Is there something like a "meta-encyclopedia"? 2020-06-11T12:16:08.423Z
Meetup : Fifth Buenos Aires LessWrong meetup 2014-08-04T22:00:08.749Z
[link] Why Psychologists' Food Fight Matters 2014-08-01T07:52:38.604Z
[link] [poll] Future Progress in Artificial Intelligence 2014-07-09T13:51:49.243Z
[link] Nick Beckstead on improving disaster shelters to increase the chances of recovery from a global catastrophe 2014-02-19T17:27:04.303Z
[link] Psychologists strike a blow for reproducibility 2013-11-28T05:26:46.988Z
[Link] "A Long-run Perspective on Strategic Cause Selection and Philanthropy" by Nick Beckstead and Carl Shulman 2013-11-05T18:27:04.851Z
[link] "The Survival of Humanity" 2013-09-14T15:19:37.300Z
[video] "Transhuman", featuring Sandberg and Bostrom 2013-06-16T18:59:57.994Z
[link] Join Wall Street. Save the World 2013-05-31T16:49:23.151Z
[Paper] On the 'Simulation Argument' and Selective Scepticism 2013-05-18T18:31:10.901Z
[Link] 2012 Winter Intelligence Conference videos available 2013-04-29T20:01:45.806Z
[Link] Values Spreading is Often More Important than Extinction Risk 2013-04-07T05:14:44.154Z
Anki decks by LW users 2013-04-02T17:50:16.480Z
[Link] Tomasik's "Quantify with Care" 2013-02-23T13:52:10.309Z
CEV: a utilitarian critique 2013-01-26T16:12:20.846Z
[Link] TEDx talk of Anders Sandberg on the Fermi "paradox" 2013-01-01T20:52:18.972Z
Meetup : Fourth Buenos Aires Less Wrong meetup 2012-12-29T22:47:23.224Z
[link] Interview with Anders Sandberg on how to make a difference through research and how to choose a research topic 2012-12-01T18:25:01.174Z
GiveWell and the Centre for Effective Altruism are recruiting 2012-11-19T23:53:24.535Z
[Link] One in five American adults say they are atheist, agnostic or "nothing in particular" 2012-10-10T23:45:17.260Z
Meetup : Third Buenos Aires Meetup: 2 June 2012 4:00PM 2012-05-26T07:47:09.998Z
Meetup : Buenos Aires meetup: Saturday, February 25th, 4pm 2012-02-17T17:57:06.548Z
Buenos Aires meetup: Saturday, May 14th, 3pm 2011-05-13T21:15:01.081Z


Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Anki decks by LW users · 2021-03-03T19:16:28.920Z · LW · GW

Thanks, but this post is no longer updated and the link is not broken on my website. (If you think that's confusing, despite the notice at the top, I may consider replacing its contents with just a link, though retaining the content may make it more discoverable.)

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2021-01-02T12:16:15.157Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the update!

chaotic History of Economic Analysis

The word 'chaotic' was an adjective I chose to describe the book's content, rather than part of the book's title. :)

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Real-Life Examples of Prediction Systems Interfering with the Real World (Predict-O-Matic Problems) · 2020-12-08T11:39:31.700Z · LW · GW

Related to the ReplicationMarkets example: on Metaculus, there is an entire category of self-resolving questions, where resolution is at least in part determined by how users predict the question will resolve. We have seen at least one instance of manipulation of such questions. And there is even a kind of meta-self-resolving question, asking users to predict what the sentiment of Metaculus users will be with regard to self-resolving questions.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on AGI Predictions · 2020-11-21T20:11:32.752Z · LW · GW

The probability I would assign to #8 intuitively is about 0,41. Math based on my other three predictions yields (doing the calculation now) 0.476. I am going to predict the math output rather than my intuition.

I think the correct response to this realization is not to revise your final answer so as to make it consistent with the first three. It is to revise all four answers so that they are maximally intuitive, subject to the constraint that they be jointly consistent. Which answer comes last is just an artifact of the order of presentation, so it isn't a rational basis for privileging some answers over others.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Embedded Interactive Predictions on LessWrong · 2020-11-21T12:19:11.496Z · LW · GW
Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on 2020 Election: Prediction Markets versus Polling/Modeling Assessment and Postmortem · 2020-11-19T18:06:05.258Z · LW · GW

The contracts are denominated in USD, and they pay in that currency. But you trade on margin, and the collateral can be in any currency (crypto or fiat). In your example, you get back the BTC plus 15% of what that BTC was worth in USD when you made the trade. 

Incidentally, TRUMPFEB is now trading at 0.16 (i.e. implied 16% chance that Trump is president next February). This looks insane to me (and I have bet accordingly). I'd be curious if you or others have further thoughts on what might be going on.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on 2020 Election: Prediction Markets versus Polling/Modeling Assessment and Postmortem · 2020-11-19T16:33:02.962Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand your argument, given that FTX allows traders to keep balances in both USD and BTC, but in any case historically FTX prices have been in line with Betfair/PredictIt prices, so I doubt this consideration is relevant.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Bet On Biden · 2020-11-08T17:28:10.040Z · LW · GW

I'm too lazy to look it up, but I did research this a couple of weeks ago and found that 538 had indeed outperformed the markets both in 2008 and 2016 (I wasn't able to find data for 2012). This is not very informative, though, since it's just a couple of cases. Much better is to look at the state-level predictions and use brier scores as a measure of forecasting performance.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Bet On Biden · 2020-10-20T17:03:23.478Z · LW · GW

man do I wish that there was just one large market with minimal fees

Such a market exists, though unfortunately it is restricted to countries where most LW users are not citizens of.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Bet On Biden · 2020-10-18T12:53:34.823Z · LW · GW

Only the first article in the comment is by Silver, on whose expertise the original poster is basing his recommendation. That article doesn't discuss mail-in ballots or voter suppression, and in fact his main point is that the time remaining until election day (almost three months when the article was written) combined with uncertainties due to Covid-19 meant that the race was still open back then. Those considerations have much more limited force at present, when only 16 days remain, and Biden's lead has widened considerably. 

If you've been at all listening to Silver recently, you'll know that he thinks his model probably underestimates Biden's chances. This shouldn't be surprising, since as Silver acknowledges, in this new version of the model he has made a special effort to build conservative assumptions into it.

In any case, I would encourage people hesitant to bet for Biden to resist the temptation of "throwing in a bunch of considerations" for why the models may be wrong, and instead try to calculate what the correct forecast should be in light of those considerations. For example, if you think mail-in ballots will be a big factor, try to estimate the magnitude of this effect.

Following my own advice, I just built a simple Guesstimate model of the impact of mail voting on the popular vote. I created the model very quickly, so if anyone spots any errors, please mention them below. And if you think some of the parameters should be different, simply copy the model and adjust those parameters to your satisfaction. Note that the effect of "rejected" in-person ballots is not modeled. This effect favors Biden, since a greater proportion of Trump votes will be in person, and hence susceptible to being "rejected" (i.e., not cast due to failure to bring an ID, long lines, inability to find a polling station, etc).

ETA: The upshot of the model is that mail voting shrinks the expect popular vote gap between Biden and Trump by about 2%. If we assume that the electoral college gives Trump a ~2% popular vote advantage, the model implies a drop in Biden's chances of winning the election from 87% to about 79%. [I modified the model and improved some of the estimates, and now the effect is less than 1%.]

(Disclosure: I have bet a total of USD 12k on Biden, mostly back when his odds where roughly equal with Trump's.)

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values · 2020-10-07T12:18:42.780Z · LW · GW

The book is dedicated "for Peter, who convinced me". Maybe that mysterious Peter is the ultimate cause of Christian's interest in Al alignment and his decision to write a book about it?

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Forecasting Newsletter: September 2020. · 2020-10-02T11:50:24.312Z · LW · GW

Makes sense! Thanks for the explanation.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Forecasting Newsletter: September 2020. · 2020-10-01T13:27:44.875Z · LW · GW

a frustratingly well-paywalled, yet exhaustive, complete and informative overview of the IARPA's FOCUS tournament

Since you quote from a section that is behind the paywall, I assume you have access to the article. If so, could you make it available? Or just send it to me ( and I'll upload it to my site and post a link to it here and on LW. Thanks!

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on How to set up foot pedals · 2020-08-24T13:22:32.340Z · LW · GW

Thanks for writing this—just a couple of days ago I thought it might be a good idea to get food pedals.

Since you use Karabiner, have you considered using goku to create "complex modifications"? It might help you make your keyboard more ergonomic and hence ease your wrist pain. I personally like to use the spacebar as a modifier key, and control the arrow keys with spacebar-j / k / l / i. You can also set spacebar-a / s / d / f to delete letter/word forward/backward. I actually have hundreds of modifications, but these are amongst the most useful.

Also, you may already know this, but just in case: on Gmail, you can enable 'auto-advance' under preferences/advanced, and then use 'e' instead of '[', which is easier to reach on the keyboard (so perhaps that pedal is best used for some other function).

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on What would be a good name for the view that the value of our decisions is primarily determined by how they affect causally-disconnected regions of the multiverse? · 2020-08-10T13:02:17.486Z · LW · GW


Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on I'm looking for research looking at the influence of fiction on changing elite/public behaviors and opinions · 2020-08-09T12:16:22.733Z · LW · GW
Also it is good that you had here an example of something that a lot of people would view as a negative case (making the invention of the hydrogen bomb faster).

There's also the example of a work without which the Russian Revolution, and the subsequent deaths of tens of millions of people in famines and mass killings, may not have occurred. But until you mentioned it, I hadn't realized that fiction appears to be more often credited with having a positive than a negative influence, whereas for philosophy the reverse seems to be the case. Would be interesting to move beyond impressions and come up with a more rigorous way of testing this.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on I'm looking for research looking at the influence of fiction on changing elite/public behaviors and opinions · 2020-08-08T12:57:03.445Z · LW · GW

Some examples (I'm considering fiction generally and not just written fiction):

  • The film The Day After was seen by 100 million Americans and was instrumental in changing Reagan’s nuclear policy.
    • «President Ronald Reagan watched the film several days before its screening, on November 5, 1983. He wrote in his diary that the film was "very effective and left me greatly depressed," and that it changed his mind on the prevailing policy on a "nuclear war". The film was also screened for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A government advisor who attended the screening, a friend of Meyer's, told him "If you wanted to draw blood, you did it. Those guys sat there like they were turned to stone." Four years later, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed and in Reagan's memoirs he drew a direct line from the film to the signing.» (Wikipedia)
    • «Director Meyer and writer Hume produced The Day After to support nuclear disarmament with the ‘grandiose notion that this movie would unseat Ronald Reagan’, and the nuclear freeze groups heavily exploited the ABC movie as a propaganda.» (Hänni, A chance for a propaganda coup?)
  • Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon deeply influenced Edward Teller, whose views about the Soviet Union were central in his efforts to persuade the US to develop the hydrogen bomb.
  • The short documentary film If you love this planet influenced Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau.
  • The mini-series Holocaust motivated the abolition of the statute of limitations for war crimes in Germany:
    • «In 1978 the major breakthrough into general consciousness of US citizens came with the showing on prime-time television of a four-part series simply entitled Holocaust, which was watched by nearly 100 million Americans. The fictional drama that followed the lives of a Jewish family, exposed to the full horrors of the Holocaust, and an SS man who rose to a leading position in the implementation of the extermination programme, captured the imagination in ways that scholarly literature could never do. Jewish organizations maximized the subsequent publicity opportunities presented by the success of the series to spread awareness of the Holocaust still further, both in Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
      In West Germany a year later the showing of the series was a sensation. Holocaust was watched by around 20 million viewers (around half of the West German viewing population), who were transfixed by the personalized and highly emotional dramatic depiction of persecution and extermination. People empathized with the victims and recognized the monumentality of the crime as they had never done before. ‘A nation is shocked’ was the verdict of one scholarly analysis of the impact of the film.“ ‘Holocaust has shaken up post-Hitler Germany in a way that German intellectuals have been unable to do,’ commented the widely read weekly Der Spiegel. More than three decades after the end of the war an American film, criticized by some as reducing the destruction of the Jews to the level of a ‘soap opera’, had opened up the sense of national guilt. The following year the Federal Parliament (the Bundestag) abolished the statute of limitations on war crimes, permitting further legal prosecution of perpetrators of the Holocaust. The film was widely seen as playing a significant role in the decision.» (Ian Kershaw, The Global Age, ch. 8)
  • Nikolai Chernyshevsky's What is to be done had a more profound influence on Lenin than even Marx's Kapital, and is plausibly a causal antecedent to the Russian Revolution.
Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Limits of Current US Prediction Markets (PredictIt Case Study) · 2020-07-14T14:15:08.782Z · LW · GW

To reasonably conclude that PredictIt's limits are "limits of prediction markets"—as your title asserts—you need to show either that the other existing prediction markets also exhibit these limits, or that there is a fundamental theoretical reason for expecting such limits to be exhibited by any prediction market. As far as I can tell, you do neither. (You do say that «similar analysis is applicable to any [prediction market]», but you never justify this assertion. In fact, of the six problems you note, I think the only one that may be plausibly claimed to be inherent to prediction markets is #4, and even that one may be potentially solvable.)

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Cost/Benefit analysis of School Closures in the US · 2020-07-12T21:27:22.068Z · LW · GW

Of course genetics isn't everything. This is recognized in the third law of behavioral genetics. Researchers who rely on twin studies do not assume otherwise.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Cost/Benefit analysis of School Closures in the US · 2020-07-12T14:16:24.790Z · LW · GW

The post addresses this worry:

you might worry about a correlation/causation problem with that kind of statement. However, there have also been several twin studies that help eliminate this bias.

There is, however, another worry unaddressed by those studies, which wolajacy raises in their comment. This is the debate between the 'human capital' and 'signaling' theories of education, covered extensively in Bryan Caplan's book, The case against education. Even if years of education cause—rather than correlate with—increased quality of life and length of life for individual people, reducing years of education for the population as a whole may not reduce those measures much if signaling is the main causal mechanism.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Something about the Pinker Cancellation seems Suspicious · 2020-07-11T01:15:53.220Z · LW · GW

Thanks for answering my question. I'd personally assign a ~5% chance [EDIT: on reflection, perhaps closer to 10%] to that hypothesis. If you can think of a way to operationalize our disagreement, I'd be interested in arranging a bet.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Something about the Pinker Cancellation seems Suspicious · 2020-07-10T14:02:01.751Z · LW · GW
The one that seems most likely to me is Pinker preemptively canceling himself to inoculate against future attempts. I don't think it's outlandish. And I think it is quite possible that Pinker has some Machiavelli in him.

What's your credence in this hypothesis?

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Does the Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (self-)identify as an EA-aligned organization? · 2020-07-04T15:07:47.758Z · LW · GW
That would be because they disagree with the consensus in EA about what constitutes 'the most impactful,' 'the greatest welfare,' and/or 'rigorous reasoning.'

I said that the belief must be reached from welfarist premises and rigorous reasoning, not from what the organization believes are welfarist premises and rigorous reasoning.

If they were sufficient, any NPO that could identify as an EA-aligned organization would do so.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. And it seems clear to me that lots of nonprofit orgs would not classify as EA orgs given my proposed criterion (note the clarification above).

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Does the Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (self-)identify as an EA-aligned organization? · 2020-07-03T15:10:59.677Z · LW · GW
I think it would be correct to classify it entirely as an x-risk org and not as an EA org. I don't think it does any EA-style analysis of what it should work on that is not captured under x-risk analysis, and I think that people working to do things like, say, fight factory farming, should never expect support from BERI (via the direct work BERI does).

I think it's worth noting that an org can be an EA org even if it focuses exclusively on one cause area, such as x-risk reduction. What seems to matter is (1) that such a focus was chosen because interventions in that area are believed to be the most impactful, and (2) that this belief was reached from (a) welfarist premises and (b) rigorous reasoning of the sort one generally associates with EA.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Is there something like a "meta-encyclopedia"? · 2020-06-27T00:15:29.597Z · LW · GW

Another example I just discovered: Wikipedia classifies Quillette as an unreliable source; by contrast, Vox, The Nation, Mother Jones are all considered reliable sources. I don't often read Quillette, but my sense is that a criterion that generates this classification can't be defended as unbiased.

Whether a source is classified as reliable or unreliable can shape the content of Wikipedia articles in major ways, because only statements backed up by sources deemed reliable are admissible. If the list of reliable sources is skewed in a particular direction, so will be the articles.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-26T23:45:22.366Z · LW · GW

There's also a similar question on Polymarket, a new prediction market. (Note that the Metaculus question is conditional on the NYT publishing a story on Scott, whereas the Polymarket is unconditional.)

