Potential High-Leverage and Inexpensive Mitigations (which are still feasible) for Pandemics 2020-03-09T06:59:19.610Z · score: 35 (14 votes)
Ineffective Response to COVID-19 and Risk Compensation 2020-03-08T09:21:55.888Z · score: 29 (15 votes)
Link: Does the following seem like a reasonable brief summary of the key disagreements regarding AI risk? 2019-12-26T20:14:52.509Z · score: 11 (5 votes)
Updating a Complex Mental Model - An Applied Election Odds Example 2019-11-28T09:29:56.753Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
Theater Tickets, Sleeping Pills, and the Idiosyncrasies of Delegated Risk Management 2019-10-30T10:33:16.240Z · score: 26 (14 votes)
Divergence on Evidence Due to Differing Priors - A Political Case Study 2019-09-16T11:01:11.341Z · score: 27 (11 votes)
Hackable Rewards as a Safety Valve? 2019-09-10T10:33:40.238Z · score: 18 (5 votes)
What Programming Language Characteristics Would Allow Provably Safe AI? 2019-08-28T10:46:32.643Z · score: 5 (5 votes)
Mesa-Optimizers and Over-optimization Failure (Optimizing and Goodhart Effects, Clarifying Thoughts - Part 4) 2019-08-12T08:07:01.769Z · score: 17 (9 votes)
Applying Overoptimization to Selection vs. Control (Optimizing and Goodhart Effects - Clarifying Thoughts, Part 3) 2019-07-28T09:32:25.878Z · score: 19 (6 votes)
What does Optimization Mean, Again? (Optimizing and Goodhart Effects - Clarifying Thoughts, Part 2) 2019-07-28T09:30:29.792Z · score: 29 (6 votes)
Re-introducing Selection vs Control for Optimization (Optimizing and Goodhart Effects - Clarifying Thoughts, Part 1) 2019-07-02T15:36:51.071Z · score: 29 (6 votes)
Schelling Fences versus Marginal Thinking 2019-05-22T10:22:32.213Z · score: 23 (14 votes)
Values Weren't Complex, Once. 2018-11-25T09:17:02.207Z · score: 34 (15 votes)
Oversight of Unsafe Systems via Dynamic Safety Envelopes 2018-11-23T08:37:30.401Z · score: 11 (5 votes)
Collaboration-by-Design versus Emergent Collaboration 2018-11-18T07:22:16.340Z · score: 12 (3 votes)
Multi-Agent Overoptimization, and Embedded Agent World Models 2018-11-08T20:33:00.499Z · score: 9 (4 votes)
Policy Beats Morality 2018-10-17T06:39:40.398Z · score: 15 (15 votes)
(Some?) Possible Multi-Agent Goodhart Interactions 2018-09-22T17:48:22.356Z · score: 21 (5 votes)
Lotuses and Loot Boxes 2018-05-17T00:21:12.583Z · score: 29 (6 votes)
Non-Adversarial Goodhart and AI Risks 2018-03-27T01:39:30.539Z · score: 65 (15 votes)
Evidence as Rhetoric — Normative or Positive? 2017-12-06T17:38:05.033Z · score: 1 (1 votes)
A Short Explanation of Blame and Causation 2017-09-18T17:43:34.571Z · score: 1 (1 votes)
Prescientific Organizational Theory (Ribbonfarm) 2017-02-22T23:00:41.273Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
A Quick Confidence Heuristic; Implicitly Leveraging "The Wisdom of Crowds" 2017-02-10T00:54:41.394Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Most empirical questions are unresolveable; The good, the bad, and the appropriately under-powered 2017-01-23T20:35:29.054Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
A Cruciverbalist’s Introduction to Bayesian reasoning 2017-01-12T20:43:48.928Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Map:Territory::Uncertainty::Randomness – but that doesn’t matter, value of information does. 2016-01-22T19:12:17.946Z · score: 6 (11 votes)
Meetup : Finding Effective Altruism with Biased Inputs on Options - LA Rationality Weekly Meetup 2016-01-14T05:31:20.472Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Perceptual Entropy and Frozen Estimates 2015-06-03T19:27:31.074Z · score: 17 (12 votes)
Meetup : Complex problems, limited information, and rationality; How should we make decisions in real life? 2013-10-09T21:44:19.773Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Meetup : Group Decision Making (the good, the bad, and the confusion of welfare economics) 2013-04-30T16:18:04.955Z · score: 4 (5 votes)


Comment by davidmanheim on What are the costs, benefits, and logistics of opening up new vaccine facilities? · 2020-04-02T16:48:43.857Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, 1bn doses is likely no more than a quarter of the world's need - less if COVID is stopped more places.

