Comment by dumky on Training My Friend to Cook · 2021-08-29T16:03:23.240Z · LW · GW

Pretty cool experience, but I have to say this rang some alarm bells for me: "My goal for covid lockdown was to train Brittany to cook.".

What did she want?
But it sounds like she was onboard, or at least ended up appreciating the training and assistance :-)

Comment by dumky on Modern Monetary Theory for Dummies · 2021-04-28T04:35:47.572Z · LW · GW

Whenever discussing the effects of increasing the money supply, we tend to highlight the first order effects: if there's twice as much money, then prices are expected to double after a while.
This effect is already hard for the public to notice compared to straight-up taxation, but the effects during the transition are even more insidious (so called Cantillon effect): some people receive the fresh money first while prices haven't adjusted, and some people receive the fresh money last (after prices have already almost doubled). The folks who are the furthest away from the source suffer doubly: not only do they not receive any direct subsidies, they must deal with the increased prices before the demand curve for their own products shifts.

More generally on the topic of MMT, they seem to start from sound analysis (ie. money printing can fund things, as many economists had already pointed out) but incorrectly leap from accounting identity (which correlate multiple variables for a given period of time) to a theory of causation (changing one variable at one period of time affects another at the next periods).

There are some other problems...  Two critical reviews of Kelton's book on MMT:

Comment by dumky on On Sleep Procrastination: Going To Bed At A Reasonable Hour · 2021-04-17T07:06:04.823Z · LW · GW

Sorry to hear this has been difficult for you. It sounds like you really want to find a way to make durable change and tried many techniques already.
I think it's admirable and impressive to see how passionate and driven you are. But if it's having some negative consequences or making you unhappy maybe a bit of tuning could be useful.
How do you feel when you have trouble to go to bed? Taking a wild guess I'd say you might be feeling a bit anxious, inadequate, frustrated or maybe embarrassed. What thoughts do you have? Is there a deep-seated value that drives those? (maybe "a person's achievement drives their worth"?)
If this connects in any way, I'd suggest checking out David Burns' podcast or books.
It sounds like you enjoy systematic approaches and routines, maybe a 5 minutes journal could help express main goals and take stock.

Comment by dumky on Self-Criticism Can Be Wrong And Harmful · 2021-02-01T03:38:36.874Z · LW · GW

It can also be good to list the positives (advantages and beautiful things) in self-criticism. It shows honesty, accountability, high standards, ...

On the other hand, we often use a double standard (harder on oneself) which can imply a sense of superiority (it'd okay for others to make mistakes, just not for us). Another downside of self-criticism is that spots that we beat down become sensitive and so we may be less receptive to feedback (being defensive).

Comment by dumky on Exercise: Taboo "Should" · 2021-01-23T15:54:50.805Z · LW · GW

I apologize if it's a bit tangential, but I want to point out that "should" statements are a common source of distortions (in cognitive behavioral therapy). It is often good to clarify the meaning of "should" in that context to see if it's valid (is it a law of the universe? is it a human law? ...). It often just means "I would prefer if", which doesn't bear as much weight...

David Burns explains this clearly and I was struck when he pointed out the linguistic heritage of "should" and how it connects to "scold". Here's one podcast episode on the topic (there are more, easy to find).

I wonder if some of the other distortions (such as "labelling" to sneak a morality judgement) could be subject to a similar treatment. For example, Scott Alexander talks about debates on labelling something a "disease".

Comment by dumky on Asking For Help · 2020-12-27T22:45:14.907Z · LW · GW

Exposure is the most effective remedy for most forms of anxiety. It is also helpful to understand the thoughts behind that anxiety and consider to what extent they are valid or beneficial (there are good reasons to be anxious, but they may only justify it to a mild extent). 
Many techniques can help such examination. One that is particularly appealing to me is to imagine what I would tell a close friend who is very much like me ("double standard" technique).

Comment by dumky on How useful would it be to have high quality audio recordings of rationality writings? · 2020-10-24T18:24:18.372Z · LW · GW

Castify was a crowd-funded project that recorded "Rationality: From AI to Zombies" among other things. They closed in 2016, but I made a backup as they suggested. But I don't think the audiobook ended up being hosted on as they announced...

"To all Castify customers old and new,

It's been a fun project but it's time to bring Castify to a close.  This means all podcast feeds and audiobook files will cease to be available for download at the end of September.  

IMPORTANT: If you need to download a fresh copy of your purchases please follow the instructions below before October 1st.  


If you’re from Less Wrong please note that the audiobook for Rationality: from AI to Zombies will be available through in the near future (maybe by the end of the year). 

Thanks for being a part of Castify, we really appreciate it. 


Team Castify"

Comment by dumky on What are your thoughts on rational wiki · 2020-07-06T20:25:38.132Z · LW · GW

I've only had a few interactions, but was less than impressed. Some articles that were critical of authors I have much respect for did not give a fair reading in my opinion.

Specifically, does the prevalence of progeny in different groups affect the average time preference of said groups? I would say it raises an empirical question, but the prior seems reasonable. I do not consider such thought horribly offensive or bigoted as suggested, even if you consider that sexual orientation would affect prevalence of progeny.

The thread seemed more woke than rationalist in tone.

Comment by dumky on Second Wave Covid Deaths? · 2020-07-01T21:29:08.973Z · LW · GW

Another possibility (not sure how likely): maybe treatment capacity and protocols have improved?

Comment by dumky on Has a technological dependency graph been made? · 2020-03-09T00:54:49.484Z · LW · GW

James Burke mentioned such a graph being worked on in a talk he gave in 2009. Not sure how it progressed.

Note: if you’re interested in this topic, check out Burke’s book and TV show, Connections. It’s fascinating (a lot of clever repurposing and also happenstance).

Comment by dumky on Money isn't real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help? · 2020-02-02T22:35:01.288Z · LW · GW

Forget money for a minute, since it’s just a proxy for real resources. Assuming that people involved have a decent understanding of what resources are helpful, then Charity is trying to provide those resources. For the question of whether we know what resources would be useful and whether they have the desired impact in the long-term, that’s a hard question. GiveWell is an attempt at evaluating the impact of charities. There are others as well.

Comment by dumky on What does it mean to "believe" a thing to be true? · 2018-12-27T19:14:52.203Z · LW · GW

That presented with a bet that essentially hinges on that thing being true, you take that bet.

Note that actions involve uncertainty and costs, so they involve a form of informal betting.

Comment by dumky on The Trolley Problem and Reversibility · 2015-09-30T21:47:12.932Z · LW · GW

Sure, but that means there possibly is no answer (the problem is under-specified). Maybe the answer depends on preferences, not universal ethical or rational principles (such as deontological or utilitarian principles).

Comment by dumky on The Trolley Problem and Reversibility · 2015-09-30T05:09:25.258Z · LW · GW

There is a third approach to the trolley problem, which I have not often seen discussed: whose property are the trolley tracks?

In other words, does this require a universal answer, or can this allow for diversity based on property and agreement? When you board a ship, you know that the captain has the last word when it comes to life-or-death situations, and different captains may have different judgement. The same goes for trolley tracks. The principles can be explained beforehand (such as "the mission comes first"). Another question that seems relevant to the person in charge (owner) is whether the 5 people are to blame for putting themselves at risk.

Comment by dumky on Some thoughts on meta-probabilties · 2015-09-21T17:48:45.153Z · LW · GW

If I remember correctly, Jaynes discusses this in Probability Theory and arrives at the conclusion that if a reasoning robot assigned a probability to its changing its mind a certain way, then it should update its belief now. Of course, the general caveat here: humans are not robots, they don't perfectly adhere to either formal logical or plausible reasoning.

Comment by dumky on Beauty quips, "I'd shut up and multiply!" · 2015-06-10T06:39:53.475Z · LW · GW

There is a difference between P("Heads came up") and P("Heads came up" given that "I was just woken up"). Since you will be woken up (memory-less) multiple times if tails came up, the fact that you are just getting woken up gives you information and increases the probability that tails came up.

Let's consider P(H | JustWoken) = P(H and Monday | JustWoken) + P(H and Tuesday | JustWoken) Because I have no information about the scientist's behavior (when he chooses to ask the question), I have to assign equal probabilities (one third) to P(H and Monday | JustWoken), P(T and Monday | JustWoken) and P(T and Tuesday | JustWoken). And it's impossible to be woken up on Tuesday if Heads came up, so P(H and Tuesday | JustWoken) = 0. In result, P(H | JustWoken) = 1/3.

If anyone doubts that, we could set up a computer simulation (you write the scientist and coin code and I write code for the beauty answering the question) and we bet. But I would require an experimental condition, stating that the scientist will ask the beauty the question every time she wakes up. Under those conditions, a beauty which always bets that "tails came up" any time she gets woken up will win 2/3 of the time. If we could not agree to those conditions (getting interviewed by the scientist on every occasion), the bet would be broken because you know what answer I will give and you have information that I don't have (strategy for when to interview).

Comment by dumky on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-04T05:12:10.661Z · LW · GW

It would be helpful to define terms first. Capitalism is the system of private ownership of scarce objects. People are scarce, land is scarce, resources are scarce. Even if energy becomes plentiful, the means of production of that energy will remain scarce (solar panels and other capital goods). Even if you can 3D print any object, the resources used as inputs are still scarce.

In short, scarcity will not go away, although it will continue to get significantly better, as more valuable and useful things can be produced with less (less labor, less energy, less resources, etc). Therefore private ownership and voluntary association, aka capitalism, will remain.

Comment by dumky on [deleted post] 2015-01-06T09:31:12.221Z

I agree with you that the post seems like an ad.

That said, the question "why aren't people doing this more already?" is not very informative to figure if this is a good idea or not.

As economists joke, the twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk is probably too good to be true, otherwise someone would have picked it up already. In reality, new solutions and arrangements are not easy to discover, or to bootstrap, and they take time to become adopted.

What the post describes sounds a lot like fraternal societies, which were a common model for healthcare a century ago (before most government welfare programs). It's a kind of insurance cooperative.

Regarding your last question, I am curious too (why would this solution be sustainable and cheaper than alternatives). I think there is a difference between the price that hospital advertise for people without insurance and the price they charge for people who pay cash.

People without insurance and don't pay basically allow the hospital to collect federal money for "uncompensated care". The incentive is to inflate those prices (so-called charge master) and collect more subsidies. If I remember correctly, the States benefit from the scam as well (again at the expense of the federal government/taxpayers).

On the other hand, my understanding is that people who pay cash can get much better prices, because the hospital isn't dealing with a third-party (but instead with someone who is sensitive to spending their own money) and also avoiding bureaucratic messes (medicare/medicaid/insurance paperwork and regulations for covered patients). There are doctors who don't accept Medicaid and also doctors who are now opting-out of insurance (switching to direct payment only). My impression is that those are cheaper.

I'm deriving some of this understanding from how the founder of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma describes the industry. His firm is operating on direct payment model only and appears to be spurring some price competition. His claims deserve a pinch of salt, but they also seem consistent with what I'm reading from various economists (admittedly more of the free-market kind).

Comment by dumky on Kickstarting the audio version of the upcoming book "The Sequences" · 2014-12-18T19:04:35.563Z · LW · GW

Backed. Thanks for starting this project.

What will be the recommended software to consume this?

I'm an Audible member anymore. I'm using a regular podcast iOS app (called RSSRadio) for HPMOR at the moment, but it's a bit manual (have to download each episode from archive). It seems like there would be a way to package an audio book (mp3 files + some XML metadata) and have an app that can consume that. Basically, like Audible but with a simple/open format. But I haven't found any so far.