Takeaways from one year of lockdown 2021-03-01T03:53:20.228Z
Intuitions about utilities 2021-02-06T00:12:44.383Z
Open & Welcome Thread – February 2021 2021-02-05T21:38:28.789Z
Reflections on the cryonics sequence 2021-02-03T01:17:13.556Z
#6: Optional additional steps 2021-02-02T23:57:01.742Z
#5: Making your cryonics arrangements official 2021-02-02T23:54:27.534Z
#4.4: The insurance underwriting process 2021-01-28T02:33:02.592Z
#4.3: Cryonics-friendly insurance agents 2021-01-27T21:13:37.488Z
#4.2: Cryonics-friendly life insurance carriers 2021-01-27T21:05:06.735Z
#4.1: Types of life insurance 2021-01-26T19:55:21.948Z
#4: Introduction to life insurance for cryonics 2021-01-22T20:58:05.529Z
Appendices to cryonics signup sequence 2021-01-22T06:40:20.700Z
#3: Choosing a cryonics provider 2021-01-20T01:47:36.839Z
#2: Neurocryopreservation vs whole-body preservation 2021-01-13T01:18:05.890Z
Cryonics signup guide #1: Overview 2021-01-06T00:25:02.927Z
Some end-of-year media recommendations 2020-12-31T20:10:17.516Z
How to get the benefits of moving without moving (babble) 2020-11-13T20:17:59.278Z
Location Discussion Takeaways 2020-11-02T21:14:24.604Z
The rationalist community's location problem 2020-09-23T18:39:26.278Z
Petrov Day Ritual: Coronavirus Edition 2020-09-23T16:41:39.856Z
Self-sacrifice is a scarce resource 2020-06-28T05:08:05.010Z
Seeking opinions on the pros and cons of various telepresence tools 2020-04-05T18:22:51.775Z
Meetups in the era of COVID-19 2020-03-15T06:24:03.318Z
How to have a happy quarantine 2020-03-15T03:42:56.085Z
How to choose a massage therapist 2020-03-01T06:53:44.608Z
Looking for books about software engineering as a field 2020-02-03T21:49:05.926Z
Bay Solstice 2019 Retrospective 2020-01-16T17:15:03.840Z
The Towel Census: A Methodology for Identifying Orphaned Objects in Your Home 2019-12-22T06:04:44.111Z
mingyuan's Shortform 2019-11-21T20:58:04.387Z
Welcome to Lexington Rationalists [Edit With Your Details] 2019-09-25T02:45:28.785Z
Welcome to Auckland EA/SSC Meetup Group [Edit With Your Details] 2019-09-25T02:43:17.678Z
Welcome to New Delhi SSC [Edit With Your Details] 2019-09-25T02:38:17.069Z
SSC Meetups Everywhere: Darmstadt, Germany 2019-09-19T00:53:59.600Z
Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress 2019-09-17T05:23:08.004Z
If you've attended LW/SSC meetups, please take this survey! 2019-03-25T21:48:37.976Z
[Speech] Worlds That Never Were 2019-01-12T19:53:51.241Z
Madison Solstice Gathering 2018-11-28T21:36:24.846Z
Atlanta SSC Meetup 2018-08-29T16:56:05.277Z
Theories of Pain 2018-08-26T22:05:17.172Z
Welcome to Kansas City SSC Meetup [Edit With Your Details] 2018-08-23T18:18:12.223Z
Chennai SSC Meetup 2018-08-13T22:34:50.603Z
Welcome to Kyiv SlateStarCodex 2018-08-13T21:15:17.002Z
Moscow SSC Meetup 2018-08-12T03:13:03.606Z
Brussels SSC Meetup 2018-08-12T03:11:30.209Z
Oslo SSC Meetup 2018-08-10T23:12:55.814Z
Sacramento SSC Meetup 2018-08-10T00:40:14.429Z
Columbus SSC Meetup 2018-08-09T21:18:29.975Z
Kiev SSC Meetup 2018-08-09T20:41:51.272Z
Sheffield SSC Meetup 2018-08-08T20:06:21.489Z
Phoenix SSC Meetup 2018-08-08T19:51:12.609Z


Comment by mingyuan on Cryonics signup guide #1: Overview · 2021-06-16T17:44:11.536Z · LW · GW

Thanks Josh, your comments have been informative and I'm glad you made them! A major thing that I think this reveals is that I personally am quite risk-averse — I'm willing to pay a premium for maybe-slightly-better perfusion even though that field is so murky, and for life insurance that won't just stop covering me. A maybe-related personality trait is low confidence, so like even if I believe the arguments for short timelines, I don't have enough confidence in that belief to take on (what I perceive to be) the risk of term insurance just based on that.

