Posts

"No evidence" as a Valley of Bad Rationality 2020-03-28T23:45:44.927Z · score: 101 (38 votes)
Is the Covid-19 crisis a good time for x-risk outreach? 2020-03-19T16:14:45.344Z · score: 17 (7 votes)
Is the coronavirus the most important thing to be focusing on right now? 2020-03-18T22:48:17.191Z · score: 50 (19 votes)
Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus 2020-03-18T07:08:30.614Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? 2020-03-08T08:32:50.753Z · score: 9 (6 votes)
Reflections on Premium Poker Tools: Part 4 - Smaller things that I've learned 2019-10-11T01:26:40.240Z · score: 19 (7 votes)
Reflections on Premium Poker Tools: Part 3 - What I've learned 2019-10-11T00:49:10.739Z · score: 27 (10 votes)
Reflections on Premium Poker Tools: Part 2 - Deciding to call it quits 2019-10-09T04:17:25.259Z · score: 40 (10 votes)
Reflections on Premium Poker Tools: Part 1 - My journey 2019-10-09T00:42:05.694Z · score: 43 (14 votes)
Feature Request: Self-imposed Time Restrictions 2019-05-15T22:35:15.883Z · score: 22 (7 votes)
You can be wrong about what you like, and you often are 2018-12-17T23:49:39.935Z · score: 32 (10 votes)
What is abstraction? 2018-12-15T08:36:01.089Z · score: 25 (8 votes)
Trivial inconveniences as an antidote to akrasia 2018-05-18T05:34:55.430Z · score: 49 (16 votes)
Science like a chef 2018-02-08T21:23:45.425Z · score: 74 (24 votes)
Productivity: Working towards a summary of what we know 2017-11-09T22:04:28.389Z · score: 89 (44 votes)
Idea for LessWrong: Video Tutoring 2017-06-23T21:40:50.118Z · score: 13 (13 votes)
Develop skills, or "dive in" and start a startup? 2017-05-26T18:07:34.109Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
How I'd Introduce LessWrong to an Outsider 2017-05-03T04:32:21.396Z · score: 8 (6 votes)
New meet up in Las Vegas! 2017-04-28T23:57:21.098Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Las Vegas Meetup 2017-04-28T00:52:37.705Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Should we admit it when a person/group is "better" than another person/group? 2016-02-16T09:43:48.330Z · score: 0 (14 votes)
Sports 2015-12-26T19:54:39.204Z · score: 12 (13 votes)
Non-communicable Evidence 2015-11-17T03:46:01.503Z · score: 10 (17 votes)
What is your rationalist backstory? 2015-09-25T01:25:04.036Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
Why Don't Rationalists Win? 2015-09-05T00:57:28.156Z · score: 1 (13 votes)
Test Driven Thinking 2015-07-24T18:38:46.991Z · score: 3 (6 votes)
Is Greed Stupid? 2015-06-23T20:38:34.027Z · score: -6 (18 votes)
Effective altruism and political power 2015-06-17T17:47:11.509Z · score: 4 (6 votes)
Ideas to Improve LessWrong 2015-05-25T22:55:00.818Z · score: 10 (11 votes)
Communicating via writing vs. in person 2015-05-22T04:58:06.373Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
Lessons from each HPMOR chapter in one line [link] 2015-04-09T14:51:53.411Z · score: 11 (12 votes)
How urgent is it to intuitively understand Bayesianism? 2015-04-07T00:43:43.215Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Learning by Doing 2015-03-24T01:56:43.462Z · score: 4 (7 votes)
Saving for the long term 2015-02-24T03:33:32.183Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
[LINK] Wait But Why - The AI Revolution Part 2 2015-02-04T16:02:08.888Z · score: 17 (18 votes)
Respond to what they probably meant 2015-01-17T23:37:38.135Z · score: 11 (18 votes)
The Superstar Effect 2015-01-03T06:11:19.710Z · score: 10 (19 votes)
Ways to improve LessWrong 2014-09-14T02:25:26.228Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Is it a good idea to use Soylent once/twice a day? 2014-09-08T00:00:36.118Z · score: 5 (10 votes)
What motivates politicians? 2014-09-05T05:41:01.629Z · score: 3 (8 votes)
Why are people "put off by rationality"? 2014-08-05T18:15:03.905Z · score: 3 (10 votes)
What do rationalists think about the afterlife? 2014-05-13T21:46:48.131Z · score: -17 (27 votes)
A medium for more rational discussion 2014-02-24T17:20:49.248Z · score: 10 (17 votes)
Is love a good idea? 2014-02-22T06:59:16.874Z · score: 3 (31 votes)
Rethinking Education 2014-02-15T05:22:11.067Z · score: 2 (32 votes)
How to illustrate that society is mostly irrational, and how rationality would be beneficial 2014-02-14T06:16:32.499Z · score: -2 (11 votes)
How big of an impact would cleaner political debates have on society? 2014-02-06T00:24:41.862Z · score: 6 (28 votes)
Salary or startup? How do-gooders can gain more from risky careers 2014-02-05T22:54:26.519Z · score: 5 (10 votes)
Why don't more rationalists start startups? 2014-01-20T07:29:08.244Z · score: -3 (32 votes)

