Posts

[Link] "First Is Best" - The serial position effect / primacy effect 2012-07-05T03:01:43.322Z · score: 4 (5 votes)

Comments

Comment by aelephant on Links! · 2014-06-09T01:15:14.502Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The spirit of Seth Roberts lives!

Comment by aelephant on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-09T18:34:48.711Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a randomized trial from JAMA showing more than 1000% increase in urinary BPA after consuming canned soup: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3367259/

BPA used to be in a lot of plastics, but I think it has been phased out. Perhaps someone else can confirm or refute that.

Another source is transdermally through handling receipts. I've heard of at least one health conscious workplace giving their cashiers wooden tongs to handle the receipts. Best practice would probably be to email them instead. Saves paper too.

Comment by aelephant on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-01T18:32:08.097Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Bisphenol A and human health: a review of the literature

Comment by aelephant on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-02-27T18:33:51.192Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would recommend against eating canned food to limit your exposure to Bisphenol A.

I would also not eat tuna every single day for such an extended period of time!

Comment by aelephant on Testing my cognition · 2014-02-21T19:09:39.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Curious where you got the USMLE questions. Are you able to share them?

Comment by aelephant on Testing my cognition · 2014-02-21T19:08:33.536Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Creatine will make you retain water in the muscles, which will make them look bulkier than they otherwise would.

Comment by aelephant on Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014 · 2014-01-14T10:52:43.516Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, how do you master Mandarin AND French with difficulties with akrasia & drive?

Comment by aelephant on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2014-01-12T08:44:30.795Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nick Winter used a similar scheme (albeit with a towel) & found that not only did he get better at pullups, his 1 mile time & bench press improved as well!

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2014-01-10T02:44:52.308Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I consider them outside the realm of morality. If a mentally disabled person committed murder, for example, he or she could not be held morally liable for their actions -- instead the parent or guardian has the moral & legal responsibility for making sure that he or she doesn't steal, kill, etc.

Comment by aelephant on Open thread for December 24-31, 2013 · 2013-12-29T10:32:02.365Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Feeding grain to cattle is an awful practice that needs to stop; the sooner, the better.

Re: grazing cattle, have you seen Allan Savory's TED talk? http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

Comment by aelephant on Open thread for December 24-31, 2013 · 2013-12-29T02:14:06.491Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually grazing cattle don't kill plants, they just trim off the ends.

Comment by aelephant on Open thread for December 24-31, 2013 · 2013-12-26T02:52:37.193Z · score: 1 (15 votes) · LW · GW

And yet those horrible vegetarians continue to murder & eat these sentient lifeforms!

Comment by aelephant on Group Rationality Diary, December 16-31 · 2013-12-17T01:47:39.471Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

If it is just the caffeine you want, why not get some caffeine pills? Virtually no calories & lightyears better for your teeth.

Comment by aelephant on Is it immoral to have children? · 2013-10-24T11:51:50.170Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From Daniel's post, it seems like the categorical imperative defines whether some behavior could be considered morally required, not whether a particular behavior is immoral. Being a computer programmer couldn't be morally required of everyone, but that doesn't mean that it is immoral for some people to be computer programmers.

Comment by aelephant on Is it immoral to have children? · 2013-10-23T23:30:58.217Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you expand on that a bit?

Comment by aelephant on Megameetup on December 13-15th, NYC · 2013-10-07T23:52:49.961Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Will Kim Dotcom be there?

Comment by aelephant on Yet More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-09-09T00:04:14.006Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Doesn't have the same effect. There was a study where they gave one group Vitamin C & one group ate oranges. The group that got the Vitamin C had no change in Antioxidant activity; only the orange-eating group saw the benefit. Probably there are some other factors involved that we just haven't figured out yet. Eventually maybe reductionism will solve this one, but it hasn't yet.

Here's an article about the study in case I remembered incorrectly: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070416/full/news070416-15.html

Comment by aelephant on Yet More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-09-09T00:01:34.016Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What vegetables should you eat?

Dark green ones seem to have more nutritional content in general, but yellow, orange, & red vegetables are typically good sources of Vitamin A & some other pigment-like compounds that might not be in large amounts in the green ones.

Comment by aelephant on Course selection based on instructor · 2013-09-08T23:57:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I had an Organic Chemistry teacher at the small community college in my home town that blew away my big university's Medicinal Chemistry prof. The big university prof was tenured & could treat his students as abusively as he desired without any fear of significant consequences.

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-09-06T23:05:56.896Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Right. Like I said, I find it hard to come up with a good argument. I don't like arguments that extend things into the future, because everything has to get all probabilistic. Is it possible to prove that any particular child is going to grow into an adult? Nope.

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-09-06T00:11:20.826Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Don't know. I imagine any answer I could produce would be a rationalization.

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-09-06T00:10:06.838Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To be completely honest, I agree with you but find it hard to come up for a good argument for why that should be. One way I've thought about it in the past is that the parents or caretakers of a child are sort of like stewards of a property that will be inherited one day. If I'm going to inherit a mansion from my grandfather on my 18th birthday, my parents can't arbitrarily decide to burn it down when I'm 17 & 364 days old. Harming children (physically or emotionally) is damaging the person they will be when they are an adult in a similar way.

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-09-04T23:31:38.310Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To me morality is an agreement that people can come to with one another. Since animals can't come to agreements with one another, what happens between animals is amoral. It isn't immoral when a bird kills a worm or a cat kills a rat and it doesn't make me feel bad either. Humans could make agreements between themselves about how they want to treat other animals, but humans can't make agreements with other animals. For this reason, I consider all interactions with animals to be outside the realm of morality, although there are certain behaviors that disgust me & that are probably indicative of mental illness & a sign that someone is probably a danger to others (eg torturing kittens).

Comment by aelephant on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-09-04T00:56:34.372Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nested bags work well too. I have one of those huge waterproof messenger bags & it is like a bottomless pit if you don't organize it somehow.

Comment by aelephant on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-09-04T00:54:03.612Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This can also be looked at as a willpower issue too. I want to do X, but I didn't do it in the morning or the afternoon, now it is the evening & I've still got to cook myself dinner & then clean the dishes & I'm already exhausted & I was working hard all day & I really just want to relax...

Comment by aelephant on Open thread, August 26 - September 1, 2013 · 2013-08-27T01:46:06.298Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Pharmacy stuff Brand & generic name pairs for prescription drugs. Classes & mechanisms of action for prescription drugs. 1st line therapies for various diseases. Etc.

Mandarin Chinese *Mostly just doing vocab at the moment, but have used it for listening (MP3 clips), writing, & grammar.

Misc work stuff Names of new employees (they're Chinese names, so difficult to remember) Who is the contact person for what (eg if you want a new email account, you need to contact Mrs. Wu YiJun for approval)

Comment by aelephant on Two angles on Repetitive Strain Injury · 2013-08-27T01:36:34.212Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking "rapid sequence intubation".

I've noticed that in published works, the 1st instance of a term is usually spelled out / clarified. So in the title, you could use "repetitive strain injury (RSI)" & then use RSI for every instance after that.

Comment by aelephant on Rationalist households: What can London learn from its predecessors? · 2013-08-23T13:32:07.529Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if getting everyone to agree to use Beeminder could help with the cleanliness. When I lived in a group house I found that my mate whom I shared a bathroom with had a significantly lower dirtiness threshold than I did. I don't consider myself particularly disgusting & never even noticed the bathroom was getting dirty, but it drove him crazy. I didn't want to be a dick & never clean the bathroom, but I never cleaned the bathroom because he ended up flipping out & doing it himself. I probably would've agreed to using Beeminder or some other similar system to help motivate me, had I known about these kinds of things at the time.

Comment by aelephant on Torture vs Dust Specks Yet Again · 2013-08-20T23:59:26.764Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'd assume that 3^^^3 people would prefer to have a barely noticeable dust speck in their eye momentarily over seeing me get tortured for 50 years & thus I'd choose the dust specks. If I'm wrong, that is fine, any of those 3^^^3 people can take me to court & sue me for "damages", of which there were none. Maybe appropriate reimbursement would be something like 1/3^^^3 of a cent per person?

Comment by aelephant on Humans are utility monsters · 2013-08-20T23:20:37.066Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would rather observe you & see what you do to avoid becoming a wirehead. I'd put saying you want to avoid becoming a wirehead & saying you want to want to pay to save the squirrels in the same camp -- totally unprovable at this point in time. In the future maybe we can scan your brain & see which of your stated preferences you are likely to act on; that'd be extremely cool, especially if we could scan politicians during their campaigns.