Comment by davidmanheim on What is the typical course of COVID-19? What are the variants? · 2020-04-01T08:10:16.462Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

See image here for a best-estimate of the course of infection. (Matches a number of other analyses, unfortunately doesn't have good representation of uncertainty.)

Comment by davidmanheim on What is the typical course of COVID-19? What are the variants? · 2020-04-01T08:05:46.722Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

They kept them there for long enough that this seems unlikely.

Comment by davidmanheim on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-03-31T07:14:22.518Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting - I'd ask Robin Hanson if that fits with his variolation suggestion.

Comment by davidmanheim on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-03-26T08:22:19.525Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's not quite right. I can't get to that book right now, but measles and mumps for MMR are also done in Chicken eggs, IIRC, as are Herpes and Poxviruses, while cell lines and other media can be used to grow other viruses - but the remainder of the facilities are still similar, and can be repurposed.

But I agree that we do need new platform technologies.

Comment by davidmanheim on Thinking About Filtered Evidence Is (Very!) Hard · 2020-03-25T07:11:05.956Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This seems related to my speculations about multi-agent alignment. In short, for embedded agents, having a tractable complexity of building models of other decision processes either requires a reflexively consistent view of their reactions to modeling my reactions to their reactions, etc. - or it requires simplification that clearly precludes ideal Bayesian agents. I made the argument much less formally, and haven't followed the math in the post above (I hope to have time to go through more slowly at some point.)

To lay it out here, the basic argument in the paper is that even assuming complete algorithmic transparency, in any reasonably rich action space, even games as simple as poker become completely intractable to solve. Each agent needs to simulate a huge space of possibilities for the decision of all other agents in order to make a decision about what the probability is that the agent is in each potential position. For instance, what is the probability that they are holding a hand much better than mine and betting this way, versus that they are bluffing, versus that they have a roughly comparable strength hand and are attempting to find my reaction, etc. But evaluating this requires evaluating the probability that they assign to me reacting in a given way in each condition, etc. The regress may not be infinite, because the space of states is finite, as is the computation time, but even in such a simple world it grows too quickly to allow fully Bayesian agents within the computational capacity of, say, the physical universe.

Comment by davidmanheim on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-25T06:45:53.905Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(This is still showing as a comment, not an answer.)

Comment by davidmanheim on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-25T06:44:12.004Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the question can be answered as posed, because it is underspecified. In the comparative, realist case, however, I think it is overwhelmingly obvious that the impacts are positive - i.e. far less negative than not imposing them.

First, the question of economic effects is a comparative one, i.e. what will be the economic effects compared to not having quarantine. That means we're asking about how much quarantine changes the economy compared to some other policy - and which one matters greatly. If the alternative is required masks in public, maximum gathering sizes of 5 people in a room, and physical distancing enforced by large fines, the difference is far smaller than if the alternative is a request to return to status quo ante.

Second, the question is also potentially either a counterfactual one, or a realist one. That is, either we are asking what the counterfactual economic effects are if we could control reaction completely, and not implement a quarantine, or we are asking what the world realistically looks like in a world where we do not implement a quarantine now. The second case is one where two weeks from today, as the death toll in the US and elsewhere mounts to currently unimaginable to the public levels, people would be demanding that politicians reverse course - and you would have even more strict quarantine, for longer, that is less effective due to the delay. If politicians were able to withstand this pressure, this might not be relevant, but it should be clear that in the US and most other places, they simply will not - when death tolls are in the 10s of thousands, and increasing rapidly, instead of holding course, they would reimpose the quarantine, if not overreact in the other direction. That would mean ordering months of full quarantine instead of weeks and slowly relaxing them when prudent, and instead going further than public health officials recommend, creating potentially even more severe economic impact.

Comment by davidmanheim on Ineffective Response to COVID-19 and Risk Compensation · 2020-03-25T06:26:04.396Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have updated strongly towards agreeing with you given research in the past 2 weeks, but transmissions are clearly happening both ways - it's not hypothetical.

Comment by davidmanheim on Online Fun LW/SSC Meetup, March 24 · 2020-03-24T18:42:39.390Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This was lots of fun!

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-21T17:37:32.967Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The population of Italy is several times higher, and the death rate per case is still significantly lower.

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-20T07:44:18.269Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I've noted elsewhere that treatment options might make increased spread more likely, - and it's unclear that this will be net positive in fact, because as you say, decision-makers will muddle through, and use the existence of treatment as an excuse not to limit spread enough, potentially increasing total deaths despite partially effective treatment.

But your claim that we want to " just allow the virus to go through the population as quickly as possible " seems wrong. Imagine (very generously,) that the available treatments reduce the percentage of critical cases by 80%. That means that health care systems can stay under capacity with a flatten strategy, but not with your suggested strategy. For "as quickly as possible" to make sense, we'd need a 95% effective treatment - which is implausible to the point of impossibility with the types of drugs currently being considered.

Comment by davidmanheim on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-03-20T07:38:37.393Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At scale? Not easily - eggs are cheaper, more effective, and easier to deal with.

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-20T07:32:08.179Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In that report, 13.8% had at least one of those symptoms - that doesn't imply than many or most would require ICU support to survive.

And event if we assume they would all die, which is wrong, Wuhan was an unlikeley-to-be-repeated worst case scenario - not just because of the medical overload with no warning, or the significant under-diagnosis of lightly symptomatic younger patients inflating the severe case percentage, but because they didn't realize this was a severe disease for the elderly until at least weeks into the spread. Elderly people globally are now being kept largely isolated, and will be treated aggressively when they get sick initially, instead of treating it like influenza until they are nearly dead.

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T17:11:22.688Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'd put money on healthcare capacity being at an increased level throughout the pandemic, if you can figure out how to implement this as a concrete prediction. Perhaps total ICU-equivalent beds available?

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T17:09:24.462Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That might be the main point of disagreement - I'm much more interested in effective altruism in pandemic preparedness than it making true claims that are irrelevant to decision-making.

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T17:07:29.427Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, the diagram is based on waiting another full month - April 20 - before starting any interventions to reduce this, and assuming an of 2.2 or 2.4 until then. That's not happening, because they've already started much of the proposed interventions, and given that, the curve will already be far lower.

And "flatten the curve" can and will be used as an interim strategy if it is ineffective - this paper assumes that they would have 6,000 people in ICUs before anyone starts asking whether they should start more.

Comment by davidmanheim on Request for Comments on Online LessWrong/SSC Meetup--Rump Session · 2020-03-19T10:55:04.345Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Note that EA global is this weekend, and I think there's a big EA facebook meetup next weekend, but more socializing is good. We want to increase physical distancing, but reduce social isolation. More meetups are better - especially if we can get more international socializing.

Comment by davidmanheim on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-03-19T10:52:16.838Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

From what I understand, we use eggs to incubate and clean-rooms to produce the final product for all of them, and I understood that vaccine producers can switch between which ones they make, with a couple month delay for incubation and switching over.

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T10:50:01.001Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In general, I think calling for interventions that would work but aren't politically feasible is low value, and mostly about signalling. This is made worse by the fact that the current projection aren't catastrophic, just very bad - but even in the worst case, it's a waste of time.

For example, as you suggested, we could have called for groundings on February 1, and if super-strict, it could have been mostly successful - but wouldn't have been enough. If we had banned all air travel on Feb 1, we'd still have had community transmission that had started earlier than that.

But let's say we did it. Everyone involved would be looking for a new job by February 3rd, and the decision would have been reversed - and the people knew it. Perhaps we'd now be more upset about the reversal, but that wouldn't have made it work, and you would of course have many people blaming the initial overreaction for why the containment failed. So I think Vox called this exactly right - you can't implement these measures early enough, even if in the counterfactual world where people did try, and even if in that counterfactual world it would work. And as I said at the time, I didn't think it was going to work in practice.

BUT I think that calling for eradication in the US now. We should have gone for suppression earlier, and let the CDC tell seniors not to fly, etc. But it's unclear we could manage eradication at this point, with the spread where it is - and calling for it is a waste of our time. But don't worry, they'll call for more drastic measures in another 2 weeks anyways, even though it's already too late. And then you can say you told them so. At this point, arresting everyone who has an event with more than 10 people is arrested and everyone there is fined heavily, which I think is the right strategy everywhere that can manage it - isn't feasible in a country like the US or UK. This is for the same reason I thought banning flights on Feb 1 would be a bad idea. I don't think the population will listen, COVID is widespread already, and authorities aren't willing to do something so unpopular.

NOTE: I'll likely be writing a post-mortem of my reactions and thoughts in a couple months. I was wrong to think the government was starting to handle it decently, or that they would get their act together quickly enough - I wasn't pessimistic enough about how badly the current US administration screwed things up, or how long it would take them to let public health people actually take over managing the response - I've stopped hoping they will start doing that at all, despite the fact that it's insane they haven't.

Comment by davidmanheim on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T10:48:23.349Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · LW · GW

To start, the severity estimates that Joshua assumed were worst case and are implausible. The very alarmist Fergeson et al paper has much lower numbers than Joshua's claim that "20% will develop a severe case and need medical support to survive."

I also think you're wrong about the likely course of the disease, for a couple reasons.

  • First, as the overload gets worse, therapeutic drugs will become more widely used. I expect that at least a few of the candidates will be at least moderately effective in treating cases, and even though we'll run out of Remdesivir quickly, production will be ramping up. Chloroquine will be made available widely as well.
  • Second, R_0 will drop significantly with the community distancing / flattening the curve measures. The line in your diagram is typical capacity - but if the spread is slowed enough to bring extra ventilators and emergency response capacity online, the situation is much less disasterous. Yes, it will be bad, but the worse it is, and the more news coverage there is, the more distancing will happen on its own.
  • Third, the seasonal component is very uncertain, but is almost certainly non-zero. If spread is slowed due to distancing, R_0 could certainly drop below one by the time the health system is getting overloaded.

For all of those reasons, I think your prescription is alarmist. Good Judgement's Dashboard has less than a 20% chance of over 350k deaths - that's a 0.1% population fataility rate. (Full disclosure: I'm forecasting for it, but am currently less pessimistic than the average.)

I'll address my claims about why not to call for bans or eradication yet in another comment.

Comment by davidmanheim on Request for Comments on Online LessWrong/SSC Meetup--Rump Session · 2020-03-18T18:50:42.280Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have a Time / Date? (With time zone, obviously, since that matters.)

Also, I'd request a "no COVID" rule for the rump session - I want to socialize to take a break.

Comment by davidmanheim on LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda · 2020-03-18T08:43:05.585Z · score: 54 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Build new vaccine production facilities.

It seems clear that focusing on the vaccine pipeline will become critical in the coming months, and we need to get ahead of it ASAP. Currently, the plan is to wait for safety approvals, then start manufacturing. That will obviously change - when we have moderate confidence that a vaccine is effective, we will want to start manufacturing, but there are several candidates, and too little productive capacity to make large quantities of several different vaccines. In fact, there is too little productive capacity to make any one vaccine in global quantities without stopping manufacture of other vaccines.

Vaccine manufacturing is very complex, and needs specialized facilities with clean rooms, sterilization facilities, very specific types of HVAC, etc. Building these is capital intensive, and there has been too little capacity for quite a while, leading to occasional vaccine shortages. I think we should be pushing large companies and governments to figure out how to create greater production capacity for vaccines. This is a global public good anyways. There are a few economic concerns for companies doing this, but right now is the perfect time to get government subsidies for such capital intensive projects.

Comment by davidmanheim on Could you save lives in your community by buying oxygen concentrators from Alibaba? · 2020-03-17T07:11:33.550Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

" access to resources like RNs and places to isolate people is very local " it seems like a useful question to answer when individuals are evaluating whether this makes sense. So I pointed out the issue. I didn't say this is a bad idea.

Comment by davidmanheim on Could you save lives in your community by buying oxygen concentrators from Alibaba? · 2020-03-17T07:07:33.159Z · score: -2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, a unit that can only do 5L/minute at 30% probably isn't dangerous - but I'd still ask a doctor what treatment protocol to use and how to monitor.

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-16T18:52:50.498Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not a lab scientist, and haven't worked in a lab since undergrad, but they say the method was end-point titration on Vero E6 cell - i.e. they put the sample on a bunch of cells that come from a standard line (of monkey kidney cells) for it to infect those cells, and tested those cells using titration.

That sounds like licking to me.

Also, +25 points to that paper for using Stan for the markov-chain monte carlo modeling, and only -10 for having appendixes in MS Word format.

Edit: and they do say the results for cardboard were unusually noisy, so it's less reliable, but either way the virus was dead in a day.

Comment by davidmanheim on Could you save lives in your community by buying oxygen concentrators from Alibaba? · 2020-03-16T18:36:40.592Z · score: -2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You can overdose on O2 as well, so you need to be careful. And if you are sick enough to need oxygen, especially if you need it while sleeping or are otherwise too sick to reliably monitor yourself, you need someone else there monitoring you.

Comment by davidmanheim on Could you save lives in your community by buying oxygen concentrators from Alibaba? · 2020-03-16T12:27:47.975Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have an MD or RN (or at least and EMT) that can monitor people's conditions while getting oxygen? And are you planning on keeping the person properly isolated?

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-16T12:25:09.862Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you wash your hands after handling the box, again, none of this matters.

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-16T12:23:18.274Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Source 25 in the review paper, which is what the review cites for multiple days on paper, and the point you're defending, is the one I cited in the reply below, and even quoted, where I pointed out it wasn't relevant. I'm not just confidently stating things, I linked to it in the comment I pointed you to when I said "See my responses in the other thread below."

And I don't think the review was citing anything inaccurately, it was doing what a review article should, which is summarize the sources. It did that. I'm objecting to your conclusions. And if the source paper disagrees with the conclusion you made from the review, you should go to the original paper, not return to the review. In this case, the full paper is not available online because it is from before the journal had PDF versions. The summary, however, notes that despite storing the samples so they wouldn't dry, "The survival abilities on the surfaces of eight different materials and in water were quite comparable, revealing reduction of infectivity after 72 to 96 h exposure." It seems they didn't test before that amount of time, and so the source for 4 days is an upper limit. This even agrees with most of the other results - see the next paragraph - because they didn't dry the sample, and after the test exposure, they put the remaining virus into cells, in ideal conditions, and looked at whether they could still reproduce ("cytopathic effect".)

Look at source 26, the other source cited in the review that discussed paper: "SARS-CoV GVU6109 can survive for 4 days in diarrheal stool samples with an alkaline pH, and it can remain infectious in respiratory specimens [that are kept wet] for >7 days at room temperature. Even at a relatively high concentration (104 tissue culture infective doses/mL), the virus could not be recovered after drying of a paper request form..." This seems to match what the other paper says, despite using a different variant of SARS, but note the actually relevant point that if the sample dries, it's going to be safe. Which as I keep saying, is the key point. (And if it isn't, you can just wash your hands. That works. It's enough.)

Finally, I didn't say JHI wasn't legit - it's in NCBI - - but I object to dumping on a paper by a half dozen people, including those at NCIRD and NIAID, as "just a preprint" compared to a review paper that wasn't itself peer reviewed, and didn't follow PRISMA guidelines for systemic reviews. Both papers are perfectly fine, so I took issue with you dismissing one of them.

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-16T09:03:17.191Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

See my responses in the other thread below.

The drop-off in infectiousness is documented in the papers reviewed in the paper you cited, which agrees with the parent comment.

And variability between cited studies is expected when the review failed to distinguish between wildly different conditions - it ignored differences between stool, urine, and cough droplets, and between different methods, since some of the papers allowed the droplets to dry, and others incubated them.

Finally, again, the paper you cited isn't a meta analysis, it's a review. And the preprint isn't just a preprint, it's a paper being reviewed for NEJM by a very well respected group, while the published paper is by a first author who is on the editorial board of, and is listed as being accepted the day it was received in, "Journal of Hospital Infection." I'm thoroughly unimpressed by the supposed peer review that occurred.

Edited to add - The accepted preprint is now live on NEJM

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-16T08:46:05.546Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Please don't use ozone - it's really bad for your lungs, and it's unclear that it works to dry the droplets. (And if they are wet, it seems likely they will be buffered from exposure to the ozone.)

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-16T08:44:37.969Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

First, please don't lick the box. Second, I'm not a virologist, but the review he cited says that the survival time on paper, which will be similar to that of cardboard. That's also assuming the droplets stay wet, which under non-laboratory testing conditions they will not.

I can't find the full paper anywhere, but the PubMed abstract of the paper it cited says:" SARS coronavirus in the testing condition could survive in serum, 1:20 diluted sputum and feces..." - That also sounds like they preserved the droplets from drying, as they did in similar studies that were cited - - though I can't tell.

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-16T08:33:46.939Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1) That wasn't a meta analysis, it was a review.

2) The viral load in a cough droplet is rarely as high as - and the review only said 9 days for viral loads of , which is silly. The paper in question -
- also incubated the virus in a suspension, instead of leaving it to dry. And much of the literature is talking about stool samples rather than cough drops. Lastly, the infectiousness of a droplet that hasn't dried, which isn't relevant to the current discussion, still depends on the surface. You're talking about cardboard, which will perform similarly to paper, and the results noted in the review are clear that it's not a very hospitable surface

3) Typical masks don't filter out chemical fumes. Odor respirators will help, but unless that's specifically what you have, your masks aren't doing anything to help reduce how much of the bleach fumes are reaching your lungs

Comment by davidmanheim on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-15T17:04:54.127Z · score: 0 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Please don't use ozone -

Comment by davidmanheim on Comprehensive COVID-19 Disinfection Protocol for Packages and Envelopes · 2020-03-15T16:56:48.393Z · score: 13 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen less paranoid suggestions in biosecurity laboratories get (correctly) dismissed as unnecessary and a waste of time. Note that If the virus were as transmissible as you seem to assume, China wouldn't ever have contained it with "only" masks, isolation, and handwashing. Even if you're worried the mail carrier coughed onto your box picking it up before delivery or on the way to your house - the only plausible way there could be enough viable virus on the box to make anyone sick given the data from the linked paper, there's a far simpler procedure that is just as effective - wait a day, and the virus will be dead to an extent that you can't get infected. (To be fair, I'm assuming coughing on the box, not large globs of spit that could remain viable without drying out. So if you want to be extra paranoid, wait 2 days. Also note that an exception to this is ordering fresh fruits and vegetables from a store, since you're putting those into your mouth. In that case, you'll be fine if you wash them with vegetable wash, and then wash your hands.)

If you really can't wait, you can open the box outside, wash your hands correctly before touching the things inside, remove the contents, then put the box in the garbage, and wash your hands correctly. Do not touch your face during this approximately 1-minute time period, and even if it's been coughed on by someone with COVID-19, you'll be fine. And bleach is unnecessary and bad for your lungs, which you'll need if you want to be likely to stay healthy if you do contract COVID-19. And there are no spores that would fly off and attach to your clothes, so if you're reasonably careful not to rub against the box, then (unless you are using the box as a percussion instrument) any droplets on the box shouldn't spread to your clothes.

Comment by davidmanheim on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-13T08:45:22.775Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is a very bad idea.

In the US, "NO agency of the federal government has approved these devices for use in occupied spaces. Because of these claims, and because ozone can cause health problems at high concentrations, several federal government agencies have worked in consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to produce this public information document."

"When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. Ozone may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections. "

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-11T16:46:19.224Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Defecting in a prisoners dilemma is personally beneficial in isolation - so why look at the whole game, when you can discuss part of it?

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-11T12:21:16.503Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You're saying that the post is interested in supporting defecting and causing societal harm for personal benefit? I hope that isn't the case, but if it is, we should be far clearer in condemning the provision of information to support people doing this.

Am I misunderstanding something?

Comment by davidmanheim on What is the typical course of COVID-19? What are the variants? · 2020-03-11T12:18:20.366Z · score: 0 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you are asking about the R_0, there is a lot of information that you're mentioned elsewhere. If you're asking about infectiousness time periods, CDC has information that you just cited. You're looking for numerical epidemiological estimates - and the papers on the epidemiology that CDC cites are very clear that they don't have that good data. Do you want a proxy for modeling purposes? Feel free to use any of the guesses provided in the literature so far, but note that most places where data might have existed that could inform this are locked down, so there would be fairly little data to indicate if now-formerly infected people are still transmitting the disease.

So you're asking for information that experts say is currently unknown. That means any supposed "answers" to how long the infectiousness period lasts that have been published so far are going to be misleading. And knowing that a clear answer doesn't exist is valuable information - it means you can stop sources like businessinsider stating that on average after 17 days people who recover are released from the hospital - which may be a correct average, but as the CDC's explanation about the need for testing viral load in individual cases before release from in-home isolation makes clear, tells you nothing about how long they remain infectious.

Comment by davidmanheim on What is the typical course of COVID-19? What are the variants? · 2020-03-09T21:31:44.279Z · score: -4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The CDC has a lot of useful information about much of this:

For example, on the clinical course of the disease, it has this: - "Clinical presentation among reported cases of COVID-19 varies in severity from asymptomatic infection to mild illness to severe or fatal illness. Some reports suggest the potential for clinical deterioration during the second week of illness.[2,5] In one report, among patients with confirmed COVID-19 and pneumonia, just over half of patients developed dyspnea a median of 8 days after illness onset (range: 5–13 days). [2] In another report, the mean time from illness onset to hospital admission with pneumonia was 9 days.[1] Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) developed in 17–29% of hospitalized patients, and secondary infection developed in 10%. [2,4] In one report, the median time from symptom onset to ARDS was 8 days.[3]"

For information about when someone is infectious,, it says, "The onset and duration of viral shedding and period of infectiousness for COVID-19 are not yet known. It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 RNA may be detectable in the upper or lower respiratory tract for weeks after illness onset, similar to infection with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. However, detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that infectious virus is present. Asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2 has been reported, but it is not yet known what role asymptomatic infection plays in transmission. Similarly, the role of pre-symptomatic transmission (infection detection during the incubation period prior to illness onset) is unknown. Existing literature regarding SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses (e.g. MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV) suggest that the incubation period may range from 2–14 days."

For information about how to tell when someone is no longer infectious, see:

They also have a frequently updated list of papers that have the sources for their information:

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-09T20:54:25.216Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In large part, I think there needs to be a higher standard for the original post because it got so many things wrong. And at this point, I've discussed this specific post, and had my judgement confirmed three times by different people in this area who don't want to be involved. But also see my response to Oliver below where I discuss where I think I was wrong.

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-09T20:51:49.847Z · score: 24 (8 votes) · LW · GW

For point one, I agree that for reputation discussions, infohazards are probably overused, and I used it that way here. I should probably have been clearer about this in my own head, as I was incorrectly lumping infohazards together. In retrospect I regret bringing this up, rather than focusing on the fact that I think the post was misleading in a variety of ways on the object level.

For point two, I also think you are correct that there is not much consensus in some domains - when I say they are clearly not trusting enough, I should have explicitly (instead of implicitly) made my claim about public health. So in economics, governance, legislation, and other places, people are arguably too trusting overall - not obviously, but at least arguably. The other side is that most people who aren't trusting of government in those areas are far too overconfident in crazy pet theories (gold standard, monarchy, restructuring courts, etc.) compared to what government espouses - just as they are in public health. So I'm skeptical of the argument that lower trust in general, or more assumptions that the government is generically probably screwing up in a given domain, would actually be helpful.

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-09T18:15:31.381Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To be clear, China started requiring mask usage, but also put in place price controls on masks, and limited mask purchases to 2 per week. Then they ensured that companies were building factories almost overnight to mass produce them. These might be good ideas, but as with many other things, it's not within CDC's abilities to do, so I think it's reasonable for the CDC to do what it can to actually reduce risks.

And "don't trust CDC because they haven't lied but they didn't advise things that might help but would be harmful overall to the public" is one hell of a take.

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-09T18:02:50.159Z · score: 1 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The CDC's role is to protect the public as a whole, and communicate with them in ways that minimize the burden of diseases. That doesn't mean you shouldn't trust the CDC, just that you shouldn't assume their goal is to advance epistemic purity. But as far as I can tell, treating them as you sole source and doing exactly what they say, and encouraging others to do the same, would make us all better off than most of the personal advice lesswrong is advising.

If the CDC says "disposable masks reduce your chance of becoming infected very slightly," (which is likely true if you use them properly, which, to be clear, most people won't do,) what happens next? The entirely predictable result is that hospitals will not be able to buy them, hospital staff gets sick more often, and then there are staff shortages when they are needed most, leading to far more deaths. That almost certainly makes people as a whole worse off, so they don't do that. (People who wanted to be virtuous instead of selfish might even decide to only do what the CDC recommends.)

The CDC also need to communicate in ways that idiots won't misconstrue, and a nuanced discussion of interventions that are unscalable or that could be dangerous if done wrong, or that are difficult to do, would be similarly a really stupid thing for the CDC to publish. Maybe a few examples would help.

Is buying an oxygen concentrator a good idea? Possibly, for some people who are able to understand the risks and benefits, and who can monitor their own blood oxygen level while sick enough to need to use. That's absolutely not something the CDC should advise people with a 8th grade reading level to try to do at home. After oxygen concentrators run out in stores because people on Lesswrong decide to do this, (and the people who are most likely to need them cannot get them because the supply is gone and companies that have them to sell have gone so far into price gouging that they stopped listing prices and need you to call for a quote,) is building your own oxygen concentrator to use in case of worst case outcome and ER overload a good idea? Maybe, if you can also monitor to make sure it's not spewing carcinogens along with the oxygen or putting burning oil into your lungs, which requires a fairly good understanding of engineering for medical devices.

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-09T14:22:52.799Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Please support this claim.

The CDC is not the same as HHS or the FDA, since they have different staff, are in different locations, and they have different goals (42 USC 6a versus 42 USC 43 and 21 USC).

Given that, I'm not sure why we should trust the CDC more or less because of the actions of the FDA. I'm not sure why this claim needs further support. Note that the CDC has no legal or other authority over what tests non-federal government laboratories can perform. They do have oversight over both certain types of labs from a biosafety standpoint, but that's mostly irrelevant to allowing them to do tests, and there is no claim that the CDC banned research. And if we are asking the question that this post purports to answer - should we trust the CDC - it makes quite a difference whether the decision being discussed was something they had control over.

... many local and commercial labs would have been ready with capacity a lot sooner than they are if FDA/CDC/HHS conglomerate got out of the way sooner.

If you want to know whether the "FDA/CDC/HHS conglomerate," should be blamed, I'd ask whether you think they are all the same thing, or whether this question in incoherent. As noted above, they aren't the same, so I claim the question is mostly incoherent. You might suggest that they are all a part of the same government, so they should be lumped together. I'd suggest that you could ask whether you should trust the "DR_Manhattan/Davidmanheim/Elizabeth, jimrandomh conglomerate" in our judgement about whether to differentiate between these agencies. Clearly, of course, our judgement differs, but we're all a part of the same web site, so maybe we can all be lumped together. If that doesn't make sense, good.

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-09T08:49:59.539Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's my impression that posts on lesswrong occasionally go viral, as has happened a couple times lately.

Comment by davidmanheim on The Heckler's Veto Is Also Subject to the Unilateralist's Curse · 2020-03-09T08:48:20.026Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW
It occurs to me that a karma system (such as that used on this website) has the potential to be an adequate check against the unilateralist's curse

An assumption here is that people downvote infohazards on that basis. However, in fact we see that many communities have no problem sharing damaging and dangerous information - just look at Reddit.

Comment by davidmanheim on Ineffective Response to COVID-19 and Risk Compensation · 2020-03-09T08:42:58.434Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's a very useful data point, and I'm happy to see that I was pessimistic about how quickly factories could ramp up production. Hopefully we'll see the supply crunch reduced in the near future, (without a collapse in quality,) and at that point I'd be very happy for people to advocate more widespread mask wearing using actual disposable masks.

Comment by davidmanheim on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-09T08:37:27.125Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I really don't think this is a reference class tennis problem, given that I'm criticizing a specific post for specific reasons, not making an argument that we should judge this on the basis of a specific reference class.

And given that, I'm still seeing amazingly little engagement of the object level question of whether the criticisms I noted are valid.