Posts

What colour were the shadows? 2020-10-19T09:11:18.411Z
How do you whittle path-dependent (probabilistic) questions? 2020-05-02T08:53:41.566Z
Mary Chernyshenko's Shortform 2020-01-18T14:57:39.038Z
[Event] Meeting in Myrhorod, November 16 2019-10-06T08:45:59.527Z
Lyubarsky intro 2019-03-09T11:13:31.075Z
Have a camel! 2019-02-28T19:25:05.476Z
Describing things: parsimony, fruitfulness, and adaptability 2019-02-05T20:59:01.345Z
What observations do you as a customer would expect to matter, if your experience was 1000 times "stronger"? 2019-01-01T22:03:39.480Z

Comments

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on You Have About Five Words · 2021-01-11T08:10:19.979Z · LW · GW

Seems like today the size of the phone screen defines how much of the text one is willing to read (an unselected someone). It's still unclear what people do with it later and how much they retain. But reading in itself seems not so tightly limited; five-words-at-most is what I expect from billboards. But I also expect them to be more like roadsigns/reminders, not original messages (and really I would be surprised if someone treated the words as something beyond advertisement.)

Also, repeated exposure is a thing, which is often the case when one coordinates many people. And the ability of factions to work together although their "core texts" are very different.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Hammertime Day 9: Time Calibration · 2021-01-10T19:09:55.955Z · LW · GW

My worst case of planning fallacy was when I thought I'd just come back to work after the maternity leave. I did get a job, then another, and then another, but I've never actually come back.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Thoughts on Mustachianism · 2021-01-10T09:57:06.532Z · LW · GW

You know, about that garbageman thing... you most probably won't be happy, but if you are the garbage truck driver, you're going to bring happiness and be The Hero for some very sincere people below age four.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on How do you assess the quality / reliability of a scientific study? · 2021-01-09T18:58:40.660Z · LW · GW

A thing I pay attention to is how seamlessly the introduction leads to the question the authors picked. If there is a jarring break I try to imagine what kind of intro the paper needs, and then it's usually clear if I do understand enough to think about it. For example, if the actual intro is written from the ecological angle but the imagined one is zoological, and I really need to understand it, I should just ask a zoologist.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Science in a High-Dimensional World · 2021-01-09T18:01:40.255Z · LW · GW

There's a parallel need to review the actual purpose for which you are doing all of that. It can be mutable.

For example, suppose you culture some unicellular algae, and you notice the cells can be more or less rounded in the same dish. You shrug and discard the dishes with too elongated cells to keep the line pure and strong. You learn what parameters to keep constant to make it easier.

And then someone shows that in point of fact, cell shape for this group of species can vary somewhat even in culture so we have been wrong about the diversity in the wild this whole time. And you read it and hope in your heart that some very motivated people might one day deviate from the beaten path and finally find out what's going on there, despite this looking entirely unfundable.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Helpless Individuals · 2021-01-08T19:19:19.267Z · LW · GW

It's quite possible to raise money for microgrants (c. one-paycheck amount) for young scientists. From individuals. And then keep it up year in and year out. And add more subcategories (e.g., a friend of mine started with a single grant for both botanists and zoologists, then a year later there were two, and now other people started running their own and we have four.)

You can't fund big science this way, but people do pay money. You probably can't raise money for any kind of science, but it's not a general rule at the very least.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Condition-directedness · 2021-01-08T16:03:54.099Z · LW · GW

I have a friend who's kept working on environmental issues for two decades now (creating and protecting nature reserves, organizing databases of rare species finds etc.) Looking at him, it's hard to say if he is condition- or ambition-directed. He created a niche where other people come to take root and can now sketch out their own five-year plans. It's definitely different than being a teacher.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Evening drawing · 2021-01-07T14:29:11.640Z · LW · GW

We have geese and we take pictures of them, but I'd love to be able to draw them. There's so much poured volume and chiseled grace in an almost-monochrome shape. They grow - you can see the beaks getting longer in "adolescence", and they molt! Their heads sit at different angles on their necks, their stride can be purposeful or leisurely. And when there's snow on the ground and they are suddenly not the whitest thing around, their curves acquire a subtle metallic shine (at the base of the neck, at the invagination of an eye etc.).

I don't have the time, though, but geese are great.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Fourth Wave Covid Toy Modeling · 2021-01-07T07:13:11.776Z · LW · GW

Thank you, it will be interesting.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Covid 12/31: Meet the New Year · 2021-01-06T22:10:03.946Z · LW · GW

ChristianKI just wrote about the need to not overdo the more physically demanding tasks after isolation.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Mary Chernyshenko's Shortform · 2021-01-06T22:02:48.057Z · LW · GW

Pre-covid, quite a few customers seemed to want to be validated by personal communication with shop workers. (I mean e.g. customers who would tell the consultants about their wonderfully clever children instead of asking for the thing they want to buy. Or even describing the thing.) I kind of wonder how they manage now. On one hand, the shops are fighting for clientele, and on the other, they are online.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Fourth Wave Covid Toy Modeling · 2021-01-06T21:49:42.948Z · LW · GW

(yes I live in a cave where I don't think the new strain is being identified) Why does the old strain disappear? And shouldn't we expect yet another strain after very many people get infected? (Of course, it could go whichever way with it spreading faster or not.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Covid 12/31: Meet the New Year · 2021-01-01T15:31:26.553Z · LW · GW

(just throwing it out there) Since this is our second year with covid, maybe we can make a more informed effort to prevent other maladies to lessen the overall strain? I mean, on the individual level.

We used to have a baseline for how sick we become and when to more or less expect it (chronic or seasonal things) and/or how often Shit Happens (accidents). We might want to adjust it.

It used to be ok, to look for something for the pollen allergy in the spring or in the fall, but if one already knows one will need it later, why not buy it now? If there's a vegetable garden one is too old to tend alone, then plan around the need to invite more people to do it*.

Father Frost brought me a new toster :) I thought "oral contraceptives in bulk" were kinda not his thing. Now I think I was wrong.

*where I live this would be a sacrilege. Lots of people come greet their neighbors when the time to plant potatoes strikes again.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets - Part 11 · 2021-01-01T14:48:02.600Z · LW · GW

I thought this was exactly brilliant. Like the phrase "It happened long ago and not" ("Это было давно и неправда", I'd welcome a better translation; a well-known quote from an almost forgotten detective story.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Large Gains from Small Choices · 2020-12-28T20:10:47.502Z · LW · GW

(It takes me up to a year to "digest" a book. (One that I read of my own volition, to expand my world.) I would not want another thousand thoughts come so soon.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Mary Chernyshenko's Shortform · 2020-11-15T21:38:38.058Z · LW · GW

Those brilliant guys made a plane from mud and sticks. It could not fly. It just stood there.

But even a man who could not understand a word of their language; who knew nothing of their way of life; who would never come to visit, - even such a man could see this thing out of his cockpit and know what it meant. And he would translate it, this only thing ever, into his own words and tell others.

Because the plane that never flies is a sign.

We have them polished in museums and rusting in abandoned hangars. There, we imbue them with meaning which is allowed to be personal.

...But you make one life-size model with one single possible interpretation, and suddenly it's cargo cult.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2020-11-14T08:22:21.182Z · LW · GW

I have changed occupations thrice - from a PhD student (dropped out) to lab technician (in a different lab, for children), from LT to bookshop cashier/..., from BC to the-one-who-proofreads-articles-and-stuff in a lesser research journal. I kind of expect to switch at least once more, to a librarian or postman.

All of it revolves around the need to be home for the kid, and around hating some aspects of the job. (The lack of science; the late hours; the cold; and currently, the need to be reputation-wise.) And there was freedom in every thing I've done, although not exactly freedom to do what I wanted to do. Just - freedom to see the world. I think it should not be underestimated.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Open & Welcome Thread – November 2020 · 2020-11-09T08:21:23.298Z · LW · GW

Thank you. It looks even more unfeasible than I thought (given the number of species of mycorrhizal and other root-inhabiting fungi); I'll have to just explicitly assume that Y does not have an effect on X, in a given root system from the wild. At least things seem much cheaper to do now)))

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Open & Welcome Thread – November 2020 · 2020-11-08T17:15:52.398Z · LW · GW

So I've read Pearl's The Book of Why and although it is really well written I don't understand some things.

Say we have two variables, and variable X could 'listen' to variable Y, Y--->X. But we don't know if it is qualitative or quantitative. I would have appreciated it if the book included a case study or two on how people plot their studies around this thing.

For example, we want to know what features of an experimental system can influence the readout of our measuring equipment. Say, Y (feature) is the variety of fungi species inhabiting the root system of a plant, and X is the % of cases in which we register specific mycorrhyzal structures on slides we view through a microscope (readout). And our 'measuring equipment' is a staining/viewing procedure.

Conceivably, if there are several species of fungi present, the mycorrhizal one(s) might form fewer (or more numerous) specific structures. This would be what I mean by a quantitative effect. Also conceivably, only some species or combinations of them have this effect on X. This would be qualitative.

Measuring both Y and X is more or less impossible, since you either stain a root or try to obtain a mycorrhizal culture from it (which is expensive.)· Even if we do try out some number of combinations of fungal inoculum, who knows how it compares against the diversity in the wild.

So... does this mean that we should split Y into Y-->Y1-->X and Y-->Y2-->X... or what?

· we don't consider some stains which maybe allow both.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Observe, babble, and prune · 2020-11-07T16:22:28.785Z · LW · GW

(After reading the first half of the post) usually, I find it uncomfortable to equivocate between the topic and what is said about the topic so freely. After all, if choosing a strategically bad intermediate job ruins your whole career, then it ruins your whole career.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Should students be allowed to give good teachers a bonus? · 2020-11-04T10:56:39.392Z · LW · GW

(shouldn't it be $150?)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What is the right phrase for "theoretical evidence"? · 2020-11-02T08:34:09.681Z · LW · GW

Could be "framing conditions". I mean, it's one think to say "masks should help to not spread or receive viral particles", but it's another thing to say "masks can't not limit convection". Even if you are interested in the first, you have to separate it into the second and similar statements. Things should resemble pieces of an empirical model besides intuitive guesses, to be updateable.

I mean, it's fine to stick to the intuition, but it doesn't help with modifying the model.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What posts do you want written? · 2020-10-25T15:41:47.724Z · LW · GW

An overview of the common disagreements between landscape designers, interior designers etc. and their clients. (A friend of mine had to explain that she liked her windows shaded by the tree, it made the house cooler during summer.) As in, what people tend to miscommunicate, overrule, not order, repair etc.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T20:43:05.333Z · LW · GW

Thank you :) It was frost, we rarely get snow so early. I stood there and watched it evaporate in real time :) I didn't have a camera on me then, so the photo is recent (and taken much later in the day).

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What posts do you want written? · 2020-10-19T14:48:00.793Z · LW · GW

A review of the history of translations of Aesop's and other similar fables with the emphasis on what was added, subtracted or equivocated by the translators. Such as, did the original Fox tell himself the grapes were sour, or did he announce it to the world at large?

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What posts do you want written? · 2020-10-19T14:39:01.701Z · LW · GW

(Body memory is great. When I worked in a shop and could not find an item by the end of the day, because my eyes refused to scan the whole depth of the shelves, I was told to close my eyes and "just take the thing". The arm remembers.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T14:18:37.923Z · LW · GW

Yes, they were! Not perfectly so, and greener towards the ends, but white enough to stop me on that morning.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T12:06:24.483Z · LW · GW

No, no, the shadows were on the grass. (And there's a stretch of walkway and two tram tracks between the lawn and the road, it's just that during rush hours some drivers decide to just drive around, unfortunately.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T11:36:52.800Z · LW · GW

Not too early, about nine o'clock. Not artificial lighting. But there's another detail in the description which is relevant here :)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on [Link] "Where are all the successful rationalists?" · 2020-10-18T10:08:31.627Z · LW · GW

I kind of view this as a process of sequential self-sorting.

Some people go on and become obviously successful and develop a culture with norms, I think almost fully described by the early-to-middle LW proclaimed ideals. I am not among them and can't say for certain; I am only certain they keep diversifying.

Other people trickle off into the other branch which keeps branching. I am among them. I keep running into a need to express thoughts according to virtuous rules which overshadows other needs most starkly, but I don't feel inclined to make more things (including immaterial). Some thoughts have been nesting in me for years and I don't expect them to leave soon.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-15T10:53:10.112Z · LW · GW

(Not sure where this fits in the thread or if it does, so - sorry for offtop. At least one of ours has contracted the virus, AFAIK. He told me after we have talked for a bit about another business, I asked him to comment on something and he said sure, he'd have done it sooner but for covid... I have offered our local LW people to help pay for testing if anybody needs it, without any additional questions or conclusions. So far nobody has asked for it and I do hope this means something good, like "we're mostly healthy and have money" and not something bad, like "we would have asked for help but it's not done". Even to be able to offer anything meaningfully, I need people "to bring cookies".)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Is Stupidity Expanding? Some Hypotheses. · 2020-10-15T06:15:11.688Z · LW · GW

There's a problem of distinguishing between stupid people and stupid actions. I think that on average, there are few brightly stupid people so when we eventually run into even one it makes a lasting impression.

I got to run into two at once, and then they both were fired together; this might have helped me to treat it as a fluke. Counterintuitively, if it were only one I'd have more doubts)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What was your behavioral response to covid-19 ? · 2020-10-14T20:01:02.812Z · LW · GW

(I can't say more because the study is still being done, but recovered covid patients which have relevant medical complaints having to do with the blood clotting regulation cascade might probably want to keep track of soluble fibrin in their plasma. I do promise to make a note here if the study doesn't find an effect and to add a link to the publication, whenever it is out, regardless of the findings.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T19:09:55.352Z · LW · GW

There's a clever trick to this effect. You can say thank you for others' sake without eating! Wouldn't that just throw a spanner into their Machiavellian calculations on who owes whom.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What was your behavioral response to covid-19 ? · 2020-10-14T18:58:09.595Z · LW · GW

I behave similarly to Viliam, with a few exceptions. Never really frequented restaurants before, so can't say my cooking skills have improved)) but my buying-things-online skills did. I don't like spraying things with a disinfectant, but OTOH I now wash all foodstuffs that can be washed when I bring them home. My kid went to school, but only for 3 days out of 5 (it paid off, he hadn't fallen ill until the fall vacation); many parents here do something like that. Bought myself overalls for when I leave home, I had wanted to for ages and it's really comfy.


Going to the city (I live in a suburb/village) is much more exhausting now that I almost don't do it. Calling my parents is harder because "things are as usual". (I went to my dad's birthday in July.) Had problems sending in work assignments on time but autumn seems to mobilize people, including me.


Husband has had problems due to many international conferences being cancelled, the not-insignificant money for visas and tickets not refundable, networking not... working... as good without in-person communication. My department had a very hard spring getting our people back from Antarctica (luckily it wasn't my responsibility). I missed seeing a sister for the first time in years. These things all required some adjustments which by now are invisible, like regularly setting up Skype calls etc., but at that time they were a Big Deal and cost us some unnecessary worry.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T12:42:08.811Z · LW · GW

Tough...

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T12:27:13.042Z · LW · GW

Our results were: 1) bought and forgot to eat; 2) bought enough for people who came there from home but too little for people who came from work; 3) bought and ate; 4) forgot to buy; 5) got so hungry we had to stop talking (about food) and send a guy out for sandwiches; 6) bought and saw that someone brought their own food, too, so we had to redistribute the leftovers... I mean, we are just great at this planning thing...

...but if you offer me to guess, I'd wager people said it's really just not worth a bother.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T09:15:38.347Z · LW · GW

I'm sorry to hear that.

FWIW, I think you should not have brought homemade cookies, it means "something personal". In a way, having good but bought food is easier to cooperate on. I don't mean it was your fault the others took advantage of your generosity (that would be stupid), just that sometimes, we should try the easier way first. I was thinking about storing some generic cookies at our place as a fall-back option and tell people they can bring stuff to have "a more interesting table". And maybe once in a while collect a little money to replenish the stores. If someone new comes in and finds homemade food, its kind of awkward, and new people join in at times.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-10T06:28:28.119Z · LW · GW

Oh, thank you a lot, that'd be lovely!

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on More Questions about Trees · 2020-10-09T20:59:19.049Z · LW · GW

I remember skimming an article which used four parameters (including mesophyll conductance and stomatal conductance) to model simple leaves.

The authors managed to "grow" a ligule, a needle and maybe some other shapes. It was really fun, unfortunately not directly related to what I was doing then (and of course, direct measurement of conductances of various leaf tissues in the nature would be a pain). They could not yet progress to complex leaves, but still it was a neat paper.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-09T20:24:33.246Z · LW · GW

Thank you, that instills hope. I've got to send c. 75% of them to CFAR and we're golden.

(Sorry about carrying on like this, I'm a bit mad right now. I have just lost a very nice and thoughtful introverted person (who is also an LW follower of several years) from our local online discussion group and nobody even noticed. I went to their discussion group last year, it was a dream come true, although not strictly LW-themed. And now she tried us out and withdrew. We didn't even get to disagree about anything.)

But seriously, a post on Meetup Food sometime before people can meet offline might be a good idea!

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-09T19:43:05.843Z · LW · GW

And how good are the best of us at bringing cookies and tea and just putting things on the table before we start disagreeing?

"Tact" is a field you build for the disagreeing to be around the issues that people truly just don't agree about, not a bullet to be shot at an opponent someone wants to be charitable to.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-09T19:20:52.535Z · LW · GW

(I don't think outsiders are more leery of the community because of its "ask culture" than of its "talk over people culture". It's something I have a problem with as a meetup organiser. Rats come fully prepared to sweep the floor, regardless of what happens to lie there.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Postmortem to Petrov Day, 2020 · 2020-10-04T11:24:13.596Z · LW · GW

One other difference between 'this thing we have' and 'that thing Petrov had' is that the day was entirely ordinary for him.

We live in our bubble where we have a High Stakes Day on which we are given a very specific choice. We expect it... we anticipate it; we can turn it into a game or even worse than a game. He had expected a normal shift at work (and beyond that we should no more assign thoughts to him than to a man who decided to buy a specific kind of sandwich. Just because we are more drawn to visualizing something beautiful doesn't make us any less wrong about it.)

I propose to deconstruct the tradition. Make it a random day, send codes to random people, and don't explain what will happen beyond "the site will go down for 24 hours".

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Industrial literacy · 2020-10-03T09:35:13.747Z · LW · GW

A general counterargument would be that besides the need for X, there's a need for X containment.

So that can be our second lecture!

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Open & Welcome Thread – October 2020 · 2020-10-03T06:52:04.604Z · LW · GW

We get to argue about published research but not the kind that was so bad it remained unpunished. And it certainly exists. I wish there were an "Editors Anonymous" platform to just rant and vent about why they don't accept manuscripts. Or how they wish they could decline ones that might follow the technical requirements but really just suck "epistemically".

So that one could unburden one's soul without compromising one's journal.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Words and Implications · 2020-10-02T17:10:43.400Z · LW · GW

(it's just that gathering evidence of what the other person wants and asking yourself in what particular way the other person is trying to use you seem to be two different things.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Words and Implications · 2020-10-02T16:09:57.080Z · LW · GW

They are good questions in some cases when you can answer them, bad questions in all cases when you can't.

When a customer says he wants a book to give to a friend's kid, and the only thing he knows about the kid is how old she is, you the seller have to gamble. The customer might refuse, and in the process some of the "physical reality" might come through ("I heard she likes to cook"), but that doesn't mean you should just guess what he wants on the outset or hurry him in any way.

When a customer says she wants something cheap for her husband's son, the best thing to do is to pick something cheap yet not what you personally think would make a bad gift, not argue with the woman or second-guess her motivations.

People aren't good at saying what they want, but they rely on conversation, and making it one-sided... doesn't work.

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on Not all communication is manipulation: Chaperones don't manipulate proteins · 2020-09-29T06:56:26.532Z · LW · GW

(Unless they are bad, bad chaperones who went all prion on everybody else. Not that that makes their action manipulative, they simply... let things take shape the way they secretly want to be.)

Comment by mary-chernyshenko on What are good rationality exercises? · 2020-09-28T20:47:35.540Z · LW · GW

Oh, I remembered we have this: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/suGfBx5pcjCn6DT5A/how-did-my-baby-die-and-what-is-the-probability-that-my-next#XmC8SwC8h6kKKwMBF . If I remember anything else, I shall add it here.