Comments

Comment by adamzerner on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-28T06:36:43.621Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is it possible that there are different viruses we're dealing with here? It just doesn't make sense to me that we're seeing such varying death rates, eg. Italy vs South Korea. The difference in medical quality doesn't seem like it can explain it.

Comment by adamzerner on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-22T01:56:36.530Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's been a while since I read REMOTE, sorry.

Comment by adamzerner on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-21T19:11:48.316Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't been able to personally try or validate much from the book. It's more that the things in the book make a lot of sense to me, and that I have a good amount of trust in the authors.

That said, there are some things that I do have personal experience with and can contribute my data point. I just started an actual remote job three weeks ago, and before that I've spent years as a solo founder of a startup, and autodidacting.

  • The biggest thing (by far?) I've encountered is that it's important to have an off switch. Working from home, it can be tempting to check in and do a few tasks at 10pm. But when I do that, it makes it hard for my mind to properly "shut off" and relax.
  • I've found cabin fever to be a minor issue when I stay home too much, but never a major one.
  • I don't feel like I can get away with slacking off at home. I feel like I'm ultimately just being judged on my output, the same as it is in a physical job. At the end of the day if my output isn't there, I feel like my job would be at risk.
  • At the job I'm currently at we do something called donuts where every two weeks we're paired with someone on the team to have a video chat with to get to know each other, and where talking about work is off-limits. The donut call I had made me feel closer to the people on the call, but I've also started to feel closer with the people I've been interacting with in general. And it's not clear to me that feeling closer to people translates to more productivity at all.
  • Some people on my team aren't native english speakers and have trouble with writing, but despite that, I don't think it actually is much of a barrier. It involves a little bit more back and forth, but soon enough the signal comes through. This goes against one of the chapters in Remote. Perhaps being a clear thinker is what is important versus being a clear writer.
Comment by adamzerner on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-20T20:38:18.418Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a fan of REMOTE: Office Not Required.

Comment by adamzerner on Is the Covid-19 crisis a good time for x-risk outreach? · 2020-03-20T00:59:28.725Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, exactly. Thank you for clarifying. I just read my original comment again and I think I didn't make it very clear.

Comment by adamzerner on Is the Covid-19 crisis a good time for x-risk outreach? · 2020-03-19T22:12:49.268Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW · GW
What? Why? How do you decide which professionals to trust?

I was telling my friends and family to prep for the coronavirus very early on. At the time the main response was, "ok, chill, don't panic, we'll see what happens". Now that things have gotten crazy they think it's impressive that I saw this coming ahead of time. That's what my thinking was for point #3: perhaps this sort of response is common. At least amongst some non-trivial percentage of the population.

If you think your audience just isn't smart enough to evaluate arguments, then, gee, I don't know, maybe using a moment of particular receptiveness to plant a seed to get them to open their wallets to the right professionals later is the best you can do? That's a scary possibility; I would feel much safer about a fate of a world that knew how to systematically teach methods of thinking that get the right answer, rather than having to gamble on the people who know how to think about objective risks also being able to win a marketing war.

I very much agree, but it seems overwhelmingly likely that we live in a world where we can't rely on people to evaluate the arguments. And we have to act based on the world that we do live in, even if that world is a sad and frustrating one.

Comment by adamzerner on Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus · 2020-03-19T05:57:05.801Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
First, no one is choosing the virus so not a great comparison.

Yeah, that's true. When someone eats fast food every day and dies of a heart attack it's not quite as sad as when someone more innocent gets hit by a car.

Comment by adamzerner on Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus · 2020-03-19T05:54:53.352Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
But I view this as more of a mental skill that is built-up rather than something that people start doing immediately when thrust into lower-standad-of-living situations.

That's a great point. I got caught up thinking about how (I think) people should respond as opposed to thinking about how it'll actually play out in practice. That moves me a few more steps towards thinking that it is more harmful.

Comment by adamzerner on Is the coronavirus the most important thing to be focusing on right now? · 2020-03-19T04:01:54.584Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
The fourth argument is just relevance to all of our wellbeing.

My intuition is that from here on out it's going to be hard to find steps we can take that will have even a moderate impact on our wellbeing.

1) We know that we need to avoid contact with others, so I assume we'll all being staying home. Given that we're at home isolated from others, is there much left to do? Things that go beyond common sense and standard advice, like opening packages outside and disinfecting them?

2) Eventually we'll face the question of when it is safe to end the quarantine. A conservative answer to that question is probably going to be "a few months after everyone else does". Maybe by studying it we'll learn that it's safe to end quarantine after two months instead of three, but that doesn't seem like it's a particularly impactful use of time.

3) Sadly, we can probably expect some members of our community to be infected. Or at least the loved ones of some members of our community. So then, the question of how to deal with infection is inevitably going to present itself.

I feel torn about whether that will be the most important thing to focus on when it does. On the one hand, when you shut up and multiply, I'm pretty sure that xrisk is many, many times more important. On the other, I really care about people in this community. I've always felt torn about this question of how much extra moral weight to give to those who I care about.

Regardless, I feel pessimistic that there will be much room for us to offer useful advice here. The big question is probably going to be whether you'll be able to navigate through the swarms in the hospitals to get access to treatment, and it seems unlikely that we'll be able assist with that.

Fortunately our community tends to be on the young side, and we are probably all quarantined by now, so we'll at least be good in a relative sense.

Comment by adamzerner on Is the coronavirus the most important thing to be focusing on right now? · 2020-03-19T03:17:12.958Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW
I think this made LessWrong a natural Schelling point of attention

Outsiders are paying attention to our coverage of the coronavirus? To a significant degree?

Comment by adamzerner on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-03-18T22:49:41.621Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Do you know of places that would make good use of donations? If so, I strongly encourage you to write them up, ideally as answer here.

No, I don't know of places that would be particularly good to donate to. The WHO seems like a safe bet. Also, GiveWell is looking in to it (which I also noted in the other post).

Personally I suspect that even without knowing the best place to donate to, earning to give would be a more efficient use of time. However, I don't feel too confident in that. I don't know enough about how effective professionals actually are in practice, and LessWrongers in general seem to be extremely capable, even when venturing outside of their areas of expertise.

I also think a top-level post making the case for or against focusing on COVID vs. (other?) X-risk is a great idea.

I agree. I just posted this question.

Comment by adamzerner on Where can we donate time and money to avert coronavirus deaths? · 2020-03-18T22:41:23.794Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also see https://blog.givewell.org/2020/03/10/march-2020-open-thread/.

Comment by adamzerner on Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus · 2020-03-18T22:22:28.492Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Some coronavirus-related problems are more tractable today than normal problems.

Hm, that's true, right now is a particularly good time to work on the coronavirus. I'm not sure if that outweighs the fact that other issues like xrisk are way bigger than the coronavirus though.

