 characters long.

comment by satt · 2015-10-27T03:07:29.256Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's seems like the kind of abstraction that is impossible from object level analysis of others' questions or one's received answers.

Putting myself in the mind of an answerer confronted with someone's specific question, I can easily imagine myself hitting on the general/abstract problem through sheer exasperation: "AAAARGHHHH. IF YOU'D JUST SAID WHAT YOU REALLY WANTED TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE, WE WOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO WASTE TIME ON SOMETHING BASICALLY IRRELEVANT".

Of course, this does not help very much with the question of how to identify Q&A failure modes. "Study specific cases of bad Q&A sessions until I'm so annoyed that my mind spontaneously summarizes them together" is probably an unreliable method.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-10-27T18:30:21.714Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I had a word and then lost it.

It meant willfully ignorant, or ignorant & proud of it. This was applied to a former U.S. president.

Can anyone supply this word?


comment by gjm · 2015-10-28T01:05:59.228Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps "incurious", which you might have seen applied to G W Bush in Keith Stanovich's book "What intelligence tests miss". (Quoting David Frum, I think.)

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-10-28T18:03:05.392Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I've heard that.

This word defines more of a in-your-face-ignorant attitude. It may also go into contempt for those who work to achieve knowledge.

I didn't record it because I thought I would never need it again. My bad.

For someone who believes false things I'd say "Reality attacks your beliefs in a hundred little ways every day" but I have no rebuttal for this lifestyle for someone of privilege.

When I get a chance I'll search the Exchange link and try a few more searches containing the word 'Bush'.

Thanks for your help, folks. . .

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2015-10-27T18:52:30.754Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here is an English Stack Exchange question looking for such a word. I'm not sure there is a single word that means exactly this.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-10-27T23:33:07.333Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the link, I'm sure it will be helpful for this word and others.

comment by PECOS-9 · 2015-10-29T04:15:11.118Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


comment by WhyAsk · 2015-10-29T16:45:26.160Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And he's proud of it. :(

In a way, he's putting down eggheads without directly saying so.

From what little I know about Game Theory I'd say being ignorant is never a dominant strategy.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-29T17:08:14.648Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

being ignorant is never a dominant strategy.

Remaining ignorant might be a dominant strategy in a Game of Chicken X-/

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-11-03T03:40:08.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with that word is that in conflates many different meanings.

comment by Tem42 · 2015-11-21T23:36:08.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you're still looking, is it contumacious? 'Willfully obstinate' rather than 'willfully ignorant', but the phrase "contumacious president" has appeared many times in political writings.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-26T16:03:25.031Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I plan to be able to leave my phone at home and just access regular communications when I'm at a regular public computer. I hope this will further reduce my decision fatigue and simplify my routine while reducing distractions. Nobody contacts me urgently anyway and I feel very safe in my regular routine, while very rarely contacting people by phone who I can't contact otherwise. Optimise everything!

Here are the IFTTT recipe's I will be using. Hope they're handy for any imitators out there:

comment by Viliam · 2015-10-27T22:18:41.844Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What exactly is the problem you are trying to solve? Does the phone bother you because you want to carry as little stuff as possible, or because if you have it you cannot resist using it? If the former, okay; if the latter, there may be better solutions, such as putting your phone in a difficult-to-open package.

comment by WalterL · 2015-10-26T16:01:30.711Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This article made me sigh. "There's this argument that utilitarian ethics are correct; they're associated with people who are less emotional". Can't have that. Drunk people come to the same conclusions, see? And we all know that dumb people believing something makes it wrong. Gah.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-26T16:16:25.192Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

The study's claim is actually more interesting. Basically, it says that "utilitarian ethics" is the default to which people gravitate when their higher cognitive functions are impaired.

In other words, the implication is that it is NOT the case that everyone starts by loving puppies and then through deep thinking comes to utilitarianism -- rather, everyone starts utilitarian and then thinking moves you away from it.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-27T16:59:19.740Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Alcohol has some complex effects on personality and decision making, so it's not really clear to me WHAT conclusions you can draw from this. Certainly, alcohol inhibits complex reasoning ability - but it also inhibits empathy ( So is this saying that you need less reasoning to be utilitarian, or have less empathy? Can you really call something the "default" if it's inhibiting default brain mechanisms?

Basically, to me this seems like a silly way to draw any conclusions about human nature or ethics.