Also, I and the three other people who I've helped through this process so far could afford to add an extra  ~$150/month expense, so the significantly higher cost wasn't a major deterrent. If I were financially constrained I do expect I would have made different decisions.


I think you're right about most insurance companies being compatible with CI, and based on Oge's signup guide, it seems like most can be made compatible with Alcor as well. Looking at it now, I probably should have been clearer about that, but since it wasn't something I'd looked into in any depth, I didn't feel very comfortable writing about it. If you or someone else wanted to write in more detail about how exactly that works I'd be happy to add it to the sequence.


I also want to ask if you have any standby arrangements? I think that's a meaningful difference between signing up with CI vs Alcor, because as I said at some point in the sequence, ischemic time matters way more for preservation quality than what perfusion technique is used. (Like, if I lived in Ann Arbor, I would almost certainly sign up with CI no matter what.) Maybe this is just my intense risk-aversion showing again, but it seems to me that cryonics arrangements without standby arrangements might be nearly useless, and that's something I would worry about with CI.

Comment by mingyuan on Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021 · 2021-06-07T01:32:34.568Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I largely agree with lsusr. According to my mom (whose career has focused on second language acquisition and Chinese-American cultural exchange), basically no student gets past second year Chinese at a university level unless they're majoring it. Like, even business majors who plan to work in China. When I took university-level Chinese it really shocked me how much harder it was than other languages I'd learned – after nine months of five hours a week of quality university-level instruction, reading-wise I could barely understand books aimed at toddlers, and speaking-wise I could theoretically order food in a restaurant but wouldn't be able to understand any responses to what I said.

And it would be harder than other languages even if you were just learning to speak, but learning to read basically doubles the difficulty (if not more). My mom is quite fluent in speaking and listening – she worked for years as a Mandarin-English medical interpreter, and lived and worked in China (and Japan, which uses some Chinese characters) for a decade long before Google Translate existed – but she's almost entirely illiterate in Chinese. Many if not most people in the village where my dad grew up were illiterate as well. 

Point being, your question was whether it's worth it for you to learn (to read) Chinese, and I think the answer to that is no for almost anyone in almost any situation. Not because it wouldn't be great to know Chinese, but because the time investment is so shockingly huge.

Comment by mingyuan on Holidaying and purpose · 2021-06-07T00:17:52.191Z · LW · GW

Wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait we are IN THE SAME PLACE

Comment by mingyuan on Alcohol, health, and the ruthless logic of the Asian flush · 2021-06-05T16:13:54.003Z · LW · GW

This is awesome, I've been curious about Asian flush for ages but never put in the work to research it. Thanks!

Comment by mingyuan on MDP models are determined by the agent architecture and the environmental dynamics · 2021-06-02T16:36:49.806Z · LW · GW

Your link in the first sentence is broken; it should go to 

Comment by mingyuan on Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists · 2021-06-01T17:11:02.733Z · LW · GW

I don't feel like listening faster solves the same problem as having a transcript...

Also yeah, like the podcasters below mentioned, it's totally worth it to make transcripts. Just use 

Comment by mingyuan on What is the Risk of Long Covid after Vaccination? · 2021-06-01T06:13:38.336Z · LW · GW

This doesn't address the exact question you asked, but I think it's important to say. (But it's 1 AM, so I'm not going to say it very well.)

(I'm largely using the general 'you' here rather than specifically calling out OP.)

COVID has put us in a state of fear that doesn't always respond appropriately to new data. It has always been true that you can get sick from being around other people. In fact, it's always been true that you can contract an as-yet-uncurable chronic disease from being around other people.

Is your post-vaccination risk of contracting long COVID significantly higher than that baseline risk? For that matter, what actions do you take every day that have a higher risk of death than contracting COVID does? Do you drive?

How much do you value activities like indoor dining, or concerts? If you didn't really care about going to restaurants or concerts in the first place, then sure, maybe it's costless to continue avoiding them. But if concerts are one of the things you enjoy most in the world, that's a magnitude of sacrifice to your fear that I don't think it makes sense to continue making post-vaccination.

My model is that risk of getting seriously ill from COVID for someone in my demographic, after full vaccination, is zero for all practical purposes. And my point here is, there have always been viscerally terrifying tail risks, like splitting your lip and having your face devoured by flesh-eating bacteria, but fear of flesh-eating bacteria doesn't control your life. You might get seriously injured in a car accident, but if you live somewhere where cars are an everyday necessity, you still drive.

So yes, maybe there is some not-exactly-zero probability of contracting COVID and becoming chronically ill post-vaccination. But going by all of the quantitative models I've internalized over the past 15 months, that probability is still very close to zero, and in any case nowhere near high enough that you should continue avoiding activities because of it. 

You're probably just avoiding activities because you've become so used to it, and now you're putting an unreasonably high burden of proof on the question of whether you should do things that used to seem normal to you. Like, you used to do certain things, then you stopped doing them because of COVID. Now the threat of COVID has been neutralized by the vaccine, so logically you should go back to your Before Times state. But your system 1 doesn't really get this, because it's settled into a new normal where every activity is by default unsafe until proven otherwise. Consider that probably, now that you're vaccinated, all activities are almost exactly as safe as they were before COVID.

As I said this was not particularly well-argued. But I hope I got across the general point.

Comment by mingyuan on Update 2021-05-31 · 2021-05-31T15:44:16.843Z · LW · GW

Fixed! Thanks :)

Comment by mingyuan on Introducing Rational Animations · 2021-05-31T04:18:54.583Z · LW · GW

I don't watch videos but I just wanna say I love that cover art! Such a lot of meaning packed into one image!!

Comment by mingyuan on Aphantasia · 2021-05-29T04:25:02.077Z · LW · GW

I think it used to apply to me more – as a kid if people asked me something along the lines of "what did you do today?" I would automatically say "I don't know," and then if I thought they wanted a real answer, I would think for a bit. But I could almost always answer after thinking for a couple seconds.

I think part of your confusion comes from conflating experiential memory with verbal memory. In the essay, he also mentions that he's really good at remembering arbitrary sequences of digits; I presume that extends to things such as grocery lists, and possibly also intentions that he's formed. For me, I have very few memories of my childhood or even specific experiential memories of more recent years, but I have no trouble remembering what I need to do in a day.

(I do keep a LOT of lists and always have. But I have no idea if this is related.)

Comment by mingyuan on Aphantasia · 2021-05-28T16:54:16.331Z · LW · GW

Oh, and I also notice that despite my weak visual imagination, movie adaptations can still 'ruin' books for me, not exactly because they lock in a certain way that things look, but because they lock in the characters' personalities and the general vibe.

Comment by mingyuan on Aphantasia · 2021-05-28T16:49:45.958Z · LW · GW

I don't even know how to answer this because it's coming from a place that's so foreign to me. I have a quite weak visual imagination (not full-on aphantasia), and I've never heard a voice speaking words in my head when I read (although actually, now that I've listened to a lot of audiobooks, I can force this to happen briefly if I concentrate). But I've always enjoyed reading! To me, I guess I would say, words are just sort of fundamental? Like, the word itself, the shape of squiggles on the page, is the thing that has meaning, and I don't have to visualize anything beyond it to understand it. It's like the difference between reading a foreign language you're not that good at, where you still have to translate every thought into your native language to really understand it, versus reading in your native language, where there's no translation step.

It might be true, as quoted in Mo's comment below, that people with weak visual imaginations are less likely to enjoy extremely visual-description-heavy fiction like Lord of the Rings – I indeed found reading the LotR books mind-numbingly boring, borderline painful. But in almost all works there's a ton of content that can be enjoyed without imagining it into being: concepts, emotions, even most kinds of events. I also find myself very drawn to beautiful writing, wordplay, and just skillful use of language in general, and now that I think about it, this is probably why. Neat!

The same applies to nonfiction – building an understanding of the connections between concepts doesn't have to rest on any sort of visual framework. The concepts can just become connected, literally/physically, in the structure of your brain.

I do think that I would have struggled less with university-level physics and the related math if I had more of a visual imagination. It's quite hard to keep track of things when it all just feels like symbols you're manipulating; I imagine that being able to visualize things would have let me viscerally understand connection between the math and the physical systems being described. As it was I just sort of, knew explicitly that they were connected. But it was all very vague and confusing.

I hope this helps you understand the experience somewhat. Feel free to ask me followup questions.

Comment by mingyuan on Aphantasia · 2021-05-28T16:30:46.315Z · LW · GW


The slender, olive-skinned man brushed the golden locks out of his hazel eyes. He was so focused on preparing for the assassination that he burned his tongue on the scalding cuppa joe (hazelnut, light cream).

That becomes: There’s an assassin.

This resonates so hard for me! When writing fiction I've always felt a bit like I'm doing it wrong because I write almost solely about the characters' feelings, motivations, and internal monologuing. Visual descriptions are something I shoehorn in because I feel like I'm supposed to have them, and figuring out the blocking of a scene is always a nightmare (has this person stood up yet? how far away are they from the thing they need to go touch?) – it feels totally extraneous; I just want the characters to take the plot-relevant actions and not have to figure out where they're standing when they do it! God forbid I ever try to write a fight scene. That would not go well...

So yeah thanks for the link; I really like the essay!

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-05-28T16:17:51.001Z · LW · GW

No, Ray is almost certainly right. Everyone I talked to who lived with one exactly one other person (my sister and my mom, and lots of people with their romantic partners) had a way better time than everyone I know who lived in a group house, N=50+. (I can think of maybe one exception?) This is partly about it being easier to negotiate with just one other person, as mentioned in the post, but also just everything being less difficult with just one other person. It's easier to avoid them if you're feeling anti-social; it's easier to build routines alongside just one other person than with a bunch of unreliable housemates; it's easier to notice which of your social needs are not being met and seek out alternative ways to meet them, rather than feeling socially burned out by being around other people 24/7 and yet also not having your needs met.

Obviously I'm primarily talking about pairs of people who like and care about each other, like family members or romantic partners. However, I think some of the benefits would still apply even if it was a randomly assigned roommate. And maybe even still if it was someone you hated, because I think I'd rather live with one person I hated than with multiple people I hated. Not sure though.

In general I think the ability to choose who you interact with is what matters. Feelings of isolation come because you don't reach out to the people you'd like to interact with (maybe because of anxiety about reaching out, maybe because you don't have anyone you'd like to reach out to), but that's at least fixable. Whereas being in a situation where you're forced to interact with a bunch of people all the time whether you want to or not is harder to escape just by application of your own agency. I'd rather live alone and have to put in the activation energy to reach out to people, than live with others and feel totally trapped. Maybe there's such thing as an extrovert for whom having people around is just pretty much an unqualified good, but I don't think I know anyone like that.

Finally, I'll note that Ray's comment is coming from a place of experience – his house noticed quite early on that spending the pandemic together would be a bad idea, and Ray and his partner (who moved somewhere on their own), as well as C (who went to live on his own) seem to have had a pretty good time by their self-reports that I've heard.

Comment by mingyuan on #4: Introduction to life insurance for cryonics · 2021-05-22T16:02:08.534Z · LW · GW

As mentioned in the post, I'm working on the assumption that all costs double roughly every 20 years due to inflation. So the mid 2060s would be two doublings from now, so you'd multiply the current funding minimum of $80,000 by 4 = ~$320,000. Obviously that's just a rough estimate from a very simple model, but I hope it helps :)

Comment by mingyuan on My Journey to the Dark Side · 2021-05-11T22:30:46.708Z · LW · GW

I mean, not really? Everyone has told me that 'nutritionists do/believe it' is not a good reason to do/believe something. I'm also not saying that I stand behind 2000 calories per day; I'm saying that Jim says a lot of things about nutrition all the time and I want to know why.

Comment by mingyuan on My Journey to the Dark Side · 2021-05-11T20:31:50.566Z · LW · GW

Okay, I've heard you say "for most people, 2000 calories per day is a shortfall" and other nutrition-related claims like a hundred times (probably literally if secondhand "Jim says X about nutrition" counts), but unless is seriously failing me, you've never written about why you believe any of that. Which seems especially bad to me in a domain where most information is untrustworthy, and we all know that it's untrustworthy but most of us don't know how to figure what is true. I feel like I'm just supposed to believe you because you've said it so many times with so much conviction for so many years. Can you write a post or something?

Comment by mingyuan on Let's Go Back To Normal · 2021-05-07T18:26:41.850Z · LW · GW

While I'm not against this policy (I'm Chinese American and already sometimes wore surgical masks when sick), I expect your experience of the past year has given you a falsely inflated sense of the efficacy of masks. Yes, they definitely help prevent you from contracting airborne diseases, but a large part of the reduction in infectious disease transmission risk this year was due to the full battery of COVID restrictions, rather than just your own mask use. Like, flu rates were very low[1] because people were very isolated from one another, and so in any given crowded place, you'd be much less likely to encounter anyone who had the flu at all (plus of course, anyone infected would likely be wearing a mask). As things go more back to normal I'd be surprised if just wearing a mask allowed you to avoid getting sick all year, every year. But I guess it depends on the mask and how reliably you wear it?

