## Posts

When is the right time to hole up? 2020-03-14T21:42:39.523Z · score: 8 (3 votes)
Do 24-hour hand sanitizers actually work? 2020-03-01T20:41:43.288Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
gilch's Shortform 2019-08-26T01:50:09.933Z · score: 3 (1 votes)
Stupid Questions June 2017 2017-06-10T18:32:57.352Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
Stupid Questions May 2017 2017-04-25T20:28:53.797Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Open thread, Apr. 24 - Apr. 30, 2017 2017-04-24T19:43:36.697Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Open thread, Apr. 17 - Apr. 23, 2017 2017-04-18T02:47:46.389Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Cheating Omega 2017-04-13T03:39:10.943Z · score: 7 (8 votes)

Comment by gilch on PSA: Cars don't have 'blindspots' · 2020-07-02T05:35:33.303Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You can get wide-angle mirrors to stick on your side mirrors in those cases. I was looking into buying those when I discovered the wide-angle technique, which I tried instead.

You should be able to see a car passing you in the lane to your left (or right) in your rear-view mirror, side mirror, and then side window (in your peripheral vision, while your head is still pointed forwards), without ever losing sight of it.

I have heard that some driving schools teach it that way now. Mine didn't.

Another caveat: this setup is probably not optimal for backing out in reverse. Straight back and a bit downwards seems better. Even better is a reverse camera, which you can often install after-market if you don't already have one.

Comment by gilch on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-25T04:59:59.440Z · score: 16 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's not like we've lost the articles published to SSC so far. There are backups, and not just Scott's. We can even link to some of them. The past SSC still exists.

What we're losing is the future--The part that hasn't been written yet. Scott has more to say and I want to hear it. SSC was my favorite blog. I am not alone in thinking this. Now it's gone. Maybe just until the NYT blinks. Maybe forever. Or maybe only for years, but at a time when we desperately need voices of reason like Scott's. And that is very sad and I feel bummed out about it.

This doesn't have to be over. Scott has won some influential allies. I'm interested in how this all plays out.

Comment by gilch on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-25T04:32:50.246Z · score: 15 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It has already happened. I checked.

I’ve tried to keep my last name secret. I haven’t always done great at this, but I’ve done better than “have it get printed in the New York Times“.

It's not like his real name was ungoogleable before. The determined could find him (and have). Therefore, I expect a few tweets from nobodies would likely remain obscure when this blows over. Do not amplify them when you see them. Ignore. But a NYT article is a bigger deal.

Comment by gilch on [deleted post] 2020-06-22T19:32:47.965Z

Greg Egan's Dichronauts is set in a 2+2 dimensional universe, a condition Tegmark dismisses as ultrahyperbolic. Egan also has a rigid-body simulator using physics from that universe. It does seem rather unstable.

Comment by gilch on [deleted post] 2020-06-22T19:27:12.547Z

Max Tegmark has published anthropic arguments for why we must find ourselves in a 3+1 dimensional universe.

Comment by gilch on Your abstraction isn't wrong, it's just really bad · 2020-06-22T06:52:27.710Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(Also, I wouldn't even claim PHP is easier than C, PHP is a horrible mess and C is beautiful by comparison, but I think the general consensus is against me here, so I'm giving it as an example).

The consensus isn't against you here. PHP consistently ranks as one of the most hated programming languages in general use. I've seen multiple surveys.

Comment by gilch on God and Moses have a chat · 2020-06-18T06:22:56.346Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This reminds me of the double crux I attempted with valentinslepukhin on the topic of God existing. We didn't really finish, but it did make me think more deeply about the topic. Among other things, I concluded that the prior probability of an omniscient God must be infinitesimal

Comment by gilch on Creating better infrastructure for controversial discourse · 2020-06-17T23:42:21.220Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Kialo was an interesting attempt at creating an infrastructure for discussing controversial topics. It's worth a look at to understand what I'm talking about, but I can't recommend it. I tried it out and it doesn't work well.

But maybe something similar based on collaboratively building Bayesian networks instead of pro/con debate points could work better. Maybe each user could estimate upper- and lower-bound weights for each node, and the computer would run the calculations. It would make it easier to nail down exactly where disagreements are, in the spirit of Double Crux, but with more than two participants. This kind of thing also sounds useful for debugging one's own thinking on a topic.

I'm not calling this a complete solution (and I have no implementation), it's just a suggestion for thinking about the infrastructure.

Comment by gilch on Open & Welcome Thread - June 2020 · 2020-06-08T23:51:29.396Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You can often find articles in the Wayback Machine even if they're paywalled.

Comment by gilch on Open & Welcome Thread - June 2020 · 2020-06-08T23:41:01.988Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I recall a [SEQ RERUN] in the past, yes. You are also allowed to comment on old posts. LessWrong shows "recent discussion" on its front page, so these do get replies sometimes. There was also talk of a book group.

Comment by gilch on Most reliable news sources? · 2020-06-07T18:33:05.785Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Pew Research is nonpartisan and has a reputation for factual accuracy. They're more of a think tank than a newspaper--not a news organization that would tell you the current events of the past three days (although they do a lot of polls about current events).

Bloomberg is rated "left-of-center bias" by Media Bias/Fact Check.

Comment by gilch on Most reliable news sources? · 2020-06-06T22:25:21.909Z · score: 25 (13 votes) · LW · GW

While an institution's reliability and bias can shift over time, I think AP and Reuters currently fit the bill. They report the facts the most reliably of any big-name general news sources I know of, without very much analysis or opinion. Their political leaning is nearly neutral or balanced, but maybe on the left side of the line (Reuters might be slightly less biased than AP, but still on the left side).

The Wall Street Journal is a little bit less reliable on the facts, also centrist, and on the right side of the line due to their business focus. If you read this too, it may help you counterbalance AP's and Reuters' slight left bias without going to the unreliable right-wing extremist sources.

If you want only one source, The Hill is about as nonpartisan as it gets (maybe a bit less reliable on the facts than the WSJ, but still pretty good). Their focus is, in their words, "on the inner workings of Congress and the nexus of politics and business".

[Epistemic status: I looked at the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart. Exactly how impartial their judgements are, I can't say, but they do seem to try. Media Bias/Fact Check mostly agrees with these judgements, but I don't think they're any more reliable.]

That said, even an "impartial" news source (to the extent there is such a thing) is going to give you a very distorted view of the word due to selection biases. "Newsworthy" stories are, by their nature, rare occurrences, and will tend to amplify your availability bias. Don't lose sight of base rates. Our World in Data should be worth exploring for that reason. They publish what they think is important rather than what is new.

Comment by gilch on The EMH Aten't Dead · 2020-05-25T18:22:56.806Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I upvoted for relevance (although it's not quite what I asked for). Interesting read.

The efficient-market hypothesis is coherent, falsifiable and wrong, even in its weakest form: The paper describes a way to introduce an inefficiency, that were it arbitraged optimally, would solve an (NP-complete) satisfiability problem. Even if P = NP (which seems unlikely), it remains unproven, so nobody yet knows how to solve NP-complete problems in PTIME, which would be required for markets to be truly efficient.

The eldritch abomination may grow stronger with every attack, but it is decaying even faster than we can fight it. The number of possibilities to search for anomalies grows faster than our ability to compute them when you account for the possibility of anomalies in the pricing of sets of securities, like for pairs trading. There might be something like 100,000 publicly-traded stocks in the world, but that would mean combinations or nearly five billion pairs. And that's not even considering larger subsets, like triples, which would be on the order of hundreds of trillions.

So the EMH can't be literally true. but can it be approximately true? It must be to some degree for the question to be this contentious. The real question I'm interested in, is "Are the markets exploitable?" Is there such a thing as alpha, or its it just luck? If finding exploits is as expensive as exploiting them is profitable, then the EMH might as well be true for that purpose. But if there are plenty of anomalies to go around, then I could have a realistic chance of finding and profiting from one nobody has noticed before.

Comment by gilch on The EMH Aten't Dead · 2020-05-21T04:42:40.686Z · score: 18 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I stumbled across a comment about efficient markets in an old Michael Vassar interview

I think that when when I look at economics (another great example) you have a series of papers by Larry Summers and Brad DeLong in the early 90s that as far as I can tell drive a stake through the heart of the idea of efficient markets. They show that if you make the extremely minimal assumption of people not being perfectly capable of assessing how much risk is involved in an investment, there should be a systematic tendency for markets to become less efficient with time.

And as far as I can tell this behavior--this paper despite being done by pretty much the top people in economics--just got ignored and had no impact on the--or this series of papers--had no impact on the progression of the field. It was logically ironclad. That's the sort of thing I basically expect from most sciences in the modern world--almost everything but applied physics--and it's (you know) this is a particularly clear case though because you have essentially the strongest possible argument done by the most prestigious possible people with just no recollection of it ever having happened in the profession.

Does anybody know what papers he's talking about? (I'm not sure if I transcribed the names properly.) They seem very relevant to this discussion.

Comment by gilch on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-18T03:14:17.008Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's putting it too strongly. Even if we accept EMH, buy and hold does work. And a regularly rebalanced portfolio does even better. You can significantly underperform the market and still "make money".

Comment by gilch on The EMH Aten't Dead · 2020-05-18T00:21:54.386Z · score: 14 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As you pointed out in the post, the version of the EMH you are describing, is unfalsifiable. To me it looks like an obvious misstep by our own rules, so why does it hold so much sway?

It's exactly the kind of thing we were warned about in the Mysterious Answers sequence: A Semantic Stopsign that stops you from asking the obvious next question. A Curiosity Stopper: because there are Smart People who know better, we are not socially obligated to even look.

I notice I am confused. If we're playing by the same epistemological rules, we should not have this kind of disagreement. At least one of us is missing something important. What is missing?

Its vagueness makes this EMH feel like a motte-and-bailey argument. Can you tell which part is the bailey and which is the motte? Think about this for at least ten seconds before reading on.

Here's a guess: "You can't hope to beat the market, so I don't have to try, and neither should you!" (bailey). But look at all these anomalies! "The market will price those in now that they are known. They'll evaporate. (Eventually.)" (motte).

But the vagueness means I can only guess. That's the nature of such arguments. Maybe the bailey is something else or there's more to it. What is the EMH defending? We may have to taboo "EMH" to nail that down. I suspect I'm insulting a Sacred Cow. Which one? Maybe "prediction markets are a cool! It's a general solution to a lot of problems!" (If the stock market isn't efficient, prediction markets aren't either.) Or rationalists say "Bets are a tax on bullshit," so why ain'tcha rich? (Sour grapes. You only make money if you're lucky. Rationalists don't buy lottery tickets. Is this an Ugh Field?) Or "Capitalism!" (Applause light! vs. I don't know, something else?). Why are you attached to an unfalsifiable idea?

Is there a falsifiable version of the EMH? OK, forget Popper, we can do one better: To do a Bayesian update we need both sides of the likelihood ratio. What does the world look like if the EMH is true? If it's false? Which world does ours look like? That's your prior. If these cases are indistinguishable, then it's not a Hypothesis, and the "H" in "the EMH" is a lie. A hypothesis that forbids nothing permits everything. Now what evidence would change your mind?

So let's try some obvious next questions. If the EMH were true, the market's moves would be a random walk, with a small bias over time based on growth and interest rates, etc. that explain the buy and hold strategy. Subtract out the bias and the residual should be completely random. Can we distinguish random from nonrandom data? Can you measure its entropy? Is the market random? You know how to use a computer. Look and see!

Can you make a profit from this edge? Why aren't you?

Comment by gilch on The EMH Aten't Dead · 2020-05-17T22:07:48.564Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "defensible". It's true that some anomalies evaporate almost immediately once they are noticed, but others persist long after that--even for decades.

One notable example of a long-lived inefficiency was the capping of the Euro/Franc rate at 1.20 from 2011 to 2015. This was announced publicly by the Swiss National Bank so it was available information. A price cap is a glaring market inefficiency, exploitable with a simple grid strategy. If the EMH were true, the rate should have settled at 1.20 almost instantly, but in fact, it took about three years for this to happen. And Forex is about as liquid as markets get.

Comment by gilch on Studies On Slack · 2020-05-13T15:22:47.813Z · score: 26 (9 votes) · LW · GW

How could blood clotting develop over time, step by step

Irreducible complexity arguments are pretty unconvincing at this point. The Theory of Evolution has already been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and you would know this if you had objectively looked at both sides, as I have. Because you don't already know better, I don't think the dispute can be resolved at this level of argument. We have to take a step back and look at our disagreement in terms of epistemology.

Was that your true rejection? Hypothetically, if science had an answer to all of your irreducible complexity objections, would you then accept evolution, or is there some deeper reason you're not telling us? Are you going where the evidence leads you, or did you write the bottom line first and work backwards from there?

Look, i know there are several atheists here that like to hide on this forum and erase any comment they don´t like, but i believe you can be open-minded

You must be new here. Nobody is hiding. The last community survey I saw shows we're at least 70% atheist. If you're out to "save our souls" and aren't just trolling for fun, then I suggest you learn how to talk to us first. Posts that make obvious mistakes in reasoning that were already covered in the Sequences are going to get downvoted very quickly. Read what we're about and play by our rules, because that's the only way we're going to listen.

Comment by gilch on The Greatest Host · 2020-05-13T01:47:20.267Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

All the important people on the project are neuropsycologically screened

Really? Can we have this for politicians please? Not trying to be funny here. Nobody knows how to do this, and if they did, how could we trust them to get it right?

Comment by gilch on Open & Welcome Thread—May 2020 · 2020-05-13T01:27:24.242Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This sounds like an XY problem. What you're looking for isn't logic, but epistemology.

Science is, and always has been, Natural Philosophy. Now, philosophy can be done well or badly. But Natural Philosophy has a great advantage over other philosophical branches: better data. This makes such a difference that scientists often don't think of themselves as philosophers anymore (but they are).

What makes the modern Scientific Method especially effective compared to older approaches is the rejection of unreliable epistemology. The whole culture of modern science is founded on that. Sure, we have better tools and more developed mathematics now, but the principles of epistemology we continue to use in science were known anciently. The difference is in what methods we don't accept as valid.

So is Creationism a philosophy of nature? Sure is! But they're making embarrassing, obvious mistakes in epistemology that would make any real scientist facepalm, and yet call themselves "scientific". That's why we call it pseudoscience.

If you're trying to win an argument with a creationist family member, presenting them evidence isn't going to help as long as their epistemology remains broken. They'll be unable to process it. Socratic questioning can lead your interlocutor to discover the contradictions their faulty methods must lead them to. Look up "street epistemology" for examples of the technique.

Comment by gilch on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-12T02:40:17.672Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Sell puts when implied volatility (IV) is higher than usual, on stocks where the IV tends to exceed the historical volatility (this is most of them, actually).

Whales have to buy puts for more than they're really worth to protect their customers' portfolios from scary market volatility.

Buy them back for less than you were paid for them when IV reverts to the mean. It's like selling insurance. You have to control your bet size and hedge (maybe with a cheaper put, like reinsurance) so you don't get wiped out when the disaster actually happens, but you'll get more than enough premium to make up for your losses.

Comment by gilch on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-12T01:21:57.093Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose the participants in a market are all well-calibrated about whether they have market-beating information.

That part seems particularly unrealistic. If that were true, we'd be living in a very different world.

Many large market participants have perverse incentives when trading other people's money. Their customers would prefer low volatility over optimal Kelley bets, and many would have to panic sell in a drawdown if volatility wasn't kept under control. You don't have to be smarter than them to exploit them, since they're optimizing a different goal: keep their customers happy, instead of making maximum money for them.

And then, most people are irrational. Going by base rates, you should expect other market participants, even big ones, to trade emotionally as well.

Comment by gilch on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-12T01:10:30.530Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that "any other line of work" is putting it too strongly. The thing that most appeals to me about trading is that its returns can scale faster than the time put into it: if you have more money, you can invest more money, unlike an office job that gives you small raises, but still consumes all your time.

It's the difference between owning a business and working for one. But trading is not the only way to do that. There are many other sources of passive income available, and some of them take even less capital than trading in the stock markets.

Comment by gilch on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-12T00:39:21.514Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is my claim really so extraordinary? EMH isn't settled: it's contentious. Many economists seem to believe it, but many traders and money managers reject it. I mean, I feel like there are a number of exploitable anomalies that are open secrets at this point. GARCH forecasts. Pairs trading. Momentum. Mean reversion. Fourier spectral filters. Historical vs implied option volatility. These are not beyond the reach of anyone who can do calculus and write code. There are still more whales than sharks in the market.

If you think you've found an exploit in the market you should absolutely start from the position that you're wrong, because... you almost certainly are.

