Comment by fossegrimen on [LINK] Joseph Bottum on Politics as the Mindkiller · 2015-06-02T11:23:04.580Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This genuinely threw me because I had no idea there was anything wrong with freedom of speech in Sweden. This because I get consistently less flak when I express controversial views among Swedish friends than when among Americans. My handful of Swedish friends appears not to be representative.

On the other hand, the same is true in Norway, Denmark and Finland and they have quite significantly less issues. Also, I realise 'everyone is happy' was poor wording. A better one would be 'everyone has agreed this is a workable compromise that it's not worth fighting over, for a value of everyone that is approx. 95% of the population'

Comment by fossegrimen on Extreme Rationality: It's Not That Great · 2015-05-28T07:51:38.645Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Most states don't allow that, but in Europe it's standard practice. I probably wouldn't bother with the bike if I couldn't.

Comment by fossegrimen on [LINK] Joseph Bottum on Politics as the Mindkiller · 2015-05-28T07:46:52.026Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This one is a rather good example of my original point tbh

All the Scandinavian countries did just this in the 60s and 70s when abortions had become a reasonably safe procedure and all of them ended up with some variant of:

No questions asked in first trimester Medical reasons in second and third trimester Induced birth and adoption if foetus is viable.

And since around 1980, there has been zero controversy on the subject, mostly because just about everyone is happy with things as they are.

Comment by fossegrimen on Extreme Rationality: It's Not That Great · 2015-05-08T07:28:23.120Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW


I did the same thing and came to the exact opposite conclusion and have been commuting by two-wheeler for 15 years now.

What swayed me was:

A huge proportion of the accidents involved really excessive speed.

A similarly huge proportion happened to untrained motorcyclists.

So: If I don't speed (much) and take the time to practice regularly on a track, preferably with an instructor, I have eliminated just about all the serious accidents. In actuality I have had zero accidents outside the track, and the "accidents" on the track has been to deliberately test the limits of myself and the bike. (and on a bike designed to take slides without permanent damage)

The cash savings are higher in Europe due to taxes on fuel and vehicles and the size of the bike is more appreciated in cities that are designed in the middle ages, so the upside is larger too, but it seems that we don't have anything like the same risk tolerance.

edit: also it is possible that motorcycling is a lot safer in Europe than the US? assuming you are from the US ofc.

Comment by fossegrimen on Don't teach people how to reach the top of a hill · 2014-03-06T18:14:23.856Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have spent quite a lot of my life writing specifications for software. If you actually want sensible results, you need to be able to get across what goal you are trying to accomplish and why, then let the programmers figure out the how. Trying to specify the actual result in detail would mean writing the software outright. The only complete and unambigous specification for a program is its source.

This seems similar somehow.

Comment by fossegrimen on [LINK] Joseph Bottum on Politics as the Mindkiller · 2014-03-06T17:10:51.453Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This may be off topic, but I have never been entirely able to accept that politics is the mind-killer. I suspect that two party politics may be killing the mind while multi-party systems are merely mind-numbing.

Where I live, we currently have 8 parties in parliament, let's call them the infra-reds, reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos and violets. Currently, the blues and violets are in charge, but they need support from either the oranges or the greens and indigos in order to actually pass any laws or regulations. Last year, we had the reds, oranges and yellows in charge. (Nobody ever cares about the infra-reds because they are old-school revolutionary communists, but for some reason they usually manage to grab a seat or two.) My point is that with every decision being an obvious compromise and usually with most of the negotiations between the interesting parties out in the public media, politics is a significantly more nuanced exercise.

Comment by fossegrimen on Open Thread: March 4 - 10 · 2014-03-06T16:36:04.579Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why were you trying to gain weight and is it still a goal?

I deliberately adjust my weight up or down by ~ 10kg fairly regularly and depending on your situation, I might be able to offer some ideas.

Comment by fossegrimen on Open Thread: March 4 - 10 · 2014-03-06T14:28:41.954Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

is a decent starting point

Comment by fossegrimen on Open Thread for February 18-24 2014 · 2014-02-19T06:50:25.752Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience, the beneficial effects of nicotine are weak and short-lived. They appeared not to stack with caffeine and I prefer coffee to gum. I didn't experience any dependency effects, but neither have I from other drugs, so that may not be a reliable indicator. My friends look at me strange when I talk about nootropics, so none to compare with

Comment by fossegrimen on Open Thread for February 18-24 2014 · 2014-02-19T06:33:34.396Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you might need both variants because if I were to answer such questions, the response would not necessarily be symmetrical;

  • Is it OK to turn down an explicit request by your partner if you're capable of fulfilling it but you don't want to? - Not at all
  • Is it OK for your partner to turn down your explicit request if they're capable of fulfilling it but don't want to? - Of course

(assuming reasonable requests)

Comment by fossegrimen on Methods for treating depression · 2014-02-17T16:51:50.880Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Also, pets trigger oxytocin release.

A dog usually also "forces" you to exercise moderately by walking it and exercising while depressed is notoriously difficult to follow through on.

I vaguely remember reading a study that found talking to your dog gave the same result as talking to a therapist, (indicating that talking is more important than having someone listen) but I can't find the link at the moment, maybe I misremember.

Owning a dog is not the only option either, I have fairly regularly lent out some of mine to friends and family going through a rough patch with good results.

I suspect it depends on severity and cause though. If the depression is bad enough you may need chemicals just to get you to a level where you can benefit from other treatment.

Comment by fossegrimen on Open Thread for February 3 - 10 · 2014-02-07T10:57:15.083Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone care to elaborate on Why a Bayesian is not allowed to look at the residuals?

I got hunches, but don't feel qualified to explain in detail.

Comment by fossegrimen on Open Thread for February 3 - 10 · 2014-02-06T18:34:30.208Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

A political question:

Our recently elected minister for finance just did something unexpected. She basically went:

“Last autumn during the election campaign, I said we should do X. After four months of looking at the actual numbers, it turns out that X is a terribad idea, so we are going to do NOT X”

(She used more obfuscating terms, she’s a politician after all.)

The evidence points to her actually changing her mind rather than lying during the election.

The question:

Would you prefer a politician sane enough to change her mind when presented with convincing evidence or one that you (mostly) agree with?

Comment by fossegrimen on Why I haven't signed up for cryonics · 2014-02-05T17:15:49.287Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your first point is of course valid. My algorithm for determining value of a life is probably a bit different from yours because I end up with a very different result. I determine the value of a life in the following manner:

Value = Current contribution to making this ball of rock a better place + (Quality of life + Unrealised potential) * Number of remaining years.

If we consider extended life spans, the first element of that equation is dwarfed by the rest so we can consider that to be zero for the purpose of this discussion.

Quality of life involves a lot of parameters, and many are worth improving for a lot of people. Low hanging fruit includes: Water supply and sanitation in low-income countries, local pollution in the same countries, easily treatable diseases, Women's lib. All of these are in my opinion worthy alternatives to cryonics, but maybe not relevant for this particular discussion.

The remaining parameter is Unrealised Potential which I think of as (Intelligence * conscientiousness). I am brighter than most, but more lazy than many, so the result, if interpreted generously, is that I may be worth somewhat more than the median but certainly not by a factor of 10, so if we still go with the numbers above (even if Eliezer pointed out that they were crazy), my stance is still that cryonics is a poor investment. (It may be fun but not necessarily productive to come up with some better numbers.)

Also: I have absolutely no problem accepting that other people have different algorithms and priors for determining value of life, I am just explaining mine.

Your other point was more of a surprise and I have spent a significant amount of time considering it and doing rudimentary research on the subject, because it seems like a very valid point. The main problem is that it does not seem that the total number of high quality life-years is limited by the carrying capacity of the planet, especially if we accept women's lib as a core requirement for attaining high quality.

Declining fertility rate seems to be extremely well correlated with higher quality of life so, once we sort the poverty problem, the planets population will decline. Singapore already has a fertility rate of less than 1 child per woman and chinas population is expected to peak in 2020.

In the short term however, the carrying capacity may very well be a limiting factor and may be worth increasing. Also because a larger carrying capacity will indirectly help with sorting the poverty problem so it's a double win. In fact I am seriously considering moving some of my retirement savings from index funds to aquaculture because that seems to be where the most low-hanging fruit seems to be. Suggestions are welcome.

Again thanks for the pushback, having to actually think through my arguments is a new and welcome experience.

Comment by fossegrimen on Why I haven't signed up for cryonics · 2014-02-05T16:03:55.742Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You're right. Those numbers weren't just slightly coloured by hindsight bias but thoroughly coated in several layers of metallic paint and polished. They need to be adjusted drastically down. The reasons I originally considered them to be reasonable are:

  • The field of cancer research seem to be a lot like software in the 80s in that our technical ability to produce new treatments is increasing faster than the actual number of treatments produced. This means that any money thrown at small groups of people with a garage and a good idea is almost certain to yield good results. (I still think this and am investing accordingly)

  • I have made one such investment which turned out to be a significant contribution in developing a treatment for prostate cancer that gives most patients about 10 extra years.

  • There are far too many similarities between cancer cells and ageing cells for me to readily accept that it is a coincidence. This means that investing in cancer research startups has the added bonus of a tiny but non-zero chance of someone solving the entire problem as a side effect.

  • In retrospect, I also went: "prostate cancer patients == many => everyone == many" (I know, scope insensitivity :( )

On the other hand, my numbers for cryonics were also absurdly optimistic, so I'm not yet convinced that the qualitative point I was trying (ineptly) to make is invalid. The point was: Even a large chance of extending one life by a lot should be outweighed by a smaller chance of extending a lot of lives by a little, especially if the difference in total expected number of years is significant.

Also: Thanks for the pushback. I am far too used to spending time with people who accept whatever I say at face value and the feeling I get on here of being the dumbest person in the room is very welcome.

Comment by fossegrimen on Why I haven't signed up for cryonics · 2014-02-04T18:16:21.621Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, that last bit was an entirely new thought to me, thanks

Comment by fossegrimen on The Third Alternative · 2014-02-04T17:59:32.635Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The only lies to children should be Lies to Children. Any other lies, including Santa, creationism or any other fiction presented as facts should be considered child abuse.

(My ex tried to bring up our children as YECs after being 'born again' and our courts ruled this to be child abuse which is why I'm a single dad. I may be a bit more than the average fanatical about this particular point.)

Comment by fossegrimen on Why I haven't signed up for cryonics · 2014-02-04T16:31:55.507Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have a view on this that I didn't find by quickly skimming the replies here. Apologies if it's been hashed to death elsewhere.

I simply can't get the numbers to add up when it comes to cryonics.

Let's assume a probability of 1 of cryonics working and the resulting expected lifespan to be until the sun goes out. That would equal a net gain of around 4 billion years or so. Now, investing the same amount of money in life extension research and getting, say a 25% chance of gaining a modest increase in lifespan of 10 years for everyone would equal 70bn/4 = 17.5bn expected years total.

If you think (like I do) that even if cryonics end up working, there will probably be a hard limit significantly less than 4bn years(my uneducated guess is that it will be around the lifespan of a ponderosa pine, or 6000 years or so), or that cryonics have a probability of less than one, the figures only get worse.

Of course, there may be a lower chance of extending everyones life by even a little, but on the other hand, my grandfather has already gained a decade partly as a result of my investment in a cancer research startup some years back, so I'm not willing to lower those odds by enough to make cryonics come out on top :)

Comment by fossegrimen on How to avoid dying in a car crash · 2014-02-04T04:32:15.673Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At roughly double the time investment. I prefer to commute by bicycle whenever possible (I live in a city where about 20% of people bike to work during summer and about 5% during the winter, so I suspect risk is lowered by bikes being more common on the road). The commute by bike takes about 80 minutes (including return), sitting in rush-hour traffic takes about the same, as would "non-dangerous" exercise. Discounting the negative effects of commuting by car, I would still be losing about 400 hours per year by "exercising safely".

So in order to make up for the lost time, the increased risk of commuting by bicycle should reduce my life expectancy by roughly 0.4%. It doesn't.

Also, statistics and my personal experience indicates that the most effective way of avoiding traffic accidents is to live in a western country other than the United States

Comment by fossegrimen on Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story · 2014-02-03T16:43:37.242Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I never had a watershed moment when I ‘discovered' rationalism. For those of you who grew up with religion and take faith as a more or less given part of society, I must have had a rather peculiar childhood; When I was little, I spent quite a lot of time with my grandfather who was an uneducated farmer and had never heard of Bayes’ Theorem. (But loved it when I recently explained the basics to him.) I remember starting sentences with "I believe…" and I never got any further before being interrupted with "If you want to believe, you can go to church. Around here we go with the evidence”. Upon being asked about the possibility of an afterlife, he went: “If there is an afterlife, it can not be observed, and if it can not be observed it is certainly not important enough to talk about”. He is a rather abrupt old man. Another nugget of wisdom was “There is an infinite supply of possible mistakes to choose from, so there is no point in making the same one twice.”

I also live in a country where about 80% of the population are Atheists/Agnostics, which makes religion something the crazies are talking about. Empiricism and rationalism has simply been the default position for my entire life, even if not expressed explicitly or in mathematical terms.

Even atheists who are taught from the age of five that ‘belief’ is not a permissible word are not exempt from biases of course, and the first time I consciously noticed that particular problem was right after I died (which could count as a watershed moment.) In my early twenties, I went through a bit of a mental/emotional crisis (for reasons that I may end up covering in another post) that I handled through extreme amounts of exercise and caused me to lose weight. During my yearly checkup at the doctors, he noticed that I was severely underweight. (we’re talking a BMI of about 12 here, so severely is not an understatement) He spent quite some time going over my eating habits and couldn’t find anything wrong. Two months later, I was found dead by the roadside and revived in the ambulance. Random passersby who know CPR is a good thing (TM). My body had simply shut down due to spending more energy than I had absorbed over an extended period of time. After recovering for a bit at the hospital, I slowly realised that the doctor had observed something wrong (a very low BMI) and upon finding that the normal explanation (anorexia) didn’t apply, he had discarded the observation rather than looking for other possible explanations. I was quite upset about this, and I also started examining myself with respect to why I hadn’t noticed that something was wrong either.

This experience made me rather obsessed with cognitive science and nutrition / exercise (which may be worth another post, this community seems interested in the topic); enough to take a year of pre-med, a year of psychology (which didn’t help much) and to read all I could find about cognitive theory (which did, especially Gödel, Escher, Bach which is also a wonderful book when considered only on it’s merits as literature.) This was in 1994, so quite a time before OvercomingBias and LessWrong, or I would most certainly have found this place back then. (btw, we have free tuition here, so I take at least one college course per semester, hence the odd academic choices. This year I’m doing introduction to quantum mechanics which led me to stumble upon the quantum physics sequence which led me to read HPMOR, which made me lurk around this site for the last five months and reading the rest of the sequences before creating an account.) (this comment counts both as a 'hello' post and a 'Origin story' post :)

Comment by fossegrimen on Tell Culture · 2014-01-27T15:40:02.378Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find it interesting to observe that my youngest who is moderately autistic operates exclusively in 'Tell' mode. Either he models everyone else as autistic, or he doesn't model other people at all, it is hard to tell from the outside, but in either case 'Guess' and 'Ask' modes are essentially unavailable to him.