[1] Flu deaths in the US dropped from ~30,000 in the two previous seasons, to 600 in the most recent season! (source)

Comment by mingyuan on How long would you wait to get Moderna/Pfizer vs J&J? · 2021-04-12T22:09:03.469Z · LW · GW

Reasonable; looking at it again, '0 and 1 are not probabilities' was not my true rejection at all. Mostly I was just surprised to see such an extremely good result from the vaccine that everyone seems to agree is worse.

Comment by mingyuan on How long would you wait to get Moderna/Pfizer vs J&J? · 2021-04-12T18:43:06.347Z · LW · GW

I jumped at the chance to get J&J even though I'm not a essential worker or anything. I think the disconnect between our intuitions is here:

People who can easily continue to guard against significant COVID risks for several weeks without much downside other than quality of life should wait several weeks for Pfizer or Moderna.

As was discussed a bunch in my post on lockdown, the quality of life & mental health impact can be really massive. A marginal month may not seem like a lot if you are really just doing totally fine in lockdown and don't have anything in particular you want to do, but if you are actively suffering all the time, another month feels like forever. Also, for me, waiting a month would mean that I would see my niece for the first time at 3 months old rather than 2 months, which is quite a big difference at that age.

Furthermore, I'm young and healthy, so getting a slightly less effective vaccine probably just shouldn't matter to me that much, when my risk was already so low to begin with. And I wouldn't be surprised if people who get J&J now can get moar vaccinated later (either a J&J booster shot or stacking an mRNA vaccine on top of J&J), so I'm not convinced that the choice I make right now matters that much.


Also I'm pretty skeptical that J&J provides 100% protection at any point, and your source did very little to convince me. 0 and 1 are not probabilities?

Comment by mingyuan on Covid 4/9: Another Vaccine Passport Objection · 2021-04-11T02:57:54.461Z · LW · GW

See, but they did know! 

Comment by mingyuan on Logan Strohl on exercise norms · 2021-04-02T01:53:37.458Z · LW · GW

Side note, my dance group was entirely made up of nerds. And in general I don't resonate with the nerd/jock dichotomy, like, at all. Though based on my sister's experience (in competitive tae kwon do) that may have to do with competitive vs non-competitive forms of exercise.

Comment by mingyuan on Logan Strohl on exercise norms · 2021-04-02T01:51:21.882Z · LW · GW

"Only do it if it's easy and you like it" doesn't seem as obviously wrong to me as it's supposed to sound. During the 6 years of my life when I had dance practice ~twice a week I never just decided I didn't want to show up, because I really liked going! In performances I would get this high where I wanted to just do every song straight through for the full hour (or however long), even though I always scheduled in rests for each person – and a lot of other people had this experience as well. Similarly, when I run on an elliptical I get to a point where I feel like I never want to stop. I push myself but I don't experience it as 'uncomfortable' subjectively – I might get sweaty and out of breath and be sore the next day, but I like that. The sweaty out of breath feeling is an exhilarating glow, and the soreness feels rewarding and kinda nice.

tl;dr exercise genuinely doesn't have to be unpleasant??

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-12T19:51:00.896Z · LW · GW

God, life would have been so much better if I could drive. I could have gone home to my family. I could have done so many things! But extremely unfortunately I spent 2019 and the latter half of 2018 cultivating a pathological fear of cars, and specifically me driving them. Agh.

Anyway I'm glad you're satisfied with what you did, that's really good! Definitely watch out for that agoraphobia – I've heard a lot of people express that same sentiment and I sincerely hope we don't all end up socially crippled for the rest of time. Do you ever have those totally normal dreams where you're.... doing anything at all.... and then you realize that no one is wearing masks and why are you so close to them? Alas.

Comment by mingyuan on Responses and Testimonies on EA Growth · 2021-03-10T23:26:40.598Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the post! It's cool to see people updating their beliefs in public :) Also you refer to me as 'he' but I'm a girl.

Comment by mingyuan on Why Hasn't Effective Altruism Grown Since 2015? · 2021-03-09T22:54:49.848Z · LW · GW

Oh yeah that too. Rob with the assist!

Comment by mingyuan on Why Hasn't Effective Altruism Grown Since 2015? · 2021-03-09T20:41:47.656Z · LW · GW

See also Scott Alexander's response on Reddit.

Comment by mingyuan on Why Hasn't Effective Altruism Grown Since 2015? · 2021-03-09T20:41:10.219Z · LW · GW

Other people have already replied well to the central point of this post, so I'll say something different: I think you misunderstand the relationship between Good Ventures and Open Phil. You frame it as:

  • EA finances stopped growing because Good Ventures stopped growing
  • Good Ventures stopped growing because the wills and whims of billionaires are inscrutable?