Bayes says you have to look at both sides of the likelihood ratio to update. I don't particularly care which one you pick first. You should certainly try to test any edge you think you have, and look for missing information. If you develop a good edge it's easy to make some profit, but it's always easier to lose money if you're careless. But don't give up before you even try.

Comment by gilch on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-11T19:19:37.242Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Search a little harder under the assumtion the EMH is true and you're just missing something, and there's a good bet you'll find an explanation that makes the prices make sense.

That sounds like confirmation bias.

Search a little harder under the assumption that markets are exploitable, and you'll start to notice more inefficiencies you could profit from.

Comment by gilch on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-20T05:46:11.230Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree, the damage to materials would likely be worth it in the short term due to the current pandemic. And most of this damage would be merely cosmetic. But degraded plastic also becomes more brittle, so there could be functional damage as well. I can't think of a safety-critical example, but I can't dismiss that possibility either.

In the longer term, I'm not sure if it's worth the cost. Once the UVC lamps are deployed in public spaces, there is the option to leave them on permanently to combat threats like the seasonal flu or the next unknown virus. But the cost could perhaps be mitigated by replacing the damaged material with more durable alternatives.

Comment by gilch on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T04:10:40.000Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Another potential consequence besides the risk to human health is the degradation of exposed materials. Ionizing radiation is going to damage more than just DNA. Some plastics are especially vulnerable. UV can also bleach colors. Replacing furniture and carpet and so forth would cost a lot of money.

Comment by gilch on Why don't we tape surgical masks to the face to seal them airtight? · 2020-04-15T05:55:55.230Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sticking it to your face every day for your job might be a problem, but what if you're only using it once a week to buy groceries? Maybe the better fit with no training is worth the skin damage in this case.

Comment by gilch on What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings? · 2020-04-02T17:48:13.112Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I learned that RingCentral is a kind of rebranding of Zoom. Having not tried Zoom, I'm not exactly sure how similar the clients are, but some of my review of RingCentral may apply to Zoom as well.

Comment by gilch on romeostevensit's Shortform · 2020-03-29T19:26:52.404Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

remember that stocks are priced in NOMINAL dollars, not inflation-adjusted. It's quite believable that everything can slow down WHILE prices and stock values rise.

In that case, TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities) or precious metals like gold might be good investments. Unless the market has already priced it in, of course.

Comment by gilch on What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings? · 2020-03-29T03:54:52.161Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have not tried Zoom yet.

Comment by gilch on What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings? · 2020-03-28T21:51:40.068Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My employer has tried Slack and RingCentral for remote development work. We use Slack chat all the time, but RingCentral seems a bit better for screen sharing.

Whatever compression algorithm Slack is using is probably fine for a webcam, but when screen sharing, compression artifacts make the text completely illegible for seconds at a time after scrolling, and even after it has caught up, it's not as clear as RingCentral. We end up using Slack calls a lot because it's well integrated into the chat features, but the compression is a major pain.

On the other hand, I find RingCentral's screen annotation tools kind of awkward to use. They have a variety of options, but you can't select them quickly enough, and opening the palette hides the mute button! And you have to click another button to clear it. Slack only lets you draw on the screen, but you don't have to select a tool and it fades away on its own, which I found a lot easier to use.

I can't really recommend either one, but RingCentral is less bad for screen sharing.

Update (April 2):

Slack video calls seem to have a limit of 15 people. RingCentral can do a lot more.

My employer is becoming concerned about potential security issues in RingCentral and Slack and is looking for alternatives. Candidates include Amazon Chime, Jami, Jitsi, Mattermost, Riot.im, Tox, and Zulip (with Jitsi), but we haven't tried them yet.

Comment by gilch on Open & Welcome Thread - March 2020 · 2020-03-27T04:07:02.067Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have a good sense of which ones? Is there something we can do about it? Perhaps a particularly impactful charity identified by the EA people?

Can we profit from this knowledge? Wei_Dai bought an index put at the right moment. Perhaps shorting foreign stocks or currency? Maybe we could make back what we donate.

Comment by gilch on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-16T04:11:13.484Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You can get vitamin D from sunlight. You can't overdose this way, but you could get a sunburn, which has its own problems. An app like dminder can help you time your sun exposure.

Comment by gilch on Should we heat our houses to ~78F to reduce coronavirus risk? · 2020-03-15T19:12:40.448Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm also wondering about the optimal humidity level. Too much would encourage the growth of bacteria and mold, but if it's too dry it might put a strain on your respiratory system and make you more vulnerable.

Comment by gilch on When are the most important times to wash your hands? · 2020-03-15T18:55:40.202Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I also mentally categorize objects as clean or unclean.

It would be nice to have two phones, where you could use one to remotely activate or deactivate the other.

I think there are ways to approximate this with what's already available. I.e. use a Bluetooth headset to take calls when at home. Use a home-only tablet for the apps instead of the phone when at home. A lot of them can sync via the cloud these days. If there are notifications or alarms you need to dismiss, you could use a smart watch. You can also use the smartwatch for text messages. There are also ways to text from the tablet or a computer.

You might also consider apps that mirror your phone on your computer over WiFi, like ApowerMirror. Then you can access your phone from inside your pocket when at home.

Comment by gilch on When are the most important times to wash your hands? · 2020-03-15T18:38:08.502Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Washing your hands requires soap and water, but you can carry hand sanitizer and use that when you can't get to a sink. Any surface an infected person might have touched or sneezed on is dangerous. Besides what you've already mentioned, wash or sanitize

• When you come home after being in any public place or shared space.
• After you touch any shared handle. Doors, drawers, cases, faucets, etc.
• After you touch a keyboard, mouse, gamepad, or touchscreen anyone else uses, or you used when your hands weren't clean.
• After you touch a shared control. Light switches, elevator buttons, etc.
• After touching any personal article you touched when your hands weren't clean. Belt, zipper, shoelaces, phone, wallet, glasses etc.
• After touching money. Coins might be safer than bills, because germs can't live on metal for long.
• After you touch any garbage that might have bodily fluid in it. Food wrappers, tissues, etc.

You can often sanitize the surface itself with wipes, or reduce the length of time it can harbor germs by coating it with copper foil tape.

Comment by gilch on Meetups in the era of COVID-19 · 2020-03-15T18:17:14.139Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I thought Jitsi could do video conference calls in-browser, no client download required.

Comment by gilch on Rationalists, Post-Rationalists, And Rationalist-Adjacents · 2020-03-15T17:55:35.371Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"You're not an expert" is a valid Bayesian objection, so I'd accept it. But it can be screened off with more direct evidence. I would be against it if someone persists in an objection that is no longer valid.

Comment by gilch on When is the right time to hole up? · 2020-03-15T17:31:38.882Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To answer my own question, I'll try a Fermi estimate with what I know so far. These numbers are based on what I remember hearing and may be very inaccurate. It's better to react too early than too late, so I'll be using a more pessimistic model.

If anyone has better numbers, or spots an error or has a good reason to change the formula, please chime in with a comment, and I'll consider edits.

There are about 3 hospital beds per 1000 people in the United States. Normally, about 2 of those are occupied, leaving 1 free per 1000 people to deal with the virus. Therefore, when the number of severe cases exceeds a "critical mass" of 0.1% of the population in your area, the medical system becomes overwhelmed, and cases become more deadly.

I think about 80% of cases are supposed to be mild, so 20% may require a hospital bed. Therefore, when the total number of cases in your area hits 0.5% of the population, we hit the critical 0.1% mark of severe cases.

Lukas_Gloor estimates that at best 5% of cases are diagnosed in the US. Therefore, we hit critical mass when the number of reported cases is projected to hit 0.025%. That's about 250 confirmed cases per million people in your metro area.

But by that point it's too late. You do not want to have a case of pneumonia when we hit critical mass. But it takes time for a case to progress that far. Lukas_Gloor estimates maybe 20 days for symptoms to progress to pneumonia, plus 7 days incubation, so you need to isolate 27 days before critical mass.

Lukas_Gloor estimates a doubling time of 2.5 days. That means about 11 doubling periods to add up to the 27 days. 11 doublings is 2^11 = 2048. Projecting 11 doubling periods backwards from 250/M, it should be about 27 days before critical mass, when there are about 250/2048 confirmed cases per million or about one confirmed case per ten million.

Conclusion: if your US metro area has less than ten million people, then isolate on the first confirmed case in your area. Otherwise, isolate when there is at least one confirmed case per ten million.

Am I being too pessimistic? This does seem too early, but so goes exponential growth. Catching the virus after this point would be very bad, but there would only be about 20 people per ten million who could actually give it to you that soon. What are the chances of catching it? Maybe they're too small compared to risks you take every day (like driving a car to work) to warrant isolation that early.

When we hit the projected critical mass of confirmed cases, how many of them will have progressed to pneumonia? Maybe there's a bit more time before the system is overwhelmed. On the other hand, at what stage of the disease do people get diagnosed? If they're already severe by then, this might be moot.

Comment by gilch on When is the right time to hole up? · 2020-03-14T23:25:35.373Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

by the time when you want to go into isolation based on timeline-of-the-illness considerations, so few people in your community will be infected that it seems too early.

How few? Ten confirmed cases? A hundred? Does it depend on the size or density of the community?

Comment by gilch on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-14T21:21:55.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe we should put copper on our hand sanitizer bottles. But does it take effect quickly enough to matter here?

Comment by gilch on Open & Welcome Thread - February 2020 · 2020-03-02T20:20:02.171Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I feel that I should also point out that long options are a risky play. They do eventually expire, and may expire worthless. You have to get the timing right as well as the direction, and deflating volatility could mean they lose most of their value sooner than you expect. You could lose your entire investment. If you want to experiment, either do a "paper" trade (simulate and track it, but don't actually do it), or make sure it's money you can afford to lose on a very small percentage of your account. 5% of the account is considered big for a single trade, even for experienced option traders who know what they are doing, and I basically never go that high on a long position. I'd recommend you keep it to 1% or less.

Comment by gilch on Open & Welcome Thread - February 2020 · 2020-03-02T20:10:42.777Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You can try puts on SPY instead. It's an ETF that tracks the same index: the S&P 500, but the share price is 1/10th, so the options are proportionally cheaper as well. There's also the XSP mini options, but I think SPY still has better liquidity.

Also, if you have the right kind of account, you can try spreads, buying one option and selling another to help pay for it.

You could also consider a call option on an inverse index ETF, like SH, which is designed to rise when SPX falls. Its share price is even lower than SPY, currently about 1/100th of SPX or under \$30/share. Most options on this will cost hundreds or less per contract, not thousands.

Comment by gilch on Open & Welcome Thread - February 2020 · 2020-03-02T06:36:16.114Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I work as a software developer for an American company, but my perspective is mostly limited to my own experience. I have also been involved in some hiring decisions and interviews. You can sometimes get hired without a degree, if you can prove you have the skills. LinkedIn is helpful for finding work if you can connect with recruiters. It may be easier to find a job when you already have one, as that proves you can currently do work. Open-source work was helpful for me. The quality matters more than the quantity. It can show that you know how to use version control, and, depending on the project, that you can coordinate work with a team.

Comment by gilch on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T21:10:51.306Z · score: 6 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Track your sleep quality and make sure you are getting enough. There are smartphone apps (like Sleep Cycle) that can do this. Your immune system is one of the first things to go with even mild sleep deprivation, which makes you more susceptible to infection. You may have to adjust the timing or dose of your caffeine intake. You might also consider melatonin (see Scott Alexander's guide for optimal timing and dose).

Comment by gilch on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T19:45:29.976Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They make non-contact digital thermometers now. You could get one of those. Point and shoot.

Comment by gilch on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T19:43:17.119Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Soap doesn't work by killing germs. It works by detaching them from your skin.

Comment by gilch on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T19:39:03.038Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You can get vitamin D from sunlight exposure. For white people, this doesn't take long, probably minutes (around noon) of direct exposure on your face and arms. If your skin is darker, it takes longer. You have to expose more skin for longer periods. Black people maybe can't get enough at high latitude and will have to take the pills. If you're supplementing this way, you do have to actually step outside for a bit. Exposure through windows that block UV is not going to work. Obviously, sunscreen will prevent some exposure.

If you get a sunburn, you waited too long. You have to factor in season, latitude, time of day, and skin tone. There's an app called dminder that can help you time it so you don't get the sunburn.

Comment by gilch on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T18:53:52.989Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You touch these often, yes, but how often do you share them with other people? If all the germs on there are yours, maybe disinfecting it is not really helping.