Posts

A lost 80s/90s metaphor: playing the demo 2021-09-02T08:45:41.019Z
A reasonable debate about Ivermectin 2021-07-27T22:31:46.160Z
Is there a theoretical upper limit on the R0 of Covid variants? 2021-07-26T06:53:04.540Z
Anyone have experience with metabolic network modelling that would be willing to help me out? 2021-06-14T22:40:33.647Z
The value of low-conscientiousness people on teams 2021-06-14T02:06:25.504Z
What's your peace plan? 2021-05-26T23:26:42.146Z
It's like poetry, they rhyme: Lanier and Yudkowsky, Weyl and S-s... Alexander 2021-05-20T18:48:53.537Z
Is Ray Kurzweil's prediction accuracy still being tracked? 2021-05-20T00:06:45.690Z
CraigMichael's Shortform 2021-05-12T04:20:17.767Z
Sympathy for the ferryman of Hades, or why we should keep Trump off Twitter 2021-05-09T07:24:32.844Z
Is there a mu-like term that means something like "why is this any of my business?" 2021-04-06T07:47:20.516Z
Apollo Creed problems and Clubber Lang problems -- framing, and how to address the latter? 2021-03-14T01:29:33.414Z
Semaglutide is cool, but no one wants to talk about b. animalis ssp. lactis? 2021-02-15T09:50:30.979Z
Mini thoughts on mintheism 2021-01-11T05:14:59.524Z

Comments

Comment by CraigMichael on Denver, CO – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021 · 2021-09-19T22:02:49.719Z · LW · GW

I’m so sorry I RSVP’d and missed this! Was up until around 4am last night and my day was more chaotic than I expected… sorry all. Hope to catch up with some of you in Boulder.

Comment by CraigMichael on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2021-09-18T07:26:20.311Z · LW · GW

I like this phrasing.

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 9/17: Done Biden His Time · 2021-09-18T07:05:49.739Z · LW · GW

Vindictive rules that destroy value rather than protect it are not good. A rule makes sense if and only if it creates sufficient value by creating safer spaces and controlling spread. Justifying a rule by saying that the threat to destroy value will cause vaccinations should be out of bounds.

This template is a good heuristic for rules in general.

Zvi, you are loved like a milkshake… not in like a reckless obesogenic way, but a like a thoughtful anabolic consumption of milkshake way.

Comment by CraigMichael on LessWrong is paying $500 for Book Reviews · 2021-09-15T04:38:54.331Z · LW · GW

I estimate that our best blog posts generate much more than $500 of value.

Just curious - how are you estimating value here? I’m totally excited for this policy, just wondering how you put a dollar amount on this.

Comment by CraigMichael on The Best Software For Every Need · 2021-09-13T19:18:31.007Z · LW · GW

Why do you think you think one should take the wishes of other people seriously?

I did, and apologized in the initial comment for not specifically following the format. I'm not quite sure what the need is to point it out, again, when I initially acknowledged as much. If the roles were reversed I might have said "hey, I know you posted this in good faith, but was really hoping you would specifically follow the thread format and if that wasn't possible to not post?"

In particular your comment doesn't really provide any use for someone who seeks a book scanning software given that your comment provides no useful information for chosing between the available options.

It would give people a good starting place if they were looking for book scanning software. 

I remember doing a pretty exhaustive search in 2012 when I did a lot of book scanning, and was impressed with scantailor. I could have listed the features I liked in more detail, but I couldn't have honestly or reliability reconstructed the search.

So it's my experience for whatever it's worth and I didn't write it like it was anything else. 

I’m not sure if book scanning software is better now, but used to really like scantalior for books I’d scan from the library and share.

Other than specific feature by feature comparisons, a lot of this list is subjective experience with software. 

In the future I'll take "must" on LessWrong as an absolute requirement. Normally Internet commenting isn't RFC-level strict. Thanks for the clarification.

Comment by CraigMichael on The Best Software For Every Need · 2021-09-13T16:32:15.988Z · LW · GW

People take thread rules pretty seriously around these parts.

Comment by CraigMichael on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-11T23:34:47.035Z · LW · GW

I’m not sure what the 17 percent of total electricity figure is related to.

I’m assuming that building a wind turbine would be a lot more difficult than building a pencil.

Imagine it’s 1783, but all coal, oil, natural gas and rare Earth metals on Earth only exists in the places where they’re now in 2021.

How do you build something like the Deep Water Horizon using 1783 technology?

How do you build a the Smokey Hills Wind Farm using 1783 technology?

How do you build a lithium ion battery using 1783 technology?

How do you then Chicago Pile-1 using 1783 technology?

And, yes, you have to think about the whole supply chain. We use fossil fuel burning machines to move parts around, to log, etc. You can log a bit and move them down rivers, then those trees are gone and what do you do?

The problem is there’s only so much energy concentrated in wood, and it would be the most energy-dense material available. You’d burn it all and then you’d be done. The population would ultimately be limited by the amount of energy we have available to us, and there would be nothing we could to about it.

Comment by CraigMichael on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-11T13:19:52.859Z · LW · GW

You’re focused more on technology and less on fuel sources.

Given what goes in to constructing a modern windmill, I don’t see it being viably done with a wood-burning stream engine. Consider all of the materials that go in to make a pencil and what parts of the world they come from, the multiply it by at least 1000.