This isn't how it works. Disclaimer: I have worked for both GiveWell and Open Philanthropy in the past, but it's been more than two years since I was involved at all and also I was mostly, like, an intern-level person the whole time. But to be safe with confidentiality stuff I'll just draw on public information. From Wikipedia:

Good Ventures plans to spend out the majority of its money before the death of Moskovitz and Tuna, rather than be a foundation in perpetuity. Most of the money for the foundation comes from the stock Moskovitz obtained as a Facebook co-founder. They are working closely with charity evaluator GiveWell to determine how to spend their money wisely. At GiveWell's recommendation, Good Ventures is not currently spending a significant share of the couple's wealth, but they plan to up their spending to 5% of the foundation's wealth every year once GiveWell has built sufficient capacity to help allocate that level of money.

The key points here being:

  • Good Ventures is spending at way less than full capacity because GiveWell/Open Phil* told them to. They could clearly be spending more.
  • GiveWell/Open Phil told them not to spend more because they didn't know how to usefully spend that money.
  • Good Ventures is a foundation. This means** it has an endowment funded by Moskovitz's personal fortune, analogous to the Gates Foundation or the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. So it doesn't really make sense to talk about a foundation 'growing'. I guess the endowment can grow if it's accumulating interest faster than it's being spent down, but that's different from what I think you meant.

Bottom line being, funding from Good Ventures has never been the bottleneck when it comes to money moved. The bottleneck is knowing how to usefully allocate that money. It's not as simple as "you can always give more money to bednets", because Open Phil / GiveWell / Good Ventures doesn't like to provide more than 50% of the funding for any organization. (The reason being that there are a bunch of bad things that happen if an organization becomes primarily dependent on any one funder; I didn't find a specific GW/OP blog post on this but I can elaborate if someone asks.)

ETA: Two relevant blog posts by Holden here and here.


*Yes I know GiveWell and Open Phil are separate now but I don't think that's relevant to my point

**I'm not an expert on what exactly a foundation is so this is just my sense; people can correct me if I'm wrong

Comment by mingyuan on Covid 3/4: Declare Victory and Leave Home · 2021-03-04T23:26:31.002Z · LW · GW

You need to change the sharing settings on the application form for microgrants. Also, great post as always, you're my hero :D

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-04T21:59:55.870Z · LW · GW

This is my favorite take/summary. Author endorses.

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-02T06:25:43.909Z · LW · GW

I mean, this question is why I wrote the post in the first place. It's not hyper-altruism. I think it's an inadequate equilibrium, although I don't know that calling it that actually explains anything. There was a lot of stuff at play here that is hard to write about because it's sort of nebulous and social and I don't remember all the details that well. Perhaps someone else in my bubble could take a stab at it?

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-02T00:14:17.861Z · LW · GW

This is definitely not what happened, but maybe a related thing happened. The Wikipedia article talks about aiming to minimize conflict / agree at all costs, which is very much not what happened in my house (Habryka is a conflict maximizer! always argue!!). There was definitely some measure of wanting to avoid conflict, but only insofar as people don't like hurting each other, not because of conformity pressure. I think the more important factor was fear of the unknown / pressure to accommodate the most risk-averse person in the bubble (which I'm ashamed to say was me).

The more interesting thing to explore here would be how my bubble and some of the surrounding community ended up in this inadequate equilibrium, where it would be better for all of us to take more risk, but we can't coordinate to do so.

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T22:54:55.534Z · LW · GW

Justin Corwin (obituary, LW account), quoted in this post. I'm sorry about your grandmother. And about Justin, and that death exists in general :(

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T19:18:51.628Z · LW · GW

Yes, 100%. We started with ~10 people in the house, and gained and lost various people over the course of the year. There were greatly varying levels of trust among the pairwise relationships – the rough categories being (1) me and my partner, and some other sets of best friends, (2) long-time housemates, (3) newer housemates, and (4) a totally random squatter who we worked really hard to kick out before shit got real. That is just so much to negotiate.

And then if you have two ~10-person bubbles that want to collide, with the same problem of varying levels of trust, everyone's feelings get involved, and so you're like, "well, I miss hugging my friend, but there's no way it's worth dragging 20 people into it." And someone sends you their microCOVID spreadsheet but they admit they haven't been filling it out reliably, and neither have your housemates been reporting their microCOVIDs reliably, and you just throw up your hands and give up forever.

And also, there was a time when having 9 housemates meant that it didn't feel important to seek out other interaction, and then that was no longer true and I didn't adjust. I haven't even been video calling friends this year, even though I always feel good after I do. So there's definitely a measure of social inertia there that has nothing to do with fear of COVID.

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T19:01:49.589Z · LW · GW

Maybe I used the term wrong? I meant tail risks in terms of outcomes, not model uncertainty. Like, if we had all been looser (and honestly if we had all just gotten COVID at the outset) that would have been great in a lot of ways, but what if one of us – say, you or I – got long COVID or died? Was this year worth it if it prevented that?

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T18:46:59.695Z · LW · GW

One person moved to a cabin (pretty far from things but close enough for grocery delivery) and had no interaction whatsoever except with their partner, who until recently had no interaction with anyone at all either. Another person wears a positive-pressure suit for every interaction, including in some parts of their house.

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T18:44:09.814Z · LW · GW

Yes! This is an important factor that I had written into a previous version. If I'd known at the outset that it would last a year I think (/hope) I would have made very different decisions. As it was the goalposts kept moving just a little further out, so it always felt like "can I keep doing this for 1-2 more months" rather than "would I reflectively want to do this for a whole year".

Comment by mingyuan on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T06:07:28.718Z · LW · GW

Very fair reaction. I should note that among the people in my house, I have done the fewest things by a fair margin, so this is not exactly representative – although I am also not the most locked-down person I know, by a long shot. Of the people in my house, most have traveled in the past year, including internationally, but day to day we mostly just... see each other, work (with people in our bubble) and sometimes walk around. Our bubble expanded at one point, though it's still only ~12 people, since we lost a lot of housemates over the course of the year.

My mom and sister have been under a similar level of lockdown this whole time, though that makes more sense since my mom is in her 60s and also they had no friends in the first place and are really happy just chilling together with their bird.

(Honestly many of us have a not-that-mentally-okay year, but I wanted to steer away from that topic in this post because it's A Lot.)

Yeah IDEK man. Shit's cray.

Comment by mingyuan on #3: Choosing a cryonics provider · 2021-03-01T02:43:50.037Z · LW · GW

Yeah this is a very good point that didn't feel like it fit neatly into the sequence proper, especially since I want the sequence to be accessible to more than just hardcore LWers. I did discuss AI timelines a bit in an appendix but didn't make this particular point.

Comment by mingyuan on Suspected reason that kids usually hate vegetables · 2021-02-28T05:02:17.712Z · LW · GW

I grew up in an American household eating home-cooked hybrid-but-largely-Chinese-influenced food. Basically every meal was a mix of protein (meat, tofu, or eggs) and vegetables over rice, which turns out to be plenty to work with. The thing that's always been weird to me about American food is that they serve you a giant slab of meat as your meal, and then everything else is sides, which leads to the whole "eat your vegetables" problem in the first place. In Chinese food the meat is always cut relatively small, and sometimes tiny. It's so mixed in with the vegetables that you wouldn't even consider eating the meat without the vegetables.

Also FWIW I prefer cooked vegetables over raw vegetables and always have. So your discovery is not universalizable.

Comment by mingyuan on Anna and Oliver discuss Children and X-Risk · 2021-02-28T04:42:15.682Z · LW · GW

I looked at the 2020 Forbes list of most powerful women (which was the first thing that came up when I googled "powerful women") and spent about an hour total investigating whether they have children. The Forbes list had 100 women; I was able to find probably-reliable information about children for 95 of them (many of them are very private about their personal lives, which is reasonable). Of those, 25 were childless, or 26%.

This source indicates that 85% of women in the US have children in their lifetime – a lot of the women in question weren't from the US, but I'm not putting that much effort into the investigation, so close enough. So that's 26% of successful women being childless, vs the US average of 15%. Also (cherry-picking alert), out of the top three women on the list, two were childless (Angela Merkel and Kamala Harris). 

Comment by mingyuan on Anna and Oliver discuss Children and X-Risk · 2021-02-27T23:28:26.448Z · LW · GW

Yes, thank you for pointing out the gender difference! As a woman working on x-risk and dating other people working on x-risk, I'm terrified by the stories of people like Laura Fermi and Clara Haber. Both were promising scientists in their own right, but once they married their famous scientist husbands, their own careers were abruptly ended. Laura felt like her life had become a footnote to Enrico's, was expected to take care of the children, and felt demeaned at social gatherings, and it wasn't until after her husband's death that she achieved any measure of recognition in her own right (as a writer). Clara was miserable and felt stifled in her marriage. From Wikipedia:

It has always been my attitude that a life has only been worth living if one has made full use of all one's abilities and tried to live out every kind of experience human life has to offer. It was under that impulse, among other things, that I decided to get married at that time... The life I got from it was very brief...and the main reasons for that was Fritz's oppressive way of putting himself first in our home and marriage, so that a less ruthlessly self-assertive personality was simply destroyed.

She had a son essentially against her will and ended up committing suicide – though to be fair, she had a lot of issues and it's not clear exactly why she killed herself.

(Note that the above is based on imperfect recollections of biographies I've read where these women played quite small parts, so the claims might not be exactly accurate, but that's the gist.)

Anyway I read those stories and I'm like, fuck no. I could so easily see that being me, especially if I lived a hundred years ago. Luckily my primary partner is Habryka so I'm not in danger of being pressured to have children, but also, those things are not unrelated. I'M ON YOUR SIDE OLI RIDE OR DIE

Comment by mingyuan on Are there good negotiation classes? · 2021-02-24T20:23:21.427Z · LW · GW

I have no idea about an IRL analog of what Malfoy has, but I'd recommend the book The Charisma Myth (in addition to, not instead of lsusr's suggestions), and all types of acting, not just improv. Improv may be great for overcoming shyness and other mental blockers, but acting from a script and inhabiting a character lets you try on vastly different ways of experiencing the world. Playing a powerful and/or confident character won't teach you negotiation skills, but if done right it will teach you the body language of a powerful person and what it feels like to have that mindset.

I mention this because people are really into recommending improv, but I personally have a crippling fear of improv even though I love being onstage. If that applies to you too (the general 'you', not just shenkev), then don't think that all of the benefits of it have to be closed to you – you can get a lot of the same out of normal acting.

Comment by mingyuan on Neck abacus · 2021-02-18T21:42:40.133Z · LW · GW

People have those tally rings that you twist to increment the count (example) and those handheld/keychain clickers (example), both of which seem easier to read and use than an abacus (which most people aren't used to), but which also have the downside that clicking and twisting things are too fun. It makes sense to me that necklaces are less popular, because you by default can't see them, and people counting things often want to know what number they've reached.

Comment by mingyuan on A great hard day · 2021-02-11T02:47:28.486Z · LW · GW


Comment by mingyuan on How do you optimize productivity with respect to your menstrual cycle? · 2021-02-08T20:58:29.076Z · LW · GW

I've been on hormonal birth control (levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol, 0.15 mg/0.03 mg) for about five years, and for about two of those years I (on the advice of my doctor) either took the sugar pills every 3 months or just didn't take any placebo pills at all. During that time I was unable to notice any cycle at all, physical or emotional. It seems like you may have already tried this, but if you haven't, it might be worth looking into.

Then again, my cycle was never unmanageable even before that – plenty of discomfort, but no vomiting or violent mood changes – so this isn't a recommendation for a miracle cure or anything. But FWIW I never had any noticeable side effects from this medication either (possibly barring sharp downswings in mood when I missed a dose and was in a bad place anyway).

Sorry I can't be more helpful here! I really wanted to be, but my own problems in this domain have never been that severe, and my sister... has never solved hers. Good luck <3

Comment by mingyuan on Cryonics signup guide #1: Overview · 2021-02-05T20:47:55.806Z · LW · GW

Thank you for looking into that! I couldn't figure out the answer just by looking at the site.

Comment by mingyuan on #4.2: Cryonics-friendly life insurance carriers · 2021-02-05T20:47:21.058Z · LW · GW

It shouldn't be a problem due to Alcor's buy-back agreement (essentially Alcor agrees to relinquish control of any insurance policy within a month of your written request).

Comment by mingyuan on Reflections on the cryonics sequence · 2021-02-05T02:43:42.388Z · LW · GW

Thanks for your feedback! But I think I stand by the choice to do what I did with the sequence. I said in the very first post that I was writing for "people who already think signing up for cryonics is a good idea but are putting it off because they're not sure what they actually need to do next", and I think having that narrower mission let me write a better sequence overall. 

My reasoning was that there's already been a whole lot written on the 'why' and 'whether' of cryonics, and as someone who's not particularly passionate about cryonics, I wasn't the best person to make the case for it. I also didn't want to use emotional anecdotes to sway readers into signing up for cryonics when I'm not totally sure myself whether it's worthwhile. 

Comment by mingyuan on Reflections on the cryonics sequence · 2021-02-05T02:23:34.250Z · LW · GW

Oh yay, that's exactly what I was hoping to accomplish! Good luck!