Comment by aelephant on Group Rationality Diary, August 1-15 · 2013-08-18T00:42:01.997Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've actually built & abandoned several decks. When I was studying in university I was focusing more on the specific usage of certain words in context, so my cards were ridiculously complex. It was good for studying for the exams, but exhausting to keep up with. Now my cards are pure vocabulary. I don't go through lists & add all the words. I wait for the word to come up in daily life, then add it. In the past I studied a lot of words I never used, now I mostly study words I'm encountering regularly. I do think this depends on where you are though. I can usually follow a conversation but just one or two words will be new to me. If you're still in the early beginning phase, you need to collect all of those super common words first.

Comment by aelephant on Humans are utility monsters · 2013-08-17T00:07:03.146Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

When you're talking about the utility of squirrels, what exactly are you calculating? How much you personally value squirrels? How do you measure that? If it is just a thought experiment ("I would pay $1 per squirrel to prevent their deaths") how do you know that you aren't just lying to yourself & if it really came down to it, you wouldn't pay? Maybe we can only really calculate utility after the fact by looking at what people do rather than what they say.

Comment by aelephant on Group Rationality Diary, August 1-15 · 2013-08-16T23:52:11.356Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Congrats man. I also highly suggest you use Anki if you aren't already. It reminds me of the words & phrases I learned months ago & keeps them fresh in my memory. Not that it is my sole motivation, but you can really impress native speakers when you pull out some obscure saying someone mentioned in passing a long while back.

Comment by aelephant on Optimize Your Settings · 2013-07-29T23:59:00.298Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How about intentionally surrounding yourself with people who are excited about the thing you want to be excited about?

Comment by aelephant on Valuing Sentience: Can They Suffer? · 2013-07-29T23:55:57.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It sucks to experience it personally, but maybe it serves an evolutionary purpose that we don't yet fully understand & eliminating it completely would be a mistake?

Comment by aelephant on The Argument From Marginal Cases · 2013-07-28T00:50:13.936Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There's a difference between an infant, which is already a living, breathing human being & the sperm that are expunged in masturbation. Even if those sperm could have been used to produce more humans, there's no way to prove whether or not they would actually. The woman could fail to conceive, for example. If you wanted to make a law against masturbation, you'd also run into the problem that there is no victim, just the probability of someone that might have existed at some point maybe. I also see a conflict here with autonomy. Can we require people to turn all of their sperm into humans? They didn't choose to produce sperm; it is an accident of biology. On the other hand, people do choose to have children (usually); it requires conscious choice & effort (excluding certain exceptions like the female rape victim).

Comment by aelephant on The Robots, AI, and Unemployment Anti-FAQ · 2013-07-27T13:52:10.468Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the US certain employers are required to provide health insurance for employees who work 40 hours per week or more, but not for employees who work 20 hours per week, so that is at least one incentive that would encourage hiring part-time employees vs full-time employees.

Comment by aelephant on The Argument From Marginal Cases · 2013-07-27T13:44:48.868Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

None. You get thrown in jail or put to death for that kind of thing.

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-27T01:36:38.390Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If a moral theory accepted and acted upon by all moral people led to an average decrease in suffering, I'd take that as a sign that it was doing something right. For example, if no one initiated violence against anyone else (except in self defense), I have a hard time imagining how that could create more net suffering though it certainly would create more suffering for the subset of the population who previously used violence to get what they wanted.

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-27T01:29:09.555Z · score: -2 (10 votes) · LW · GW

To me it is not the suffering per se that bothers me about factory farming. I'm having trouble finding the right words, but I want to say it is the "un-naturalness" of it. Animals are not meant to live their whole lives in cages pumped full of antibiotics. I also believe it is harmful to humans, both to the humans who operate these factories (psychologically) & to the humans that consume the product (physically).

On the other hand, it is natural for animals to eat other animals, and properly raised animal products are arguably one of the best sources of nutrition for humans. I also don't think raising chickens on an open farm & slaughtering them is psychologically harmful; I imagine those farmers feel deeply in tune with nature & at peace with their way of life.

Comment by aelephant on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-26T11:47:41.392Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If dogs & cats were raised specifically to be eaten & not involved socially in our lives as if they were members of the family, I don't think I'd care about them any more than I care about chickens or cows.

This article seems to assume that I oppose all suffering everywhere, which I'm not sure is true. Getting caught stealing causes suffering to the thief and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I care about chickens & cows significantly less than I care about thieves because thieves are at least human.