Comment by adamzerner on Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus · 2020-03-18T22:19:14.238Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I totally agree that MMM got quite a few things wrong in that post. It's caused me to decrease my confidence in him too. However, the lifestyle factors point didn't strike me as one of those. We certainly shouldn't take his word for it, but it seems worth considering the question.

Those are some good points you make, thank you. I agree that there is something to be said about how "lifestyle factors" are a conscious choice that people made. To me that nudges things somewhat, but isn't a game changer. I don't think it makes it 10x less bad or anything.

The economic impact is a point that I think is crucial to the question of how bad this really is, and I think it's related to the questions I pose about how bad is it really to have less money. If bad economic impact means lower standard of living, and lower standard of living isn't really that impactful on happiness, then maybe bad economic impact isn't that bad. But I suspect that there are things I'm overlooking, and that bad economic impact is in fact relatively bad. So then, I update my viewpoint to being that it's a notable amount worse than lifestyle factors deaths, but still in the same ballpark, not 10x worse. My confidence in the "how bad is it to have a bad economic impact" question is pretty wide though, because it's not something I know much about.

with an imminent risk that 1-10% of everyone dies within the next two years.

Is that really a possibility? I imagine that governments would impose a strict quarantine before letting it get that bad.

For my low-income friends though, yes. Yes it is going to be that bad. Sometimes people don't have jobs. Sometimes people don't have savings. A large portion of people live paycheck to paycheck.

In the situation where you don't have savings or a job, here is what I'm imagining. The majority would have family or a friend they could stay with until they get back on their feet, which doesn't seem that bad. For those who don't have anyone to turn to, I assume homeless shelters would be an option, as opposed to literally dying on the streets without food, water or shelter. Homeless shelters do provide basic needs, so if you want to be really hardcore with the "happiness is all in your head" stuff, you should still in theory be ok. But I don't know much about what it's truly like; maybe there's more to it than that. On that note, to be clear, I don't mean to come across as insensitive or anything. I fully acknowledge that I might be wrong here. What I'm trying to do is explain what my model is and figure out where it might be wrong.

Comment by adamzerner on Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus · 2020-03-18T21:59:16.951Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a great point, I totally agree. Like Isnasense mentioned in their comment, my faith in MMM is quite a bit lower after reading the post. However, it is still possible that correct about the points regarding how bad the coronavirus is compared to status quo thing like heart disease.

I don't think we should take his word for it, but thinking about it from first principles, it seems at least very plausible to me. But maybe I'm wrong, that's partly why I wrote this post. I'm curious to hear what others think.

Comment by adamzerner on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-03-18T07:26:57.941Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To answer these questions it seems like it would be quite helpful to have domain specific expertise. So then, along the lines of comparative advantage, wouldn't it be more effective to earn to give? And following that thought, while the coronavirus is certainly scary, is it actually worth putting resources towards over things like existential risk reduction?

Perhaps the response to these points is that in practice, the coronavirus is particularly salient, and people are more likely to help out by doing research into these questions than they are with eg. existential risk reduction or earning to give.

Comment by adamzerner on What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world? · 2020-03-13T22:25:15.606Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Makes sense. So with that expectation of more money and less regulations, how does that affect our expectation that hospitals will be overwhelmed, and thus that death rates will be higher?

Comment by adamzerner on What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world? · 2020-03-13T16:54:01.415Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As things get out of hand, I would expect countries to throw a ton of money at it, basically like declaring war. When a ton of money is thrown at it, will hospitals still be overwhelmed?

Comment by adamzerner on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-11T16:42:20.397Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW
You're saying that the post is interested in supporting defecting and causing societal harm for personal benefit?

I'm simply commenting on the "personal benefit" part without acknowledging the "good for society" part.

Not that the "good for society" part isn't important. Of course it is. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have conversations about the "personal benefit" part in isolation.

Comment by adamzerner on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-10T17:40:13.934Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think that we should distinguish between two different questions. 1) Is what they're communicating good information for me? 2) Is what they're communicating good for society?

