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Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 9/17: Done Biden His Time · 2021-09-18T17:45:14.995Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I was pretty bothered a couple years ago when we were doing the "kids in cages" news cycle, and the red tribe people kept saying stuff along the lines of, "it's good that our policy is unpleasant, because it's a deterrent against future infractions".

Any degree of cruelty can be (correctly!) framed as a deterrent. So in general we should be really wary of those kinds of policies.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 9/17: Done Biden His Time · 2021-09-17T16:16:33.872Z · LW · GW

I believe vaccine mandates are primarily substitutes for destructive alternative restrictions that are worse for freedom, and those who oppose mostly think they are mostly complements that ramp up restrictions of all kinds.

That is definitely a crux, thank you for pointing that out.

or that if you’re vaccinated that’s sufficient protection that you shouldn’t care who else around you is unvaccinated.

This is 100% me. My view is: if your solution requires absolutely everyone to buy in to it - that is, it requires successful coordination across all cultures within the US, or in the world - then you don't have a solution, you have a wish. The wish is for human nature to be fundamentally different from what it is.

Forcing coordination through federal mandates is different, in that it's actually possible. But I see a similar kind of wish here. Re the substitute/complement question above, I believe the hypothetical version of the US government that successfully exercises such control over its citizens' physical bodies and then promptly relinquishes that degree of control, is a US government not run by humans.

I happen to think the vaccine is an actual solution under the strict definition above. As in, I got it, so the pandemic is over for me. The reductions in infection and long-term risk are well documented here, and in my view they're enough to justify taking the (underrated) benefit of no longer worrying about my covid risk (including caring about the vax status of those around me) (obviously I'm still worried about the second-order effects). I've had a really enjoyable summer that was full of social interaction, travel, dating, etc.

Tldr: "Real life" has enough utility that I count my individual vaccination as sufficient risk mitigation to justify it.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 9/2: Long Covid Analysis · 2021-09-04T15:26:22.231Z · LW · GW

What does the $300 plugin do that "classic block" doesn't do? I just edit my posts inside a single classic block, which seems to be identical to the old WordPress editor, including the ability to directly edit the html.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 8/19: Cracking the Booster · 2021-08-20T16:32:17.178Z · LW · GW

The two sides are both trying to make the mandates look as obnoxious as possible, for different reasons.

This is such a thing, I see it all the time, and it is both completely obvious and apparently not noticed by anybody else.

When your goal is to signal to your side rather than convince the other side, and their goal is to signal rather than be convinced, you get this perverse symbiosis of everybody saying ridiculous things on purpose.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T14:48:46.792Z · LW · GW

Absolutely, the whole blame-avoidance game would tend to make them over-cautious, but other hazards like regulatory capture (which I'm pretty sure is what happened with nutrition) threaten to make them recklessly wrong (as long as they can still find a way to avoid blame).

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-16T14:42:09.731Z · LW · GW

Your argument is that food guidelines don't drive outcomes (in America), and also that a particular set of guidelines is correct, because obviously they're driving outcomes (in Vietnam).? This argument is missing a bunch of pieces.

In any case, if you believe the food pyramid is great for Americans, I'm not interested in convincing you otherwise, so feel free to ignore my point.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-13T17:30:14.412Z · LW · GW

Also, if one is forced to get a medical procedure that one doesn't want, purely because they didn't have the amount of money that's required for bodily autonomy in their society, then yeah, I would call that "degrading" and a bunch of other stuff. A company is right to mandate what it wants for its employees, but it is not "hyperbolic language" to call some of that treatment degrading.

Am I the only one here who can easily relate to that twitter guy's sentiment? Do rationalists not value the whole "dignity of autonomy" thing as an end in itself?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 8/12: The Worst Is Over · 2021-08-13T17:12:46.903Z · LW · GW

Here's what Zvi is missing on (D):

I think both that the vaccines are safe and effective based on the evidence, and also that if the evidence did not strongly say they were safe and effective, we wouldn’t be contemplating such policies.