Comment by aelephant on The idiot savant AI isn't an idiot · 2013-07-21T23:56:10.270Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I really don't know the probability of a person saying hello to a stranger who said hello to them. It depends on too many factors, like the look & vibe of the stranger, the history of the person being said hello to, etc.

Given a time constraint, I'd agree that I'd be more likely to predict that the girl would reply hello than to predict Deep Blue's next move, but if there were not a time constraint, I think Deep Blue's moves would be almost 100% predictable. The reason being that all that Deep Blue does is calculate, it doesn't consult its feelings before deciding what to do like a human might. It calculates 200 million positions per second to determine what the end result of any sequence of chess moves will be. If you gave a human enough time, I don't see why they couldn't perform the same calculation & come to the same conclusion that Deep Blue would.

Edit:

Reading more about Deep Blue, it sounds like it is not as straightforward as just calculating. There is some wiggle room in there based on the order in which its nodes talk to one another. It won't always play the same move given the same board positioning. Really fascinating! Thanks for engaging politely, it motivated me to investigate this more & I'm glad I did.

Comment by aelephant on The idiot savant AI isn't an idiot · 2013-07-21T23:35:09.906Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not trying to argue that humans are completely unpredictable, but neither are AIs. If they were, there'd be no point in trying to design a friendly one.

About your point that humans are less able to predict AI behavior than human behavior, where are you getting those numbers from? I'm not saying that you're wrong, I'm just skeptical that someone has studied the frequency of girls saying hello to strangers. Deep Blue has probably been studied pretty thoroughly; it'd be interesting to read about how unpredictable Deep Blue's moves are.

Comment by aelephant on The idiot savant AI isn't an idiot · 2013-07-21T22:45:38.021Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to protect Rolf because he can't seem to interact with others without lashing out at them abusively.

Comment by aelephant on The idiot savant AI isn't an idiot · 2013-07-21T22:37:30.347Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would gather we have much more certainty about Deep Blue's algorithms considering that we built them. You're getting into hypothetical territory assuming that we can obtain near perfect knowledge of the human brain & that the neural state is all we need to predict future human behavior.

Comment by aelephant on The idiot savant AI isn't an idiot · 2013-07-19T10:01:53.710Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That would be in the "More Likely" bucket, or rather an "Extremely Likely" bucket. You said that the girl would say "hello" & that is in the "More Likely" bucket too, but far from a certainty. She could ignore him, turn the other way, poke him in the stomach, or do any of an almost infinite other things. Either way, you're resorting to insults & I've barely engaged with you, so I'm going to ignore you from here on out.

Comment by aelephant on The idiot savant AI isn't an idiot · 2013-07-18T23:46:05.346Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You can put her potential actions into "More Likely" & "Less Likely" boxes, but you can't predict them with any certainty. What if the guy was the rapist she's been plotting revenge against since she was 7 years old?

Comment by aelephant on Comparative and absolute advantage in AI · 2013-07-18T23:40:15.951Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think we need to clarify how God-like this hypothetical AI is. If the AI is not very God-like, then trying to turn humans into hamburgers could be very costly for it. If we made the AI, maybe we could make a competing AI to resist it or use some backdoor built into the AI's programming to pull the plug. At the very least, we could launch missiles at it.

If the AI is very God-like, then there are more resource rich sources than human beings it could easily obtain. It'd be sort of like humans gathering up all of the horses for transportation when we already have cars & planes.

Comment by aelephant on Comparative and absolute advantage in AI · 2013-07-17T10:32:02.743Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's no scarcity of air. If the AI can turn air into hamburgers, I don't think the resources contained in my body would be the AI's preferred source of energy given that they will be more costly to extract (I will fight to keep them) & contain less energy overall than many other potential sources. If the AI can turn air into hamburgers, it could just leave the earth & convert the core of a huge star into hamburgers instead.

Comment by aelephant on Comparative and absolute advantage in AI · 2013-07-16T23:54:59.322Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If we want hamburgers & the AI can make them much more efficiently than we can, why wouldn't we just willingly give our resources to the AI so that it can make hamburgers? Resisting the AI would be dangerous for us depending on the AI's military capabilities & the AI trying to overpower us could be dangerous for the AI as well.

The thing about nations is that they can externalize the costs & consolidate the benefits of invading a country -- the politicians & corporations that benefit from the invasion don't have to fight & die in the battles -- that's what poor young men & women are for; nor do they pay for the costs of the military supplies -- that's what taxes & debt are for.