I interpreted "credibility" as related to the first question. And my point was that a) the lack of info and b) the lack of nuanced discussion of info makes me think that this credibility is reduced.

Comment by adamzerner on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-10T16:13:19.243Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

True. The downside would be that animal testing is slower, which is I think why jimrandomh was proposing human testing.

Comment by adamzerner on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-10T06:21:42.208Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, if you could reduce the space of possible vaccines to a smaller set of plausible ones, that certainly makes sense.

This makes me wonder, why not just let people volunteer to test risky treatments in general? Because there'd be bad actors who try weird shit willy nilly and misrepresent it to people as more plausible than it really is, such that the harm done to people outweighs the advancements in knowledge? But what if you remove the profit motive and only give this power to government researchers? Would they have too many career-y incentives to be too aggressive?

Comment by adamzerner on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-10T01:30:53.917Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But the space of possible vaccines is very large, I assume. So even with a ton of human testing that only takes three weeks, maybe this still doesn't help much?

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-10T01:22:25.969Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Are there any explicit approaches you're thinking of that can be taken? Truth be told I don't see how we would realistically stave off this scenario, other than the harsh quarantine measures that worked in China.

Harsh quarantining is the main one. Also promoting low hanging fruit like the stuff we've found on the CJPA thread.

I totally disagree. I think "someone's best guess and go with it" is going to be horribly mismatched with what we actually want from stores and supplies, and will be actively harmful.

Fair enough. It seems this is a pretty important prior. If you're right about best guesses being horribly inadequate, then I do agree that it would be a bad idea overall.

I think this is simply naive.

Perhaps. You make some good points, and planning fallacy is certainly a thing, so I think your estimate of $100B is probably closer to the truth than my $15B one.

But even at $100B it still seems like a bargain. And I think that similar planning fallacy-related points can be made about estimating what it would cost us if it spread to eg. 10% of the world's population. Eg. it probably costs a lot more than what our first estimates would be.

This is a very risky gamble, both from an economic point of view but also unfortunately as a career move.

Is it? I'm not well-versed with politics but my impression is that doing things in the name of safety is good for electability. Eg. through the roof military spending.

Well, that's just one example, and I can also think of counterexamples. There are of course those who want to cut health care spending. And departments like the CDC seem to be underfunded. So overall I get a weak sense that it'd be a risky career move.

However, worrying about your career seems like a big lost purpose to me. Why acquire political power if you're not going to cash it in at a time like this? I doubt they're saving it up for something more important. It seems more like they seek power for power's sake. But I digress.

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-09T05:58:40.204Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you, I appreciate it!

Declaring a national emergency is a huge cost for a country in general and a government in particular. I think the best way to look at this is that the converse state, "everything is fine please continue operating as normal", is a very profitable and desirable state, and you're destroying that.

I think that's a good point. I had been overlooking it. I have a tendency to use a "when death is involved, nothing else matters" heuristic.

However, my impression is that if P(>10% of the population is infected) is reasonably high — say, >25% — then the cost to the economy would be tremendous, and it would be worth paying a huge cost right now to avoid that possibility. I'm no expert of course and am totally just eyeballing those numbers.

This all is to say that if the reason why panic is so bad is due to the economic impact, it's not clear to me that it's better than the alternative of taking a chance at an even worse economic impact.

Regulating supplies and stores is hard.

For those questions you proceed to pose, my thought is that you have to just make your best guess and go with it. Best guesses may not be perfect, but I would expect them to be solid. In other words, none of those questions seem difficult enough where it would stop us in our tracks.

On top of this I think governments have very little experience with epidemics like the one we are facing (globally) today.

I thought the CDC researches and plans for all of these scenarios? Isn't that their entire purpose? (Sorry for the sass; it isn't aimed at you :))

I think the idea of "Eventually we'd be able to test the whole country" is an extremely weak link in any public health plan, and simply is too ambitious to work.

I can't find the link but I recall a YouTube video where a doctor mentioned that tests cost somewhere around $20, and talked about how here in the US you have to sit in a waiting room with a bunch of sick people sneezing around you, but in Korea it's a drive through where you get a quick swab and get your results a few hours later.

If we say the cost is $50/person total, that'd be about $15B to test everyone. I have a bad intuition for the magnitudes of numbers that are used in macroeconomics, but the market for laptops was about $100B in 2017, so I assume the impact of the coronavirus is roughly in hundreds of billions or trillions, in which case $15B isn't that bad.

Plus it's not even clear to me how giving everybody a food and healthcare box will fix the epidemic, it sounds more like a stopgap measure to me (isolation in combination with this would be the real solution, but telling entire regions to self-quarantine is again incredibly expensive).

My thinking with the healthcare box is that it'd be something that might be necessary if people isolate and if the panic is severe enough where people can't get food at grocery stores, not that it would fix the epidemic.

Comment by adamzerner on How did the Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Thread Change Your Behavior, if at All? · 2020-03-09T05:21:20.905Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Because of the thread:

  • Bought copper tape and put it on various door handles and light switches.
  • Bought vitamin D pills and take them daily.
  • I already have a pulse oximeter and have been checking my and my girlfriend's osat levels. Because I have a small cough and also just to be safe.

I would have done anyway:

  • Self-quarantine.
  • Hand sanitizer and wipes at front door for each time I come home after being out.
  • Be careful handling delivery packages.
  • Stocked up on food and stuff.

Things I didn't do:

  • Electrolyte powder. I think I'd be able to hydrate properly without it.
  • Make my own hand sanitizer. I considered it to save money, but it seems easier and safer to just buy it.

Not applicable:

  • Covering phone with copper tape. I'm not going out (in public) anymore.
  • Hand lotion. I'm staying home and not using hand sanitizer enough where my hands get dry.
Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-09T05:19:18.861Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I like the general idea. I used it the other day when I went to Starbucks and to the library.

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-09T05:08:35.953Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, it does seem likely that some people would flee, thinking "if I just get far enough away from the city I'll be fine". And as jimrandomh mentions, this would lead to more spread of the virus. However, my intuition is that 1) there wouldn't be too many people trying to flee, and that 2) deploying the army would make that risk trivial. My intuition could very well be wrong though.

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-09T05:01:29.896Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, I see.

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T18:01:17.461Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense, thank you.

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T17:54:45.550Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
running away is just going to result in the formation of dangerous migrating packs of sick monkeys spreading the problem around and looking for something with a face to punch

Wouldn't people here be afraid of getting infected and just want to stay home? If the army was deployed, would this still be a risk?

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T17:46:01.477Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that it doesn't have to work for most goods. People can make do with eg. beans and rice for a while until things settle down. Would the government be able to distribute big bags of beans and rice to people?

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T17:42:44.183Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
It's far harder to do contact tracing

Why is that? I'm assuming that panic would mean more isolation and only going out to gather essentials like food and medicine. With that assumption it seems like it'd be easier to do contact tracing.

and reaching out to the community to get them messages about what they should or should not do when people are panicking

If the internet stays up I don't see why there'd be a problem here.

Lots of essential industries like the water company and the electric company need other parts of the economy, like delivery trucks and computer-logistics systems to continue functioning.

Delivery trucks certainly seem essential. Would throwing money at it solve that problem? Eg. paying workers 2-3x their wages? What about the army stepping in to help here?

"The government" in the US certainly doesn't have the authority to do most of these things. Governors can declare a state of emergency on a per-state basis, but commandeering resources would still be hard to justify legally. They would try to do it anyways, but a state government doesn't have enough people to actually do most of this.

Like you say, it seems likely that they would do it anyway. In that case, the question is whether they have the resources to pull it off. I assume the federal government would step in. And there are about 2M active + reserve personnel in the armed forces. I assume they would be utilized to help deal with this during a true panic.

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T17:25:15.162Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Declaring a national emergency, regulating supplies and stores, testing the literal whole county and providing food and healthcare packages takes time, planning and frankly skill that I'm not sure governments have.

Do you mind elaborating on that?

But I think the negative impact of empty grocery stores, people hoarding hygiene products, shops closing because too many employees are staying indoors etc. will be very serious, and that it will take at least weeks before any centralised plan will be able to catch up with this.

Would it be such a bad thing if it took weeks? I would think that most people have enough food and hygiene products to last weeks. And for those that don't, I would expect most of those people to have family, friends or neighbors who would share. And if that all fails, I would think the government would be able to provide some sort of support (eg. bags of rice and beans) early before the more official support that would come later.

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T17:15:56.322Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why wouldn't the west be successful in that sort of socialist role? Would citizens resist? With physical violence?

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T17:11:08.636Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That certainly makes sense when it comes to core infrastructure, but it's not clear to me that core infrastructure would actually be compromised.

With panic I'd think the government would be able to get a ton of funding to fight this. Perhaps that can be used to pay workers in core infrastructure 2x their normal wages. Would they still stay home? More than 75% of them? What if it were 3x their normal wages? Are there no other incentives that would work?

Comment by adamzerner on Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing? · 2020-03-08T17:02:51.616Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In other types of panics I can see this being an issue, but here wouldn't it just lead to more isolation? If not, can you be more specific about what bad things you envision would happen?

Comment by adamzerner on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-08T08:05:18.292Z · score: 16 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The CDC offers a pretty short list of things to do as far as prevention goes. Surely that can't be all there is. Why not post something similar to our Justified Practical Advice thread? At least with low cost/risk ideas like copper tape and taking vitamin D.

And for more unclear or controversial things like wearing a mask, why not offer a nuanced discussion of the trade-offs involved?

The fact that they haven't done these things reduces their credibility in my eyes.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T23:36:34.517Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As this answer mentions, copper tape kills diseases. And most of the spread seems to come from hand-to-surface-to-face. With those thoughts, I'm wondering if there is some sort of glove you could wear that makes spread less likely.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T23:29:20.708Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Advertise that you are seeing the smoke.

From the article:

As Eliezer reminded us, most people sitting alone in a room will quickly get out if it starts filling up with smoke. But if two other people in the room seem unperturbed, almost everyone will stay put. That is the result of a famous experiment from the 1960s and its replications — people will sit and nervously look around at their peers for 20 minutes even as thick smoke starts obscuring their vision.

and

The goal of this post is twofold. First, if you’re the sort of person who will keep sitting in a smoke filled room until someone else gets up, I’m here to be that someone for you.

If results of the experiment are real, I think we can expect 1) people to hesitate to take the coronavirus seriously, 2) people to take it more seriously if they know that you are taking it seriously. We want people to take it seriously, and so advertising that you take it seriously — as Jacobian did — seems like a good thing to do.

This could mean texting your family and friends, or posting on social media (in such a way that doesn't incite panic).

Consider that some people may be higher yield targets of your advertising than others. Someone who is capable of changing their mind, has the option of working from home and who lives in a densely populated area is an example of a high yield target.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T22:56:07.674Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Do you have any good pointers re: how much asymptomatic transfer there is?

Not really, sorry. The source that comes to my mind is the CDC ("Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure") but I also just generally recall various sources/people talking about it.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T21:34:45.818Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that the usefulness of a pulse oximeter depends on the progression of the disease. If "low osat" comes before "fever etc", then a pulse oximeter would help you move from "low osat → fever etc. → see a doctor" to "low osat → see a doctor → fever etc.". But if "fever etc." comes first, I would think you would be at "fever etc. → see a doctor → get osat measured" regardless of whether you have a pulse oximeter, and so I don't see how the pulse oximeter would be useful.

I googled around and don't have a great sense of what the progression is, but it seems that the fever comes before the more serious respiratory stuff (source: https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-covid19-day-by-day-symptoms-patients-2020-2?op=1).

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T20:55:04.226Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting to hear that about the common cold.

My first thought is that with the coronavirus, our risk tolerance is much lower, and even if the data point applied to the coronavirus as well, 1/16 still isn't great. So if it makes sense to take the precautions of washing your hands after touching surfaces that others have touched, it probably also makes sense to avoid kissing people.

My second thought is that when you're kissing people it's probably going to be people you know personally and trust to be asymptomatic. But people can have the disease and be asymptomatic for weeks, so I'm not sure how much that helps.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T01:59:43.737Z · score: 28 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Cabin fever is unnecessary.

According to the CDC the coronavirus is thought to spread similarly to how the common cold spreads: person-to-person spread, and contact with infected surfaces or objects. There are certainly ways to get out of the house without coming in close contact with other people and without coming into contact with surfaces that others have touched. For example, going for a walk or a bike ride. (In densely populated cities this will certainly be harder.)

Furthermore, socializing with friends who you trust shouldn't be too risky. From the CDC:

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

So then, if you know/trust that your friends are asymptomatic, and you trust that they are hygienic (wash their hands, wipe their counters, etc.), socializing with them shouldn't be too risky.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T01:38:19.901Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

With a little research I think you can probably save money by avoiding the cafeteria. Budget Bytes has a lot of meal ideas for a few dollars a meal that can be cooking in advance and in bulk.

Both cafeterias and classrooms seem like places that'd have some of the highest risks of infections, due to being in close proximity to others but moreso because you're touching surfaces that others have touched. It seems like a good idea to me to avoid cafeterias because it wouldn't be too difficult to find a different place to eat. Perhaps your car. Or perhaps at tables that aren't used as frequently as the cafeteria.

But the downside of not going to class seems much larger. Depending on the class of course. Some big lectures that don't take attendance probably aren't worth going to in the first place, whereas smaller classes that do take attendance and don't use the textbook would be much harder to miss.

Comment by adamzerner on How to Lurk Less (and benefit others while benefiting yourself) · 2020-03-01T00:11:02.118Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right. And there are probably many people other than the author who can respond to your question as well.

Comment by adamzerner on How to Lurk Less (and benefit others while benefiting yourself) · 2020-03-01T00:09:59.150Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Posts like this have been written before, but I think it's worth making the point periodically.

Agreed.

In general I like this sort of metadata in posts. Since I'm pro-making-the-point-periodically, this particular metadata wasn't necessary for me, but if I wasn't I could imagine myself progressing through the following thought process: "Ugh, this has been said already. Oh wait, he's acknowledging that. Hm, actually I think I've undervalued the benefits of making the point periodically. Let's keep reading..."

Another thing I like about this sort of metadata is that I suspect that it makes posting less intimidating. Eg for a post like this, without the metadata you as the author might feel hesitant ("People will be annoyed because this has been said already."), but by adding the metadata you might feel better about posting it ("Even though it's been said already, I do have the disclaimer.) And by including metadata it sorta shows others that doing so is acceptable and makes them feel comfortable including it in their own posts.

Comment by adamzerner on How to Lurk Less (and benefit others while benefiting yourself) · 2020-03-01T00:00:26.056Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How about "I don't understand X, can someone explain?" comments? I don't see those very often, but I think they would be pretty awesome! The person with the question gets their question answered; other people with the question get an answer; people who didn't have the question get some cross-linking; it provides an easy way for lurkers to participate more; and this activity on the post provides encouragement to the author. I've had this in my mind as something to do more often for a while but haven't taken much action on it for some reason.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-02-29T23:40:09.824Z · score: 15 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Work out at home instead of at the gym.

According to the CDC the coronavirus is thought to spread similarly to how the common cold spreads: person-to-person spread, and contact with infected surfaces or objects. The gym is a place where you'll be in close proximity with other people, and where you'll be touching surfaces that many other people have touched, and thus is a place where the risk of getting infected is high.

On top of that, the downside to working out at home seems quite low. There is so much that you can do without gym equipment (burpees are awesome if you don't mind the intensity), and there are large diminishing returns to exercising more and to exercising more efficiently. Plus, changing up your routine is good for both effectiveness and for fun.

Comment by adamzerner on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-02-29T23:20:28.507Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed.