Perception of the Concrete vs Statistical: Corruption 2016-03-23T01:19:33.856Z · score: 5 (4 votes)
Would you notice if science died? 2016-03-08T04:04:49.587Z · score: 5 (10 votes)
Actually existing prediction markets? 2015-09-02T22:24:45.470Z · score: 11 (10 votes)
The Cold War divided Science 2014-04-05T23:10:38.181Z · score: 21 (22 votes)
Games People Play 2010-11-20T04:41:39.635Z · score: 11 (10 votes)


Comment by douglas_knight on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-06T04:59:24.409Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · LW · GW
in Moral Mazes there are at least 25 (!) levels of management

Exponential growth makes that implausible.

In the US military there are 25 ranks, but a hierarchy of half that depth with a branching factor of 3. Commissioned officer ranks correspond pretty well to the hierarchy, but there are only 3 levels of enlisted hierarchy below them.

You seem to be referring to this passage:

A weeding-out process takes place among the lower ranks of managers during the first several years of their experience. The early careers of promising young managers are highly variegated; the more promise managers show, the more probations they must undergo. Take, for example, the case of a young man newly graduated in 1965 from one of the South’s leading universities. He joined Weft Corporation and spent the next two years in the company’s production management training program. Then he became a first-line supervisor on the third shift at a small mill. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to the night superintendent’s job of that mill and given overall responsibility for the night shift. After six months, he became a department head for weaving operations in another mill. After another six months, he was assigned to head a larger weaving department in yet another plant. After still another six months, he became assistant plant manager at a medium-sized mill and kept that job for four years. Then he moved to a still larger mill in the same capacity for another two years. Then he became plant manager of a medium-sized mill for two years. Finally, he was named one of two group managers with six plant managers reporting to him. At the age of 36, he has reached grade 20, the “breaking point” on a scale of 29, placing him in the top 12.17 percent of management in Weft Corporation with, he hopes, a clear shot at becoming vice-president of manufacturing. Similarly variegated careers are evident for young marketing and sales managers in Weft’s northern offices. In Alchemy Inc., whether in sales, marketing, manufacturing, or finance, the “breaking point” in the hierarchy is generally thought to be grade 13 out of 25 or the top 8.5 percent of management.

The low levels of these ranks probably provide for recognition of non-management employees, like the enlisted and warrant ranks in the US military. With a branching factor of 2, top 12% would mean 3 levels up from the bottom, not 20. With 9 levels above above 20, a total of 13 levels of managers. The other company, perhaps 15. But probably the top of the hierarchy is not actually 9 or 12 ranks, but sparser than they suggest, not as sparse as the lower ranks, but not completely full like the US military.

Comment by douglas_knight on Could someone please start a bright home lighting company? · 2019-12-05T18:43:46.902Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What do you want?

Do you want to buy something for yourself, or do you want a company to change the world?

Yes, there is room for a better product, but I think that off-the-shelf products are pretty good and you should just get them. If you want to change the world, maybe you should just promote these existing products. In particular, for your short term needs, just do it.

I think that the right answer for most people and most purposes is Raemon's instructions, $300 for 300 watts, same total wattage as coelux. Why did you write this post already knowing about Raemon's instructions? What are they lacking? That they require installation? If you have 24 separate bulbs spread around the room, installation is unavoidable. Light strips may be a better solution, but they require even more installation.

Some people want different things. David Chapman seems to want to illuminate his desk, not his room, so he might not like Raemon's setup. If you want to minimize installation, you might want a single light. This leads to Ben and Ashen's suggestions. They probably aren't as nice as coelux, so, yes, it would be nice if someone made nicer versions (which should be possible). Ashen's outdoor floodlights probably have lousy CRI. Ben's corncob isn't the standard residential fixture, and thus required some assembly. Both products probably shine outwards to illuminate an area, rather than the coelux which is intended to mimic the sun through a window pushing light in a sharp line. This illusion is probably luxurious, but I'm skeptical that it is actually good for the goal.

I was going to follow up by saying that if you like the form factor of coelux, there are similar products on the market for maybe $2/watt, only twice as expensive as Raemon's setup. They aren't as bright as coelux, but you could get 5 or 10. There is the second product Ashen linked or light therapy boxes (apparently 72W) are probably a good option with full spectrum and good lenses. But then I read more I heard a lot of accusations of poor quality and fraud around light boxes, so I dunno.

Comment by douglas_knight on CO2 Stripper Postmortem Thoughts · 2019-12-05T03:53:28.616Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You asked for an expert consensus and I gave it to you. Naval researchers are the experts.

No, "experiments yield results in different directions" is not an accurate summary. Experiments with large interventions trump experiments with small interventions.

But, it's true, I left out the most convincing evidence, which is back of the envelope calculations with gross anatomy.

Comment by douglas_knight on CO2 Stripper Postmortem Thoughts · 2019-12-04T22:53:09.954Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When people say that ventilation helps them, I believe them. They might even be far on an axis of response to pollution. But how would they know that the particular pollutant they respond to is CO2? They should be cautious in assigning blame and trying specific interventions. Gwern points out that one of the studies that most impressed Paul about CO2 actually found larger effects from mold, which is a big problem in the foggy slums of Berkeley. In theory there are ways to isolate human pollution from house pollution, such as varying the number of roommates, but I doubt people are careful enough to disentangle that and CO2 isn't even the only human pollutant. [Added: but submarines are equally subject to all human pollutants, so that should limit the possibilities to the short list of what they scrub.]

Are submariners selected on that axis? I'm skeptical. In any event, the naval studies don't restrict to submariners.

Comment by douglas_knight on Long-lasting Effects of Suspensions? · 2019-12-04T17:07:49.110Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It would be nicer if there were more randomization, but it would also be nicer if more information were extracted from the few people who are randomized. For example, I know someone who participated in an RCT of breastfeeding/formula. It was aimed at a specific (acute, adverse) infant outcome. I'm not sure it even looked at other infant metrics, but it certainly did not have long-term follow-up, not even at 5 years. Not only did the study make a big investment in persuading the subjects for such little measurement, but it is now impossible to do a better experiment, because RCTs of breastfeeding are now considered unethical because of the damage their null results do to the authors' careers. (Similarly the Swedish and Australian twin registries are the right way to do twin studies.)

On the other hand, sometimes you can't randomize and you'd like to know how well you can do correlational studies. If your employer is so enthusiastic about experiments, maybe it apply that enthusiasm to itself and do an experiment to see how well its employees can do observational analysis?

Comment by douglas_knight on CO2 Stripper Postmortem Thoughts · 2019-12-02T19:15:50.033Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, who are the experts? Submarines routinely have CO2 levels much higher than even Berkeley group homes. Naval researchers do experiments with higher levels still, showing little effect. There seems to be an illegible LW consensus to the opposite, probably from people pretending to read this post. People praise Gwern for his quantity, but they don't actually read him.

Again, most research is about ventilation and is thus confounded by other pollutants. I don't usually speak up about this because most discussion of this doesn't depend on the CO2 hypothesis.

Comment by douglas_knight on CO2 Stripper Postmortem Thoughts · 2019-12-02T05:09:15.650Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ventilation has the advantage that it dumps all pollutants, not just CO2. In fact, the premise that CO2 affects cognition is false.

Comment by douglas_knight on The unexpected difficulty of comparing AlphaStar to humans · 2019-11-30T02:33:57.203Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is super tangential, but I think you're making a technical error here. It's true that poker is imperfect information and it's true that this makes it require more computational resources, which matches the main text, but not this comment. But does imperfect information suggest mixed strategies? Does optimal play in poker require mixed strategies? I see this slogan repeated a lot and I'm curious where you learned it. Was it in a technical context? Did you encounter technical justification for it?

Games where players move simultaneously, like rock-paper-scissors require mixed strategies, and that applies to SC. But I'm not sure that requires extra computational resources. Whether they count as "imperfect information" is subject of conflicting conventions. Whereas play alternates in poker. I suspect that this meme propagates because of a specific error. Imperfect information demands bluffing and people widely believe that bluffing is a mixed strategy. But it isn't. The simplest version of poker to induce bluffing is von Neumann poker, which has a unique (pure) Nash equilibrium in which one bets on a good hand or a bad hand and checks on a medium hand. I suspect that for poker based on a discrete deck that the optimal strategy is mixed, but close to being deterministic and mixed only because of discretization error.

Comment by douglas_knight on Market Rate Food Is Luxury Food · 2019-11-29T02:19:08.583Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe this argument is a straw man. That is, maybe it's not accurately describing the arguments that people use. But that is a very different problem than saying this argument might be OK.

Comment by douglas_knight on Market Rate Food Is Luxury Food · 2019-11-27T23:30:13.456Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the arguments are actually analogous, then this shows that one of them is wrong. Maybe there are important differences between food and housing, but if the argument doesn't mention them, it is wrong. It's that simple.

It is also striking that when people claim that there are differences and flail around looking for differences, the differences generally support the wrong side. It makes is pretty clear that they didn't have any belief about the topic.

Comment by douglas_knight on Is daily caffeine consumption beneficial to productivity? · 2019-11-27T15:49:43.889Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are now making a different claim than your first comment (which was probably false and is definitely is contradicted by papers).

Comment by douglas_knight on Drowning children are rare · 2019-11-27T15:44:12.579Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
US health outcomes are a sufficiently pathological outlier in the world

I just want to register disagreement.

Comment by douglas_knight on Effect of Advertising · 2019-11-27T15:24:46.418Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You could pay youtube to buy out the ads. Have you considered doing so?

When youtube launched their subscription service, they now have two customers and thus divided loyalties. They adjusted their policies to be more annoying, to put more pressure on the user to subscribe. So this is not quite the pure advertising example.

Comment by douglas_knight on Effect of Advertising · 2019-11-27T15:15:20.488Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't disagree with any of the object-level claims, but I think the framing is confused and could be greatly improved.

One way to think about this is, what would the world would be like if we didn’t al­low ad­ver­tis­ing?

I don't think that is what you are doing in this essay. Instead you are proposing other methods by way which advertising could work. That's what Kevin does and I think his essay is better because he is explicit that this is what he is doing. Once you have explicitly said that ads contain information, maybe then it is good to talk about the hypothetical to explain how important information is. But asserting your hypothetical using your model of the world seems to me rhetorically poor. If you don't understand how you disagree with other people, perhaps there is no other approach, but in this case you do know.

Asking people to make open-ended investment in hypotheticals could be useful, but how? If people have coherent theories, then they should find it easy to think about hypotheticals without changing their minds. If people have incoherent theories, maybe it is useful to get them to notice that by having them consider hypotheticals. But I don't think that you're doing that. Also, this seems very difficult, probably only viable in an interactive way. If the writer of a static essay knows exactly how the audience theories are incoherent, eg, because they hold two contradictory theories, then it is probably better to write down the contradiction explicitly. For an example of this logical structure, Kevin does this with tricking vs Homo economicus. But that's not the same rhetorical structure, because his audience doesn't actually believe that. (I dub this rhetorical move the Robin Hanson.)

I’ve re­cently had sev­eral con­ver­sa­tions around whether ad­ver­tis­ing is harm­ful, and speci­fi­cally whether ads pri­mar­ily work by trick­ing peo­ple into pur­chas­ing things they don’t need.

It would probably be better to expand on this. There are several separate questions. Ads have two obvious costs, the cash to the advertiser and the attention to the audience. Why do advertisers buy ads? Is it to trick the audience, or to inform? That is the topic of the essay, explicitly bracketing off of the attention cost. But, reading the responses, not explicit enough.

Comment by douglas_knight on Prediction Markets Don't Reveal The Territory · 2019-11-19T23:12:50.968Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do I mean by "pessimistic about our ability to create a collective map"? Maybe I should not have said "pessimistic," but instead used "cynical." There are lots of places where we claim to have consensus and I think that those claims are false. I gave lots of examples of very small scale failures to communicate, like one department of a medical school lying about the work of another medical department. If we revere certain people as experts, it behooves us to find out what they claim. Finding that out would count as promoting a collective map.

Comment by douglas_knight on Matthew Walker's "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors · 2019-11-18T23:30:33.381Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you care about debunking this particular book? If this book influenced your decisions years ago, you should say so. If not, this probably shouldn't cause you to reverse course. If you made your decision 3 years ago and the book was only published 2 years ago, probably not. Even 1 year ago, it sounded like you hadn't read it (PS - you owe guzey $50).

More generally, why is this of interest to this community? Is this book popular in this community? I only see it really mentioned twice on, that review I linked and this from last month. Is it standard in other channels, but no one talks about these topics on this site?

Comment by douglas_knight on [Site Update] Subscriptions, Bookmarks, & Pingbacks · 2019-11-17T06:04:27.089Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I went to settings and turned on "auto-subscribe to replies to my comments" (and posts), the checkboxes shown in the image in this post. Since I knew that I wasn't receiving notifications and had just figured out from this post that these setting existed, I wasn't surprised to find them off.

Incidentally, the link to "User Settings" at the top of this post links to lessestwrong. You should probably be using relative links or something.

Comment by douglas_knight on [Site Update] Subscriptions, Bookmarks, & Pingbacks · 2019-11-16T21:16:13.999Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean did I "experience them being set previously"? Do you mean that they were previously optional? I didn't know that and, clearly, was not paying attention.

Not only did I used to receive notifications for replies to my comments and then it stopped, but I still have a record of it. My bell shows the notification from you and then a notification from a month ago, missing a couple replies to recent comments.

Comment by douglas_knight on [Site Update] Subscriptions, Bookmarks, & Pingbacks · 2019-11-16T19:50:03.175Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Bug report:

When this rolled out I was not subscribed to my own comments and posts. I assume that the intention was that the default was to auto-subscribe to them because (1) that would mimic the old behavior and (2) that is suggested by the screenshots in this post. But I'm also surprised that I'm the first person to report this. (Maybe Pattern, who did not describe it as a bug.) Is it consistent across people?

Comment by douglas_knight on Instant stone (just add water!) · 2019-11-16T03:14:12.099Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Courland (and the many others who say the same thing) probably means that there weren't ceramics in the mideast before lime. But there were ceramics elsewhere.

What is your technical criterion? That it isn't a pot? Maybe that is what people mean by "Pottery Neolithic," but this seems to me a stupid criterion. Anyhow, there were ceramic pots in many places in East Asia before this. The general world-wide trend is that ceramic pots predate local agriculture, with the odd exception of the mideast. Here is pot from China, dated there 20-10kya, together with a fragment said to have a more precise dating of 20kya. Here is a Japanese pot. Here is a Siberian potsherd. I think South American pottery was pots, but I'm not sure. It's pretty recent, but I think it predated Andean agriculture, although not Mexican. African bowls predate agriculture and seem contemporaneous with Çatalhöyük, perhaps Göbekli Tepe. [This is list is simply the second paragraph of wikipedia on pottery, which was the basis for my previous claim about "all around the world," but now I've tracked down the individual examples.]

The Venus figurine might be uniquely old, but Croatia had a bunch of paleolithic ceramic figurines.

Comment by douglas_knight on Instant stone (just add water!) · 2019-11-15T20:58:06.418Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
This basic technology has been known since prehistoric times: the kilning of limestone is older than pottery, much older than metalworking, and possibly older than agriculture.

This seems to refer to lime floors in the mideast "Pre-Pottery Neolithic" (Göbekli Tepe, Jericho) but that doesn't mean that it predated pottery. Some ceramics are very old, much older than agriculture. All around the world pottery is seen before agriculture, but it seems to appear and disappear.

Comment by douglas_knight on Pieces of time · 2019-11-13T16:42:55.859Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How much are these psychological effects driven by language? Do naps make people optimistic, or does the framing as a new day? Did your friend use this language, or is that your interpretation of his behavior? If you belong to a community that insists that a new day begins a sunset, not midnight-ie-sleep, does that make you view the world differently?

Comment by douglas_knight on The Technique Taboo · 2019-11-13T03:13:57.617Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are mixing up two topics. Separating them does not provide any immediate clarity, but it's important to separate them. One topic is keeping records, observing progress, and trying to do better. The weightlifters record objective performance. Math students try to see if they can do an exercise. Practice helps, but the feedback of performance doesn't say how to improve. The other topic, evoked in my mind by the word "technique," is breaking down a big skill into small skills. Biology students learn the specific technique of how to use a pipette. The editor is just one tool of programming, but merely identifying it suggests ways to improve (starting with just reading the manual).

Comment by douglas_knight on Experiments and Consent · 2019-11-11T21:23:48.369Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not making that argument, but I do think that it's easy to produce examples. For example, that was the problem with the Tuskegee experiment. The original incarnation was harmless, merely failing to provide expensive treatment that wouldn't have been provided by default, only a problem in Schrödinger's ethics. But later the investigators interfered with several other groups (eg, the WWII military) who wanted to provide treatment.

Comment by douglas_knight on Experiments and Consent · 2019-11-11T18:48:56.926Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW
We have a weird situation where the rules for experimentation in academia and medicine are much more restrictive than everywhere else. So restrictive that even a very simple study where you do everything you normally do but also record whether two diagnostics agreed with each other can be bureaucratically impractical to run.

The first sentence is almost true,* but the second sentence if false. The first sentence is the relevant point for this post, so maybe all I have to say is nitpicking, but I'm going to say it. Scott's experience is not representative. There are many aspects that caused it to be held to a higher standard. Your use of the word "even" implies that it was held to a lower standard, and thus is a representative, even a conservative estimate. While it is true that such a study should be held to a lower standard, it was in fact held to a standard much higher than usual in academia. Or, rather, it was probably not held to a standard, but simply sabotaged. Indeed, partly it was the very nature of the project, attacking existing tools that showed that he was "not a team player" and probably contributed to his treatment.

IRBs have arbitrary power, not high standards. At research universities, research is the principal revenue center and thus IRBs allow research to occur. Since academics do publish human subjects research and we know that IRBs often have lower standards than Scott's hospital. The hospital was not a research hospital and thus the IRB was a vestigial organ without much pressure to actually function. Moreover, Scott did not have a research grant, so his project was a pure cost center.

*The standards in practice are, on average, very high, but the first sentence is wrong to claim that academia has rules. Sometimes academics are acclaimed for attempting murder. If they actually had rules, low or high, they would require an IRB for joining a gang.

Edit: inserted disclaimer as second sentence.

Edit2: Also, I meant to object to the word "bureaucratically." To some people this implies consistency, which is exactly what I was trying to rebut in this comment. But to others it means plausible deniability, which is what I am claiming. More: For example, in Scott's case, it was not clear who had the authority to grant him exemptions. Whether this was incompetence or malice, this was a standard example of a bureaucracy failing to do what it claims to do, not an example of stringent standards. I reminds me of this post and its distinction between types of compliance costs.

Comment by douglas_knight on Building Intuitions On Non-Empirical Arguments In Science · 2019-11-09T14:34:00.519Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Generally, regarding the interpretation of QM, there are two camps: realists who take the wave function as a real physical object (Schrödinger, Bohm, Everett) and people who take the wavefunction as an object of knowledge (Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, Fuchs).

Einstein was a realist who was upset that the only interpretation available to him was anti-realist. Saying that he took the wavefunction as object of knowledge is technically true, ie, false.

a Copenhagenish position

Thanks for conceding that the Copenhagen interpretation has meant many things. Do you notice how many people deny that? It worries me.

Comment by douglas_knight on Novum Organum: Introduction · 2019-10-31T22:02:02.686Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Wikisource has several 19th century translations of the preface, eg, Spedding 1844.

Comment by douglas_knight on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-31T14:37:31.086Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a guy arguing that programmers should type fast so that they can have long written discussions. Also, comments and documentation. (And blog posts. He is famous for long blog posts. But this one is only 3500 words)

If you have a fixed amount of documentation you have to create, then doubling your typing speed, say from 30 to 60wpm will cut in half the amount of time to write it. No matter how much faster become beyond that, you won't be able to save the other half of the time. Doubling again to 120 will save only half as much time as the first doubling saved. However, you could spend your typing speed in other ways. You could produce twice as many drafts of the documentation.

Comment by douglas_knight on Prediction markets for internet points? · 2019-10-30T04:52:32.485Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What is the problem you are trying to solve and why is this the solution?

It sounds like you are trying to scale up the number of users as fast as possible. Is that the right goal? There are diminishing returns to more users in the presence of a limited set of questions. But scaling the set of questions poses other problems, like adjudicating resolution.

Comment by douglas_knight on Deleted · 2019-10-24T17:42:53.417Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I thought it better to separate these out:

The FBI denied the existence of the Mafia until 1957.

The Masons and the Vatican conspired to take over the Italian media and thence the country kind of like what Silvio Berlusconi did. In fact, in 1982, his name was published as part of this plan.

Of the hundreds or thousands that died in the 1989 Beijing protests, fewer than 10 were in Tiananmen Square.

The NSA spied extensively on nominally allied countries and this was widely known in Europe, at least by 2000.

The CIA intentionally bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999.

Hillary Clinton had serious health issues during her 2016 campaign.

Comment by douglas_knight on Deleted · 2019-10-24T17:22:02.848Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I hope these aren't too political:

The Bible was not originally written in English, or even in Latin.

The seasons aren't caused by distance from the sun.

Edmund Burke was a Whig, opposed to the Tories.

Alexander Hamilton was an elitist banker.

Andrew Jackson was a Democrat.

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

The North won the Civil War.

Comment by douglas_knight on Prediction Markets Don't Reveal The Territory · 2019-10-17T03:30:22.942Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My other comment was about the ambitious side of prediction markets. This will be about the unambitious side, how they don't have to do much to be better than the status quo.

above technical problems. We are optimistic that these can be overcome.

What problems do you mean, the paragraphs one and three before? That could be clearer. Are you really optimistic, or is this apophasis in which you deniably assert problems? Well, I'm going to talk about them anyway.

ad­di­tional limi­ta­tion to pre­dic­tion mar­kets is that peo­ple have to be in­ter­ested enough to take part in them

Robin Hanson has always said you get what you pay for. If information is valuable to you, pay for it by subsidizing the market. Betting markets aren't free, but are they cheaper or more accurate than the alternative? Start with things that bettors care about, like politics.

Pope Fran­cis’ next pro­nounce­ment

Having a market on his next pronouncement would encourage leaks. I'm not sure whether that would be good or bad. Having a market for the first papal pronouncement of 2021 that closed a year ahead probably wouldn't produce leaks. Nor would it produce a precise answer, but it would produce some kind of average that might be interesting. For comparison, the Nobels rarely leak, so the markets don't vary much from year to year. Is it useful to know that Haruki Murakami is usually at the top of the list? Some people are skeptical, though.

When in­for­ma­tion is not widely dis­tributed or dis­cov­er­able, pre­dic­tion mar­kets are not use­ful. Pre­dic­tion mar­kets for WMDs

Those are two problems and they apply both to WMDs.

As for discoverability, in 2000 you could have a market over what inspectors would find in a year. You could also have a market over what inspectors would find in a decade. You could imagine a market over what would be the consensus in 2010, but it is more speculative how that would work. In 2002 it would be straightforward to have a conditional market, conditional on invasion. I hope that simply setting up a market would have encouraged precision, such as chemical vs nuclear, stockpiles vs production, and quantity. Such distinctions seem like an easy way to improve the public debate.

As for wide distribution, so what? We want an opinion, even if it is not very certain. In fact, open sources should have been enough to beat the CIA in Iraq. Partly that is because the CIA is incompetent, but partly it is because the CIA is not on our side. I think that open source amateurs have done a pretty good job of predicting the North Korean nuclear missile program. How well did Intrade do in predicting North Korea missile tests in 2006? I don't know, but they did a lot better than the DOD at postdiction. (In fact, I was somewhat surprised that the administration accepted a lack of WMD in Iraq and did not fabricate them.)

Of course, we don't have direct access to the territory, only the map. Prediction markets can only be judged by the future map. I am extremely pessimistic about our ability to create a collective map, so I think prediction markets have only a very low bar to clear. From your user name, you sound like a scholastic apologist, whereas I am very cynical about the schools. I don't dispute that they house expertise, but they abuse that position, by, among many other things simply lying about the consensus in their field. A very simple step forward would be to use surveys to assess consensus. And when fields interact, it is even worse. As I've said elsewhere:

1. If you want to make an Appeal to the Authority of the Scientific Consensus, you have to be able to figure out what that consensus is. What does it matter that nutritionists have a good consensus if you don’t know what it is, and instead believe the medical school curriculum? Similarly, your psychology textbook lied to you.
2. It is very common, both in your economics example, and in the Nurture Assumption case, that there is an explicit consensus that method X is better than method Y, but people will just keep using method Y. It seems very fair to me to describe that as an implicit consensus that method Y is good enough. Moreover, it is common that the consensus accepts the aggregate results of the inferior method, just because of the volume of publications; and thus the explicit consensus on the object level is made by methods that violate the explicit consensus of methodology. (Also, most of the replication crisis details were discussed at length by leading psychologist Paul Meehl fifty years ago. Everyone abased themselves in shame and proceeded to change nothing. Is this time different?)
3. You might say that (1) is a special case of (2). Everyone accepts that you should look to experts with good methods, but they don’t actually pay attention to nutritionists. I think that it is fair to call the exclusion of nutritionists “the scientific consensus.”

A lot of information technologies provide value simply by creating conflict. The internet makes it easy to find people who disagree with you, if you want to. Wikipedia provides a focal point for disagreeing parties to fight over, forcing both sides to acknowledge the other's existence, making it easy for ignorant amateurs to notice the breakdown of consensus. Similarly, prediction markets provide opportunity for disagreement on a more fine-grained level.

And let me close with a less hostile, more amusing example of lack of consensus.

Comment by douglas_knight on Prediction Markets Don't Reveal The Territory · 2019-10-17T02:05:42.616Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's a lot I don't follow here. In particular, you say a bunch of things and it's not clear if you think that they are the same thing or related or unrelated. Some of that may be the excerpt nature.

What does the "territory" of the title mean? Snappy titles are good, but you should also explain the metaphor. Perhaps you mean the laws of science, rather than the concrete observations or even interventional claims about specific experiments? Robin Hanson's response is: Just Do It: make decade long bets on vaguely worded claims. He proposes lots of infrastructure to fix these problems and it doesn't seem very convincing to me, but the proposal seems built incrementally, so it is easy to start small.

What does it matter if prediction markets don't do X? If people are proposing prediction markets as an additional institution, then it matters what they do, rather than what they don't do. If they are proposed as a substitute for existing institutions, then it matters if they are as good as the existing ones. But there is a serious instance of status quo bias that people pretend that existing institutions work, whereas they often don't. Seemingly unambitious that work may well be an improvement over ambitious institutions that don't. Robin Hanson does propose substituting prizes for research grants, so there he would have to make that argument. But research funding is highly divisible, so it is easy to start small and see what happens.

Comment by douglas_knight on How do I reach a conclusion on how many eggs per week are healthy? · 2019-09-16T15:24:29.152Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do an experiment. Double your egg consumption and check your lipids in 6 months.

There are two issues. One issue is what lipid levels to aim for. The other is what effect eggs will have. You can test the second and you don't have to worry about individual differences.

Comment by douglas_knight on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-05T14:52:55.175Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The whole point of the book is that the failure mode you envision is going to happen by default. It is not a risk of inverse surveillance because it is already happening.

There is a problem that surveillance increases continuously, not in an abrupt step. At some point we must establish a norm that police turning off their cameras is a crime. The public had no trouble condemning Nixon for his 18 minute gap. But at the moment many police camera systems require positive steps of activation and downloading which have plausible deniability of having just forgot.

Comment by douglas_knight on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-05T02:50:37.448Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
ev­ery law would be con­sis­tently en­forced.


It is incredibly common today for massive arguments over video, half the world saying that it obvious yields one conclusion and other half saying it refutes it.

How about the police just ignore the law? It happens all the time today, completely publicly. Total transparency would make it difficult for two officers to get together and conspire. But they probably rarely conspire today. A video of one of them saying "this isn't a violation" and the other replying "nope" would shed no more light than today.

Comment by douglas_knight on Peter Thiel/Eric Weinstein Transcript on Growth, Violence, and Stories · 2019-09-03T20:01:44.340Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How did the quality of the draft compare to the one produced by youtube?

Comment by douglas_knight on What are the biggest "moonshots" currently in progress? · 2019-09-02T20:26:08.863Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have good sources in some other language? Better to post them than not.

(I am disturbed that all the official-looking links on the French Wikipedia page are broken.)

Comment by douglas_knight on Could we solve this email mess if we all moved to paid emails? · 2019-08-26T15:41:02.205Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A community is not relevant to the statement of the problem, but a community is relevant to the collective action problem of adopting a solution (depending on the solution). I agree that the opening sentence about sending "an email to some­one in ra­tio­nal­ity" is unhealthy and condemn it with you.

But, as others said, Jacob is right to talk of "a co­or­di­na­tion cam­paign to move the com­mu­nity" and at some point he has to name the community. (There are additional issues of whether the community exists and whether its existence or name is bad. Those are hobbyhorses.)

