A Rational New Year 2020-12-21T05:51:53.432Z
Cambridge, MA Rationalist Reading Group 2020-10-19T04:01:24.060Z
How much to worry about the US election unrest? 2020-10-12T03:39:55.105Z
Reading Discussion Group 2020-09-29T03:59:14.510Z
C̶a̶m̶b̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ Virtual LW/SSC Meetup 2020-09-29T03:42:07.369Z
Reading Discussion Group 2020-09-06T18:49:15.044Z
C̶a̶m̶b̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ Virtual LW/SSC Meetup 2020-08-28T02:45:11.504Z
Rationalist Reading Group (Online) 2020-07-30T02:14:04.411Z
C̶a̶m̶b̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ Virtual LW/SSC Meetup 2020-07-23T03:25:25.510Z
C̶a̶m̶b̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ Virtual LW/SSC Meetup 2020-07-02T03:45:06.577Z
C̶a̶m̶b̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ Virtual LW/SSC Meetup 2020-06-02T03:17:49.849Z
̶C̶a̶m̶b̶r̶i̶d̶g̶e̶ Virtual LW/SSC Meetup 2020-04-27T03:41:39.390Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup 2020-02-22T19:56:28.682Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup: Prediction Training 2020-01-28T05:25:07.466Z
An Empistemically Rational Superbowl 2020-01-28T04:05:40.095Z
Cambridge Prediction Game 2020-01-25T03:57:59.721Z
Cambridge LW/SC Meetup 2019-12-28T03:07:07.008Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup 2019-11-18T02:51:29.797Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup 2019-10-30T13:35:14.247Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup 2019-10-02T03:37:53.551Z
SSC Meetups Everywhere 2019-09-10T06:02:10.679Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup 2019-08-31T17:10:38.696Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup 2019-07-23T00:47:42.743Z
Self-experiment Protocol: Effect of Chocolate on Sleep 2019-07-22T03:32:19.106Z
Cambridge LW/SSC Meetup 2019-06-03T01:55:57.895Z
Cambridge LessWrong / SSC Meetup 2019-05-13T01:56:43.913Z
Cambridge SSC Meetup 2019-04-05T02:12:00.121Z
Cambridge SSC Meetup 2019-02-17T18:28:46.057Z
Cambridge SSC Meetup 2019-02-17T18:27:07.227Z
Cambridge SlateStarCodex Meetup 2019-01-06T05:11:20.893Z
Why Most Intentional Communities Fail (And Some Succeed) 2017-05-22T03:04:23.288Z
What are you surprised people pay for instead of doing themselves? 2017-02-13T01:07:33.803Z
What are you surprised people don't just buy? 2017-02-13T01:07:12.335Z
[Link] White House announces a series of workshops on AI, expresses interest in safety 2016-05-04T02:50:22.434Z
Group Rationality Diary, February 2016 2016-02-14T01:55:15.553Z
Study partner matching thread 2016-01-25T04:25:03.592Z
[Link] Stephen Hawking AMA answers 2015-10-08T23:13:34.610Z
Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread 2015-09-27T21:22:14.904Z
Notes on Actually Trying 2015-09-23T02:53:36.275Z
Meetup : Cambridge Less Wrong Meetup - Book Recommendations 2015-09-22T02:53:31.734Z
Meetup : Boston Meetup 2015-09-04T01:46:49.330Z
Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread 2015-08-22T20:25:11.140Z
Meetup : Boston: Unconference 2015-08-15T02:38:10.327Z
Guarding Against the Postmodernist Failure Mode 2014-07-08T01:34:33.440Z
[Link] Concrete steps are being taken towards futarchy 2013-06-14T00:21:46.423Z
[LINK] Meteorologists are Epistemically Rational 2012-09-13T04:59:41.716Z
What is the best way to read the sequences? 2012-06-17T03:50:05.672Z


Comment by AspiringRationalist on Come Build Affordable Housing! · 2021-08-01T20:13:16.633Z · LW · GW

Right, but that impacts whether it's actually profitable to build them.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Come Build Affordable Housing! · 2021-07-26T23:25:23.025Z · LW · GW

If you buy one, l assume you can't then rent it out at market rate? What restrictions are there on your ability to resell it? I would expect that to massively decrease these units' value to potential buyers.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on The value of low-conscientiousness people on teams · 2021-06-20T20:19:22.112Z · LW · GW

As long as we're going off on tangents, does anyone know a name for the bias where Oxonians look like they're doing things effortlessly?

I suspect the following is a common psychological failure mode, and I want a term to refer to it:

  1. See someone doing something amazing and making it look easy
  2. Try to do something similar (or imagine trying to)
  3. Realize (or assume) that it's hard and will take a lot of work
  4. Conclude that because it's easy for the other person and hard for you, you must be bad at it (when actually it's hard for the other person too, but you just don't see the work that they put into it)
  5. Since you've concluded that it's hard and you're bad at it, you give up
Comment by AspiringRationalist on Are bread crusts healthier? · 2021-06-19T01:43:01.260Z · LW · GW

The intuition might also come from whole grains generally being healthier and darker than refined grains. A naive attempt to generalize that might conclude that the darkest part of the bread is the healthiest.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on What topics are on Dath Ilan's civics exam? · 2021-04-28T22:14:09.321Z · LW · GW

Given the following charts, statistics, and arguments based on those charts and statistics, point out the important flaws in the arguments and state what unjustified conclusions the arguers are trying to cause you to reach.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on The Fall of Rome, II: Energy Problems? · 2021-04-23T21:39:47.559Z · LW · GW

For wood and charcoal to be expensive, forests don't necessarily need to be depleted. Instead, it can be due to higher transportation costs (wood and charcoal are heavy). As the empire became less secure during and after the crisis of the 3rd century, I would expect long-distance transportation to have become less safe (due to banditry) and therefore more expensive.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Covid 4/22: Crisis in India · 2021-04-23T04:02:17.177Z · LW · GW

The important question about Alaska opening up vaccines to tourists is whether non-Americans will be able to get in.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Speculations Concerning the First Free-ish Prediction Market · 2021-04-01T00:41:37.855Z · LW · GW

Regarding betting on inflation, TIPS already exist.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on "You and Your Research" – Hamming Watch/Discuss Party · 2021-03-21T15:58:32.652Z · LW · GW

Is the idea to watch it when the event starts or to watch it beforehand?

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Politics is way too meta · 2021-03-19T02:53:27.830Z · LW · GW

But elections determine who appoints the judges and bureaucrats who make most policy. And some areas of policy, e.g. tax policy, are mostly decided by elected officials, not appointed judges or bureaucrats.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Science in a High-Dimensional World · 2021-03-10T00:19:35.906Z · LW · GW

A remarkable empirical finding across many scientific fields, at many different scales and levels of abstraction, is that a small set of control variables usually suffices.

I'm skeptical that this is true for most things we care about. It's true in the scientific fields where we have the most accurate models, such as physics, but that's likely because there are so few relevant variables in those fields.

Most new drugs that go into clinical trials fail. Essentially, a pharmaceutical company identifies a variable that appears to be the mediator of a medical outcome, they create a drug that tweaks that variable, and then it turns out not to produce the outcome that they thought it would. There are too many other relevant variables that are poorly understood.

The other thing that makes me skeptical is the effectiveness of machine learning models that use a large number of inputs. It's possible that there's a simple underlying structure to what they're predicting that we just haven't figured out yet, but based on what exists now, it sure looks like there are a large number of relevant variables.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Covid 3/4: Declare Victory and Leave Home · 2021-03-06T01:57:42.404Z · LW · GW

Near the end of the linked malaria article, it says:

Bucala and Geall have placed their vaccine in the hands of the Oxford University institution that facilitated the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. It is one of the only places in the world that is doing phase 1 studies in malaria, meaning researchers infect human volunteers with the disease after immunizing them.

So it sounds like maybe they are in act doing human challenge trials.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement · 2021-02-27T17:31:09.860Z · LW · GW

Do you have a link to a higher resolution copy of that poster? The text is too blurry for me to read.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on RadVac Commercial Antibody Test Results · 2021-02-27T17:20:18.580Z · LW · GW

Strong upvote even though this is kind of a meh update, because I want to encourage actually gathering the data and reporting on it.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Curing Sleep: My Experiences Doing Cowboy Science · 2021-02-22T00:54:07.315Z · LW · GW

Some people are willing to pay a premium for the ability to buy something legally.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Curing Sleep: My Experiences Doing Cowboy Science · 2021-02-21T23:39:42.352Z · LW · GW

I'm confused why your lab didn't know about sleep as memory post-processing. My high school psych class in 2005 taught that.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Morality as "Coordination", vs "Do-Gooding" · 2021-01-01T23:28:36.178Z · LW · GW

Consider a case where someone dies in an industrial accident , although all rules were followed: if you think the plant manager should be exonerated because he folowed the rules, you are siding with deontology, whereas if you think he should be punished because a death occurred under his supervision, you are siding with consequentialism.

That's not how consequentialism works. The consequentialist answer would be to punish the plant manager if and only if doing so would cause the world to become a better place.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-11-27T20:44:44.649Z · LW · GW

In jurisdictions where there's an exam required to graduate high school, let students of any age take the exam, but have a sufficiently higher cut-off to graduate early. Anyone who graduates early is automatically admitted to a university (e.g. in the U.S. it might be to their choice of state university) and received a tuition subsidy at least equal to the amount it would have cost the public school system to keep them in high school.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-11-27T20:41:21.671Z · LW · GW

A school where students spend much of their time in mostly-unsupervised independent work and/or socializing, and they are (individually or in small groups with similar ability) matched with tutors on specific topics. I think this would work much better than the one size fits all model we use now.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-11-27T20:37:15.112Z · LW · GW

An elected office where there's a term limit, and some length of time after someone leaves office (e.g. in the following election), voters vote on how good a job they did, and the former office-holder receives a cash payout or pension based on the result of the vote.

The benefits of this system would be:

  • Politicians would have an incentive to focus on how their performance in office will be judged on a longer time-horizon.
  • If the payout is large enough, it would incentivize politicians not to take sinecures and "speaking fees" that would be seen as corrupt after leaving office (and thereby make them less useful as an inducement to corruption while they're in office)
  • During an election, the question "how did it go last time this party was in charge?" would be top-of-mind, encouraging political parties to optimize more for the long term.
Comment by AspiringRationalist on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-11-27T20:27:59.781Z · LW · GW

Equity markets for individual products. Essentially, a company with a design for a new product creates a Kickstarter-like campaign where you can back the product, but in addition to (or instead of) getting the product when it's released, you get royalties on each one sold (e.g. a company promises $5 in royalties per unit sold and sells that for $250k, and investors can buy fractions of that).

This would enable companies (and individual inventors?) to de-risk and apply wisdom of crowds to new product development.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-11-27T20:18:27.422Z · LW · GW

Some way to publish a book as an excludable good. For example, you could have a movie theater, but instead of a movie screen, you have temporary access to a book. Someone watches to make sure you don't copy the book.