Does "we" refer to the same institutions that got nutrition entirely wrong for decades at a time, both at the micro level (individual foods) and macro level (food groups), whose entirely-wrong takes were taught in schools nationwide? I'm feeling way too much Gel-Mann skepticism here to say "yeah thankfully the powers-that-be will always be correct on vaccines".

The level of pushback we have now is when, scientifically, the case is overwhelming, and if the vaccines were instead not safe but still much safer than not getting vaccinated, we’d not only not make them mandatory, they’d be forbidden. 

Pushback is not correlated with scientific viability, but with political messaging. We've passed ineffective/dangerous policies with very little pushback (Patriot Act/NSA), and we've received plenty of pushback on effective policies (blocking travel from China). We cannot rely on pushback to bail us out of stupid object-level decisions. I hate to sound like such a libertarian ideologue, but I'm really not seeing a safer long-term policy than "stop giving govt's (potentially stupid) decisions so much power".

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 6/10: Somebody Else’s Problem · 2021-06-12T15:46:50.222Z · LW · GW

At this point I (and I think most people) assume we will eventually know the origin of covid, with reasons that correctly model the physical world. I'm willing to sit back and wait for the more dedicated researchers to bring that answer to light.

The more pressing question for many of us is - why did "they" try so hard to prevent us from considering the lab hypothesis in the first place? And why did they use shame and guilt-by-association instead of ever telling us some physical facts that refute the lab hypothesis?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T22:23:59.435Z · LW · GW

Yeah "bad" is like "don't climb the ladder or we get the hose". 

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T19:25:55.711Z · LW · GW

People would often reduce their own prize if it means that their opponent's is reduced more.

This tells me we care more about relative status than absolute. See: anyone saying anything remotely critical of capitalism in the 21st century in the United States.

This poll asked people if they did "malicious online activity directed at somebody they didn't know"

You mean the default way to gain status on Twitter?

But yes, pure cruelty does exist. What of the fact that chimpanzees are cruel but have no concept of evil? This tells me maybe cruelty serves a self-interested purpose in dominance-based status hierarchies. If the human bullies don't know that, it wouldn't be the first evolved behavior that humans do without fully knowing why.

Whenever I try to analyze evil, I find banality all the way down.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Summaries of uncertain priors · 2021-06-04T15:52:17.355Z · LW · GW

not just about the probability you think something is true, but an estimate of your confidence, in some quantitative way?

I don't think these are actually different things.

The coin example is misleading. Your confidence in the next toss being heads is exactly the same as any other independent 50% bet. Your confidence that "this is a fair coin", which could be approximated by, say, getting between 45-55 heads in the next 100 tosses, is a different bet and will give a different answer than 50%.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on The Reebok effect · 2021-05-21T17:20:41.065Z · LW · GW

Huh I think the linkpost didn't fully work

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension · 2021-05-08T14:21:40.365Z · LW · GW

Isn't that true of all property though?

Ownership is not an innate property of physical objects. It's just saying that the government will use force etc.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension · 2021-05-08T14:12:37.904Z · LW · GW

I had that same question. But is there a middle ground, where these companies wouldn't enforce parents during a global emergency, but would expect to profit from the patents once the emergency is over? And that this expectation of delayed profits is a factor in their original decision to innovate?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 4/29: Vaccination Slowdown · 2021-04-30T22:06:15.123Z · LW · GW

Love and value your posts as always. One point of contention:

They talk about this later on, saying that conservatives need to have their autonomy respected. People aren’t stupid. Either something is optional, and they have a choice, or it isn’t and they don’t. You can try to send both messages but you’ll fail. 

Doesn't this basically deny the entire phenomenon of persuasion? "Pure persuasion", let's call it, where you don't improve the material incentives at all, but nevertheless you get the person to do the thing. I believe this is a skill that exists.

Is the red tribe legitimately afraid of the vaccine, or are they just pissed off at being told where to go and what to do every day for a year? Definitely both, but the latter group will be amenable to persuasion. They have a psychological need that isn't being met, but can be met through a simple message.