Comment by douglas_knight on Performance IQ and higher mathematics · 2019-08-25T15:20:44.224Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Performance IQ as opposed to what? You mean the subtest of WAIS? Probably full WAIS, verbal+performance, is a better predictor than just performance. Probably you could find a set of subtests that would be better than the whole test, but I think performance was just chosen as the complement of verbal. And verbal probably wasn't designed as a coherent test of verbal skill for normal people, but as intelligence tests that had a prerequisite of verbal skill that might be misleading for the retarded, who are the main subject for IQ tests.

Comment by douglas_knight on Jeff Hawkins on neuromorphic AGI within 20 years · 2019-08-10T20:21:28.071Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How does this compare to what he was saying in 2004? Has he changed his mind about the brain or about AI? Maybe these things about the brain are foundational and we shouldn't expect him to change his mind, but surely his beliefs about AI should have changed.

Comment by douglas_knight on Shortform Beta Launch · 2019-07-29T05:37:30.584Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. I guess I got confused from mainly using greaterwrong, but I did test it before posting.

Comment by douglas_knight on Shortform Beta Launch · 2019-07-29T02:39:34.682Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the past you (Raemon) have referred to this as the "shortform feed," but in this post you don't. Is this intentional? (But then in the comments, you say "feed" again.)

To me "feed" suggests a chronological order. Have you considered making the shortform posts sort by age of comment, just as lists of posts usually do?

Similarly, when LW migrated from OB, adding nesting and voting, it made the OB posts sort their comments in chronological order, to preserve the conversation structure. With the advent of 2.0, these posts have lost their special status and are sorted by votes, making the comment conversation unreadable (example). If you do implement a default sort nudge, you should apply it to these posts, too.

[I guess this comment should have gone here.]

Comment by douglas_knight on Handshakes, Hi, and What's New: What's Going On With Small Talk? · 2019-07-25T19:23:56.027Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Did your English class distinguish "How do you do?" from "How's it going?" etc?

Katy seems to be making that distinction, but in my experience people eavesdropping on the masses, most people don't treat any of the variants as a question, but are substantially more likely to respond with another greeting, rather than something that can be interpreted as an answer.

Comment by douglas_knight on Self-experiment Protocol: Effect of Chocolate on Sleep · 2019-07-24T15:22:44.854Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You already have lots of fitbit sleep data, right?

You should look at that data first and use it to guide the experiment. Should you study other metrics of sleep quality?

In particular, you should determine the standard deviation in onset times and do a power analysis to see how long the experiment has to run. I guess there's a problem that you might not have labels indicating which days are straight home from work days. You should try to remember that. Even without that, a simple filter like Mondays might be a good choice.

Comment by douglas_knight on When does adding more people reliably make a system better? · 2019-07-19T16:59:26.773Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Who were the other people who tried to short housing in 2004-2005? Does Michael Lewis talk about them?

Comment by douglas_knight on Wolf's Dice · 2019-07-17T22:58:52.879Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, really, it was perfectly clear. The problem is that it was wrong.

Comment by douglas_knight on Wolf's Dice · 2019-07-17T21:37:44.331Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, you use a delta function when you want to make a simplifying assumption. But this post is about questioning the assumption. That's exactly when you wouldn't use a delta function. Your third answer flatly contradicts Shminux. No, he does not believe that there are any perfect dice. Sometimes it's right to contradict people, but if you don't notice you're doing it, it's a sign that you're the one who is confused.

Comment by douglas_knight on A Key Power of the President is to Coordinate the Execution of Existing Concrete Plans · 2019-07-17T01:22:48.299Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The White House spends the vast majority of its resources putting out false press releases. My impression is that that's what Kalil did, too. Probably he shifted things in a positive direction, but the shape of the marginal effort doesn't have much to do with the shape of the total effort. That is, how much time he spent shaping the CDC actions vs NIH funding vs conferences of outsiders doesn't tells us much about how much of his useful actions fell in those categories. He had practically no direct power, so in a sense the CDC and NIH were outsiders to be coordinated, too.

Cummings burnt a lot of bridges by saying important negative things. I'm suspicious of Kalil sounding so positive. The first hour of the podcast gave me an extremely negative view of him, but then he mentioned a lot of trade-offs and strategies that seemed valuable regardless of the average level of government function. Still, I worry that he sold his soul to function in this environment and lost the ability to tell good projects from bad.

Comment by douglas_knight on A Key Power of the President is to Coordinate the Execution of Existing Concrete Plans · 2019-07-16T20:52:14.724Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Before asking how something happened, we should ask if it happened.