Comment by CraigMichael on Does Diverse News Decrease Polarization? · 2021-09-11T05:14:57.945Z · LW · GW

I’m intrigued by the concept of affective polarization.

My views are probably more moderate and this point in my life than they’ve ever been. I’ve said somewhat recently that “I’m an anarchist that’s been mugged by reality.”

My politics and attitudes from 20 years ago are close to what what you might find trending on Twitter, but a bit more extreme.

This will sound crazy, but at times I’ve wondered if I’m not in some kind of after-life or “simulation jail” where I have to deal with millions and millions of people in the US making noises very similar to my own from two decades prior and if it’s it like… some kind of cosmic revenge or the universe trying to teach me a painful lesson. It feels uncanny at times.

That’s kind of a tangent, but maybe relevant background to say myself and others of similar stripes I knew had a lot of extreme points of view at one time, but we were mostly self-marginalized and we’re ineffective because of them. I’d guess this was because we were much more of a minority at the time.

It’s different now in that what was once alienating beliefs and behaviors are now an entry ticket for safe harbor—it means you can express your beliefs and find shelter, even if it’s tenuous and always moving like a peloton.

I have to think that this is ultimately what social media provides, the ability to “move” very efficiently in a herd and in a way that’s the maximally rewarding, but contingent on being maximally harassing to another herd.

It feels like refuge, but it’s all a fugazi.

Comment by CraigMichael on The Best Software For Every Need · 2021-09-11T04:16:10.861Z · LW · GW

I’m sad that I’m just now learning about this.

Comment by CraigMichael on The Best Software For Every Need · 2021-09-11T04:13:18.165Z · LW · GW

Could you use it to make something like xpath-directed changes to an XML document? Like not just regexy things but if this tag or attribute in a tag does or doesn’t exist, add this.

Comment by CraigMichael on The Best Software For Every Need · 2021-09-11T04:09:41.098Z · LW · GW

I’m not sure if book scanning software is better now, but used to really like scantalior for books I’d scan from the library and share. https://scantailor.org/

I don’t know I can say that I remember much about the competitors. So… sorry if that’s cheating.

Comment by CraigMichael on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-11T01:16:14.032Z · LW · GW

As for the "fossil fuel trap" that appears to be more sensationalism, the math doesn't check out on that since 2018. Now that renewable is outright cheaper than fossil fuels economically this means the embodied energy ROI is highly positive (or it could not be outright cheaper unless you believe the equipment manufacturers have a magical source of free energy). I can link sources on this as well. Shortages of lithium and rare earths and copper turn out to be more sensationalism, there are now available on the market, in large quantities, alternatives. (Sodium ion batteries, rare earth free motors, aluminum wiring and motor windings). The alternatives are not quite as good, of course, but they are close in performance.

You’re missing the crux here - say a substantial part of humanity dies and we lose most knowledge and access to the technologies that we use to extract fossil fuels in the ways that we currently do. This creates a “missing stair” for the next group of humans populating the Earth.

Our progrsess:

Burning wood, plants and poo -> burning of fossil fuels -> nuclear and renewables and whatever.

If fossil fuels cannot be extracted by a society powered by wood (lol):

Burning wood, plants and poo —> (how to use wood-burning machines to extract oil from the beneath the ocean floor ???) —> still burning wood, plants and poo forever.

They would have no way to climb the “energy stair case.”

(Edits: clarity)

Comment by CraigMichael on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-11T01:05:52.053Z · LW · GW

I’m impressed with your footnotes container.

Comment by CraigMichael on Open & Welcome Thread September 2021 · 2021-09-09T22:29:21.963Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you mean by “threshold for the probability of belief in A.”

Say A is “I currently have a nose on my face.” You could assign that .99 or .99999 and either expresses a lot of certainty that it’s true, there’s not really a threshold involved.

Say A is “It will snow in Denver on or before October 31st 2021.” Right now, I would assign that a .65 based on my history of living in Denver for 41 years (it seems like it usually does).

But I could go back and look at weather data and see how often that actually happens. Maybe it’s been 39 out of the last 41 years, in which case I should update. Or maybe there’s an El Niño-like weather pattern this year or something like that… so I would adjust up or down accordingly.

The idea being, overtime, encountering evidence and learning to evaluate the quality of the evidence, you would get closer to the “true probability” of whatever A is.

Maybe you’re more asking about how should certain kinds of evidence change the probability of a belief being true? Like how much to update based on evidence presented?

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 9/9: Passing the Peak · 2021-09-09T21:57:45.704Z · LW · GW

Also s/zipline/zip tie and s/principle/principal in that same section.

Sorry if I sound pendantic.

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 9/9: Passing the Peak · 2021-09-09T17:23:50.664Z · LW · GW

Is it Thailand that made the robot? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/25/thailand-develops-robotic-system-to-up-covid-vaccine-doses

Comment by CraigMichael on Open & Welcome Thread September 2021 · 2021-09-08T17:59:25.764Z · LW · GW

I'm sure there's people here who could give a better answer. My take would be, from the rationalist/Bayesian perspective, is that you have a probability assigned to each belief based on some rationale, which may be subjective and involve a lot of estimation.

The important part is that when new relevant evidence is brought to your attention about that belief, you "update." In the Bayesian sense thinking "given the new evidence B, and the probability of my old belief A, what is the probability of A given B?"

But in practice that's really hard to do because we have all of these crazy biases. Scott's recent blog post was good on this point

Comment by CraigMichael on Open & Welcome Thread September 2021 · 2021-09-08T17:52:08.421Z · LW · GW

Did Sam ask at the Q&A that it not be shared or did he contact LW and ask that it be removed? If that's top secret, I'm okay with out an answer. More just curious.

Comment by CraigMichael on Open & Welcome Thread September 2021 · 2021-09-08T17:47:45.146Z · LW · GW

FWIW I like this idea, and would be cool if there was some fanfare on the site for it.

Comment by CraigMichael on Open & Welcome Thread September 2021 · 2021-09-08T17:46:39.534Z · LW · GW

Welcome!

Do you have thoughts on Solidity as opposed to Vyper? I've been learning Chialisp, and after which I want to focus on Solidity.

Comment by CraigMichael on Open & Welcome Thread September 2021 · 2021-09-08T17:43:08.239Z · LW · GW

My biggest present concern with LessWrong as a community is the Karma system, which is not only one-dimensional, but not even a specific axis. I don't mind one-dimensional praise, but I hate inarticulate criticism. Deeply awful feeling. I always try to give my best effort, you know?

I share this concern, but am also at a loss for what might be better. I thought, briefly, of Slashdot's system where there are various reasons for upvotes (funny, insightful, etc), but that always turned out to be a bit messy. 

I've suggested before that when someone downvotes it might prompt to enter a reason, which is what I'm more curious about. 

I've also wondered before if I could get admin feedback on why something wasn't (or was) Frontpaged.  But, as if they were reading my mind, that feature like that launched this week. :) 

Comment by CraigMichael on I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should) · 2021-09-08T01:12:54.132Z · LW · GW

I think from reading some of the other comments here on the LessWrong post, I'm a bit worried that this might be turning into some flame wars.

I'm happy that you mentioned this, because I think I agree now that you've pointed it out. Re-thinking some of my comments now. I won't delete them but... I like LessWrong because there's usually not a lot of culture war stuff. 

Comment by CraigMichael on I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should) · 2021-09-08T00:16:06.886Z · LW · GW

As of August 2021 in the USA, "the right hand is beating down the black man" is an accurate (if metaphorical) statement about the territory.

This strikes me as omitting relevant variables. 

Is it not true that the right hand is also beating the poor, for example?

Is the right hand beating orphans? 

Is the right hand beating the mentally ill? 

Why are we treating race as the ur-conflict. I believe it's one of many.

Comment by CraigMichael on I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should) · 2021-09-07T23:50:44.073Z · LW · GW

This is a very shrewd point. Where I see the distinction here is there is a conflation with ideas/beliefs /culture and (I hate to use the term) immutable characteristics. 

If I have a bad idea, or set of ideas, I can change them. 

If I have a bad immutable characteristic, X, I can try to be "less X..." according to Robin. Which just doesn't make sense to me in terms of race, and barely in terms of culture. Suppose "white culture" is codified and exists, I should try to be less that? Is it not possible that if white culture exists it's a mix of good and bad traits that we should evaluate independently?

We're also dealing with poorly defined (or perhaps undefinable) concepts. Are Jews white? Is Jewish culture white? What about Irish? What about Italians? They weren't always considered as such by everyone.

There are probably people who could lecture me on their operational definitions of 'white' and 'whiteness.'  But at that point it sounds like you're just redefining "right" and "wrong" to whatever you define as "non-white" and "white" respectively.

Any idea or belief is on the table and open to debate. Me being automatically bad by the nature of my ancestry just sounds like a caste system. 

Ultimately, I think the way to interpret White Fragility is "conflict theory" and we're treating it like "mistake theory" and making a mistake in doing so.

EDITS: Links

Comment by CraigMichael on I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should) · 2021-09-07T23:24:33.628Z · LW · GW

Reminds me of the how Christopher Hitchens used to describe Christianity, "created sick, then commanded to be well." 

Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects, in a cruel experiment, whereby we are created sick and commanded to be well. I'll repeat that: created sick, and then ordered to be well. And over us, to supervise this, is installed a celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea. Greedy, exigent—exigent, I would say more than exigent—greedy for uncritical praise from dawn until dusk and swift to punish the original sins with which it so tenderly gifted us in the very first place.

Comment by CraigMichael on Boulder, CO – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021 · 2021-09-07T07:21:28.079Z · LW · GW

I'm thinking about going to both. Denver and Boulder are kind of different cultures, not sure how much overlap they'll be. 

Comment by CraigMichael on Boulder, CO – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021 · 2021-09-07T07:20:52.551Z · LW · GW

Apple Maps is telling me this address is Lafayette and not Boulder. I'm not sure it matters, just saying.

Comment by CraigMichael on Anyone have experience with metabolic network modelling that would be willing to help me out? · 2021-09-07T06:25:15.591Z · LW · GW

To anyone reading this in the future, there's a good, 2021, article on plausible mechanisms here

Comment by CraigMichael on A lost 80s/90s metaphor: playing the demo · 2021-09-04T07:26:28.065Z · LW · GW

Toda raba. :) 

Send a self-addressed stamped and the Werther's original is yours. 

(It may smell and/or taste like a bit like IcyHot and 2-nonenal).

Comment by CraigMichael on A lost 80s/90s metaphor: playing the demo · 2021-09-04T07:18:26.980Z · LW · GW

Thank you. :)

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/26: Full Vaccine Approval · 2021-09-01T06:12:27.583Z · LW · GW

Given that it was important to have a vaccine as fast as possible that was a reasonable approach. Creating a vaccine that's more resistant to mutations takes work.

Just doing some quick searching, it doesn't sound like that's the decision that they're making. At the moment is sounds a little more like a toss up between a third shot and a delta-specific one

The decision to stay with that vaccine instead of investing into creating a better version is an economic one for which you couldn't persue a company in front of a court.

I'm not sure that Ralph Nader, for example, would entirely agree. Unsafe at Any Speed is analogous to the extent that car makers were optimizing for one set of conditions (cars that would get you laid) rather than another set (optimizing for cars that are less likely to kill you). What you're saying here (correct me if I'm way off) is that vaccines were optimized for ease of manufacture and dissemination rather than providing more comprehensive long-term immunity, and that financial incentives are now against pharma companies optimizing for more comprehensive long-term immunity... 

Our legal system (mostly legislative in this case) was still able to deal with this and car makers now are required meet safety standards.

But that being said I'm all for doing what can be done to make incentives less perverse. Maybe find someone biologically-savvy and bureaucratically-minded to draft an initial set of vaccine quality improvement guidelines. Like a Deming wheel but applied to increasing vaccine efficacy, and if you get federal money you have to follow. Those are hard problems to solve.

Comment by CraigMichael on CraigMichael's Shortform · 2021-08-31T18:20:54.523Z · LW · GW

If you've been following the FLCCC/Ivermectin story, this interview with Eric Osgood and David Fuller will likely be interesting to you. Eric was part of the FLCCC and recently left over their views on Covid vaccines. https://rebelwisdom.podbean.com/e/ivermectin-the-backstory-of-the-flccc-eric-osgood/

I believe there's a lot we can learn about rationalism from this saga, and I'm anxious to write a full article dissecting some of the lessons. There's something like the failure of the Information Hypothesis, and the problem of  "smarter" and more educated people tending to become polarized more easily. 

https://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid

https://www.pnas.org/content/114/36/9587

A point David made towards the end (paraphrasing) "if you know anything about human psychology, you know that shaming people doesn't change their minds" should be surfaced as discussed more often. I've seen this phenomenon where people, when attacked, just dig in their heels more. I feel a bit like there should be a term for this, but I'm not currently aware of one.

 

Anyway-- I feel like that's what's happened with Bret, Heather and other rationalist-adjacent people here: they're very smart, educated, and heterodox thinkers, but they were attacked in a vicious way and became more polarized. It reminds me a bit of effort justification or sunk cost, but it's not exactly either of those. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effort_justification

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_cost

Comment by CraigMichael on How To Write Quickly While Maintaining Epistemic Rigor · 2021-08-31T08:37:26.277Z · LW · GW

This is a very important point, and I’m happy someone made it and it’s been upvoted so quickly. I do have a million ideas for LW posts that I hesitate to contribute for many of the reasons above.

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/26: Full Vaccine Approval · 2021-08-28T08:47:54.171Z · LW · GW

We're both speculating based on different data. You're citing an in vitro study using sera from individuals with one or two doses, and there's some amount of mechanistic speculation in terms of how decreases in neutralization response and titers changes the ultimate outcome, which is case severity of vaccinated people exposed to Delta compared to unvaccinated people (at least in my mind). So far that still seems very positive.

Thinking in more of a comp sci way, it strikes me that there could also be a problem of over-fitting for a specific variant of the s2 subunit. Say Pfizer and Moderna thought about changing the mRNA to specifically match the Delta s2 subunit, but maybe they're anticipating a world where the next more contagious strain doesn't contain that s2 subunit mutation? Or maybe, like you suggested, it is just a cost-benefit thing.

Moderna/Pfizer don't make any promises that the vaccine protection is going to hold forever. An argument that they could have developed a better product is very far from showing that they have injured plaintiffs.

Maybe. But it's not that far. If they really had designs somewhere to make a vaccine that would last substantially longer and they scrapped them in favor of one that lasts 6-12 months... I just think the probability of the IP for the better designed being concentrated only in a few companies and not independently discoverable by other people is low, and the probability that it could be kept secret for months or years is low. The probability of the Frank Azars of the world hearing about that and taking a shot at litigating it for a piece of a very very large settlement seems high (low-risk, high-reward), but more likely I think Congress would amend or repeal PREPA under that circumstance and open the floodgates of lawsuits.

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/26: Full Vaccine Approval · 2021-08-28T07:35:15.467Z · LW · GW

There seems to be a lot of misunderstandings (or partial understandings) of the "spike protein" in the vaccines. It's not a full reproduction. https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/91648

From the early stages of COVID-19 vaccine development, scientists sought to target a SARS-CoV-2 protein that was least likely to cause ADE. For example, when they found out that targeting the nucleoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 might cause ADE, they quickly abandoned that approach. The safest route seemed to be targeting the S2 subunit of the spike protein, and they ran with that, wrote Derek Lowe, PhD, in his Science Translational Medicine blog 'In the Pipeline.'

It sounds like Delta only has one change to the S2 subunit, and there was some expectation that it would change less than S1 since vaccine development began. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210628/Why-SARS-CoV-2-delta-variant-is-more-infectious.aspx

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.637651/full#F1

The spike protein of B.1.617.2 variant contains nine mutations in the S1 subunit and one mutation in the S2 subunit. In the S1 subunit, five mutations are present in the N-terminal domain containing binding sites (epitopes) for neutralizing antibodies. In addition, two mutations are present in the receptor-binding domain of the S1 subunit, which is known to influence antibody-mediated neutralization and infectivity. Among the three remaining mutations, two are known to increase angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) binding, viral replication, and spike protein cleavage at the S1/S2 site.    

I'm not going to pretend that I know more about this beyond the surface-level (no pun intended) but it seems to me that if there's only one mutation, then the I would expect a small commensurate change in vaccine effectiveness (which seems to be what we've seen so far). 

I'm hesitant to take the full Dead Kennedys-level cynicism about the financial incentives creating less effective vaccines

TV invents a disease you think you have
So you buy our drugs and soon you depend on them
Pain is in your mind, got you coming back for more again and again and again and again
Gonna rip you off, rip you off!
Doctor says you need surgery now
You're feeling good, 'til the side effects fuck up something else
You're ensnared by the medicine man paying up the ass again and again
Gonna rip you off!

This is always a real risk, but I hear it with everything. Yes, we have the FDA, but we also have regulatory capture. True. But we also live in a, at times, wonderfully litigious society.   

I know the Pharma companies got some legal immunity, under PREPA (as I understand it, also not an attorney) but it doesn't seem as airtight as I thought. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Readiness_and_Emergency_Preparedness_Act#Liability_protection_and_consolidation_of_oversight

PREPA removes the right to a jury trial for persons injured by a covered vaccine, unless a plaintiff can provide clear evidence of willful misconduct that resulted in death or serious physical injury. The act instructs the HHS secretary to write regulations "that further restrict the scope of actions or omissions by a covered person" that constitute willful misconduct.

A plaintiff whose claim is subject to PREPA can sue the defendant only in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. For such a civil action, PREPA requires the complaint to be pleaded with particularity, verified under oath by the plaintiff, and accompanied by an affidavit from a non-treating physician to explain how the covered countermeasure injured the plaintiff, as well as relevant medical records.

And Acts can always be repealed by Congress, or I suppose it could also be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 

If it ever came out that Pfizer, Moderna or J&J were creating vaccines such that they could only be effective if given every six months (and it's hard for people to keep secrets like this for long), I feel very certain that PREPA would be litigated or repealed or found unconstitutional. 

(edits: spelling, grammar). 

Comment by CraigMichael on An Open Letter To Myself On How To Not Get Any Work Done. · 2021-08-23T22:37:27.807Z · LW · GW

Ensure your internet browser has a minimum of 10 tabs open. Preferably about future shopping purchases or YouTube videos — videos with productivity or focus tips are an excellent choice.

Split-screen your computer allowing your favourite show to play in the background.

Have a messy desktop background. Cover it with lots of shortcuts. And while you're at it, put your favourite video game shortcut in the middle.

We have so much in common. :)

Comment by CraigMichael on Treatments for depression that depressed LW readers may not have tried? · 2021-08-22T08:20:30.876Z · LW · GW

I hate to copypasta, but I wrote a fairly long answer to Scott's post on depression treatments a few months back that I believe will serve as something like an answer on what didn't work coming from my own personal experience.

Somethings not mentioned in copypasta below that off the top of my head are the most salient: 

  • Mudita - I needed to stop being a hater. Just being happy for people when they did well at something was a lot better than the "I could be doing X-like stuff too but..." (even if whatever came after that conjunction was true it's just better to be happy for people).
  • There's some truth to depressive realism. Sometimes people will encourage you to take too much of a polyannaish view of something, and it feels egodystonic for a good reason -- often it's wrong.
  • You can accept the reasons why you're depressed and as the aphorism goes "accept the things you cannot change, and change the things you can."
  • Focus on being less self-centered and more other-centered and useful to other people.
  • I needed to re-evaluate my self-image, in a comment 171 kind of way. I needed to end a certain kind of self-loathing. I needed to hear this (starting with the three images that are the most important images in human history around 4:20). [Content warning - sex and gender related].
  • The transformation of anger. It's okay to feel angry in response to injustice and mistreatment , it's not okay to stay angry for a long time. [Again, content warning and I don't necessarily agree with all tactics advocated in that video -- just the overall point] Find a way to channel anger - a project, exercise, something constructive. (This is also works well for fear and grief, I've found.)
  • Needed to recognize the distal reasons for proximate urges and re-evaluate the situation in light of "does the distal reason for this still make sense in the current year and my current situation?"

I was also in psychotherapy for many years. I still see a psychiatrist a few times a year for medication, and I went to a lot of support groups (and may start going again once the pandemic is less of a concern). Exercise, meditation and sleep are also very good.  

Copypasta: 

Scott - spent sometime thinking about this. Hope you see this comment. This is post is good advice for a general audience, but have some suggestions. Specifically, there is (1) some *other-optimizing* and (2) a lack of *referent power* in respect to understanding the experience of someone similar who had recovered from depression. Somewhat ironically, I thought of your 2014 post "Should you reverse any advice you hear?" when I was reading these 2021 guidelines for fighting depression. https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/03/24/should-you-reverse-any-advice-you-hear/

I was depressed, with some punctuation, from about 17 to 34 (I'm 41 now). I'm familiar with just about everything on this list and some of it is advice that worked for me. Much of it, however, is advice that made things worse or made me feel worse because it didn't work for me (made me feel like that much more of an oddball and an outsider because the most evidenced-based treatment wasn't taking).

So, let me start with CBT. I have a strong hunch from a lot of experience with therapists doing CBT, and people it worked well for (that are not me), that an ideal patient for CBT thinks verbally and internally expresses beliefs verbally.

I would often describe an experience to a CBT therapist, and she would say something like "let's change that thought!" It took me several months to figure out what she meant by that. It made sense when I realized she was working from a framework where she assumed that I had talked to myself in my head and made a verbal argument in my head expressing a belief (in her CBT language, a "thought") and that she wanted to me change/challenge that belief/thought. That's completely reasonable to me, but in my mind there is a vast difference between what I experience as thoughts and what I experience as beliefs.

Prior to seeing her, I had been meditating for several years and I thought what she meant was something like what I had experienced in meditation. In meditation sometimes I could observe a thought forming (which I would describe more as an abstract meaningful concept, but generally not something mentally articulated using in words) and with some very significant effort and practice I could catch the constituent pieces and prevent them from assembling, or re-assemble them or ignore them altogether.

Anyway, because I had that experience in meditation and because the language of CBT is somewhat orthogonal to mine, I thought what she was saying was "most people can fairly effortlessly change thoughts as they're arising (as I just described them) but in your case you're only able to do this after months of practicing meditation." Like I said, eventually I realized she wasn't saying that, but that conceptual barrier took a long time to overcome.

At the very least, it would have been good for me for the CBT therapists I saw, and literature I read, to early and often formally define what they mean by "a thought" because the common CBT usage of the term is so counter-intuitive to me.

There's also the issue of personality fit. In my experience that biggest factor here is expecting low-consciousness depressed people to behave like high-consciousness depressed people. Consciousness as a construct was one of the most useful things for me to understand because it's was like "ohh, there's some people that are just naturally prone to following schedules and being orderly and timely and stuff. That all just comes easier to them and they seem to enjoy it." Solitaire suddenly made sense to me--it's a game that you would like if you like following rules and sorting things on your own. But, I don't think I could ever enjoy Solitaire unless I had nothing else to possibly do.

I wish there was something like consciousness-aware therapeutic methods where it wasn't like "the way for you to get better is to rigorously follow these new habits and be more disciplined" because that was always an immediate turn off to me. I wanted to retort, "well, but there were times in my life that I wasn't depressed as I wasn't doing these things, so why are these necessary conditions for me to get better?" but I didn't want to seem rude so I never did. But, I still basically have that question.

I do value discipline and habits more than I used to, but I try to be parsimonious about discipline--meaning only be as disciplined as I need to be to accomplish what I want to do, and no more than that.

But, I think the advice of "Hey! Good news! We can cure your depression and the way to do it is for you to become way more disciplined!" probably goes over better with medium-to-high consciousness, but less so for other people.

In my experience, for the odd ducks, the key to treating depression and similar mental illnesses is referent power, by which I mean finding someone who is like you that experiences depression (or anxiety or whatever) in a similar way to you and to learn from their successes and mistakes. It's possible that therapists can tailor treatment in this way and I just never encountered someone who was able to do that for me.

To be fair, this has been a problem in other areas of my life where I just learn differently than other people and I've come to expect it and just have to be like "well, some of this may be helpful, but at the end of the day I'll just need to figure this out myself." It was that way for me and depression.

You may also want to consider some of the long-term stigma associated with certain treatments. I'm very lucky and very fortunate that I've never been inpatient (I know people who have, and many of them are scarred mentally and reputationally) and that I've never had a particularly stigmatizing procedure preformed on me.

What I see here and what I've seen other documents say is something like "if none of this works for you there's always ECT!" Yeah... ECT will very likely make you feel less depressed, but you may find it will stigmatize and limit you in other ways.

My job doesn't require a security clearance, but I know contractors and government employees who require them. I've been told (perhaps this is an exaggeration) that seeing a therapist or taking a psychiatric medication is a red flag (likely because it's something potentially embarrassing that could be used to blackmail you). Given that, I can't imagine what shade of red ECT would illicit on that kind of background check, but I think it would be logical to consider things like that before seeking it as a treatment option.

To say nothing of like... maybe you're dating someone for a long time and it's going really really great. Then you meet their parents and after some amount of time they find out you had ECT preformed and your would-be mother-in-law is weirded out by this because she saw One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and it becomes a thing. I know that sounds a bit far-fetched, but I'm things like it happen often.

So, bottom lines.

Some more attention given to individual differences would make this a much better document. I'm less aware of the research on this related to depression, but would be very interested to know what's out there.

Consider referent power. Support groups and meeting other depressed people may be useful here for those that are interested.

Lastly, consider the externality of stigma from psychiatric treatment. Stigma alone shouldn't be a deciding factor, but should be part of the cost-benefit analysis.

Comment by CraigMichael on A Better Web is Coming · 2021-08-22T05:06:36.306Z · LW · GW

I think people should get paid for making awesome content and it shouldn't be through ads. 

Comment by CraigMichael on What fraction of breakthrough COVID cases are attributable to low antibody count? · 2021-08-22T04:59:55.452Z · LW · GW

This seems reasonable to me at a high level (not including relative costs of tests vs. vaccines, assuming we can reliably enough test, and that and likelihood of having waning antibodies would vary enough individually that this would make sense). 

I'm not sure how one would know what to attribute breakthrough cases to with being in some kind of laboratory environment where viral dose was measured and antibodies were measured and we saw who did and didn't get sick... I'm not a medical professional so maybe there's things I'm missing here. 

Comment by CraigMichael on Exploring Democratic Dialogue between Rationality, Silicon Valley, and the Wider World · 2021-08-22T00:18:02.412Z · LW · GW

At the risk of losing karma, let me see if I can spin some of anon’s points in to gold… err… silver? Maybe bronze? I think this a bronze-worthy observation. I hope. :)

Consider the distinction between two disciplines. The first being Science Communication. Which is exactly what it sounds like, communicating the results of science to a general audience: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_communication

The second is the Science of Science Communication, which is about how to make Science Communication more effective because there’s all of these ways that it can go wrong that are not obvious (like the tendency of highly numerate people to be not only unpersuaded by evidence presented to them that contradicts their world view, but also to be come more polarized to their world view despite the contradictory evidence.) https://www.pnas.org/content/114/36/9587 and https://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid

Perhaps there is a lesson to be taken here, that assuming good faith on the part of the authors, it may be beneficial to us to take steps to avoid being misunderstood in such common ways so frequently? Perhaps we’re bad at communicating rationality to a general audience?

So I’m thinking something along the lines of a “rationale of rationality communication” to bring a sensitivity to the state of mind of those who are likely to mischaracterize aspiring rationalists, to help prevent actual mischaracterization.

It may be worth taking something like what Ben wrote and adding some examples and making something like “An Aspiring Rationalist FAQ” to dispel these? At least if they came up again we could say “look, LessWrong has a list of ways that rationality is commonly misunderstood” and it would hopefully reduce the mischaracterizations and make the dialogue on these points more productive?

P.S. One exchange that comes to mind — I don’t think we’re like Dawkins, but I think Neil’s point from 2006 here is always worth meditating on regarding having a sensitivity to the state of mind of one’s audience. https://youtu.be/-_2xGIwQfik

(Edits for clarity)

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/19: Cracking the Booster · 2021-08-20T07:41:39.415Z · LW · GW

I felt a nervous mentioning fluvoxamine a few months ago to someone that was potentially going to buy drugs for his country. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/kPeiMbyBsvMMcs62e/should-i-advocate-for-people-to-not-buy-ivermectin-as-a#ZoHjQeNWwABRsAbMG

Just took a big sigh of relief that my advice didn’t suck.

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T23:55:32.277Z · LW · GW

My argument is that guidelines are treated as a scapegoat and that they're largely unrelated to outcomes, in both America and Vietnam. 

The real difference here, between America and Vietnam, is the prevalence and consumption of highly palatable foods. 

In any case, if you believe the food pyramid is great for Americans. 

Actually, yeah... I would say just about every American alive would be healthier if they strictly followed the macros and calorie intakes recommended by the USDA (there would be some exceptions for people with specific food allergies and the like), and I've never seen any evidence to the contrary. 

Even if Americans understand them, most Americans don't follow them because self-control is hard and it's harder in an environment with abundances of cheap and highly palatable food, so virtually no Americans follow the USDA guidelines with any significant level of compliance. I would say Stephan Guyenet hypotheses about obesity are basically correct, and his critiques of fad diets are almost as good

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T23:44:25.918Z · LW · GW

The same is true with a generic that you buy at a pharmacy. It can possibly do more harm than good or do nothing at all. Ranbaxy sold generics for which that's true and even after the FDA was told about that by a whistleblower it took them years to do something about it. 

 

Absent a studies comparing the quality of drugs from the dark web vs. the quality of drugs pharmacies, my prior is to assume that drugs from pharmacies are typically safer. Although I agree, yes, it's not perfect.  I have recourse if I discover they're contaminated or don't contain the medication advertised. Best I could do on the dark web is leave a mean review and hope the dealer doesn't find a way to retaliate. 

You can ask the same thing with the vaccines. Vaccines do have the disadvantage that it's easier for viruses to mutate to escape them. 

I've heard this repeated often, but I haven't seen evidence of it. How much as measles changed since we began vaccinating people for it? How about polio? How about smallpox? The evidence that I'm aware of also seems to be against this.

Price of supplements is a different issue then whether you have to take the supplement daily. 

Price is a factor in compliance. If you can't afford supplements, you will be less likely to comply. 

You don't have the power but you also don't have the power to set public health policy in other regards... Public health policy is not about ensuring that people do things outside of totalitarian states. It's about providing people with options and informing them about the value of various actions.  

This is ultimately why I think this is an unproductive and to some degree dangerously misleading discussion (not just you and me, but also the vaccination vs early treatment and treatment protocols).

I don't take any joy citing the linked author, but I do feel like we're on a ship and we're heading towards and iceberg and everyone is like "what about zinc? what about ivermectin?" And, yes, those are all things that deserve more attention and I'm against censoring discussion of them. 

Ivermectin may yet prove to be a miracle drug, and I think the evidence there is promising. I don't see the downsides to people taking zinc or vitamin d3 at reasonable and effective doses. I don't see any of it as having the potential to turn the ship around. 

But right now as of August 16th at ~5:45pm mountain time what we have to turn the ship around that we know works are vaccines. Yes, the side-effects are probably worse than claimed. And, yes, the public health apparatus in the US sucks for a million reasons, one of which is that they talk to us like children when it comes to vaccine safety. But all the evidence I've seen is that this is better than the alternative. 

Since I haven't seen other proven solutions for quickly and reliably turning the ship around, comparatively everything else seems like a distraction. 

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T23:15:26.413Z · LW · GW

There are plenty of regulations about hospital food or child nutrition in the US that follow the dietary guidance.

 

I don't believe this. I could get Taco Bell and cookies and other junk food in my high school cafeteria out of proportion to the pyramid. No one was regulating calories or macros. 

The effect could be different in Vietnam because of cultural differences, strictness of regulation or somethings else. Same as vaccine program compliance.

Maybe. But the point that USDA dietary guidelines causing are obesity is obviously wrong because the guidelines are the same in other parts of the world and they're thin. At best you could say "contributing" in some vague way, but even that's wrong. 

Try strictly following the USDA diet guidelines, literally to the letter and calorie and macro and I will guarantee you that you will lose weight. I can also guarantee you that you will be in a group of maybe, 4 Americans that actually do this outside of metabolic wards. 

The strictness of the regulations of pyramid in the US is basically zero, and the Vietnamese government doesn't go around punishing people eating fat or sugar either.

I think you're closer to the mark when you talk about cultural differences, but sill not quiet on it. 

Scott (or Scott channeling Stephan) was on the mark here

So what does cause this fattening effect? I think the book’s answer is “no single factor, but that doesn’t matter, because capitalism is an optimization process that designs foods to be as rewarding as possible, so however many different factors there are, every single one of them will be present in your bag of Doritos”.

I'm generally for free markets, but they are guaranteed to make populations fatter overtime.

Comment by CraigMichael on CraigMichael's Shortform · 2021-08-16T23:02:14.640Z · LW · GW

Richard Hanania mentions Metaculus at like 10:05 here. Was just happy to see discussion of predictions markets in this context.

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T12:56:57.747Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure whether there's much of a quality difference between dark web sources and generic out of the pharmacy.

They only way I believe anyone should feel safe recommending it would be if they are sure it’s pharmaceutical grade and quality. Otherwise… it could possibly do more harm than good, or do nothing at all.

It's a question of how serious you think COVID-19 happens to be and therefore how serious you want to be to do something about it. If you think COVID-19 isn't serious enough to do something daily about it, that's a valid position but you should be clear about that being your position.

I don’t see how this is relevant. You could believe Covid is a very big deal and not have the money or means to spend ~50 dollars a month on supplements.

This the question is, even if you did, would this protocol be good enough to prevent catching Covid and transmitting it to someone that’s immunocompromised, for example.

As a public health policy you can give Ivermectin to people for free. Given that it's cheap enough for the Indians to do that, it should be easier in richer Western countries.

I can? I’m not the FDA, Fauci or WHO. How can I make sure 7 billion people have enough Ivermectin to take several days a week for a year or more and ensure compliance?

I know you didn’t literally mean me, but this is a much harder problem than people make it out to be to coordinate giving the whole world until the pandemic ends, and that’s assuming Ivermectin would be effective here.

There's also no need for public health policy to be a one-size-fits-all solution.

In general, I agree. Just think were overstating the case for how easy giving everyone seven different supplement regularly and ensuring that they do it… so say nothing about how effective they are compared to vaccines.

If I were in charge of public health policy…

None of us are and none of us will be anytime soon, there’s a lot of discussion like this is plausible.

And there’s no real plan. How would be administer 100 of billions of doses of Ivermectin and ensure people are taking them for months or year?

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T12:38:24.917Z · LW · GW

Additionally, lots of countries semi-blindly follow whatever guidelines US comes up with (see the parallel with covid treatments & measures?)

Okay. Why would those guidelines be awful for Americans but great for the Vietnamese?

For example, dietary guidelines are followed by schools, hospitals and military.

Are they? Like to the exact calorie and proportion?

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T08:06:57.416Z · LW · GW

I think we’re all on board with D3. In terms of the risk-benefit analysis. If this is what you’re talking about.

https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FLCCC-Alliance-I-MASKplus-Protocol-ENGLISH.pdf

I would say that for most other things on the list.

If people can get Ivermectin legitimately and aren’t taking horse pills or ordering it off the dark web, I don’t see an issue there.

*with the standard caveats that particular people may have contraindications, etc.

But all of those have to been taken daily, paid for out of pocket, and none of them are vaccines.

So how reasonable is this as a public health policy?

Comment by CraigMichael on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T06:22:50.860Z · LW · GW

Is there some option you’re aware of for markdown on mobile a rich text on Desktop?