Relatedly, a quick search of pubmed turned up another study which showed no effect of alcohol on moral attitudes: , proving once again that social psychology is really fucking confusing.

comment by CynicalOptimist · 2015-11-07T23:58:51.169Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Completely Ad-Hoc proposal:

Ethics are very very heavily influenced by one consideration: other people's opinions. It may not be consciously admitted, but when people faced with an ethical conundrum, I think they make a decision that's based on the question "What will people think of me?". (The internalized version is: "What will I think of myself?" / "Will I be able to look at myself in the mirror?").

The question here relates to letting 5 people die (by inaction) or killing one person (by taking action). If you pick the second one, then you're actively responsible for that death. You were the killer. And that's the sort of action that will get you judged by other people. That's the sort of action that will make other people label you as a killer, as a betrayer, as an untreatable person. Therefore, we're very heavily biased against certain things, and those biases don't allow for utilitarian ethics.

It's very often true that drunk people care less than sober people about what others think of them.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-10-30T06:59:35.175Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Spammer alert!

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-10-29T00:53:57.356Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lifehack: when Summer Time ends, leave the clock you first see after waking up on Summer Time.

For people whose reach to get up early exceeds their grasp.

If you're too rational for this to work, you're rational enough to not need it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-29T14:56:35.190Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The time that the clock which determines the time you go to bed shows might be more important than the time of the clock you first see after waking up.

comment by philh · 2015-10-29T10:32:25.301Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For a while, I had my watch semi-deliberately set a few minutes early. (I didn't deliberately set it like that, but I consciously choose not to fix it after noticing.) It did help me show up for things on time. But eventually my system one started adjusting, and it was no longer helpful, and I moved it back.

I wonder if I could temporarily get the effects again by moving it forward again.

comment by CynicalOptimist · 2015-11-08T00:09:19.613Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Now I want to try having a watch that randomly speeds up, and slows down, within preset limits. So that at any point I could be as many as 5 minutes ahead, or 5 minutes behind.

That would probably get me used to showing up a few minutes early to everything.

comment by Panorama · 2015-10-28T11:40:08.231Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Glaring Flaws in Sugar Toxicity Study

A new study has claimed that obese children could find rapid health improvement by small sugar reductions, without caloric restrictions. According to the lead author, Robert Lustig, the new study shows that sugar may not be harmful because of how it leads to weight gain, but “rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it’s sugar.” According to the study, a diet with 10 percent sugar in place of one with 28 percent sugar can in just nine days produce a reduction in blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol—and improved glucose tolerance and lower levels of insulin circulating in the blood.

Does a miracle diet promising incredible results in just nine days sound too good to be true? Not to the news media, which gobbled up the study’s conclusions as the proof that sugar really is the big evil in our diet (see sidebar). But as we shall see, the science in the study is about as good as it is for other fad diets.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-28T14:36:45.333Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Robert Lustig is, notably, the "fructose is poison and the source of all evil" guy. That explains the study...

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-26T15:51:02.681Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why biases do you have a tendency to fall into and in which situations?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-10-26T21:09:04.962Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you are asking for. Could you give an example or a motivation to ask?

Also note that it is hard to even notice that you fell prey to a bias if you have no reliable source of information on this. Also note that by definition most people show biases routinely. How should I know which are more frequent.

For example I believe that I show overconfidence in facts from books and studies, i.e. I see the described patterns very clearly. More clear than they actually are. This is also confirmation bias. I do know this only because I do get feedback about this from a trusted skeptic.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-01T05:38:37.113Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

say some lady did a PHD analysing the for a pharmaceutical and found something interesting for investors in the associated biotech startup. Could said researcher contact institutional.investors with snippits of the information she has found and offer her consulting services to consider the market relevant information or would this be some kind of financially afoul thinh, or something investors wont really care about. for instead she may find that the drug is not as efficacious as the company has lead the public or investors to.believe and the regulatory authorities have approved it.anyway. I also wonder how likely a situation where an independent researcher finds something like this with public data is anyway?

comment by Jiro · 2015-11-01T16:36:30.516Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The answer is "contact a lawyer to get the answer". It would be a bad idea for anyone to answer this question here for the same reason as "please diagnose my disease" is a bad idea.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-26T16:47:53.907Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why would someone want to lease or purchase part of a railway?

comment by Elo · 2015-10-26T19:49:42.345Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect you stumbled on some kind of internal form. i.e. for other utilities to purchase rights to run cables on the victrack properties. Or for someone to temporarily rent space. i.e. a building site needs storage for a year while work is completed nearby.

I imagine it's not for normal human use.

comment by CynicalOptimist · 2015-11-08T00:05:41.956Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I might be missing something here.

These seem to be application forms to lease or purchase land that the belongs to a railway-related organization?

Land that belongs to a railway-related organization isn't necessarily part of a railway. The land could be disused office-space, parking lots, or warehouses.