Another angle is that a lot of people are motivated by little heroic thoughts, but you need to grant autonomy in order for heroism to exist. If you were masking and distancing and vaccinating only because you were told to by CNN's version of an expert, then you're not really any kind of hero, you're just agreeable, and this distinction is blindingly clear to the red tribe.

So I say tell them it's up to them. Tell them this is America and they can reject the vaccine for the rest of their lives if they want to, but we happen to believe that actual lives will be saved, in expectation, if they get it.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 4/1: Vaccine Passports · 2021-04-02T15:54:25.726Z · LW · GW

Coercion concern:

Shouldn't we think about the counterfactual where the vaccine is not completely safe and healthy? What happens next time, when the thing is even more tribal-affiliated, such that the tribe in power won't be upfront about the downsides of it? I don't want a world where politics & power incentivize what medical procedures I should/shouldn't get. I'd love to keep those spheres as separate as possible.

And that's where I'm confused - because it's conveniently very possible to keep them separate in this case: the vaccine works on individuals. You don't need sweeping mandates for the whole community in order to get it to work. Everyone can just make a medical decision in their own best interests.

If you think not getting the vaccine is healthier, you should be able to live that experiment, as long as its effect on others is negligible. And likewise, in the possible future where I actually think it's healthier to not do X medical procedure, I hope I can run that experiment without incurring the wrath of politics and power.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 3/25: Own Goals · 2021-03-25T20:19:41.422Z · LW · GW

your father already knows you got a C-, told you that you’d better not pretend you got a C-,

Second C- should be C+

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Conspicuous saving · 2021-03-20T22:17:49.650Z · LW · GW

few will choose to have their wealth made visible to all, because the only advantage it brings is signalling, a thing they won't admit even to themselves that they care about much

"Accountability" is the word normal people use when referring to pursuing success though conspicuous signaling. People already do opt in to "accountability" for different goals they have. I think the main reason they won't do it with wealth is for privacy.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Product orientation · 2021-03-18T02:01:04.778Z · LW · GW

I assume you've read Zvi's Choices are bad?

I'm like you, with the agonizing cost/benefit spreadsheets, and lately I try to remind myself that "choices are bad", which implies that the act of making a choice at all (and moving on) has an inherent positive bias to it, because it frees you from what could become a miserable sunk-cost feedback loop ("I've spent so much time on this already, so I'd really better make the optimal decision now, but to do that I'll need more time...").

Also, I know offhand what my salary comes down to per hour, so I use that as a rule of thumb when deciding how much time to spend on a decision (given how much value is at stake in the decision).

Comment by PatrickDFarley on [deleted post] 2021-03-13T18:23:35.417Z

You can't Only ask questions that will support your beliefs.

Questions can't support beliefs. Answers support beliefs (or don't). What exactly are you asking?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Trapped Priors As A Basic Problem Of Rationality · 2021-03-12T21:17:08.214Z · LW · GW

For those looking for a way to talk about this with outsiders, I'd propose "unconditional beliefs" as a decent synonym that most people will intuitively understand.

"Do you hold X as an unconditional belief?"

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Contrarian Writing Advice · 2021-03-07T15:11:21.021Z · LW · GW

How could you not use comment quality as feedback? Often the alternative is no feedback at all

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Contrarian Writing Advice · 2021-03-07T15:06:10.380Z · LW · GW

I thought the bit about indirectly screening your commenters was very clever. I haven't written enough to know if it works the way you described, but it sounds very plausible

Comment by PatrickDFarley on The Puce Tribe · 2021-02-28T21:35:07.706Z · LW · GW

Is this actually an existing tribe? I feel like the traits in this list have zero correlation.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 2/18: Vaccines Still Work · 2021-02-18T20:44:23.187Z · LW · GW

but it would be a supreme tragedy if we let our way of life permanently end in a new wave of disease paranoia. That outcome seems entirely plausible but also entirely preventable.