That sounds like Kindle.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on A tale from Communist China · 2020-10-20T02:54:43.514Z · LW · GW

One thing I'm curious about - what did the process of the border closing off look like, and what was going on in the weeks leading up to it? While I have no near term plans to emigrate, I often wonder what the warning signs are that it's time to start seriously looking, and what the warning signs are that it's time to GTFO.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Covid 10/15: Playtime is Over · 2020-10-16T03:07:31.362Z · LW · GW

It's not a good idea to rely too heavily on a single source, even a good one. Every source will have some errors, and ideally you want to follow multiple sources whose errors are relatively uncorrelated.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on How often do series C startups fail to exit? · 2020-09-23T02:46:18.586Z · LW · GW

It's also worth looking into what possibilities exist for cashing out your stock. Markets exist for private company stock, though they're much less liquid than that of public companies, and your stock may come with restrictions on your ability to sell it.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Reading Discussion Group · 2020-09-15T02:25:57.591Z · LW · GW

We will be discussing

Thanks everyone who voted!

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Reading Discussion Group · 2020-09-09T20:19:46.018Z · LW · GW

Vote on which article to discuss by September 13.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Sunday September 6, 12pm (PT) — Casual hanging out with the LessWrong community · 2020-09-06T18:38:53.069Z · LW · GW

Do these follow a regular schedule?

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Rationalist Reading Group (Online) · 2020-08-02T16:21:45.859Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the article suggestions. If you plan on coming, please vote here for which article to read.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Six economics misconceptions of mine which I've resolved over the last few years · 2020-07-19T15:46:39.740Z · LW · GW

Given a monopsony employer, setting a minimum wage equal to the competitive equilibrium wage is efficient because it removes the monopsony dead weight loss.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Six economics misconceptions of mine which I've resolved over the last few years · 2020-07-19T15:41:16.607Z · LW · GW

US taxes treat corporate debt financing more favorably than corporate equity financing, which may be distorting companies towards higher leverage.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Discontinuous progress in history: an update · 2020-04-20T03:02:05.227Z · LW · GW

IMO Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Elon Musk seem pretty similar. For example, they both have weird names. I'd predict a heightened chance of discontinuities on metrics his companies are working on. Maybe also a heightened chance of something really big being built. :)

Are there any major recent discontinuities in the cost, range, or number of electric cars, cost or energy density of batteries, or cost of putting stuff into orbit?

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Cambridge Prediction Game · 2020-01-26T16:18:49.962Z · LW · GW

We don't have well-defined stats on how well people's prediction skills have improved over time. From my anecdotal observations, pretty much everyone (myself included) starts out vastly overconfident, and then after losing a lot of points in their first few predictions, reaches an appropriate level of confidence. I'm not sure if anyone goes from ok to great though.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Cambridge Prediction Game · 2020-01-26T16:13:40.726Z · LW · GW

There have been few times that we've been able to take actions based on the predictions, because that requires the following combination of factors that tends not to occur together:

  • The answers are sufficiently clear-cut to make the prediction scorable
  • There are specific actions that depend on those well-defined answers
  • Enough people in our local community have enough insight to get some sort of wisdom of crowds.

The examples where the predictions led to decisions are:

  • Scott Alexander visited Boston and we hosted a meetup that he came to, and we wanted to run a survey at the meetup. We took predictions on how many people would attend, along with a conditional prediction market on the survey response rate for paper vs for tablet. Based on this, we went with paper. Attendance was much higher than anticipated, and we ended up running out of forms (but were able to make copies, so it worked out ok).
  • When our apartment had some maintenance issues and the landlord was giving us mixed signals about whether we'd be able to renew the lease, we took predictions on when/whether the issues would be resolved and whether the landlord would offer a renewal. Based on these, we decided not to look for a new place. The issue was in fact resolved and we were able to renew the lease.
  • One of our housemates has moved away, with some ambiguity around whether it's temporary permanent, and we have predictions on whether they will return. TBD how this one will go.
Comment by AspiringRationalist on Cambridge LW/SC Meetup · 2020-01-02T03:21:11.561Z · LW · GW

For this month's meetup, in the interest of self-improvement, we will be making new year's resolutions, and in the interest of epistemics, we're going to be predicting how likely each other are to succeed at our resolutions.

Sharing new year's resolutions is strictly optional, and if you choose to share them, having people predict how likely you are to succeed is also optional.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Cambridge SSC Meetup · 2019-04-05T02:17:20.187Z · LW · GW

There aren't any activities currently planned for that date range, but we're always eager to meet visiting rationalists so maybe you could stop by.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Feedback on LW 2.0 · 2017-10-08T03:41:11.088Z · LW · GW

What if weight were capped at 1?

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Polling Thread October 2017 · 2017-10-08T00:33:26.282Z · LW · GW

If you're in a conversation at a party and there is another conversation next to you, how does that affect...

... your ability to follow the conversation you're in


... your enjoyment of the party


How likely are you to switch conversations?


Comment by AspiringRationalist on Can anyone refute these arguments that we live on the interior of a hollow Earth? · 2017-07-23T04:07:33.126Z · LW · GW

No. The Ottoman Empire started in 1299. Islam, and various very powerful caliphates, had existed for centuries before that.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Can anyone refute these arguments that we live on the interior of a hollow Earth? · 2017-07-23T04:04:37.240Z · LW · GW

The Qur'an wasn't written down until a while after Muhammad's death, by which time there was an incentive for leaders to edit it for their own benefit.

See also Emperor Constantine I's efforts to quash dissent within the Christian community in order to make it more politically unified.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Open thread, July 10 - July 16, 2017 · 2017-07-15T20:34:25.239Z · LW · GW

Because I think it would be useful to be able to weigh in explicitly on each option rather than just pick a favorite:






Comment by AspiringRationalist on In support of yak shaving part 2 · 2017-07-15T05:19:13.291Z · LW · GW

I'm curious - what have you outsourced to Fancy Hands? I know in theory that I should be outsourcing stuff to services like that, but I really don't know what stuff I can effectively outsource in practice.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T03:24:36.316Z · LW · GW

This could also be a metaphor for politicians, or depending on your worldview, marketing-heavy businesses. Or religions.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Open thread, June. 19 - June. 25, 2017 · 2017-06-22T03:39:26.944Z · LW · GW

I interpreted "fullscreened" to mean "maximized", though I'm not totally sure whether that was the intent.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Open thread, June. 19 - June. 25, 2017 · 2017-06-22T03:32:48.358Z · LW · GW

Disclaimer: US-centric perspective

Elite colleges generally students who are "genuinely" (insert adjectives here), not yet another honor roll student with a boring essay about how their voluntourism trip to Africa changed their life. In a competitive field like that, you want to stand out, and you stand out a lot more by doing something that both clearly signals being good at things and is different from the signals that other students are sending.

Therefore, doing whatever other students of your socio-economic status do is a bad strategy. Much better to do something impressive and different.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017 · 2017-02-20T22:41:43.529Z · LW · GW

Can we please bring back downvoting?

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Increasing GDP is not growth · 2017-02-19T03:18:09.259Z · LW · GW

I don't think whether the group's average output increases or decreases is the right metric. What's important is whether the newly enlarged group's output is higher than what the group and its new members' total output would be if the groups weren't merged - do the immigrants become more productive by immigrating, and do they make the native population more or less productive?

Comment by AspiringRationalist on What are you surprised people pay for instead of doing themselves? · 2017-02-19T02:21:20.262Z · LW · GW

Just because something is an easy thing doesn't mean you will know it's an easy thing.

That's pretty much why I made this thread: so that I (and others) could learn that something that we didn't realize are easy actually are.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on A review of cryonics/brain preservation in 2016 · 2017-01-03T03:17:35.164Z · LW · GW

Thank you for posting this.

I am not signed up for cryonics because I think the current preservation technology is nowhere near good enough work, but I very much appreciate having a concise summary of recent developments so that when the situation improves, I'll know it's time to reconsider.

Comment by AspiringRationalist on Downvotes temporarily disabled · 2016-12-03T21:38:57.649Z · LW · GW

If all votes required 100 karma, using sockpuppets for votes would get a lot harder.