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks · 2020-06-26T23:30:11.508Z · LW · GW

When Eliezer and others talk about "civilizational inadequacy", they generally refer to something much broader than the United States. Eliezer mentions the example of Japan's monetary policy, for instance. He also contrasts the civilizational inadequacy thesis with "the view that in general, on most issues, the average opinion of humanity will be a better and less biased guide to the truth than my own judgment." (emphasis added) And he relies (I think) on that thesis to draw conclusions about how he expects humanity to handle AI risk; such an inference wouldn't work if the thesis was restricted to the prevailing culture or institutions of a particular country. At the very least, if usage deviates from this established meaning I think this should be made clear.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks · 2020-06-26T15:38:05.733Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand your response. Yes, the series of updates is clearly focused on the United States, but your claim is that "civilization" explains why the US handled Covid-19 so poorly. Since human civilization is a factor present in all countries in the world, the fact that other countries handled Covid-19 very differently constitutes evidence against the "civilizational inadequacy" hypothesis. That your post wasn't focused on these other countries seems irrelevant.

Comment by Pablo_Stafforini on [deleted post] 2020-06-26T13:04:07.810Z

Thanks. I'm not sure how to implement those suggestions on Wordpress, but I'll add them to the list of possible improvements.

Comment by Pablo_Stafforini on [deleted post] 2020-06-25T14:22:49.561Z

I maintain EA Blogs. Although this is tangential to the original question, if anyone has suggestions on either additional blogs to include or possible general improvements, please contact me or leave a comment below.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-23T13:35:21.251Z · LW · GW

Metaculus question: Will the New York Times doxx Scott Alexander?

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-23T10:38:29.392Z · LW · GW

As a side note, I strongly recommend the uBlacklist extension Mati mentions for preventing toxic websites from appearing on your search results (e.g. a certain "rational" wiki that writes cruel stuff about people they dislike).

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Using a memory palace to memorize a textbook. · 2020-06-19T14:45:18.660Z · LW · GW

Great post.

Gwern points to expert opinion that visual thinking ability might be second only to IQ in terms of intellectual importance.

Do you happen to remember the source for this? A quick Google search didn't help.

EDIT: Found it (I think):

an emphasis on spatial reasoning & visualization ability was one of the reasons behind SMPY choosing to use SAT-M for screening, as one of the theses is that, after general intelligence, visuospatial reasoning (as opposed to the more academically-prized glibness & verbal ability) may be the next most important requirement for major STEM achievement.
Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Is there something like a "meta-encyclopedia"? · 2020-06-18T15:30:53.784Z · LW · GW

This is my anecdotal impression as a long-time Wikipedia editor (I started contributing in 2003). I can't offer concrete evidence other than my testimony, because this impression was formed in the course of observing subtle instances of bias on countless occasions, rather than encountering any one egregious incident. (Though on reflection I can cite two not-so-subtle examples illustrative of the phenomenon I have in mind: first, the labelling of cryonics as "quackery"; and secondly, the blacklisting of Econlib.)

The biases I noticed are in the left-wing and "skeptical" directions (meaning by the latter something like what Eliezer calls "traditional rationality", as opposed to the "Bayesian rationality" folks in the rationalist and EA communities generally endorse). Think of it as Wikipedia moving slightly in the direction of RationalWiki.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Is there something like a "meta-encyclopedia"? · 2020-06-11T12:25:21.441Z · LW · GW

I just found that such a resource exists for philosophy, in case it is of interest to others: Meta-Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

On reflection, I guess it makes sense that the philosophers would be among the first to "go meta".

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Are there good ways to find expert reviews of popular science books? · 2020-06-09T15:25:42.462Z · LW · GW

Red Pen Reviews does something like this for health and nutrition books. I am not aware of similar initiatives for books in other scientific fields.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Most reliable news sources? · 2020-06-06T23:47:15.452Z · LW · GW

I like FiveThirtyEight, but it's not the sort of publication you can refer to for "what happened in the past 3 days" (except for very specific events like 'how much Trump's popularity changed in the intervening period').

I second the Financial Times recommendation.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Nihilism doesn't matter · 2020-05-22T17:09:20.302Z · LW · GW

This argument has long been known, and much discussed. See e.g. Jacob Ross, Rejecting ethical deflationism and William MacAskill, The infectiousness of nihilism.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-05-17T17:18:19.235Z · LW · GW

Recurring Freedom session across all my devices (laptop, phone, tablet) set to disable all apps and most websites (including messaging, news, and discussion sites) 30 minutes before bedtime every night.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on What was your reasoning for deciding whether to raise children? · 2020-05-15T12:43:55.057Z · LW · GW

There's also Jeff Kaufman's Parenting and happiness.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI) · 2020-05-06T11:59:17.447Z · LW · GW

Thank you!

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI) · 2020-05-05T15:37:21.532Z · LW · GW
I elaborated further on the distinction and on the concept of a tool-AI in Karnofsky/Tallinn 2011.

Holden's notes from that conversation, posted to the old GiveWell Yahoo Group as a file attachment, do not appear to be publicly available anymore. Jeff Kaufman has archived all the messages from that mailing list, but unfortunately his archive does not include file attachments. Has anyone kept a copy of that file by any chance?

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Seemingly Popular Covid-19 Model is Obvious Nonsense · 2020-04-17T13:17:48.642Z · LW · GW

An update by the OP on what bets they are willing to make would be much appreciated.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on A practical out-of-the-box solution to slow down COVID-19: Turn up the heat · 2020-03-29T14:34:09.518Z · LW · GW

Update: it now appears that Bolsonaro may have tested positive, though the situation is still unclear, at least to me. The main evidence in favor of the hypothesis that the Brazilian president has tested positive, according to this London Review of Books article, is that (1) Fox News claims that this is what his son Eduardo initially told them, that (2) Bolsonaro has refused to make the results of his tests public, and that (3) 25 members of his entourage are confirmed to have the virus.

Note that the article shows some signs of bias, such as calling the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff a "coup" and describing Bolsonaro's economic minister as having studied "at the University of Chile under Pinochet" (Pinochet was the president of Chile, not the president of the University of Chile). So I'm updating only slightly and would like to see this confirmed by more neutral sources.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-28T14:10:59.227Z · LW · GW

I really appreciate your attempt to summarize this literature. But it seems you still believe that the Oxford paper provides evidence in favor of very low IFR, when in fact others are claiming that this is merely an assumption of their model, and that this assumption was made not because the authors believe it is plausible but simply for exploratory purposes. If this is correct (I haven't myself read the paper, so I can only defer to others), then the reputation or expertise of the authors is evidentially irrelevant, and shouldn't cause you to update in the direction of the very low IFR. (Of course, there may be independent reasons for such an update.)

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-28T13:26:45.206Z · LW · GW
Many passengers refused to be tested.

That's the Grand Princess, not the Diamond Princess.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-21T15:29:19.413Z · LW · GW

What is the lag between infection and feasible detection? Without knowing the answer to this question, I'm skeptical this consideration should suffice to justify indiscriminate travel bans. South Korea has largely contained the outbreak mostly by extensive testing and isolation, and without imposing significant travel bans. And we are assuming a scenario where tests are even more widespread, and deliver results more quickly, than currently in South Korea.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-21T15:09:20.313Z · LW · GW
As we approach the "endgame" where testing is ubiquitous and virus numbers get closer to 0, borders become more important, because adding 500 cases to an area with 1 case is much worse than adding 2000 cases to an area with 1000 cases (you have to think in logarithms).

Why would you want to ban travel indiscriminately once testing has become ubiquitous? You can instead bar entry only to the tiny minority of travelers who test positive.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on When will total cases in the EU surpass that of China? · 2020-03-18T18:11:15.743Z · LW · GW

And 18 or so hours later... Europe surpasses China.

Comment by Pablo (Pablo_Stafforini) on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-18T02:18:14.478Z · LW · GW

The South Korean approach seems to be roughly as effective as the Chinese approach but significantly less costly and disruptive. SK managed to halt exponential growth and currently cases are increasing linearly at a rate of 75 or so per day. This has been achieved without lockdowns or extensive border closings. Instead, the key ingredient appears to be rapid, extensive and largely free testing, and an educational campaign that stresses the importance of hand washing and staying at home.