connor_flexman feed - LessWrong 2.0 Readerconnor_flexman’s posts and comments on the Effective Altruism Forumen-usComment by Connor_Flexman on Six economics misconceptions of mine which I've resolved over the last few years
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/MgFDzAfCku9MSDLuw/six-economics-misconceptions-of-mine-which-i-ve-resolved?commentId=4X2aDjc4aXQ9izzht
<p>For the externalities in (4), it’s important to remember that not internalizing the externality creates a lot of moral hazard, though, because Coase’s theorem rarely applies in practice. For example, the steel mill could often have been built at a different location for slightly more cost (say, $10k), which they will not do if they know the efficient move will be to not tax them. Thus a $40k inefficiency. And the theorem would rejoin with “well, the owners of the resorts will pay the mill >$10k to initially build on the new spot, which makes things efficient again”, but then of course you open up the opportunity for all sorts of <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/EYd63hYSzadcNnZTD/blackmail">inefficient</a> blackmail if you don’t fulfill the perfect information requirement of Coase. </p><p>Obviously none of this contradicts the nuance you were adding, but I just wanted to spell this out lest we see anyone waver in their moral resolution to internalize most externalities.</p>connor_flexman4X2aDjc4aXQ9izzht2020-08-10T21:34:04.754ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Connor_Flexman's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw/connor_flexman-s-shortform?commentId=k9ENjPq4rDA8eRdN8
<p>I’ve understood episteme, techne, and metis for awhile, and the vital importance of each, but I’ve been missing this understanding of gnosis. I now think I've been bouncing off the implication that’s bundled into the idea of gnosis: that knowledge of spiritual mysteries is universal, or won’t be overturned later, or is “correct”. But I think that’s a wrong way to look at things.<br><br>For example, consider “life philosophies”. People put a ton of energy thinking about existentialism and what to do about the fact that we’re all going to die. The important thing people get from it isn’t some sort of episteme; nor techne; nor metis. They process it, learn to cope, learn how their values interact with the world—and the big insights here feel spiritual.<br><br>Likewise, with love. People develop philosophies around love that are clearly not built on the other 3 kinds of knowledge: they often contain things like “my heart yearns for that kind of thing”. The statement “my heart yearns for that kind of thing” is episteme, the decisionless following of the heart is techne, the fact that you should follow your heart is metis, but finding that your heart yearns for the thing is gnosis. It was a spiritual mystery what your heart yearned for, and you figured it out, and to find one of these feels just as spiritual as they say.<br><br>I can sort of see how meditation can give rise to these, cutting yourself off from synthetic logical direction and just allowing natural internal annealing to propagate all sorts of updates about your deep values and how to cope with the nature of reality. I can sort of see why people go to “find themselves spiritually” by traveling, letting new values come out and the standard constraints get loosened, and the resulting depth growing spiritual knowledge. I can sort of see why drugs, dancing, and sexuality were often used in pagan religious ceremonies meant to cause a revealing of the spirit and an estuary where deep values intermingled.</p><p>But all these spiritual insights are about how your mind wants to work, not about episteme-like "correct" universal knowledge. It's not universal, even if they look similar from mind to mind. They definitely get overturned later, at least in the limited sense that GR overturned Newton. And "correctness" doesn't really apply to them, because they're about the map being more like the map wants, not about map v reality.</p>connor_flexmank9ENjPq4rDA8eRdN82020-06-25T23:22:49.871ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/tonKatiDTzTP8LrEk/zoom-technologies-inc-vs-the-efficient-markets-hypothesis?commentId=ydwPgxvuLwf5pGF3G
<p>I think the big Ethereum move in May 17 was a great example of this. Evidently many people thought earlier that the price should be higher, but "the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent." So you had a building of steam before it finally shot up.</p><p>However I'm not sure to what extent these are actual epistemic issues as you hypothesize, or just an artifact of small fractions of smart money. </p>connor_flexmanydwPgxvuLwf5pGF3G2020-05-11T23:55:12.996ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Stop saying wrong things
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/cbgKfAHSLz99zLzuR/stop-saying-wrong-things?commentId=sXQqNMABfXaADysnS
<p>(grammatical edits for clarity)</p><p>Man, this post is special to me, because it is one of the most powerful rationality tools I know of and was the backbone of my own high-growth intro to rationality. So while I want to gesture at a patch for one problem I expect you will run into, I'm not that sure it's even worth paying attention to right now. Just running with the current skill seems fantastic. But, here's my concern for the future.<br><br>When you say "stop saying wrong things", most of your examples use logic to define "wrongness". Which makes sense. If you intend to learn Chinese and you don't check how long it will take you, but in fact you will never finish, logically you made a mistake. But if you intend on helming Etsy and don't run A/B tests to provide a feedback loop for whether you were correct about customer desire, you also logically made a mistake—despite the fact that I think this is a perfectly reasonable decision. I expect a fair number of these false positives to come up given the way you describe your current filter.<br><br>Before we get to what is going wrong, first we should examine a bit of what's going right. You're taking a situation where you have an urge to do your standard behavior, and noticing that you can pattern-match it to a case where people often do wrong things as defined by biases research, logic, and the people whom you read. These sources have a very good track record in many domains. When you then switch your behavior, you will often be right, as well as having explored some new behavior.<br><br>However, there are certain domains or classes of thing where logic does not do especially well, and likewise in which many people you read will probably give good-sounding advice which turns out to be wrong. I think startups is probably one of them. Zvi's post about <a href="https://thezvi.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/leaders-of-men/">Leaders of Men</a> makes this point in a way which I like, using the example of baseball managers. There are definitely lots of "dumb" things that managers do that are easy to point out by a logician from the sidelines. These cost them some games. But the mistakes are driven by <em>policies</em> that are actually very powerful, more beneficial than the costs imposed on the games. I think the A/B testing example fits this. Yes, it helps, but it's not as helpful as running with other more important action policies, perhaps exploring design space or letting your designers' intuitions run or just focusing resources on management or who-knows-what (they probably do, though). A/B testing is optimizing, and you don't want to commit the sin of premature optimization. 5 years in sounds reasonably less premature to me. <br><br>So, to try to put a point on what goes wrong: logic has its weak points, as any straw-postmodernist will tell you, but they're obviously wrong if they say logic isn't patchable. But just because their pendulum has swung too far doesn't mean there aren't some classic mistakes with overapplying straw logic. I think premature optimization is a really good example. I think "ignoring complexity" is another good example. Garbage-in garbage-out modeling is another good example. A huge number of "biases" I think are actually the correct thing to do/think a significant fraction of the time. I think social skills, sports, dancing, music, politics, system design, etc are all sandboxes of complex domains in which logic doesn't work very well in practical usage, and we indeed see tons of mistakes in them by both straw-rationalists and real ones.<br><br>Maybe I sound like I'm preaching to the choir here. But I think there's a subtle-ish point I would still like to get across: if you override a behavior with logic, the original behavior was basically always in place for a very good reason. Your behaviors are built on each other. Immediately stopping a behavior will hurt behaviors on top of it or supported by it. For the general example, halting "saying wrong things" may cause you to stop putting models out there to be destroyed by reality, which could hamper the feedback and growth process. There are a plethora of more specific ones (e.g. halting "using little white lies" is great to explore but can often cause jarring but hard-to-identify ways people won't feel as comfortable with you).<br><br>I think the solution here is something like "while you're exploring what logic says to do instead, also explore heavily all the reasons the first action was being done, because your neural net is complex as shit and who knows what processes you may accidentally deprecate" (and sometimes, you'll find fascinating new subgoals and important dynamics you didn't know existed!). Running with the logical action is great because it's growthy and you can smash the model into reality, but *don't cling onto the naively logical model if reality if reality is hinting it's more complex than that*. That's the sinkhole to really avoid. Any other mistakes are fixable.<br><br>Excited to see where this takes you.</p>connor_flexmansXQqNMABfXaADysnS2020-05-06T19:14:46.011ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Is this viable physics?
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/gXL6N4rgyKQyfSJqN/is-this-viable-physics?commentId=a6gx3ZnMsXYZHxPiR
<p>Love this description. All of the results I've skimmed look an awful lot like showing that a thing which can correspond to space and time (your "thing that is Turing-complete") allows you to rederive the things about our space and time.</p><p>That being said, I still think exploring various translations and embeddings of mathematical, physical, and computational paradigms into each other is a very valuable exercise and may shed light on very important properties of abstract systems in the future. Also, cool compressed explanation of how some concepts in physics fit together, even if somewhat shallowly.</p>connor_flexmana6gx3ZnMsXYZHxPiR2020-04-26T22:45:50.375ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Treatments correlated with harm
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FrQMQGdPMWzspM3ue/treatments-correlated-with-harm?commentId=PMYmJtnv8ZbA8xyCk
<p>Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that causal modeling wasn't the obvious solution—you're right about the existence of the leukemia threshold. But I guess in my experience of these mistakes, I often see people taking the action "try to do superior statistical techniques" and that not working for them (including rationalists and not just terrible science reporting sites), whereas I think "identify the places where your model is terrible and call that out" is a better first step for knowing how to build the superior models.</p><p>In the ventilator case, for example, I'm not trying to advocate blindly following common sense, but I do think it's important to incorporate common sense heavily. If people said, "There's no evidence for respirators working, maybe hemoglobin is being denatured", I certainly wouldn't advocate for more common sense. But instead I tend to see "the statistics show respirators aren't working, maybe we shouldn't use them", which seems to imply that common sense isn't being given a say at all. It seems to me like always having common sense as one of your causal models is both an easy sell and a vital piece of the machine making sure your statistical techniques don't go off the rails at any of their many opportunities.</p>connor_flexmanPMYmJtnv8ZbA8xyCk2020-04-17T21:01:20.045ZTreatments correlated with harm
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FrQMQGdPMWzspM3ue/treatments-correlated-with-harm
<p>There's a billion different ways studies can go wrong through failure of statistics to correctly capture reality.<br><br>One very specific one is: your successful treatments will often look like they're making things worse. <br><br>This is merely a special case of confounding, but it comes up often enough I want to highlight it. And it seems specifically important for the discussion of masks and respirators.<br><br>For example (not a doctor): every new leukemia drug has a survival rate of like 30%. Base rate survival is like 60%. Does every new leukemia drug work worse than normal? Obviously not, it's that the patients trying the new drug are the ones for whom everything else has failed, so they've been signed up for a clinical trial. These patients have very resistant cancers. And we can verify this, because when the drug does get adopted then survival rates go up.<br><br>Doctors have mostly figured this out with this subset of leukemia drugs. They do adjustments for how resistant the crazy-resistant cancers in the trial are, the adjustments aren't good enough and show the drug has no effect or is bad, they throw the adjustments out and do something else (like compare the results of this new drug to some other new drug that's almost like a control group), and they eventually seem to come to decent conclusions about whether to use the new drug in a setting that's more conducive to sane trial results.<br><br>However, in a lot of cases, they don't seem to figure this out, and it results in truly terrible treatment policies. The clearest example I've seen is in a few localized forms of cancer (like various sarcomas), where amputation shows vastly worse survival than local resection. As crazy as this seemed, it was minutely possible that side effects of amputation were in fact so bad that this was true, but after looking into it extensively I am very sure that in most extremity amputations it is not true. Doctors who see more aggressive tumors advocate amputation, these more aggressive tumors have worse overall survival regardless of how you treat, and amputation winds up looking statistically worse than local resection. And now the researchers who looked at this are advocating for fewer amputations, which will cost lives.<br><br>I've seen this in other cases too. The most recent: in patients with COPD, taking inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17400730">is associated with</a> higher pneumonia rates by a factor of 1.5 or something. This makes sense mechanistically, because corticosteroids do reduce immune function. But pneumonia rates are <a href="https://www.lung.org/blog/pneumonia-and-lung-disease">~8x higher</a> in people with COPD! One of the first hypotheses that should jump out here is that people with mild COPD take ICS less than those with severe COPD, and ICS helps those with severe COPD have pneumonia less but not enough to make up the full difference! I don't know, maybe I'm the one missing something and people with severe COPD always use bronchodilators or something other than more ICS. But you at least have to address this in the study! And my hypothesis is supported by the fact that in asthma patients, ICS reduces pneumonia by a <a href="https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.201005-0694OC">factor of ~2</a>.<br><br>So, the pattern is that disease A has treatment X. Those with worse disease A have worse outcomes by, say, a factor of 3. Treatment X improves outcomes by a factor of 2 and is given preferentially or in higher doses to those with worse disease A because of cost or side effects of unclear size. An observational study comes along and sees that treatment X is associated with 1.5x worse outcomes than not-X! Or maybe just that outcomes are about the same. They denounce X as showing "no appreciable benefit" or "signs of harm". <br><br>You won't always see this pattern. With randomization, you won't see it. If the treatment doesn't change in dose or type with increasing disease burden, you won't see it. Or if the beneficial effect of the treatment significantly outpaces the harmful effects of increased disease. The pattern is worst in cases where an observational study looks at a disease with quickly-scaling outcomes and a treatment that is partial or underpowered (cf cancer and COVID).<br><br>There's some old joke about how taking supplement X is associated with low levels of X. It's the same thing, just slightly more insidious.<br><br>Anyways, I'm concerned this pattern is showing up with the COVID discussions of masks and respirators. Both are things you'd common-sensically assume were helpful. Both show some weird nebulous signs of making things worse. (Certainly ventilators cause very serious side effects, but recently I saw some more serious claims about not boosting survival at all and thus being obviously net-costly. But of course, common sense says they have to be boosting survival some!) But if this is the news you'd expect to hear even in the world where there was no harm being done, the fact that you hear it is not much evidence that there's in fact harm being done.<br><br>I feel irresponsible for posting this without doing too much investigation of the masks and ventilators, because plausibly this is pointing in the wrong policy direction on them, but I don't have time for that at the moment. But in the meantime, I would like if every excited contrarian buzz about a treatment showing counterintuitive harm could be accompanied by SOME statement addressing the fact that you'd expect to see those results regardless of harm.</p><p>ETA: <a href="https://chemrxiv.org/articles/COVID-19_Disease_ORF8_and_Surface_Glycoprotein_Inhibit_Heme_Metabolism_by_Binding_to_Porphyrin/11938173">Some evidence</a> SARS-CoV-2 attacks hemoglobin, which could inhibit gas exchange enough to cause oxygen poisoning in the lungs if oxygen concentrators or ventilators are used. On the other hand, <a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/itempdf74155353254prod/12120912/Flawed_methods_in__COVID-19__Attacks_the_1-Beta_Chain_of_Hemoglobin_and_Captures_the_Porphyrin_to_Inhibit_Human_Heme_Met_v1.pdf">a response on chemrxiv</a> says the paper is terrible, and I haven't looked into it. None of this changes my feelings toward how people should be reacting to or talking about the observation that tons of people on ventilators die.</p>connor_flexmanFrQMQGdPMWzspM3ue2020-04-16T21:02:58.126ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Ways you can get sick without human contact
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/PB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL/ways-you-can-get-sick-without-human-contact?commentId=k83KkydkWmEzNv2wd
<p>The claim is that these biota in your lower digestive tract are in containment there, but if you re-ingest them in your mouth and stomach those same strains can infect you from these parts of your body.</p>connor_flexmank83KkydkWmEzNv2wd2020-04-14T06:43:38.831ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Ways you can get sick without human contact
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/PB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL/ways-you-can-get-sick-without-human-contact?commentId=k4TDzLKNAnEiaSrCE
<p>Definitely possible, though of course it takes a few probability hits for specificity (in this case, odds of getting it the last day each time is about 1/7, and the probability of no concurrent disease is around 1/4!, so something like 1e-4.5 as likely as a "typical" spread throughout the house)</p>connor_flexmank4TDzLKNAnEiaSrCE2020-04-14T06:42:02.736ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Ways you can get sick without human contact
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/PB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL/ways-you-can-get-sick-without-human-contact?commentId=Wk8j4TM9s5AszLEMA
<p>Ok, I changed it to be clear it's about this post. I agree you should be worried about spread within house.</p>connor_flexmanWk8j4TM9s5AszLEMA2020-04-14T06:33:58.744ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Ways you can get sick without human contact
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/PB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL/ways-you-can-get-sick-without-human-contact?commentId=TYqqfrDEMiJg3dX8H
<p>Yeah, was tongue in cheek but does happen! I.e. the perpetual influenza A case mentioned</p>connor_flexmanTYqqfrDEMiJg3dX8H2020-04-14T06:28:40.214ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Ways you can get sick without human contact
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/PB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL/ways-you-can-get-sick-without-human-contact?commentId=4bgHs66Hn4vtLhqHp
<p>Yeah. There's also things like how easy it is for your body to detect and kill (maybe infection rate is strongly sublinear in dose because of this), where the pathogen lands (if a tiny target needs to be hit and pathogen usually hits you in a single localized area, number of exposures may be more important than dose), whether a substrain is already adapted to by your immune system, etc. Nothing too crazy can be true here because of empirics but certainly mildly crazy things may be. </p>connor_flexman4bgHs66Hn4vtLhqHp2020-04-09T19:07:43.065ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Ways you can get sick without human contact
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/PB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL/ways-you-can-get-sick-without-human-contact?commentId=Ab5t7pXqB38mF6By8
<p>I just meant for the purposes of this post on disease spread without being in contact with others, but I suppose it is pretty relevant in group houses where everyone is safe from outsiders but might still have a much higher rate of noncontagious spread from things like this.</p>connor_flexmanAb5t7pXqB38mF6By82020-04-09T19:02:10.162ZWays you can get sick without human contact
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/PB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL/ways-you-can-get-sick-without-human-contact
<p><strong>(Tl;dr: food, animals, and yourself are all carriers of disease that <em>the average person</em> gets ~.2x/year normally; if you include immune reaction despite non-illness, the rough base rate is probably anywhere from .02x/year to </strong><span><style>.mjx-chtml {display: inline-block; line-height: 0; text-indent: 0; text-align: left; text-transform: none; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 100%; font-size-adjust: none; letter-spacing: normal; word-wrap: normal; word-spacing: normal; white-space: nowrap; float: none; direction: ltr; max-width: none; max-height: none; min-width: 0; min-height: 0; border: 0; margin: 0; padding: 1px 0}
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</style><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="\infty"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.151em; padding-bottom: 0.372em;">∞</span></span></span></span></span></span><strong>x/year and depends heavily on person; my own odds seem like ~10:1 non-COVID to COVID given a symptom, but yours are different; I'm not a doctor and don't have metis on this, maybe I say stupid things)</strong></p><p>Now that people have been shut away for weeks, they've (reasonably) expected to stop getting colds and things. But I've now seen at least 3 cases, one with an extremely high level of quarantine, where someone still got a cold-like illness. This affords a few hypotheses:</p><ul><li>Perhaps the base rate for sickness with no human contact is not as low as we thought</li><li>Perhaps disease spread takes more advantage of tiny amounts of contact than one would expect from a model of p(illness) <span><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="\propto"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mo"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.151em; padding-bottom: 0.372em;">∝</span></span></span></span></span></span> amount of pathogen contacted</li><li>Perhaps people are terrible at quarantining</li></ul><p>I don’t think it’s the last, and the second one is interesting but hard to investigate, so this post will be about the first hypothesis: can people easily get sick while alone?</p><p>I'm going to sketch a catalogue of the options and roughly divide these apparent illnesses into two groups: those spread by significant external amounts of pathogen vs minor internal amounts of pathogen. (Base rate estimates at the end.)</p><h1>Significant external amounts of pathogen</h1><p>The three main sources of these illnesses are food, fauna, and fecal.</p><p>Food poisoning can be caused by lots of different types of bacteria. For example, Campylobacter, Clostridium, Staphylococcus, and E. Coli seem to be some of the main culprits, but there are many others (and <u><a href="https://www.medscape.com/answers/175569-114358/what-is-the-prevalence-of-food-poisoning-in-the-us">80% of cases</a></u> appear to be caused by agents we haven’t identified!). These present like "stomach flu", often for 1-6 days after 1-10 days of incubation.</p><p><u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5319273/">Apparently</a></u> a lot of the diseases dogs spread overlap with food poisoning bacteria (and even norovirus, which also presents as stomach flu). </p><p>A lot of fecal-to-oral infections <u><a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=fecal+to+oral+infections&oq=fecal+to+oral+infections&aqs=chrome..69i57.2862j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8">appear</a></u> to be from similar bacteria. (Edited for clarity) For the purposes of this post, we're ignoring diseases from <em>other people’s </em>fecal matter, and some of these are obviously spread person-to-person, like adenovirus. But the four listed above (can I call them the Big Four since they keep coming up?) appear to naturally occur in the lower digestive tract, so you can presumably self-contract them unless there’s some effect where you have serious immunity to the specific strains in yourself.</p><p>There are at least some others.</p><ul><li><u><a href="https://www.medscape.com/answers/300341-32569/what-causes-fungal-pneumonia">Fungal pneumonia</a></u> looks pretty nasty</li><li>Streptococcus A is usually spread person-to-person but is also <u><a href="https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/technical-documents/articles/analytix/streptococci-overview.html">found on the skin</a></u> and <u><a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/30084790?seq=1">regularly causes food poisoning</a></u> and can thus probably be acquired from oneself</li><li>Mold and “stuff in dirt” also seem like prominent options, though maybe mostly minor symptoms</li><li>Allergies are definitely minor but can mimic colds in some circumstances</li></ul><p>In general these external infections seem mostly bacterial, since fungi are typically too weak to cause noticeable illness, and viruses mostly need other humans to reproduce unless they have animals. Not sure how many protozoans are in this group: I’d think lots, but haven’t heard of any.</p><h1>Minor internal amounts of pathogen</h1><p>This is the category for a bunch of weird things that may compound on each other, which you don’t really find much about in the medical literature.</p><p>The factors I see here are:</p><ol><li>Fluctuating native pathogens</li><li>Variation in immune function</li><ol><li>Between people</li><li>From health</li><li>As calibration to ambient disease risk</li></ol></ol><p>As an example, you have a bunch of candida yeast on and in your body, not very deep because high temperature harms it. It is sometimes but very rarely invasive (<u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4292074/">maybe because mammals are specifically warm-blooded to fight fungi!</a></u>). But in immunocompromised individuals, especially AIDS patients, suddenly invasive infections become vastly more common, and many of them have 50+% mortality. But they aren’t <em>constant</em>, so this must be responding to various fluctuations in candida infectiousness and immune function.</p><p>Obviously variation in immune function also applies to the external pathogen sources from the above section, but the application to native pathogens is especially interesting. Is it plausible that immune function has a wide enough range of function that internal pathogen sources may cause a significant number of flare-ups in various circumstances much less extreme than AIDS?</p><p>Here’s the pitch for plausibility.</p><p>Native pathogens are bacterial (especially the Big Four), fungal, and <u><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_virome">viral</a></u>; mostly they’re on the surface of skin or mucosal membranes, but there is some penetration and humans may have a fair amount of internal viral load. We know highly-immunocompromised people regularly become infected by these native pathogens. But if normal people undergoing fluctuations in their viral load or immune function from health had these flare-ups, I don’t think they’d be very distinguishable from colds or stomach flu. To further complicate things, I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis that your body may calibrate its immune response to what seems like the ambient disease load of your environment. Thus in times of high disease load you may have immunosensitivity and “sicknesses” from large immune response to small pathogen challenge (similar to immunosensitivity from allergies), and in times of low disease load you may be “immunodesensitized” and be at higher risk of infection. Evidence for a high rate of phantom colds, or partial viral colds being replaced by self-infection, seems extremely hard to come by, and I don’t think the absence of evidence is much evidence of absence. </p><p>Lastly, there’s some chance with such a large virome that chronic flare-ups may be more common than we think. Herpes is a classic. But other diseases may just be finicky: <u><a href="https://about-campylobacter.com/campylobacter-symptoms-risks">supposedly</a></u> 2-10% of Campylobacter bacterial infections have sequelae or chronic presentation. <u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321893/">One highly-immunocompromised boy</a></u> was shedding influenza A from his stool for >2 months and from his respiratory secretions for >1 year, strongly hinting at some sort of chronic infection even though influenza A is supposed to be incapable of this. <u><a href="https://mecfsroadmap.altervista.org/?fbclid=IwAR2lwmhc6P2LP-bO6fszELkLvC7AXlWnuFhlUL3zpzWp3KTFAlXg9syA4eM">At least a few people</a></u> now think chronic viral infections are a common cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, perhaps from mutation to <u><a href="https://www.me-pedia.org/wiki/Non-cytolytic_enterovirus">non-cytolytic form</a></u> or <u><a href="https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/dr-martin-lerners-abortive-infection-theory-of-me-cfs-unifying-herpesvirus-enterovirus-me-cfs.55986/">abortive infection</a></u>. Probably non-cytolytic ones are too weak to cause flare-ups, but this is the kind of weird edge case that, after realizing it’s very difficult to obtain evidence against, makes me wonder if viruses do lots of weird stuff we just haven’t classified yet. (Adenovirus-36 <u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4517116/">may cause</a></u> a lot of obesity, h/t Adam Scholl—that should probably make us pause and consider the state of our knowledge.) </p><h1>Base rates and takeaways</h1><p>This is all somewhat useless without base rates that can help us infer how likely it is that our quarantine has failed vs we’re just letting food sit out too long. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get base rates on what we care about, so I’m going to have to resort to a lot of hand-waving.</p><p>A sampling of those that were reported: E. Coli infections are at <u><a href="https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/diseases/ecoli.html">0.1%/yr</a></u> in the US. Supposedly food poisoning is <u><a href="https://www.medscape.com/answers/175569-114358/what-is-the-prevalence-of-food-poisoning-in-the-us">15%/year</a></u>. Norovirus is about <u><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/trends-outbreaks/burden-US.html">5%/year</a></u>, but probably most of that is person-to-person. Infections from pets are supposedly <u><a href="https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/1101/p1314.html">1%/year</a></u>, but most aren’t serious. For comparison, flu is usually <u><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html">3-15%/year</a></u>.</p><p>Stomach-flu-like symptoms will be at least the food poisoning cases plus other cases. That’s 15+%. If we relax from intensive cases to include the kind of minor confusing nausea I get once a year, I’d guess the rate goes up to about once/year based on personal experience. If there is weird immune modulation, I could see this being once per few months.</p><p>Common-cold-like symptoms don’t seem to come up aside from immune modulation, allergies, and supposedly very-low-base-rate things like strep on skin. Healthy people probably have skin virus infection rates like .001-1%. Standard partially-immunocompromised people (that just get sick more than normal) may be more like .005-5%. I’d guess weird immune modulation could take that number to 1-200% if it exists (if it were more than 2x/year I’d think people would start noticing). But there’s also allergies, mold, stuff I’ve missed, and all these exacerbated by overreaction to immune challenges. Empirically, I have ~~thrice a year that I seem like I’m just starting to get sick and it turns out to be allergies or goes away mysteriously, and I think most people probably have this less but some have it substantially more. I could imagine this rate being like 5x if my body was on high alert, and even a few times a year the symptoms mimicking an actual mild cold rather rather than a tease. </p><p>Of course, if your body can’t pick up on external disease cues very well, or it only does so with respect to actual ambient pathogen load rather than leading mental indicators like disgust integration or anxiety tracking, then probably these base rates go down. If you’re someone who gets sick a lot, they might be higher.</p><p>So I expect base rates of minor flu-like symptoms not contracted from another person to be about .1-10/year depending on person, and base rates of minor cold-like symptoms not contracted from another person to also be about .1-20/year depending on person (again, if more, we’d see that).</p><p>COVID ambient rates are (my guess) around .1-5% most places (more like 5% in the Bay). If you’ve been doing a good quarantine, your rate is probably about the rate it was when you started, e.g. I think I started around .1% and so that is probably about my current rate (I could easily be asymptomatic). <strong>So I think if I were very healthy, my model didn’t expect much mental immunomodulation, and I got cold or flu symptoms, I’d be about as likely to be seeing a COVID onset as seeing a false alarm. As it stands, being not super healthy and a little more sympathetic to various psychosomatic control theories (writ large, not just placebo), I think it’s more like ~10:1 that I’m seeing a false alarm. </strong></p><p><strong>Given the fact that these numbers are certainly going to be off by about an order of magnitude, obviously I would still monitor very closely and take thoughtful precautions </strong>that make sense both in worlds where I have COVID and don’t have COVID (don’t want to give housemates another sickness to make them more susceptible). If I hadn’t been as careful with my lockdown I’d also consider getting sick as evidence that I should tighten things up a bit where possible. Also, how textbook the symptom match with COVID was would heavily effect this estimate. Etc etc. But I hope this helps you get a handle on how to grapple with these numbers and the implicated policies. </p>connor_flexmanPB4TrBpwvfupJHWiL2020-04-08T22:41:07.384ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Self-priming
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/3zCwAoFcridgJosAK/self-priming?commentId=3y2p3uKhG7CYH2j4i
<p>These are great!</p><p>(Although the media one seems like it would take ages and be more about actual exploration than priming per se.)</p><p>As to your comment at the end, I want to note that the point isn't actually novelty! Yours are in fact more novel than mine were. You just want your brain to be chewing on something. If you choose things you like, they won't be very novel, but they *should* hook your brain and get you idly replaying them in the back of your head. Hopefully just basking in cool/interesting things for a bit will take care of the "artificial" objection?</p>connor_flexman3y2p3uKhG7CYH2j4i2020-04-07T18:01:29.435ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/3ArEA7tHDXQxE6PED/taking-initial-viral-load-seriously?commentId=T29n5mJv55g84vAiC
<p>The second link was meant to be to incubation times, now fixed.</p><p>I meant ~95% of the times you become sick, i.e. mostly "colds and flus".</p>connor_flexmanT29n5mJv55g84vAiC2020-04-07T17:51:22.893ZSelf-priming
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/3zCwAoFcridgJosAK/self-priming
<p>This is a self-help technique in the class of things like "low-grade meditation for 15 minutes", and as such YMMV and it's only sometimes even worth burning the time to do it. But, I like it, and I liked exploring it. Also, I derived it from cognitive science, which is a thing a lot of people seem to think is never practical, so there.</p><p>Anyways, here's</p><h2>The pitch.</h2><p>Everyone knows the power of priming. Even though all the stupid versions of the experiments failed to replicate, the basic ones did. And even if the basic ones didn't, you'd know they were designed wrong, because everyone's had the experience of e.g. talking about fetch while tossing a ball and then trying to yell "catch" to your friend and saying "fetch" instead.</p><p>But this is low-level priming. There's also high-level priming: if you take two gamers and have them talk about the stock market, but one of them hasn't played games in weeks and the other just finished a wild round of Dota, all else being equal the one who was just playing will be much more likely to introduce a gaming metaphor first.</p><p>For the more important application of it, the <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20141117075805/https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/">old version of Meditations on Moloch</a> said it well:</p><blockquote>Chronology is a harsh master. You read three totally unrelated things at the same time and they start seeming like obviously connected blind-man-and-elephant style groping at different aspects of the same fiendishly-hard-to-express point.</blockquote><p>You can obviously prime yourself a ton by what you read. But this isn't super useful on its own. At least, I don't immediately know what I would prime myself for. </p><p>But another point. Creative people are always traveling and seeking out novelty, because travel just causes your brain to invariably begin erupting with ideas. On the opposite end, consider when you are (for an unlikely example) in lockdown in your house seeing the same 3 rooms over and over again for weeks. Your flow of ideas ceases, when you hear a new thing your brain reaches nowhere for a similarity, and you become catatonic.</p><p>(This quarantine isn't where the technique originated, but it sure is its wheelhouse.)</p><h2>The technique</h2><p>is to then prime yourself with the densest analogy-fodder available, so you can effortlessly have lots of thoughts later. Maybe you choose the following regimen for day 1:</p><ul><li>3-minute video of a lightsaber duel</li><li>3 minutes writing down your basic model of the stock market</li><li>5 minutes deciding your favorite plant</li><li>5 minutes reading a poem by CS Lewis</li></ul><p>It took you 20 minutes, but after this you're primed for analogies on any topic that your subconscious can easily relate to lightsabers, stocks, dope plants, or CS Lewis poems, which is all of them, because I chose a covering set. </p><p>There's a way to do it wrong, which is by choosing things that are interesting but don't actually interest you. (These 4 highly interest me, but probably won't immediately light you up.) Obviously priming doesn't work well if you promptly forget about the things you looked at. You need your subconscious dwelling on them. This is not the same as your conscious wanting your subconscious to dwell on them.</p><p>But if you do it right, this is a definite positive of the technique: it's just looking at stuff you like, so it should be energy-positive, which is more than most self-help hacks can say. </p><h2>Variants:</h2><p>First, you can just try varying the types of thing you prime yourself with. You can really prime with a lot of options, and I've learned a lot from exploring.</p><p>But for actual variants. </p><p><strong>Targeted priming.</strong> Need to be creative about plants? Need to more adroitly navigate your confidence issues when planting? Want to hook in more of your current ideas about plants to your training in physics? Skip priming so many things, and just choose some video where someone navigates a confidence crisis or whatever. Let your brain churn on it. </p><p><strong>Sleep priming.</strong> Do your self-priming just before you sleep instead of just before you do other stuff. Sometimes after a boring day my brain has very little of interest to chew on at night, nor does it want rest and get very rejuvenated, it's just in a very lame place. Priming helps you remember it doesn't have to be that way. Just <em>please</em> don't overuse this and ruin the last vestige of time when your subconscious can work on the <em>actually important stuff</em> without your consciousness hijacking things for its own purposes. I feel a little bad for even mentioning this one. Also be careful not to get caught up in the thoughts and balloon your sleep latency, that's why I stopped after ~two attempts with this sort of thing and now prime sleep in better ways.</p><p><strong>Long-term priming.</strong> Maybe you had a really good framework a while ago that you realize you haven't used much lately, and you're worried you lost some of the good parts and didn't strictly dominate it with better understanding. Maybe you want to think a little more like an economist, or a little more like your friend Andy, and you don't have a great way to do that deliberately. Just prime a bit by skimming an economics paper and trying to get the gist, or just replay some classic Andy moments in your head. If there's good stuff, your subconscious can grab it and build a gradient; if not, nothing. This one is actually quite safe I think: if your subconscious doesn't see much useful there, you'll get bored and won't pollute yourself.</p>connor_flexman3zCwAoFcridgJosAK2020-04-07T00:54:40.469ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/3ArEA7tHDXQxE6PED/taking-initial-viral-load-seriously?commentId=MFzEPC29KtePRAkQZ
<p>I think the common factor between COVID and smallpox is their long incubation times, which isn't shared by something like 95% of current ambient disease (not sure about historically).</p><p>This makes sense with the proposed mechanism. There must be some short length of incubation period where your immune system wouldn't have time to get much stronger even if given double the notice, some longer period where it can definitely grow much stronger given double the notice, and some even longer period where the body has ample time to react no matter the starting load. It also fits the immune response time relatively well: the short term response of IgM antibodies takes <a href="https://www.genscript.com/IgM-antibody.html">around a week</a>, so diseases that took around 1-3 weeks of progression would be right in the sweet spot of getting substantially more exponential response from your immune system from advance notice of a few doublings (several days of viral growth).</p><p>The one countervailing consideration is that the incubation periods for a lot of diseases are a bit <a href="https://www.genscript.com/IgM-antibody.html">longer</a> than I had thought. I can't tell if this is an artifact of them including outliers rather than just the middle 95% or something. But it still seems like the difference between a 4-day and 10-day incubation period could explain why viral load doesn't matter much in most diseases. It also suggests that chickenpox, rubeola, rubella, whooping cough, and mumps are good places to look for outcome dependence on initial viral load. </p>connor_flexmanMFzEPC29KtePRAkQZ2020-04-06T19:19:48.521ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=KNZAxdjnK2PXEY4b2
<p>I'm leaning on the expected value rather than robust evidence.</p><p>Definitely seems plausible to me that it's not useful for immune function outside bone health. But priors (it's the one vitamin not in diet, so everyone is deficient) and the small amount of evidence are enough to make me think it's net-positive, and even 20% likely to help by a small amount is a relatively large benefit (~ a day of life).</p><p>It seems hard enough to find small effect sizes of things via study that I'm not at all surprised meta-analyses showed no evidence for it—and when I don't really expect to see evidence, defaulting to "do what seems like it would be healthy in the ancestral environment" says sunlight is probably a better bet than supplements, but being non-deficient in vitamin D is probably a better bet than being deficient. (And again, this doesn't apply to other vitamins because they're in the diet. It does apply to e.g. sleep and exercise though.)</p>connor_flexmanKNZAxdjnK2PXEY4b22020-04-04T22:11:30.684ZComment by Connor_Flexman on What should we do once infected with COVID-19?
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/F3q7eL7pdQqhWFTYh/what-should-we-do-once-infected-with-covid-19?commentId=5rqYee2PYvLJNcevT
<p>Blood oxygen can certainly vary between people, but I think this gives a misleading picture for many people. Most of my friends have blood oxygenation of >98, and getting to 90 would imply rampant infection and warrant hospitalization if the hospitals aren't overrun yet. Certainly 90-95% is not "normal", as the OP now says (the link specifically says it's not normal). </p><p>I think people should be considering hospitalization once they've dropped 6% in SpO2 AND they've dropped below 92% SpO2. More thoughts are in my longer comment <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=ExmzvJpqozjjsFsBg">here</a>. This covers people with unnaturally low SpO2 to begin with, while also acknowledging that many people do start from ~100% and should not wait until they have such an infection that their lungs have dropped past chronic smoker levels of impairment. </p>connor_flexman5rqYee2PYvLJNcevT2020-03-22T23:23:30.829ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Connor_Flexman's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw/connor_flexman-s-shortform?commentId=HT7htr8gjC3miSiz9
<p>I’ve updated toward significantly less risk from COVID than I expected a week ago, for people aged 25-30:</p><p><strong>Old numbers:</strong></p><ul><li>.2% mortality = 1 expected month</li><li>1.5% long-term side effect = 2 expected months</li><li>1% mortality from lack of ventilators = 5 expected months (10% hospitalized, 10% of those on ventilators, n_vent is .03% of pop and older people need more ventilators so we run out at ~1% of population infected, and no shutdown measures had been taken approximately 2 days before we hit 1% of population by my estimates) </li><li><em>Total = 8 expected months</em></li></ul><p><strong>New numbers</strong> (from <u><a href="https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0xMev1IXmKoiActzXwpJDdLLDvKhI81xIYYdylMWOM84zrj2TbLCEyFE4">ICL report</a></u>; someone please tell me if I’m misunderstanding their context):</p><ul><li>.05% mortality = .3 expected months</li><li>.7% long-term side effect = 1 expected month</li><li>.1% mortality from lack of ventilators = .5 expected months (2% hospitalized, 5% of those on ventilators)</li><li><em>Total = 2 expected months</em> (maybe less if we never go above 2% of population infected in most places due to new shutdown measures, and ventilators are sufficiently mobile to move to crisis zones)</li></ul><p>For older people, the numbers changed less (about a factor of 2), e.g. a healthyish parent in their 60s went from about 3 years of expected life lost to roughly 1.5 years.</p><p>In general, I feel fine with this outcome—the old numbers I was using were more an average than a median, so the most likely update was downward. I also adjusted the mortality rates downward somewhat, but I didn’t know how far, and the final update was further than I should have guessed. Lastly, a week ago the response was so abysmal that I think it was correct to have a factor of two worse expectation than I do now, just from failures to contain, treat, etc.</p><p>The one thing I wish I had done differently was weight South Korea’s numbers a little higher a little earlier, since priors were already on the side of lots of undiscovered/mild cases. I thought Wuhan’s testing was relatively good and things were partially adjusted for the missing cases, but I went like two weeks between looking at South Korea and that caused my numbers to lag somewhat. I think I could have been estimating 4-6 weeks as of a week ago, if I had flagged that better to come back to.</p>connor_flexmanHT7htr8gjC3miSiz92020-03-18T17:11:59.041ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=ExmzvJpqozjjsFsBg
<p><strong>Hospitalization and oxygen therapy thresholds</strong></p><p><strong>Tl;dr: Not knowing much about this and not a doctor, my current policy is to go to a hospital if SpO2 drops below ~92% and my hospital isn’t completely overrun, unless my SpO2 is naturally low or some other extenuating circumstance. If I was forced to use an oxygen concentrator outside of a hospital, I would target a ~~94-96% SpO2 range, trying very hard to make sure I didn’t hit 99%</strong></p><p>If you do have COVID and shortness of breath, when do you go to a hospital? </p><p>Hopefully you already have a pulse oximeter <u><a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=Rc8LXfwaycLcTo9tn">as Julia Wise recommends</a></u>. But sources say anywhere between 90 and 95% SpO2 is the threshold for hospitalization (<u><a href="https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf">WHO</a></u> says <= 93% is classified as severe, ctrl+f “O2”), while <u><a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=4oDd8twi99B5Wh7ZD">other sources</a></u> say you should threshold on trouble breathing and shortness of breath, not the actual SpO2 number.</p><p>It seems to me that using “trouble breathing” as the indicator would track the lung blockages and thus immune response relatively well, while O2 as an indicator would track the danger metric directly (if in fact the primary source of death is insufficient oxygen; if anyone knows this, would be useful).</p><p>The benefit of looking at trouble breathing is that it’s an advance indicator. Usually people progress from oxygen therapy to ventilators relatively quickly. If you have naturally low SpO2, your O2 might drop under threshold (say, 93%) in the early stages with mild trouble breathing, but you wouldn’t have much of a dangerous immune response until later. In this case, you’d have wanted to use difficulty breathing as your indicator instead of SpO2.</p><p>That being said, having low oxygen seems pretty bad for you, both by common sense and science. For example, 92% or lower is <u><a href="https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/52/3/325/305087">associated with increased morbidity in pneumonia patients</a></u>; <90% is increased with <u><a href="https://sci-hub.tw/https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/resp.12879">36% increased morbidity</a></u>. Since it’s hard to measure even moderate effects due to the <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/FrQMQGdPMWzspM3ue/treatments-correlated-with-harm">treatment-correlated-with-severity</a> issue, my guess is that there’s some general bodily harm from reduced oxygen even at levels like 95%, though I don’t know how much. So at some SpO2 threshold, I think you want to be supplementing oxygen even if your breathing doesn’t feel that difficult.</p><p>Unfortunately, it seems like you can’t supplement oxygen at 95%, because <u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22226734">over-oxygenating causes neuronal damage</a></u>. Standard targets appear to be 94-98% or 92-96%. <u><a href="https://sci-hub.tw/https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/resp.12879">This study</a></u> says it seems bad to set your target range during oxygen therapy to greater than 92-96%, because one inevitably exceeds the upper target occasionally. This <u><a href="https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.201909-1751ED">review/musing</a></u> muses that it’s a difficult problem, evidence for hyperoxaemia being pretty bad is “comparatively strong”, but not strong enough to warrant especially conservative oxygen titration. Because of these numbers, I think 92-93% is a reasonable threshold to self-hospitalize, since anything above this means they probably shouldn’t be oxygenating you anyways.</p><p>If hospitals are overloaded and you have to do oxygen therapy yourself (really try not to do this), I think the targets above are still reasonable, subject to your ability to titrate well with the machine. If you have lots of trouble, of course be conservative. However, you may be able to do better than hospitals: the first study above says that “even in a research setting in the intensive care unit, in which patients receiving mechanical ventilation are closely monitored, most patients who were randomized to an SpO2 target of 90–92% and were receiving supplementary oxygen did not have their inspired oxygen reduced if the SpO2 was 99% or 100%.” So—seems like you could easily do better monitoring than this if you were oxygenating at home. This is why I would probably shoot for 94-96% myself.</p>connor_flexmanExmzvJpqozjjsFsBg2020-03-17T23:44:14.602ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=E26soQHHc3JBMPGgT
<p>Medical doctors, so 10</p>connor_flexmanE26soQHHc3JBMPGgT2020-03-03T08:10:39.964ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=CbS2tMyGJqeqaAQF7
<p>This is a good point, but for what it's worth I don't fully endorse coppering your phone (mine isn't coppered). Several people have anecdotally reported it being uncomfortable or irritating on their hands, or receiving tiny cuts from the copper, etc.</p><p>Absorption through skin is incredibly low, but I do take the risk of open (if tiny) hand wounds seriously, and also generally try to reduce my total copper contact in case anything weird does happen, since this is not tested by time.</p>connor_flexmanCbS2tMyGJqeqaAQF72020-03-03T07:55:02.784ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=6M2cmDWSt9yt9HwCz
<p>Sorry, forgot to modify this for a virus-specific claim, but yes.</p><p>On solid copper, H1N1 decreased by 4 logs in 6 hours in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3067274/">this review</a>; vaccinia and monkeypox viruses were reduced by 6 logs in 3 minutes in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10534-014-9781-0">this study</a>; murine norovirus was destroyed in 30 minutes in <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?type=printable&id=10.1371/journal.pone.0075017">this study</a>, though it doesn't work very well at 4C; and <a href="https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/ccb/2009/00000003/00000003/art00003">another review</a> says that copper oxide filters neutralize all of "bacteriophages [58-62], Infectious Bronchitis Virus [63], Poliovirus [61,64], Junin Virus [59], Herpes Simplex Virus [58,59], Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) [11,65-67], West Nile Virus [11], Coxsackie Virus Types B2 & B4, Echovirus 4 and Simian Rotavirus SA11 [68]. More recently, the inactivation of Influenza A [55,65], Rhinovirus 2, Yellow Fever, Measles, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Parainfluenza 3, Punta Toro, Pichinde, Adenovirus Type 1, Cytomegalovirus, and Vaccinia [65]".</p>connor_flexman6M2cmDWSt9yt9HwCz2020-03-03T07:50:51.951ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=SzQ2psuQ9Ct5GFMDz
<p>Good call, these are indeed useful, though I'm not sure if worth it. Guessing 20 mins total for vitamin D for a 3x decrease in 10% of the population is roughly a 7% risk reduction, while maybe 10 hours on the spirometer for a ~~3% effect? (Eyeballing <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1072751510000128">this study</a> in pneumonia sequelae looks like an 80% effect from this over 2 years, plus other interventions.) If this thing on average knocks 2 months off my life, a 3% effect is still 2 days, plus you get other health benefits, BUT if I'm planning on quarantining hard enough to not get it, the benefits do go down.</p>connor_flexmanSzQ2psuQ9Ct5GFMDz2020-03-01T23:31:16.184ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=jRZSkavPJzcQtSPhc
<p><strong>Tl;dr Putting copper tape on commonly-touched surfaces is a high-value thing to do in the case you’re actively trying to avoid infection, since copper kills viruses and ~~50% of viral disease is from hand-to-surface-to-face contact (h/t Adam Scholl for hypothesis) [ETA: coronavirus seems to have mostly (?) respiratory droplet transmission, so this prior is less relevant but still worth intervening upon]</strong></p><p><u><a href="https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B071JKLFXX/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1">Amazon link</a></u> (sadly, probably one Amazon item that won’t go out of stock)</p><p>Metals killing bacteria is well-documented, like all the very consistent results in <u><a href="https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20938849">this paper</a></u> comparing 9 metals (lead kills slightly better than copper but that unfortunately extends to the humans; zinc and some other metals also kill pretty well, only two did not). Within an hour, copper dropped CFU from 10^6->10^1 (the measurement threshold). Zinc took 2 hours, nickel 4.</p><p>Unfortunately, this isn’t in widespread use in hospitals yet. But when it does, copper on the most-touched surfaces of an ICU appears to <u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23571364">reduce infections by about half</a></u> (bed handles, chair armrests, nurse call buttons, and a few others). But these are in very high-germ-load environments. What happens in a normal home?</p><p>First, how much of disease spread is from hand-to-surface vs airborne or hand-to-hand? I lost the citation and it wasn't well backed, but apparently you don't catch colds through suspended particles very often (someone has to sneeze within 6 feet or exhale in your face lots). And hand-to-hand contact spreads it more efficiently but (one paper said) less frequently than hand-to-surface-to-hand, especially in environments without lots of high-fiving and hand-shakes. Plus, the study saying 50% infection reduction from copperizing main surfaces would fit well with a base rate of ~70% hand-to-surface infections and, of these, ~70% of touches in the ICU got sanitized by the dangerous surface metal coverings. But 70% sounds like a lot so I’m going to be a little conservative and just say 50%.</p><p>Now, it’s hard to figure out how many things you’d need to cover with copper to reduce most of this. But some typical commonly-touched shared items are:</p><ul><li>doorknobs (brass is probably ok, steel is not) [ETA: comment below points out brass not ok]</li><li>light switches</li><li>faucets</li><li>toilet handles</li><li>refrigerator</li><li>drawer handles</li><li>writing implements</li><li>backs of chairs</li></ul><p>Depending on how many people you are sharing touch-space and not air-space with, I expect covering these in copper could reduce infection by anything from 1 to 50%, though I expect in a typical house of four people who sometimes venture outside and don’t know about never touching your face, you’d get an effect roughly between 15 and 40%. </p>connor_flexmanjRZSkavPJzcQtSPhc2020-02-29T08:56:17.522ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/LwcKYR8bykM6vDHyo/coronavirus-justified-practical-advice-thread?commentId=KEAc428gk4F6Ys3tv
<p>Since COVID usually kills via pneumonia, and insufficient vitamin D appears to be a surprisingly large risk factor in respiratory infection, it’s probably pretty important to keep vitamin D levels sufficient (which in most people means supplementing it specifically, esp if there’s any quarantine that affects food).</p><p><u><a href="https://smile.amazon.com/Vitamin-Enhanced-Coconut-Absorption-Softgels/dp/B00JGCBGZQ/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=vitamin+d&qid=1582963847&sr=8-5">Amazon link</a></u></p><p>Studies:</p><ul><li><u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5692194/">Study</a></u> says 4x rate of respiratory infection in the very deficient, but doesn’t see an obvious effect in the partially deficient, so slightly weird statistics.</li><li><u><a href="https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ped.2017.0750?journalCode=ped">Study</a></u> says very large effects in children</li><li><u><a href="https://www.who.int/elena/titles/vitamind_pneumonia_children/en/">WHO</a></u> says linked</li><li><u><a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011597.pub2/full">Study</a></u> says no effect from supplementing after already sick, so get on this before infection</li></ul>connor_flexmanKEAc428gk4F6Ys3tv2020-02-29T08:12:32.538ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Will COVID-19 survivors suffer lasting disability at a high rate?
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/h4GFHbhxE2pfiadhi/will-covid-19-survivors-suffer-lasting-disability-at-a-high?commentId=uZJqxj3SDBth7Md3S
<p><strong>Tl;dr long-term fatigue and mortality from other pneumonias make this look very roughly 2x as bad to me as the mortality-alone estimates.</strong></p><p>It’s less precise than looking at CoVs specifically, but we can look at long-term effects just from pneumonia.</p><p><strong>Lung issues</strong></p><p><a href="https://pneumonia.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.15172/pneu.2015.6/671">This 10-year study</a> on young children shows 10+/-3% sequelae involving restrictive lung disease, obstructive lung disease, or bronchiectasis. In the absence of a control group, they noted that hospitalized vs non-hospitalized cases showed the expected discrepancy of 5+/-2% sequelae and 14+/-7% sequelae. Apparently adenovirus cases had 55+/-8% risk of sequelae though, and those small error bars do make me wonder if there were enough adenovirus patients to shift the sequelae rates up significantly in the whole population. (Extrapolating from the SDs would give about 40/200 people in the adenovirus group, which would exactly make up the whole effect, but actually n=720, not 200, so I’m obviously doing something wrong.)</p><p><a href="https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.201501-0140OC">This pretty interesting study</a> took people hospitalized for pneumonia and “non-pneumonia” and looked at mortality rates between them. The pneumonia patients had about twice the mortality over the following 1 year and 5 years, but by the 5 to 9 year range this had dropped to 1.5x and by 10+ years it was only 1.25x. The absolute mortalities were about 1.25% in pneumonia patients over the first year excluding the 30 days following the disease, down to about .5% during years 5-9, so for the average person this adds up to about 4% increased mortality over the next decade (so about 6% -> 10%). Notably, COD was only 12% respiratory but 24% neoplasm and 36% circulatory system. One difficulty in this study was that there was somewhat higher comorbidity in pneumonia-havers, though scrapping anyone with comorbidities (including age) still left young people at a 2.4 hazard ratio (and the elderly only showed a 1.4 hazard ratio).</p><p><strong>Fatigue</strong></p><p>As far as fatigue goes, obviously numbers are very difficult due to lack of measurement, but <u><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1497132/">this study says</a></u> bodily functioning is still on average about 5% worse at 3 months, and a site reporting on it says it claimed 50% of people still feel fatigue after 3 months (but I couldn’t find that number in <3 minutes). <u><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0007097175900947">Another study</a></u> says only 63% of people are symptom-free at 6 months. Likewise, <u><a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pneumonia/treatment/">this site</a></u> says at 3 months “most symptoms should have resolved, but you may still have fatigue”, and says at 6 months “most people will feel back to normal”, but that sure sounds like it easily includes the possibility of 20% fatigue at 6 months and 10% at 5 years. </p><p><strong>Overall</strong>,</p><p>this research has made me pretty concerned about lasting symptoms. Just to be fatigued for 6 months sounds horrible, and to have even a few percent chance of that forever would rival my concern over the mortality. Additional long-term increased mortality and lung problems might add up to a similar order of magnitude.</p><p>The one redeeming piece is that pneumonia is actually quite bad (5-10% mortality), so COVID might actually be less extreme than these numbers. One could take these pneumonia effect numbers and reduce them by 3 to fit 1.5-3% mortality, but since the 20% who do get pneumonia appear to have like 20% mortality, that makes the pneumonia seem worse and thus plausible to have adenovirus-pneumonia-like high rates of long-term side effects, which would move COVID back toward about the middle of the pack.</p>connor_flexmanuZJqxj3SDBth7Md3S2020-02-29T08:08:25.656ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Connor_Flexman's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw/connor_flexman-s-shortform?commentId=JrAfMxkJknTkTj4v7
<p>Good point, and you're right that that's the complex part. It's very hard to say the criterion, but it's the difference between "I feel like I should donate more of my money to charity because of this argument" vs "I should donate more of my money to charity, which I realized because of this argument".</p><p>The deliberative process is like your heuristic in A*, and you definitely feel some strong push toward that option, but the S1 pathfinder hasn't approved of the thing until (something happens), which I'm going to call "realizing it". I think this meshes with our other uses of the phrase. Cf someone who "realizes there is nothing left for them here", or "realizes that person is actually good", or something—they aren't going to have any sort of akrasia on acting from that new belief.</p>connor_flexmanJrAfMxkJknTkTj4v72020-02-28T03:19:35.948ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Connor_Flexman's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw/connor_flexman-s-shortform?commentId=cLRchPpH9z6APsqDk
<p><a href="https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Shut_up_and_multiply">Shut up and multiply</a> is only about very comparable things (hence the example with differing numbers of birds). Obviously very important to make Pareto improvements of the form "hold everything constant, get more of good thing X".</p><p>The main failure mode is applying it between un-like things, and accidentally making bad tradeoffs. For example, working very hard to make money to give away but then stagnating, because it turns out doing things you like is actually very important to personal growth and personal growth is very important to achieving your goals in the future. In general, making Kaldor-Hicks improvements that turn out not to be Kaldor-Hicks improvements because things had secret benefits.</p><p><a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Ea8pt2dsrS6D4P54F/shut-up-and-divide">Shut up and divide</a> helps alleviate people getting mind-controlled by Very Large Numbers and devoting all of their time to other people (of whom there are many more of than yourself), but... it smuggles in an insidious and terrible type error (while not correcting the core issue). </p><p>"Shutting up and letting an explicit deliberative practice decide the answer" is <em>not</em><strong> </strong>about getting your emotions to work more reasonably, as is said in the division post, it's about making decisions where your emotions don't have the proper sense of scale. You're not supposed to walk around actually feeling the desire to save a billion birds at an intensity a billion times stronger than the desire to save one bird. The deliberative analysis isn't about aligning your care, it's about making decisions where your care system is having troubles. To apply it to "how much you care about a random person", as he did, is not the place your care system has troubles! (Of course, plausibly Wei Dai was not actually making this mistake, it's always hard to ensure your ideas aren't being misinterpreted. But it really sounds like he was.)</p><p>But still, directly, why do I think you should still care about a random bird, when there are so many more important things to do? Why not overwrite your initial caring system with something that makes more sense, and use the fact that you don't care greatly about the sum total of birds to determine you don't care greatly about a single bird? Because I desperately want people to protect their <strong>learned local gradient</strong>.</p><p>The initial problem of missing secret benefits to things is well-known in various guises similar to Chesterton's Fence. But Chesterton's Fence isn't very constructive—it just tells you to tread carefully. I think the type of process you should be running to actively identify fake Kaldor-Hicks improvements is protecting the local gradient. If your mind has learned that reading fiction books is more important than going above and beyond on work, even if that supposedly saves lives—preserve this gradient! If your mind has learned that saving a single bird is more important than getting to your appointment on time, even if that supposedly saves lives—preserve this gradient!</p><p>The whole point of shutting up to multiply is that your brain is very bad outside a certain regime, but everyone knows your brain is the most profound analysis tool ever created inside its wheelhouse. And local gradients are its wheelhouse. In fact, "using deliberate analysis to decide which of multiple very different goals should be pursued" is the kind of tool that is great in its own regime, namely optimizing quantities in well-known formal situations, but is itself very bad outside of this regime! (Cf Communism, Goodhart, the failures of high modernism, etc.) To make hard tradeoffs in your daily life, you want to use the analogous principle "shut up and intuit" or "shut up and listen to your desires" or whatever provokes in you the mindset of using <strong>your mind's experience</strong>. That's the place you'd expect to get the note of discord, that says "wait, I think there's actually something pretty bad about working constantly and giving all my money away—what is that about?"</p>connor_flexmancLRchPpH9z6APsqDk2020-02-26T20:54:58.031ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Connor_Flexman's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw/connor_flexman-s-shortform?commentId=DGBZyeG3s87KYd27c
<p>Remember that just like there are a lot of levels to any skill, there are a lot of levels to any unblocking!</p><p>It feels to me like perhaps both parties are making a mistake when one person (the <em>discoverer</em>) says, "I finally figured out [how to be emotionally liberated or something]!" and the <em>skeptic</em> is like "whatever, they'll just come back in a few months and say they figured out even more about being emotionally liberated, what a pointless hamster wheel." (Yes, often people are unskilled at this type of thing and the first insight doesn't stick, but I'm talking about the times when it does.)</p><p>In these cases, the discoverer will *still find higher levels of this* later on! It isn't that they've discovered the True Truth about [emotional liberation], they've just made a leap forward that resolves lots of their known issues. So even if the skeptic is right that they'll discover another thing in the future that sounds very similar, that doesn't actually invalidate their present insight.</p><p>And for the discoverer, often it is seductive to think you've finally solved that domain. Oftentimes most or all of your present issues there feel resolved! But that's because you triangulate from the most pressing issues. In the future, you'll find other cracks in your reality, and need to figure out superficially similar but slightly skewed domains—and thinking you've permanently solved a complicated domain will only hamper this process. But that doesn't mean your insight isn't exactly as good as you think it is.</p>connor_flexmanDGBZyeG3s87KYd27c2019-10-20T17:44:03.787ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Maybe Lying Doesn't Exist
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/bSmgPNS6MTJsunTzS/maybe-lying-doesn-t-exist?commentId=xzyo9m88Sq6TQyusH
<p>I feel torn because I agree that unconscious intent is incredibly important to straighten out, but also think</p><p> 1. everyone else is relatively decent at blaming them for their poor intent in the meantime (though there are some cases I'd like to see people catch onto faster), and</p><p> 2. this is mostly between the person and themselves.</p><p>It seems like you're advocating for people to be publicly shamed more for their unconscious bad intentions, and this seems both super bad for social fabric (and witch-hunt-permitting) while imo not adding very much capacity to change due to point (2), and would be much better accomplished by a <em>culture of forgiveness</em> such that the elephant lets people look at it. Are there parts of this you strongly disagree with?</p>connor_flexmanxzyo9m88Sq6TQyusH2019-10-20T17:28:23.305ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Connor_Flexman's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw/connor_flexman-s-shortform?commentId=7uozv3EajfnmDz8rB
<p>Sometimes people are explaining a mental move, and give some advice on where/how it should feel in a spatial metaphor. For example, they say "if you're doing this right, it should feel like the concept is above your head and you're reaching toward it."</p><p>I have historically had trouble working well with advice like this, and I don't often see it working well for other people. But I think the solution is that for most people, the spatial or feeling advice is best used as an intermediate/terminal checksum, not as something that is <em>constructive</em>.</p><p>For example, if you try to imagine feeling their feeling, and then seeing what you could do differently to get there, this will usually not work (if it does work fine, carry on, this isn't meant for you). The best way for most people to use advice like this is to just notice your spatial feeling is much different than theirs, be reminded that you definitely aren't doing the same thing as them, and be motivated to go back and try to understand all the pieces better. You're missing some part of the move or context that is generating their spatial intuition, and you want to investigate the upstream generators, not their downstream spatial feeling itself. (Again, this isn't to say you can't learn tricks for making the spatial intuition constructive, just don't think this is expected of you in the moment.)</p><p>For explainers of mental moves, this model is also useful to remember. Mental moves that accomplish similar goals in different people will by default involve significantly different moving parts in their minds and microstrategies to get there. If you are going to explain spatial intuitions (that most people can't work easily with), you probably want to do one of the following:</p><p>1) make sure they are great at working with spatial intuitions</p><p>2) make sure they know it's primarily a checksum, not an instruction</p><p>3) break down which parts generate that spatial intuition in yourself, so if they don't have it then you can help guide them toward the proper generators</p><p>4) figure out your own better method of helping them work with it that I haven't discovered</p><p>5) remember the goal is not to describe your experience as you experience it, but to teach them the skill, and just don't bring up the spatial intuition as if they should be guided by that right now<br></p>connor_flexman7uozv3EajfnmDz8rB2019-10-16T21:31:55.278ZConnor_Flexman's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/FCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw/connor_flexman-s-shortform
connor_flexmanFCcwtWMFprQgDSpvw2019-10-16T21:31:55.112ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Chris_Leong's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/SbAofYCgKkaXReDy4/chris_leong-s-shortform?commentId=jrjLGbshpi7oyfJrh
<p>Does <a href="https://arxiv.org/pdf/1710.05060.pdf">FDT</a> make this any clearer for you?</p><p>There is a distinction in the correlation, but it's somewhat subtle and I don't fully understand it myself. One silly way to think about it that might be helpful is "how much does the past hinge on your decision?" In smoker's lesion, it is clear the past is very fixed—even if you decide to not to smoke, that doesn't affect the genetic code. But in Newcomb's, the past hinges heavily on your decision: if you decide to one-box, it must have been the case that you could have been predicted to one-box, so it's logically impossible for it to have gone the other way.</p><p>One intermediate example would be if Omega told you they had predicted you to two-box, and you had reason to fully trust this. In this case, I'm pretty sure you'd want to two-box, then immediately precommit to one-boxing in the future. (In this case, the past no longer hinges on your decision.) Another would be if Omega was predicting from your genetic code, which supposedly correlated highly with your decision but was causally separate. In this case, I think you again want to two-box if you have sufficient metacognition that you can actually uncorrelate your decision from genetics, but I'm not sure what you'd do if you can't uncorrelate. (The difference again lies in how much Omega's decision hinges on your actual decision.) </p>connor_flexmanjrjLGbshpi7oyfJrh2019-10-16T17:54:50.353ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Schematic Thinking: heuristic generalization using Korzybski's method
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/753hN5xCvdcD9qRo5/schematic-thinking-heuristic-generalization-using-korzybski?commentId=C5tXXTEhWjrZ8fmzi
<p>Really like this explanation, especially the third example and conclusion.</p><p>I feel like a similar mental move helps me understand and work with all sorts of not-yet-operationalized arguments in my head (or that other people make). If I think people are "too X", and then I think about what my other options to have said were there, it helps me triangulate about what thing I actually mean. I think this is much faster and more resilient to ladder-of-abstraction mistakes (as you mention) than many operationalization techniques, like trying to put numbers on things.</p><p>I think my personal mental move is less like being aware of all the things I could have said, and more like being aware that the thing I was saying was a stand-in meant to imply lots of specific things that are implausible to articulate in their own form.</p>connor_flexmanC5tXXTEhWjrZ8fmzi2019-10-15T22:33:20.551ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Strong stances
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/4Bjn8nCcfCe2nr9jF/strong-stances?commentId=YJe4wuWuwSnZiwnQK
<p>Not core, but when you say</p><blockquote>(I don’t know if this is related, but it seems interesting to me that the human mind feels as though it lives in ‘the world’—this one concrete thing—though its epistemic position is in some sense most naturally seen as a probability distribution over many possibilities.)</blockquote><p>It's notable that it seems like some plausible probabilistic models of neuroscience are formatted such that only one path actually fires (is experienced), and the probability only comes in at the level of the structure weighting the probability of which path might fire.</p>connor_flexmanYJe4wuWuwSnZiwnQK2019-10-15T21:51:20.490ZComment by Connor_Flexman on How feasible is long-range forecasting?
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/5oPE22w3aEhh8hLcp/how-feasible-is-long-range-forecasting?commentId=hmiJPKJSo6e8tHhgb
<p>On both the piece and the question, I feel consistently confused that people keep asking "is long-range forecasting feasible" as a binary in an overly general context, which, as TedSanders mentioned, is trivially false in some cases and trivially true in others.</p><p>I get that if you are doing research on things, you'll probably do research on real-world-esque cases. But if you were trying to prove long-term forecasting feasibility-at-all (which Luke's post appears to, as it ends with sounding unsure about this point), you'd want to start from the <em>easiest</em> case for feasibility: the best superforecaster ever predicting the absolute easiest questions, over and over. This is narrow on forecasters and charitable on difficulty. I'm glad to see Tetlock et al looking at a narrower group of people this time, but you could go further. And I feel like people are still ignoring difficulty, to the detriment of everyone's understanding.</p><p>If you predict coin tosses, you're going to get a ROC AUC of .5. Chaos theory says some features have sensitive dependence to initial conditions that are at too low of resolution for us to track, and that we won't be able to predict these. Other features are going to sit within basins of attraction that are easy to predict. The curve of AUC over time should absolutely drop off over time like that, because more features slip out of predictability as time goes on. This should not be surprising! The real question is "which questions are how predictable for which people?" (Evidently not the current questions for the current general forecasting pool.)</p><p>There are different things to do to answer that. Firstly, two things NOT to do that I see lots:</p><p> 1. Implying low resolution/AUC is a fault without checking calibration (as I maybe wrongly perceive the above graph or post as doing, but have seen elsewhere in a similar context). If you have good calibration, then a .52 AUC can be fine if you say 50% to most questions and 90% to one question; if you don't, that 90% is gonna be drowned out in a sea of other wrong 90%s</p><p> 2. Trying to zero out questions that you give to predictors, e.g. "will Tesla produce more or less than [Tesla's expected production] next year?". If you're looking for resolution/AUC, then baselining on a good guess specifically destroys your ability to measure that. (If you ask the best superforecaster to guess whether a series of 80% heads-weighted coin flips comes up with an average more than .8, they'll have no resolution, but if you ask what the average will be from 0 to 1 then they'll have high resolution.) It will also hamstring your ability to remove low-information answers if you try subtracting background, as mentioned in the next list.</p><p>Some positive options if you're interested in figuring out what long-term questions are predictable by whom:</p><p> 1. At the very least, ask questions you expect people to have real information about</p><p> 2. Ask superforecasters to forecast metadata about questions, like whether people will have any resolution/AUC on subclasses of questions, or how much resolution/AUC differently ranked people will have on subclasses, or whether a prediction market would answer a question better (e.g. if there is narrowly-dispersed hidden information that is very strong). Then you could avoid asking questions that were expected to be unpredictable or wasteful in some other way.</p><p> 3. Go through and trying to find simple features of predictable vs unpredictable long-term questions</p><p> 4. Amplify the informational signal by reducing the haze of uncertainty not specific to the thing the question is interested in (mostly important for decade+ predictions). One option is to ask conditionals, e.g. "what percent chance is there that CRISPR-edited babies account for more than 10% of births if no legislation is passed banning the procedure" or something if you know legislation is very difficult to predict; another option is to ask about upstream features, like specifically whether legislation will be passed banning CRISPR. (Had another better idea here but fell asleep and forgot it)</p><p> 5. Do a sort of anti-funnel plot or other baselining of the distribution over predictors' predictions. This could look like subtracting the primary-fit beta distribution from the prediction histogram to see if there's a secondary beta, or looking for higher-order moments or outliers of high credibility, or other signs of nonrandom prediction distribution that might generalize well. A good filter here is to not anchor them by saying "chances of more than X units" where X is already ~the aggregate mean, but instead make them rederive things (or to be insidious, provide a faulty anchor and subtract an empirical distribution from around that point). Other tweaked opportunities for baseline subtraction abound.</p><p>If Luke is primarily just interested in whether OpenPhil employees can make long-term forecasts on the kind of thing they forecast on, they shouldn't be looking at resolution/AUC, just calibration, and making sure it's still good at reasonably long timescales. To bootstrap, it would speed things along if they used their best forecasters to predict metadata—if there are classes of questions that are too unpredictable for them, I'm sure they can figure that out, especially if they spot-interviewed some people about long-term predictions they made.</p>connor_flexmanhmiJPKJSo6e8tHhgb2019-10-15T17:48:40.156ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Maybe Lying Doesn't Exist
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/bSmgPNS6MTJsunTzS/maybe-lying-doesn-t-exist?commentId=HjuAdEpjKm3hX88qd
<p>The folk theory of lying is a tiny bit wrong and I agree it should be patched. I definitely do not agree we should throw it out, or be uncertain whether lying exists.</p><p>Lying clearly exists.</p><p>1. Oftentimes people consider how best to lie about e.g. them being late. When they settle on the lie of telling their boss they were talking to their other boss and they weren't, and they know this is a lie, that's a central case of a lie—definitely not motivated cognition.</p><p>To expand our extensional definition to noncentral cases, you can consider some other ways people might tell maybe-lies when they are late. Among others, I have had the experiences [edit: grammar] of</p><p>2. telling someone I would be there in 10 minutes when it was going to take 20, and if you asked me on the side with no consequences I would immediately have been able to tell you that it was 20 even though in the moment I certainly hadn't conceived myself as lying, and I think people would agree with me this is a lie (albeit white)</p><p>3. telling someone I would be there in 10 minutes when it was going to take 20, and if you asked me on the side with no consequences I would have still said 10, because my model definitely said 10, and once I started looking into my model I would notice that probably I was missing some contingencies, and that maybe I had been motivated at certain spots when forming my model, and I would start calculating... and I think most people would agree with me this is not a lie</p><p>4. telling someone I would be there in 10 minutes when it was going to take 20, and my model was formed epistemically virtuously despitely obviously there being good reasons for expecting shorter timescales, and who knows how long it would take me to find enough nuances to fix it and say 20. This is not a lie.</p><p>Ruby's example of the workplace fits somewhere between numbers 1 and 2. Jessica's example of short AI timelines I think is intended to fit 3 (although I think the situation is actually 4 for most people). The example of the political fact-checking doesn't fit cleanly because politically we're typically allowed to call anything wrong a "lie" regardless of intent, but I think is somewhere between 2 and 3 and I think nonpartisan people would agree that, unless the perpetrators actually could have said they were wrong about the stat, the case was not actually a lie (just a different type of bad falsehood reflecting on the character of those involved). There are certainly many gradations here, but I just wanted to show that there is actually a relatively commonly accepted implicit theory about when things are lies that fits with the territory and isn't some sort of politicking map distortion as it seemed you were implying.</p><p>The intensional definition you found that included "conscious intent to deceive" is not actually the implicit folk theory most people operate under: they include number 2's "unconscious intent to deceive" or "in-the-moment should-have-been-very-easy-to-tell-you-were-wrong obvious-motivated-cognition-cover-up". I agree the explicit folk theory should be modified, though.</p><p>I also want to point out that this pattern of explicit vs implicit folk theories applies well to lots of other things. Consider "identity"—the explicit folk theory probably says something about souls or a real cohesive "I", but the implicit version often uses distancing or phrases like "that wasn't me" [edit: in the context of it being unlike their normal self, not that someone else literally did it] and things such that people clearly sort of know what's going on. Other examples include theory of action, "I can't do it", various things around relationships, what is real as opposed to postmodernism, etc etc. To not cherry-pick, there are some difficult cases to consider like "speak your truth" or the problem of evil, but under nuanced consideration these fit with the dynamic of the others. I just mention this generalization because LW types (incl me) learned to tear apart all the folk theories because their explicit version were horribly contradictive, and while this has been very powerful for us I feel like an equally powerful skill is figuring out how to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.</p>connor_flexmanHjuAdEpjKm3hX88qd2019-10-14T17:26:46.741ZComment by Connor_Flexman on adam_scholl's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/uBs6RJYtQbxZCRxSk/adam_scholl-s-shortform?commentId=yigW5FQJTZZgoYx2Y
<p>I was initially very concerned about this but then noticed that almost all the tested secondary endpoints were positive in the mice studies too. The human studies could plausibly still be meaningless though.</p><p>Has anyone (esp you Jim) looked into fecal transplants for this instead, in case our much longer digestive system is a problem?</p>connor_flexmanyigW5FQJTZZgoYx2Y2019-08-13T22:29:05.100ZComment by Connor_Flexman on adam_scholl's Shortform
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/uBs6RJYtQbxZCRxSk/adam_scholl-s-shortform?commentId=mrqjLXwB5iahbBTkB
<p>Possibly another good example of scientists failing to use More Dakka. The mice studies all showed solid effects, but then the human studies used the same dose range (10^9 or 10^10 CFU) and only about half showed effects! Googled for negative side effects of probiotics and the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-side-effects">healthline</a> result really had to stretch for anything bad. Wondering if, as much larger organisms, we should just be jacking up the dosage quite a bit.</p>connor_flexmanmrqjLXwB5iahbBTkB2019-08-12T07:20:26.450ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Integrating disagreeing subagents
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/hnLutdvjC8kPScPAj/integrating-disagreeing-subagents?commentId=FGkxTnTZ4NJB67icu
<p>I still don't love the term "subagents", despite everyone getting lots out of it, as well as personally agreeing with the intentional stance and the "alliances" you mention. I think my crux-net is something like</p><ul><li>agents are strategic</li><li>fragments of our associative mental structures aren't strategic except insofar as their output calls other game theoretic substructures or you are looking at something like the parliamentary moderator</li><li>if you think of these as agents, you will attribute false strategy to them and feel stuck more often, when in fact they are easily worked with if you think of their apparent strategy as "using highly simplistic native associations and reinforcements, albeit sometimes by pinging other fragments to do things outside their own purview, to accomplish their goal"</li></ul><p>However, it does seem possible to me that the "calling other fragments" step does actually chain so far as to constitute real strategy and offer a useful level of abstraction for viewing such webs as subagents. I haven't seen much evidence for this—does this framing make sense, and do you think it is clear there is something more like Turing-complete webs of strategy within subagents vs merely pseudostrategy? Wish I had a replacement word I liked better than subagent.</p>connor_flexmanFGkxTnTZ4NJB67icu2019-06-11T19:39:45.187ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Honors Fuel Achievement
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/7pSzHo34PKk2aJtZD/honors-fuel-achievement?commentId=JffE32zjffoZ7zigg
<p>I don't think most of the motivation is supposed to come in at the level of doing the final work that might win the award—I agree it seems like Nobel prizes, knighthoods, Hugo and Nebula, etc all aren't being consciously thought about too much during the year or two beforehand.</p><p>"Making the industry seem relevant rather than encouraging behaviors" rings more true. The motivation seems to happen when younger people see that this is a thing society values. That node downstream of the award drives them through years of striving.</p>connor_flexmanJffE32zjffoZ7zigg2019-06-11T18:39:02.704ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Norms of Membership for Voluntary Groups
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/vHSrtmr3EBohcw6t8/norms-of-membership-for-voluntary-groups?commentId=FRkDubbjqEDQ4PbWz
<p>This is a good point. I was wondering why civic/public is much more functional in meatspace than cyber, whereas a lot of internet communities that seem good are more gated—and I think this is due to the civic/public being sort of superficial, because the actual gatekeepers are in all sorts of transaction costs and social barriers one doesn't normally notice (or are deliberately obscured).</p>connor_flexmanFRkDubbjqEDQ4PbWz2019-01-16T11:10:10.233ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Meditations on Momentum
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/iPGpENE4ARKbzzQmt/meditations-on-momentum?commentId=HHbrFnMjHADf4ZZ2g
<p>I actually had some similar alarm bells go off for conflation of concepts in the op, especially because the post specifically gestures at one concept and doesn't give explanations of the different examples where this might come up.</p><p>However, on second thought I think I do like the concept this builds. To phrase it in your formal terms, I think it's very useful to notice all the systems in which the Taylor series for <span><style>.mjx-chtml {display: inline-block; line-height: 0; text-indent: 0; text-align: left; text-transform: none; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 100%; font-size-adjust: none; letter-spacing: normal; word-wrap: normal; word-spacing: normal; white-space: nowrap; float: none; direction: ltr; max-width: none; max-height: none; min-width: 0; min-height: 0; border: 0; margin: 0; padding: 1px 0}
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</style><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="f"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.519em; padding-bottom: 0.519em; padding-right: 0.06em;">f</span></span></span></span></span></span> has <span><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="b>0"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.446em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">b</span></span><span class="mjx-mo MJXc-space3"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.225em; padding-bottom: 0.372em;">></span></span><span class="mjx-mn MJXc-space3"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.372em; padding-bottom: 0.372em;">0</span></span></span></span></span></span>, ESPECIALLY when it's comparably easy to control <span><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="f"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.519em; padding-bottom: 0.519em; padding-right: 0.06em;">f</span></span></span></span></span></span> via <span><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="b*x"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.446em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">b</span></span><span class="mjx-mo MJXc-space2"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.151em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">∗</span></span><span class="mjx-mi MJXc-space2"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.225em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">x</span></span></span></span></span></span> rather than just <span><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="a"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.225em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">a</span></span></span></span></span></span>.</p><p>In this light, you can view momentum, exponential growth, heavy-tails, etc., as all cases where a main component of controlling or predicting future <span><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="x"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.225em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">x</span></span></span></span></span></span> is by paying attention to the <span><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="b*x"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.446em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">b</span></span><span class="mjx-mo MJXc-space2"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.151em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">∗</span></span><span class="mjx-mi MJXc-space2"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.225em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">x</span></span></span></span></span></span> term, and I claim this is an important revelation to have at a variety of levels.</p><p>Perhaps more relevant to your actual crux, I also get shudders when people overload physics terms with other meanings, but before they were physics terms they were concepts for intuitive things. Given that we view the world through physical metaphors, I think it's quite important for us to use the best-fitting words for concepts. Then we can remind people of the different variants when people run into conflationary trouble. If we start off by naming things with poor associations we hold ourselves back more. If you have alternative name to "momentum" for this that you also think have good connotations though, I'd love to hear them.</p>connor_flexmanHHbrFnMjHADf4ZZ2g2019-01-16T10:50:31.257ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Predicting Future Morality
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/toE6i842jhkkvXy7W/predicting-future-morality?commentId=PHWGTqi6ZwMZPwRvh
<p>I expect certain changes in information flow to affect things somewhat. Anonymity on the internet allowed people to humorize their own laziness and patheticness without unmasking, which seems to have significantly increased common knowledge about lots of people being mentally unwell or otherwise bad at traditionally valued things like hard work. As this gets normalized I expect it to further erode adherence to mask-like values and promote the cluster of things like "be true to yourself" and "it's ok to be depressed and seek help" and other MtG red/green over white. In fact, the selection effect of internet heroes being young, engaged in the gig economy, non-neurotypical, etc may create a sort of new value stratum if it doesn't percolate further.</p><p>The social media bubble effect seems like it could also lead to a further divergence of values along various class/bubble lines as Vaniver mentioned was the case historically. This might be exacerbated on the economic axis if we keep seeing capital growth gaining relative to wages, though I don't know much about that trend. </p>connor_flexmanPHWGTqi6ZwMZPwRvh2018-05-07T01:21:20.674ZComment by Connor_Flexman on An Untrollable Mathematician Illustrated
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/CvKnhXTu9BPcdKE4W/an-untrollable-mathematician-illustrated?commentId=tF5d6JuR2kdpH4kWh
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</style><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="(A \Rightarrow B_i)"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mo"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.446em; padding-bottom: 0.593em;">(</span></span><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.519em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">A</span></span><span class="mjx-mo MJXc-space3"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.225em; padding-bottom: 0.372em;">⇒</span></span><span class="mjx-msubsup MJXc-space3"><span class="mjx-base"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.446em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">B</span></span></span><span class="mjx-sub" style="font-size: 70.7%; vertical-align: -0.212em; padding-right: 0.071em;"><span class="mjx-mi" style=""><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.446em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">i</span></span></span></span><span class="mjx-mo"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-main-R" style="padding-top: 0.446em; padding-bottom: 0.593em;">)</span></span></span></span></span></span> and also <span><style>.mjx-chtml {display: inline-block; line-height: 0; text-indent: 0; text-align: left; text-transform: none; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 100%; font-size-adjust: none; letter-spacing: normal; word-wrap: normal; word-spacing: normal; white-space: nowrap; float: none; direction: ltr; max-width: none; max-height: none; min-width: 0; min-height: 0; border: 0; margin: 0; padding: 1px 0}
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</style><span class="mjx-chtml"><span class="mjx-math" aria-label="A"><span class="mjx-mrow" aria-hidden="true"><span class="mjx-mi"><span class="mjx-char MJXc-TeX-math-I" style="padding-top: 0.519em; padding-bottom: 0.298em;">A</span></span></span></span></span></span> down. Does this fail because you are postulating non-adversarial sampling, as ESRogs mentions? Or is there some other reason why propositional consistency is important here?</p>connor_flexmantF5d6JuR2kdpH4kWh2018-03-21T00:50:22.342ZComment by Connor_Flexman on A Taxonomy of Weirdness
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/gshbQFavsGW3ZoDYH/a-taxonomy-of-weirdness?commentId=2jwEnYWjyRTkD2j7N
<p>I’m not confident these are the right gears, and you might be asking for refined gears than mine, but my working hypothesis is something like: </p><p>The umbrella concept of weirdness is about whether people can predict your actions, since this is extremely useful information to track for a social animal. Predictability and therefore weirdness are tracked on a variety of levels—you can be weird because of your sleep schedule, or weird because of your nervous tics and body language, or weird because you talk in a very normal manner about the impending alien rapture, or weird just because you’re a foreigner. The weirdness of an action registers as flags on various mental levels to help you predict when that person later might not do the canonical action, and it registers with a magnitude and some metadata to help you track their weird trait(s) for inner simming. To answer the question of how much disconformity is “enough” to be labeled weird, I have to hand-wave and say that typical people’s social neural nets just get very good at inferring what infractions correspond to how much likelihood of what level of difficulty coordinating with them. (If this is the meat of the question, I could say more later).</p><p>Unfortunately, “weird" has had some semantic drift since unpredictable often happens to correlate with “being a less valuable ally” in a variety of ways for systemic or intrinsic reasons. Two important subtypes of weird that this is evident in are 1) the people whom you talk about that are just kind of loners, and 2) the people who actually provide frequent disvalue. The loners are “weird" because they can and do take actions the group hasn’t decided on, which makes them harder to coordinate with and significantly less predictable. But this also correlates with them being weird in other ways, and so it is rightly seen as Bayesian evidence for other problems by their peers—and further, people who sometimes leave the group are just less valuable allies (for dependability, for gossip, etc). When I do focusing on the weirdness of loners, I can kind of pick out these distinct feelings (of which I think the third is most prominent), along with other more personal ones like “weird -> unpredictable -> higher likelihood of new ideas -> valuable” and similar. </p><p>I think “weird” has mutated into a slur nowadays because of the subtype of those who provide disvalue and the ways that those traits correlate with weirdness (and why it's hard to get gears on the different types of nonconformity). You certainly can have good weird, where someone is unpredictable but in ways that everyone repeatedly likes (though they are still tracked as “weird”, importantly). But since a large part of social coordination is being predictable, the people who have fine control over their many levels of dials often do work largely within predictable ranges, and only the best optimizers can escape the local optima and be correct without too much disvalue on the way—which means that most people who aren’t being predictable are doing so because of an inability. And since most people can hit the small range of highly valuable parameter space we call “normal”, that gets set as baseline value, so a vast proportion of other actions are negative. So people who have difficulties with certain dials will regularly cause disvalue in various ways, which means that the trait of “weird” is now correlated with bad actions. </p><p>After writing this out, I’m wondering whether I should have called “weird” specifically “negative unpredictability”, and call “positive predictability” something like “interesting”. The people I think of as least weird and those I think of as least interesting both end up as “boring”, in the sense of a very predictable wind-up doll. I think you can have separate tickers for both weirdness and interestingness, but often people will black-and-white it one way or the other (and indeed argue whether someone is “weird” or “interesting”). The needle-threading of getting people to follow you demands an entire toolbox of gears itself, but some heuristics on just pushing the scales a little further from bad unpredictability:</p><p>One good way is to use your unpredictable actions to help your peers, as in noticing others are hungry and striking out on your own to fix the problem, or hitting the sweet spot of high-level predictability low-level unpredictability we call humor. Another, probably more important way, is to put a little extra effort at being extra predictable when around: prove you’re normal with small talk, say normal stuff about yourself, and forge social ties or commit to the group in other ways so they can know that you’ll (mostly) be there for them. Allies <em>have</em> to be dependable. </p>connor_flexman2jwEnYWjyRTkD2j7N2018-03-13T09:17:02.429ZComment by Connor_Flexman on First impressions...
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/w3ATwbbQKGfuYjbyf/first-impressions?commentId=BmCkfnT62nQ7vJjzw
<p>It seems important to be <em>extremely</em> clear about the criticism's target, though. I agree overanalysis is a failure mode of certain rationalists, and statistically more so for those who comment more on LW and SSC (because of the selection effect specifically for those who nitpick). But rationality itself is not the target here, merely naive misapplication of it. The best rationalists tend to cut through the pedantry and focus on the important points, empirically.</p>
connor_flexmanBmCkfnT62nQ7vJjzw2017-01-26T05:24:15.217ZComment by Connor_Flexman on [deleted post]
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/6if3cGi3gEiaDg5Bo/metarationality-repository?commentId=292sKqALh8hJYuCKA
<p>Don't know why the discrepancy, but it seems to me that a great deal of postrationality is littered with historical examples.</p>
<p>I also share your skepticism of clear psychological progression, but would point out plenty of times that people diverge in some ways but converge in more meta ones, e.g. divergence to liberal or conservative but convergence in political acumen, or e.g. divergence to minimalism or luxury but convergence to environmental modification.</p>
connor_flexman292sKqALh8hJYuCKA2017-01-26T03:25:33.970ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Strategic Thinking: Paradigm Selection
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/Yq4Zb39LqKvgBxGER/strategic-thinking-paradigm-selection?commentId=MkpfNERbmzQjnct93
<p>As you say, the inner circle certainly may have reason to do non-obvious things. But while withholding information from people can be occasionally politically helpful, it seems usually best for the company to have the employees on the same page and working toward a goal they see reason for. Because of this, I would usually assume that seemingly poor decisions in upper management are the result of actual incompetence or a deceitful actor in the information flow on the way down. </p>
connor_flexmanMkpfNERbmzQjnct932017-01-26T02:49:51.222ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Strategic Thinking: Paradigm Selection
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/Yq4Zb39LqKvgBxGER/strategic-thinking-paradigm-selection?commentId=e8aSXqvyuTwoQTRBi
<p>I think people have already considered this, but the strategies converge. If someone else is going to make it first, you have only two possibilities: seize control by exerting a strategic advantage, or let them keep control but convince them to make it safe.</p>
<p>To do the former is very difficult, and the little bit of thinking that has been done about it has mostly exhausted the possibilities. To do the latter requires something like
1) giving them the tools to make it safe,
2) doing enough research to convince them to use your tools or fear catastrophe, and
3) opening communications with them.
So far, MIRI and other organizations are focusing on 1 and 2, whereas you'd expect them to primarily do 1 if they expected to get it first. We aren't doing 3 with respect to China, but that is a step that isn't easy at the moment and will probably get easier as time goes on.</p>
connor_flexmane8aSXqvyuTwoQTRBi2017-01-26T02:39:07.505ZComment by Connor_Flexman on Strategic Thinking: Paradigm Selection
https://lw2.issarice.com/posts/Yq4Zb39LqKvgBxGER/strategic-thinking-paradigm-selection?commentId=7JpXdskZYshmvjuH4
<p>I agree with this response; using first principles is a heuristic, and heuristics always have pros and cons. Just in terms of performance, the benefit is that you can re-assess assumptions but the cost is that you ignore a great amount of information gathered by those before you. Depending on the value of this information, you should frequently seek it out, as least as a supplement to your derivation.</p>
connor_flexman7JpXdskZYshmvjuH42017-01-26T02:24:41.178Z