San Francisco shares COVID data only when it's too late 2021-12-26T20:12:59.001Z
Grading myself on SSC's 2020 predictions 2021-03-01T19:55:18.413Z
Best of LessWrong: Jan 10 - Jan 17 2021-01-19T20:44:10.301Z
Where are the post-COVID complainers? 2020-12-28T18:36:16.728Z
Ongoing free money at PredictIt 2020-11-11T04:06:26.347Z
Current guidance for COVID-19 self-care? 2020-08-23T02:10:55.998Z
Which COVID-19 serology (antibody) test is best? 2020-08-05T18:54:41.583Z
Maximizing impact at startup with high EA potential? 2020-06-10T06:25:00.521Z


Comment by knite on Signaling isn't about signaling, it's about Goodhart · 2022-01-12T21:48:24.143Z · LW · GW

TLDR: Honesty is the best policy, and don't be a try-hard.

Comment by knite on San Francisco shares COVID data only when it's too late · 2021-12-28T22:35:00.584Z · LW · GW

I understand that data collection is difficult and empathize with the people responsible for doing the work.

The thing is, SF used to publish everything as soon as they could! We accepted that numbers could be revised up or down as data was fully coded. This 5 day lag is IMO far on the wrong side of timeliness vs correctness.

Comment by knite on Paths Forward: Scaling the Sharing of Information and Solutions · 2021-11-03T20:07:40.243Z · LW · GW

Obvious next step: if there's a lot of low hanging fruit like this, let's find it? Have you considered using your LW/Twitter/blog to publicly solicit obvious, simple, and high leverage solutions to other big problems?

Comment by knite on Self-Integrity and the Drowning Child · 2021-10-28T17:40:06.129Z · LW · GW

In dath ilan, it is virtuous to write more stories about dath ilan.

Comment by knite on Obesity Epidemic Explained in 0.9 Subway Cookies · 2021-08-16T17:39:33.255Z · LW · GW

I expect agave to be generally preferred over table sugar and HFCS due to having a significantly lower glycemic index. I'm unfamiliar with Karo.

Comment by knite on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-12T16:50:13.214Z · LW · GW

Something I've been wondering for a while: are organizations/journalists/individuals filing FOIA requests to get emails and other relevant documents about how the CDC and FDA made their COVID decisions?

Comment by knite on Who wants to run a B2B SaaS startup? · 2021-06-21T16:12:22.259Z · LW · GW

Potentially interested!

Big picture, if your friend wants a different blend of upside-to-work, perhaps they should consider hiring someone to work 15-20 hrs/wk, freeing them up to do <5 hrs/wk of supervision?

Comment by knite on Why Prefetch Is Broken · 2021-06-01T20:58:19.514Z · LW · GW

This post is a bit hard to parse - please consider replacing "a.test" with something like "" or "" to clarify whether the issue is per-page caching or per-domain caching.

Comment by knite on D&D.Sci April 2021 Evaluation and Ruleset · 2021-04-22T21:06:14.348Z · LW · GW

I posted my answer a bit late but this was a ton of fun!

Comment by knite on D&D.Sci April 2021: Voyages of the Gray Swan · 2021-04-22T20:45:44.231Z · LW · GW

Only four creatures have been known to do significant damage, implying that they've probably sunk some ships:

  • demon whales
  • nessie
  • merpeople
  • crabs

All attacks by these creature appear to be roughly the same relative frequency on a yearly basis.

Demon whales look the scariest, let's max out at 20x oars: -20% for 20 gp.

Nessie has probably taken out a few ships but she rarely does more than 90%. Definitely worth a cannon: -10% for 10 gp.

Merpeople and crabs both have weird long tails. Let's skip the merpeople entirely for 45 gp.

What's sinking all these ships? Is it...murdercrabs? Let's arm our carpenters, -50% for 20 gp.

We've never seen any of the other creatures come close to sinking a ship, so we won't worry about sharks with lasers on their heads or mega-harpies. I have 5 gp remaining, which I keep as a fee for my services. Alternately, I'd consider trimming off 5 oars for a second cannon, but I'm not sure it's worth it.

Comment by knite on Trust status sigmoidally · 2021-03-20T20:11:55.512Z · LW · GW

Two thoughts.

First, it wasn't immediately clear that you meant within a range of [-1, 1], perhaps adding that to the graphic would help?

Second, this sounds like it generalizes as "trust your own opinion on any topic sigmoidally, scaling with your personal knowledge of it" - in other words, actively notice and reject your initial bias, until you have enough background to be truly informed, at which point you should trust your own judgment.

Comment by knite on Covid 3/4: Declare Victory and Leave Home · 2021-03-04T18:17:16.380Z · LW · GW

If you're willing to write a data extraction script, and John Hopkins continues updating from a new source (that doesn't otherwise publish raw data), you can find the numbers on the embedded sub-pages:

Comment by knite on Grading myself on SSC's 2020 predictions · 2021-03-02T22:22:55.391Z · LW · GW

Regarding 14/15, I felt that we were probably under-reacting, but "general consensus" is tricky. We were in the home stretch of the Trump presidency so I figured the baseline odds of "consensus" on anything were extremely low.

I'm kicking myself on #16 - I don't know enough about epidemiology to make such a strong guess.

Comment by knite on Grading myself on SSC's 2020 predictions · 2021-03-02T22:16:44.241Z · LW · GW

Is the rule supposed to be symmetric around 50%? I used ln(p) - ln(.5) because Scott wrote:

"I scored these using a logarthmic scoring rule, adjusted so that guessing 50-50 always gave zero points."

However, this doesn't square with his second statement:

"Getting everything maximally right gives a score of about 14; guessing 50-50 for everything gives a score of 0, getting everything maximally wrong gives a score of negative infinity."

Do you know what the correct scoring rule is?

Comment by knite on The Kelly Criterion in 3D · 2021-02-22T20:29:08.291Z · LW · GW

Your explanation is fantastic!

Comment by knite on Covid 2/18: Vaccines Still Work · 2021-02-18T22:28:02.012Z · LW · GW

Zeroing out from Zvi's prediction, I am more optimistic and predict 4.3% national positivity rate.

I think that predictions are generally too pessimistic and that the rate of improvement will accelerate faster than the new strains matter and faster than the control systems kick in. I've been thinking this for a while and figure I should go on the record.

Comment by knite on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-09T00:30:47.216Z · LW · GW

I agree! I would happily support these updates on Patreon, if that were an option. I understand that from Zvi's perspective that could be problematic for any number of reasons, including possibly reducing motivation.

Zvi - since "money is not in any way the reason I write these posts", how about favorite charities?

Comment by knite on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2021-01-09T00:26:12.357Z · LW · GW

This seems worth a new post!

Comment by knite on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2020-12-31T17:59:40.573Z · LW · GW

That being said, as I am an offensive person and wear that mantle publicly and without shame consider this your invitation to leave. You are responsible for what you choose to engage with. I am not responsible for your feelings and reactions. If you choose to stay then that's on you.

Sorry bud, this is my post, so consider this your invitation to leave.

Comment by knite on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2020-12-29T19:07:55.024Z · LW · GW

Anyone with half a brain can see what a disaster that would be

This is rather rude.

Comment by knite on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2020-12-29T07:33:33.480Z · LW · GW


"All gatherings with members of other households are prohibited in the Region except as expressly permitted herein."

"Nothing in this Order prevents any number of persons from the same household from leaving their residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation, as long as they do not engage in any interaction with (or otherwise gather with) any number of persons from any other household, except as specifically permitted herein."

As far as I can see, the only exceptions are for "worship" and "political expression".

Comment by knite on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2020-12-28T23:20:14.482Z · LW · GW

Ah, you've made me realize that I haven't thought through the variability between cities and states. As someone living in California, I currently cannot: eat in restaurants (indoors or outdoors), go to bars (ditto), gather in groups outside my "household", or get my hair cut.

Comment by knite on The medical test paradox: Can redesigning Bayes rule help? · 2020-12-24T23:29:12.655Z · LW · GW

I just watched this last night and planned to share it here as well!

Fantastic explanation of Bayesian reasoning. I was already well-familiar (or so I thought) familiar with the concepts, but this video helped firm things up!

Comment by knite on What confusions do people have about simulacrum levels? · 2020-12-15T22:19:51.128Z · LW · GW

So level 4 is...intention masking the absence of identity?

Then level 5 is nonsense words, masking the absence of intention.

For levels 6 and higher, please see [Cuil Theory](

Comment by knite on Anti-EMH Evidence (and a plea for help) · 2020-12-06T23:21:29.633Z · LW · GW

I'm interested in this and would also love to chat!

Comment by knite on Anti-EMH Evidence (and a plea for help) · 2020-12-06T23:12:28.173Z · LW · GW

Two securities (symbols to come later as this is still being actively traded)

Are you trading at a scale where this is relevant? The vast majority of symbols have volumes where a mere mortal's bank account won't move the market at all.

Great post overall! There seems to be a lot of recent interest on LW around playing the markets well. I'd love to set up a Discord for ongoing discussion and brainstorming, if there's interest.

I've been sitting on a good nugget of crypto earnings for years and have had a lot of analysis paralysis about diversifying into the real markets and/or arbitraging the highly volatile crypto options/futures markets directly. If anyone reading this is interested in a serious discussion, please reach out!

Comment by knite on The Incomprehensibility Bluff · 2020-12-06T20:01:27.918Z · LW · GW

Option 3:  You have insufficient shared understanding/facts/terminology to comprehend each other's opinions and even begin having a real conversation.

Comment by knite on Eth2 Staking explained as a Financial Instrument · 2020-12-05T00:36:01.610Z · LW · GW

As a holder of other crypto (primarily BTC), how interesting is this opportunity relative to riding current growth?

Comment by knite on 2020 Election: Prediction Markets versus Polling/Modeling Assessment and Postmortem · 2020-11-21T00:33:29.626Z · LW · GW

What were (or are now) the best places for US persons interested in betting significant crypto sums?

Comment by knite on 2020 Election: Prediction Markets versus Polling/Modeling Assessment and Postmortem · 2020-11-21T00:31:37.224Z · LW · GW

Would love to hear more about your specific bets, as well as your "multiple six figure wins" friends! Personally, after maxing several PredictIt markets for a total of low thousands bet, I didn't feel like there was a good market place to bet larger size (tens of thousands USD or higher in crypto).

Comment by knite on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2020-11-12T02:04:39.742Z · LW · GW

Entry fees count as "losses".

Comment by knite on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2020-11-11T20:06:09.105Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the link, it looks like you're right about being taxed on the $100/98.50/93.57. However, the initial $85 can be deducted from your taxable income (if less than your winnings).

So if you're in, let's say the 25% tax bracket, you have saved 25% * $85 = $21.25 in taxes, and have still made money on your bet. This becomes a bit murkier when considering standard deductions vs itemizing. Perhaps a more experienced bettor can chime in to step through the implications?

Comment by knite on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2020-11-11T04:38:15.666Z · LW · GW

I am not a tax professional and have not yet filed taxes for my PredictIt gains. With that said, I am assuming that taxable gains are $93.57 - $85 = $8.75, not the $100 withdrawn.

Comment by knite on What are good election betting opportunities? · 2020-10-30T05:41:38.560Z · LW · GW

I can confirm that this arbitrage opportunity exists and works as described. At the time of this writing, the sum of all Nos for the EC market is $14.70, and running the loop up to 850 shares turned $1000 into $1078. Depending on which contract actually resolves Yes, there's an additional payout of a few bucks.

The way PredictIt calculates risk and payouts for multi-contract markets seems very confusing and is making my head hurt a bit. My Max Payout for the market is $850, but I have no idea how this number was calculated, and it doesn't make any sense - my understanding is that the real max payout is the largest potential payout across the market's contracts, which is a much smaller $13.

If anyone can explain how these multi-contract markets actually work, I'm all ears!

Comment by knite on Launching Forecast, a community for crowdsourced predictions from Facebook · 2020-10-21T00:31:11.060Z · LW · GW

I've been using Forecast since the beta and enjoy it! A few thoughts:

  • There isn't enough incentive to bet on questions with long time horizons.
  • The 1K points/day are rather inflationary overall, which leads to...
  • A question's market can be moved rather significantly for just a few thousand points
  • Why is there a max of 10 shares per bet? Especially with the 1K daily point increase, any user who sticks around will have tens of thousands of points, and have a harder time allocating them
  • The leaderboard is opaque and varies wildly: I'm sometimes in the top 10, sometimes in the middle hundreds, and sometimes unranked, despite a consistent upward trajectory.
Comment by knite on Babble challenge: 50 ways of hiding Einstein's pen for fifty years · 2020-10-17T01:49:40.302Z · LW · GW

Phew, this was hard! 50 is pretty hard, there's a lot of value in pushing yourself to do even 30. Another option for next time is to time limit instead: "you have 15 minutes, how many ways can you think of?"

Here are my 50:

Dig a hole and bury it

Disassemble it and give each piece to a trusted family

Place it into a lockbox at a reputable bank

Store it in a drawer and include detailed instructions in my will

Find Einstein's parents and give them the pen

Place it in a drawer with a sealed letter describing what should be done if found

Put it in a tree's branches

Carve a hole in a tree trunk and place it in the hole

Seal it in a chest and drop it in a lake with an anchor

Glue it to one of those tortoises that lives a long time

Photograph or draw it, make a replica in 50 years

Keep it in an important document like my passport, moving it each time I renew

Convince the Pope the pen is holy and must be preserved

Convince a museum the pen is fine art and should be displayed

Carry it everywhere I go

Give it to a stranger with a promise to pay them if they return it in a year. Repeat 50 times

Become a head of state and pass a law to protect the pen

Start a pen manufacturing company and produce millions of copies of the pen

Start a pen-worshipping cult

Negotiate with the evil forces to return the pen to me later

Convince the evil forces to give the pen to Einstein

Place it in a sewer

Start a family and teach my kids to protect the pen

Join the evil forces, work my way to power, and change the organization's objective

Infiltrate the evil forces and assassinate their leadership

Give the evil forces a counterfeit pen

Change my name so the evil forces can't find me

Become a hermit living in a cave

Learn self-defense to protect the pen if attacked by evil forces

Hand the evil forces the pen and then take it back, as they "obtained" it

Give the evil forces the part of the pen they want and replace it

Invent time travel and send the pen to the future

Invent space travel and send the pen to space

Place the pen in a body to be buried

Place the pen in the foundation of a new building

Shoot the pen high into the atmosphere so that it circles the earth for 50 years before landing

Place at the bottom of a jar of pennies

Place at the bottom of a chewing tobacco spittoon

Disguise as a record player's needle

Just keep it on my desk amongst my regular pens

Hide it in a residential attic

Hide it in a mattress

Hire a private security team to guard the pen

Protect the pen in a secure facility with booby traps

Convince the evil forces they don't really want the pen

Hide the pen in the handle of a sword

Ass pen (

Start a foundation and place the pen in trust

Tag someone else "it", now they have to hide the pen

Forget about the pen, Einstein will probably write his papers anyway

Comment by knite on Fermi Challenge: Trains and Air Cargo · 2020-10-14T18:22:04.367Z · LW · GW

That's a great catch, thanks! With that correction as a final step, I feel much better about my initial estimate!

Comment by knite on Fermi Challenge: Trains and Air Cargo · 2020-10-13T04:28:30.456Z · LW · GW

How many miles of train tracks exist in the world?

Radius of Earth = ~3,000 miles

Surface area of earth = 4 x pi x r^2 = 1.13 × 10^8 = ~10^8

25% of the earth is land 

10% of the land "needs" tracks

.1% of that land actually is tracks

10^8 x .25 x .1 x .001 = 2,500 miles

This feels obviously wrong, so let's buff the numbers:

Radius = 5,000 miles, 30% of the surface is land, 25% "needs" track, .5% of the land is tracks

3.14 x 10^8 x .35 x .2 x .005 = ~110,000 miles

Let's round that off to 100,000 miles.


Edit: Thanks to the comment from @philh, I see that I calculated square miles rather than linear miles. Assuming the width of a track is 1/1000 of a mile:

2500 x 1000 = ~2.5 million miles

This feels reasonable, so if I had performed that step, I would not have done a second round of estimation.



How many metric tons of air freight cargo shipped globally in 2009, and in 2019 (either by commercial airlines or specialized freight companies)?

How much stuff did I order? Everything I use was shipped from somewhere.

Amount of stuff I ordered last year: 200 pounds

That feels low when I think about heavy food and drink containers, so let's bump to 1,000 pounds

My share of infrastructure "stuff" feels smaller than that, so no modifier.

Most of the world uses less stuff than I do (age, affluence), so nudge it down to 700 pounds.

A ton is 2,000 pounds

Population of the world: 7 billion

7 billion * 700 / 2,000 = ~2.5 billion

Let's assume 2% growth per year

1.02^10 = 1.22

2.5 billion / 1.22 = ~2 billion


2019: 2.5 billion tons

2009: 2 billion tons


After reading the answers from others, I've realized that I assumed all freight was by air. If I had considered that, I would apply a discount factor, revising significantly downward. Keeping my original answer in the spirit of the exercise.

Comment by knite on Covid 9/24: Until Morale Improves · 2020-09-25T00:33:51.371Z · LW · GW

Thanks for posting these updates regularly! One quick formatting note: region ordering in the Positive Tests section is different from the earlier sections.

Comment by knite on Objective Dog Ratings: An Introduction & Explanation · 2020-09-01T16:41:11.048Z · LW · GW

Have you seen ?

Comment by knite on Current guidance for COVID-19 self-care? · 2020-08-23T21:50:49.923Z · LW · GW

I purchased zinc lozenges, high dose Vitamin C, and HCQ many months ago. I am trying to decide for action now, or as a pre-commit for later, on what is most appropriate to take.

Comment by knite on Current guidance for COVID-19 self-care? · 2020-08-23T19:03:08.461Z · LW · GW

For shopping, the internet exists!

Comment by knite on Is Wirecutter still good? · 2020-08-08T02:23:17.964Z · LW · GW

I've loved Wirecutter's reviews for many years, but have occasionally been disappointed by their recommendations. It's hard to say whether their quality has actually gone down or if the success/miss ratio is constant.


External hard drive (pre-2016): no mention whatsoever of RPM, which is widely regarded as critical information when choosing a non-SSD hard drive. They didn't even include a blurb saying that RPM doesn't matter.

Bath towels (2019): Pasting my own comment: "I ordered a set of Frontgate towels based on this recommendation. After fewer than five washes (cold normal cycle with standard detergent, line dry), the towels aren't plush at all. The towels arrived feeling luxurious and spa-like, but after only a few uses they feel drab and normal." They updated their towel recommendations a week ago and Frontgate remains their top choice. I feel like I wasted several hundred dollars on an extensive set of pretty average towels. If I'm washing them wrong, it would have been nice for them to reply and update their care instructions.

Broom (2020): It's...fine. Maybe my expectations were set too high, but I thought it would be the Best Broom, not just a broom.

Comment by knite on Unifying the Simulacra Definitions · 2020-08-05T18:48:22.899Z · LW · GW

I think pointing at anything you want better conveys the nature of L4. You could describe L0 as "I don't point".

Comment by knite on Unifying the Simulacra Definitions · 2020-08-04T19:22:41.974Z · LW · GW

Thank you, Zvi, I've really enjoyed your simulacra posts and found them to be very insightful. As I read this post, I came up with my own formulation of the levels that feels useful:

L1: I point at something.

L2: I point at you.

L3: I point at myself.

L4: I point wherever I want.

Comment by knite on Tearing down the Chesterton's Fence principle · 2020-08-04T19:00:04.368Z · LW · GW

"Overall, Chesterton's Fence needs context."

This is literally the point of Chesterton's Fence.

Comment by knite on Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks · 2020-06-26T03:19:46.852Z · LW · GW
My real answer to what went wrong is that our civilization is profoundly inadequate. We have lost our ability to do things.

Civilization is made of people, and people aren't wired for scale. We haven't lost our ability to do things, we never had it. We have only ever done things at scale by accident, or for short periods of time (mostly wars and the Space Race).

When you live in a village of ~100 people, either you figure out norms for drought/famine/disease/etc quickly, or >90% of your community dies and the rest scatter.

In major cities, it's fundamentally an issue of everyone-for-themselves. You walk down the street and see a bunch of strangers. You may wish they were wearing masks, but there's no social norm. The norms are enforced at shops, waiting in line, entering with reduced capacity, wearing a mask (or not) in both cases.

If not enough people care on average, your friendly neighborhood megalopolis is doomed.

Comment by knite on The EMH Aten't Dead · 2020-05-18T18:50:08.456Z · LW · GW

If the market regularly reacts to public statements of inefficiency ("stocks systematically rise on the third Thursday of each month but only under a waxing moon") by eliminating it, then this is *refutation* of the efficient market hypothesis.

Inefficiencies are priced in when they are: obvious, easy, and safe,. A non-obvious inefficiency is a true hidden edge. A non-easy inefficiency has a high barrier (capital, technical, physical, etc) to entry. A non-safe inefficiency has a high social barrier to entry.

Because names have power, I dub this the Passive Market Hypothesis.

Comment by knite on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-13T17:21:28.734Z · LW · GW

Great review! Have you taken a look at Gwent? It's currently scratching the Hearthstone itch for me.

Comment by knite on Setting up a new Mac · 2020-05-11T21:42:30.315Z · LW · GW

For syncing dotfiles and config generally:

For managing programming languages: