Rational approach to finding life partners 2015-08-16T17:07:42.140Z · score: 3 (11 votes)
Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) 2015-01-19T01:35:27.501Z · score: 5 (8 votes)


Comment by c_edwards on Rational approach to finding life partners · 2015-08-18T19:22:09.923Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like the relevance would be if the technologically supplied superstimulus replaced a function previously supplied solely through partner relationships. The following chain of examples involving video games doesn't seem directly relevant, unless before the advent of video games, people played board games exclusively with their romantic partners.

Comment by c_edwards on Rational approach to finding life partners · 2015-08-18T19:11:49.841Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's really two independent things, though.

a) How to not be single/how to get someone to date you. b) How to find the person(s) and build/maintain the kind of relationship(s) that you want for the rest of your life (/the forseeable future).

In my experience, (a) is much easier than (b). The articles address (b), not (a).

Comment by c_edwards on Rational approach to finding life partners · 2015-08-18T19:08:02.608Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just pulled myself away from some of his other stuff. So much good stuff. At some point I need to compare his take on AI with the lw articles. So much to read, so little time.

Comment by c_edwards on The Value of Theoretical Research · 2015-03-12T18:50:33.070Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(that said, at least in the fields I'm familiar with, the sabbatical is supposed to be a working holiday and a chance to start a new project in your own field, instead of try something fairly different)

Comment by c_edwards on The Value of Theoretical Research · 2015-03-12T18:45:59.057Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you contribute to a charity that increases by one part in a trillion the probability of mankind surviving the next century and >>if conditional on this survival mankind will colonize the universe and create a trillion times a trillion sentient lifeforms then >>your donation will on average save a trillion lives.

Alternately, if you do work that increases by one part in a trillion the probability of mankind surviving the next century...


I think there is a lot of value in intelligent charity, but it's a mistake to assume that all careers have the same inherent non-monetary value to society (or to approximate the non-monetary value of all careers as zero). If I understand correctly, the underlying thinking is that the difference in salary between theoretical research and some sort of high-pay job (when multiplied by the value of donating that money to effective charities) outweighs the difference in non-monetary career value?

Comment by c_edwards on Attempted Telekinesis · 2015-02-13T13:57:03.015Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I find that actually scheduling my task on a calendar makes it a lot easier to trust myself. If it's on the calendar, I'm going to see it again, which means that my various sub modules can shout at me if I don't address it.

I'll have to try the offline training though - hadn't heard of doing that before.

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-29T17:49:30.746Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the advice - something I've already had in the works. My understanding is that typically diabetes-caused hypoglycemia is usually helped (and not harmed) by the consumption of simple sugars? One of the defining characteristics of my condition is that simple sugars make things worse, especially when I'm already experiencing the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-29T13:42:09.079Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. "hypoglycemia" is really the symptom, not the cause.

What I have appears to be a genetic disorder (my father and his father had it) that doesn't seem to be associated with any other health impacts. I recently realized that I should probably actually get the specifics pinned down, and that's something I'm going to work on in the future.

My understanding (through my father, who had his hypoglycemia tested when he was younger) is that my pancreas overreacts, putting out more insulin than is necessary for any given blood sugar level. It's particularly problematic when I consume simple sugars, as my pancreas drastically overshoots. The consequence is that, unless I eat slow-digesting foods every few hours, I feel cranky/exhausted/sad/impatient, get the shakes, and have general weakness in my muscles. If I continue to not eat, my emotional state stabilizes and I simply get really really tired. Not life threatening, but a serious interference with happiness/productivity.

But I will be looking more specifically into the causes, instead of my father's interpretation of his own diagnoses from forty years ago.

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-29T13:32:51.132Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for all the recipes!

I could probably stand to lose a few pounds, but not to much more than that - I wasn't really aiming to change my weight with my diet. My BMR is 2025.04, apparently. My understanding, though, is that exercising can increase your metabolic rate even after you're done? I've been working to implement a workout regime based on, and am lifting weights or doing interval cardio 4-6 days per week.

I don't actually track how many calories I'm eating in a day - it would probably be a good thing to do.

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-29T13:24:20.018Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've definitely made the same mistake before. More than once. Which is why I felt confident enough on this to offer a correction.

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-21T20:59:58.138Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm probably being overly anal here, but this something I work with on a professional basis. Preface: when I'm talking about 'fitness', I mean the (slightly simplified) biological definition of the term, which means "number of offspring you have before you die"

I think what the OP means is that conditions which allow rapid population growth are conditions which reduce the >natural selection pressure.

This doesn't need to be true at all - see below.

An extreme version of this is the observation that if everyone survives and breeds, there is no fitness advantage to >any gene and the gene frequencies do not change.

Also not necessarily true (because "everyone survives and breeds" is very different from "everyone survives and has an identical number of offspring).

Selection occurs due to differences in relative fitness, which can be calculated as (personal fitness)/(average fitness of everyone). If everyone has 2 offspring, everyone has a relative fitness of 1. If we have a good year, and everyone has 3 offspring, we have the same relative fitness.

You and OP seem to be thinking about situations in which some sort of environmental limits on fitness have disappeared, and now everyone is limited by some trait for which there is less/no variation. That's actually a really special situation. Certainly the statement "Some events reduce variation in relative fitness while also increasing average fitness" is true. But so is the statement "Some events increase variation in relative fitness while also increasing average fitness". Any time conditions increase the fitness of above-average fitness individuals, average population growth increases and selection becomes STRONGER. This is something you would definitely expect in organisms for which individuals actively compete for patchy resources - in a good year, the alpha/owner/whatever of a given territory will get most of the increased value of said patch, and individuals who were without territory may not gain anything at all. (it really depends on the situation, though)

Anyways, average fitness and variation in fitness are two largely independent things. "Rapid population growth", or even "nobody dies before breeding" doesn't inherently mean less selection/slower evolution. Sometimes just the opposite (see

Comment by c_edwards on [Link] An argument on colds · 2015-01-21T17:24:56.236Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Typically with the evolution of pathogens, we see a trade-off between the ability of a pathogen to spread ("virulence") and the ability of the pathogen to keep the host alive (although there's definitely a lot of variation depending on the life history of the pathogen and the behavior of the host). Overall pathogen fitness (for between-host dynamics - it gets more complicated if the pathogen is competing with other pathogens within the host) is based on (virulence) x (number of other hosts that infected host contacts). So increasing host lifespan and increasing virulence both increase pathogen fitness (but, again, usually increasing one decreases the other). This means that we often see pathogens falling into two syndromes:

a) Fast spreaders ("raiders") - because they spread rapidly, there is less selection for them to keep their host in good condition (and so it's better to sacrifice host health to increase spread rate). Alternately, because their host becomes ill rapidly, there is selection for them to be good at spreading. Example would be Ebola.

b) slow spreaders ("farmers") - because they do not spread rapidly, there is selection for them to keep their host in good condition. Alternately, because their host is in good condition for a long time, there is less selection for them to be good at spreading. Extreme versions of this are pathogens that are largely/entirely transmitted vertically (mothers pass pathogen to offspring). Because the host's fitness is a part/all of the pathogen's fitness, there is strong selection for the pathogen to keep the host alive (and even to boost host fitness). A super interesting example of this can be found in the arthropod bacteria, where some Wolbachia species have evolved into mutualistic relationships with hosts. (But because Wolbachia is only passed from mothers to children, many species change the sex ratio of offspring of infected individuals to be all female. Biology is awesome!)

Decreasing the number of people the host is in contact with is effectively decreasing virulence rate. Because the host (sick person) isn't going to be in contact with too many potential hosts (other people), there's a fairly low upper bound on how fit a super virulent/damaging pathogen can be - it's much more effective for the pathogen to maintain host health as much as possible. Typically we expect this to lead to decreased health impacts on the host. Additionally, this would give hosts a longer time to get access to treatment.

tl;dr Decreasing contact rate is likely to lead to evolution of less virulent/harmful pathogens

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-21T16:41:38.068Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Rapid population growth decreases the efficiency of purifying selection.

I don't think that's true, unless we're thinking about "efficiency" in different ways.

In general we think of selection in terms of gene frequencies, not raw abundance. Which means that all that is relevant is relative fitness, and if your fitness advantage remains the same, doubling everyone's reproduction rate doesn't change the force of selection.

Unless you're talking about the time until a deleterious, entirely recessive allele goes extinct? Since in that case drift is the only force that will push it from "very rare" to "non-existent", increasing population size will decrease time to extinction of the deleterious recessive allele (drift is faster/stronger in smaller populations).

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-20T15:47:26.512Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I probably should try adding soylent orange to my overall plan. Some part of me is uncomfortable with the idea of meal replacement shakes, but I don't think that's a rational feeling.

The only rational argument against it that I can think of is the same argument against repeating the same meal every day - the lack of diet diversity. RomeoStevens seems to have found no intermediate-term health issues on a mainly-soylent-orange diet, but additionally if I'm using soylent orange as only a part of my diet, I'm still going to have a decent mix of food sources.

Time to dust off the blender.

Comment by c_edwards on Soylent Orange - Whole food open source soylent · 2015-01-20T15:41:46.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Lactase is only there because of your lactose intolerance, right? It's not important for any other reason?

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-20T15:35:06.838Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely worth mentioning. They're something I'm interested in looking into, but as you say the pricing is a fair bit higher, and at the moment I'd prefer to keep costs lower.

What I'm seeing is $85 for 6 packs of 2000 calories. Which means $14/day for a person consuming 2000 calories per day. I am a large male with an active metabolism who is attempting to exercise on a regular basis - I haven't counted it up, but I'm probably closer to 3000 calories, which means $20/day. Still great compared to other prepared food options, but not the best option for me right now.

For other people, though, with slightly more expendable income and a desire to get a quick balanced diet in a non-shake form, this is probably a fantastic choice.

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-20T15:21:22.352Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you! Apparently this is fairly common knowledge (when I mentioned this to several friends they thought it was obvious). But I hadn't been aware, and that could have been very unpleasant.

I'm going to switch "tuna" to "canned salmon" in my post, and I'm trying out canned salmon today. Interestingly, when on sale there's not much difference in price between canned tuna and canned salmon, at least where I live.

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-19T16:29:45.724Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fantastic explanation, and now I have another book to read eventually. Thanks!

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-19T14:12:05.169Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Swapped quick for fast. Thanks for pointing that out!

On whey protein - I was exposed to a lot of unverified health information by an ex. Much of that information came from a group of sources that take a conspiracy-theory approach to nutrition research (there's a big food industry that controls what gets published, and a lack of evidence for or any evidence against fact X is because of the food industry!). This is not to say that the facts I was exposed to were wrong, but rather that I need to verify them. So according to her, whey protein was bad. A quick google search for "whey protein health concerns" turns up quite a bit, although it's a mishmash of stuff. The mayo clinic has a list of side effects from using whey protein, and this article states that "increased whey protein added to the diet of rats increased tumors and cancers". On the other hand, wikipedia mentions the potential value of whey protein in reducing risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. So the picture looks far from clear - I guess I have some more reading to do (unless someone else has already done the reading and can whey in?).

Thanks for the link on wheat stuff - because of the hypoglycemia, wheat has been a major building block of my meals. It's nice to know that I can continue that. Same goes for your suggestions on meat - most of my meat intake is chicken breasts, which fit in the non-processed lean meat category.

I really should try weaning myself off caffeine, and see how I feel. I was 20 before I started drinking it, and I was able to perform in school and work settings just fine without. That said, I'd like to do some more reading about how caffeine actually works - do you have another link to suggest? (if nothing comes to mind, I'll just spend some time with google).

Added Food and Western Disease to my reading list. Thanks!

Comment by c_edwards on Optimal eating (or rather, a step in the right direction) · 2015-01-19T13:51:18.261Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fantastic point. I'm blessed with fairly simple tastes when it comes to food, and I'm fine with some of my meals being fairly bland (pasta salad, for example, or spinach salads). But when it's easy and healthy, there's no reason not to make the food taste better.

Sidenote: the longevity article points out that garlic is linked to longer lifespans. So seasoning with garlic both increases flavor and health.

Comment by c_edwards on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-18T18:22:45.753Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think there might be some ambiguity with the "sidekick" thing. I understand framing this as a hero and side-kick dynamic, but I think it might be easier to create a mental model of a team with some people playing more of a support role. [For consistency with other posts, I'm going to largely phrase things in terms of hero and sidekick] Either way, though, I see two general way things can go, one healthy and one unhealthy.

"I am going to do whatever I can to help this hero, no matter what" is a version of side-kicking I see a lot in books. And I recently pulled myself out of a relationship where I fell into a similar dynamic (although without my partner actually falling into the "hero" role). The "do anything, come what may" aspect is very dangerous. And when I first read this post, that was the part that I found slightly disconcerting.

However, there's another style of support/sidekicking that seems very healthy and productive to me:

"I am going to find a person or persons who are effective at achieving goal(s) I find important, and do what I feel appropriate to help them achieve those goals for as long as it seems like the right thing to do (where a condition of "right thing to do" is that they are treating me well)." This is a much more specific and conditional statement, and one that to me feels both powerful and healthy.

Reading some of the followup posts suggest that you and Brienne both fall into the second camp:

Brienne has been pretty explicit that if she's working with a hero, and finds out that they're wrong about a fundamental >thing and thus that she could make more impact on her own, she would do it, even though it would be a personal >tragedy.

The fiance of my best friend plays a supporting role (not a supporting actor, mind you) at a major movie production company. She doesn't act, she doesn't design things, she doesn't get credit for all the big achievements. She just keeps all the different parts working together, keeps everyone on schedule, and when necessary handles the details necessary for the big name actors to be at their best (accommodating dietary needs, etc). The high status individuals like actors and animators may be more directly involved in producing the movies, but without this supporting individual and others like her, big productions would never be possible. I feel that many large endeavors (and perhaps even small ones) need people who can play such supporting roles.

I think the danger of the hero-sidekick dynamic is if there is such a strong bond of loyalty to the individual that either the hero or the sidekick is willing to tolerate being treated poorly, or interacting with someone who is no longer important in achieving the overarching goals. And because you can have heroes without sidekicks but you can't have sidekicks without heroes, I would expect asymmetry in what sidekicks and heroes would naturally tolerate. But ultimately you are trying to WIN, which means that - emotional ties aside - the hero isn't as important as how your contributions are helping to achieve your stated goals. Which means that, as a rationalist, you should work with a hero only for as long as that is the rational thing to do. It's the potential for irrational loyalty that makes this subject slightly uncomfortable to me.

One of the things that I have found incredibly valuable for my romantic life, which seems equally valuable here, is to create a list of your goals, what you're looking for in a partnership/team, what you're happy doing and what you're unhappy doing. While, as rationalists, we should be capable of setting aside our emotions while in the midst of a personal relationship (romantic, or platonic hero-sidekick, or really any other) to evaluate whether it's the right thing, it's much easier if you have a preexisting guideline. This, in turn, should drastically reduce the likelihood of exploitation by a less-than-perfect "hero".

Comment by c_edwards on Pomodoro for Programmers · 2015-01-15T16:06:12.183Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like a very good idea, but I'm not sure that it fills the same role as the traditional Pomodoro (grain of salt: still new to Pomodoro).

One of the problems that I find when programming (and a lot of other tasks, really) is that it's easy to get wrapped up in "how do I implement this?" instead of "What do I need to implement to achieve my goal?". This is especially problematic when it becomes even finer scaled - "I need to understand/rework this one little part because maybe it's causing the current bug/error" instead of "what is the most time-efficient way for me to try to solve the current bug/error". I've spent many hours banging my head against a wall trying to implement/fix something that was ultimately unimportant. Your technique here seems to be a great solution to this problem - frequently pulling out of tactical mode to think strategically, (plus making sure that you're fed etc, which has a huge impact on my work efficiency).

On the other hand, my impression with the Pomodoro technique is that part of the goal is to make it easier to stay motivated - it's much easier for me to sustain a decent pace of work for a day when I know that every 20 or 25 minutes I'm going to have a 5 minute break to do something fun. I'm looking forward to trying your modification, but I'm wondering if, at least for myself, I'm going to need an additional five minutes to just do something fun (at least if I want to be able to keep up my work all day long). Although, as you point out, 15 minutes is actually a long time, and maybe only 10 minutes of it is really necessary for the strategic thinking and body maintenance stuff.

Comment by c_edwards on How I Am Productive · 2015-01-14T03:08:47.108Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Found another helpful addition to the gmail part of the system - install google lab "Multiple Inboxes", and add an inbox for "Action" and an inbox for "Waiting" (or whatever labels you use for those categories). I set mine to show below the main inbox. So now whenever I go to gmail, I see my inbox, whatever "action" emails I need to deal with, and whatever emails I'm waiting for a response on. It helps make sure I don't forget about my "processed" emails.

What modifications? I really like the pomodoro technique (so far - still in the novice stages of using it), but its rigidity doesn't lend itself well to a lot of tasks that I deal with - reading papers and writing code, mainly. In both cases, it takes a lot of work to wrap my head around things, and I lose that if I take a break at the wrong time. So when I'm doing those tasks, I'm breaking off chunks that roughly correspond to 20 minutes (like a sub function of code, or reading the intro and methods of a paper), and working until I hit that milestone. When I'm doing something where it doesn't matter when I take breaks, I'm trying to follow the pomodoro technique more exactly.

Other than that... I'm actually not sure that I'm doing much that's very different. I think that may have been a reflexive addition of fudge factor. Although I reserve the right to make further modifications.

Oh - one minor addition to the Eizenhower matrix. I'm trying to follow a common rule in the academic world, that every day you should spend at least an hour working on the project that is closest to completion. Which is just a way of weighting things within the "Important" row.

Comment by c_edwards on How I Am Productive · 2015-01-13T03:35:04.942Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for such a comprehensive (and immediately useable) guide. I just thought I would throw out one of my favorite aspects of Gmail - shortcut keys. You can turn them on through [gear symbol] > Settings > General > Keyboard shortcuts. I'd also recommend turning on Auto-advance (also in Settings > General, I like it at "Go to the Previous (older) conversation"). [EDIT: to enable Auto-advance, I believe you need to first enable the lab in [gear symbol]>Settings>Labs>Auto-advance]

With these two things on, the actual processing part of emails is incredibly fast. Hitting 'e' immediately archives the current email (removing it from the inbox but leaving it searchable), and opens the next oldest email. Hitting 'v' opens the "move to" tab, and you can start typing your folder (say, "action") to select the folder, then hit enter to move it. In combination, these mean that actual maintaining of your email structure takes only a few keystrokes per email. There are a number of other handy shortcuts ('r' to reply, for example), but most of the time saving for me is in "archive" and "move to"

I'm about a week into trying out this system (with some modifications), and it feels really, really good.