I'm glad for the fact that some places (New Zealand, parts of China, some of the Caribbean?) are already living as if "back to normal". I think envy, if nothing else, will drive us to embrace life again.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T19:54:34.083Z · LW · GW

So the kind of person who outsources their ethics takes to the NYT will now stay far away from the SSC community. I don't see a problem really

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 2/11: As Expected · 2021-02-12T14:25:30.303Z · LW · GW

Help them by living your life and demonstrating the advantages of vaccination.

What actions are you advocating instead of that?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Simulacrum 3 As Stag-Hunt Strategy · 2021-02-11T17:08:07.243Z · LW · GW

It's easy to say this if you're surrounded by nerdy types who stubbornly refuse to leave simulacrum 1. But have you looked at other people these days??

Look at the Midwestern mom who just blew another $200 on the latest exercise fad that is definitely not going to give her the body she wants. Look at every business that went under because they failed to measure what really mattered. Look at anyone whose S3 sentiment has been so easily hijacked and commoditized by the social media outrage machines.

Nah, I'm thoroughly convinced that there is still an advantage in knowing what's actually true, which means seeing the S levels for what they are.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Cowering To Genocide: Uighur Persecution And The World’s Last Hope · 2021-02-10T13:40:30.050Z · LW · GW

Your response to the first-hand claims of forced sterilization, forced "re-education", and banned language is that an anonymous Reddit commenter thinks it's "impractical"?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Cowering To Genocide: Uighur Persecution And The World’s Last Hope · 2021-02-10T02:54:49.828Z · LW · GW

Some of these claims have not aged well

Do you still believe that "China is not trying to eradicate Uighurs" and that the camps are "largely aimed at eradicating religious extremism"? Am I to believe the BBC (along with its named sources) has flat-out lied about all of this?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Three Stories about not Thinking too Hard · 2021-02-05T20:21:21.311Z · LW · GW

These are valuable tales for rationalists. The lessons I take away:

  1. Coordination in the meta-game affects play in the games.
  2. The rules of the game are what you can get away with.
  3. Everything is (at least weak) evidence.

Some people think noticing these things makes them "postrats" and therefore outsiders to LW. Yet here we are

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-04T18:07:57.241Z · LW · GW

Very impressed by this, I really hope it works. These are the kind of audacious efforts that I love to see in this community

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 1/28: Muddling Through · 2021-01-30T03:32:16.412Z · LW · GW

I particularly liked:

there is no reason to think there could be a problem

I'd love to follow up: What do you think the word "unreasonable" means?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-09T15:33:58.282Z · LW · GW

Sabotage the freezers 👀

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Covid 10/15: Playtime is Over · 2020-10-16T22:46:03.063Z · LW · GW

Just go back and skim a couple of them. You wouldn't start a book in the middle and then criticize the author for being hard to follow

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Has Eliezer ever retracted his statements about weight loss? · 2020-10-16T06:26:29.087Z · LW · GW
  • Actual bounded experts who are ignorant on other subjects
  • Wholly ignorant people who purport to be experts on subjects you're ignorant of

These are two different things. Gell-Mann amnesia seems to address the latter. You're referring to the former when you warn against assigning general trust values. Assigning general trust values would actual prevent Gell-Mann amnesia. Correct?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Has Eliezer ever retracted his statements about weight loss? · 2020-10-15T02:16:23.097Z · LW · GW

I'm afraid I still don't follow. But I like the blog.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on The Sun Room · 2020-10-14T22:37:14.953Z · LW · GW

My smartphone cannot enter the sun room with me.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Has Eliezer ever retracted his statements about weight loss? · 2020-10-14T21:56:31.549Z · LW · GW

Are you serious about the second part? Estimating the credibility of people you read?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-12T22:43:06.527Z · LW · GW

I found this extremely helpful. I'd known the world of therapy was complex but I had nothing like a broad map of it.

After staring at your chart for a minute I noticed that there are some modalities I'm able to do well for myself, and others that I'm not. When people claim they wouldn't benefit from "therapy," they're likely thinking of one or two modalities (and are likely correct), but may not be aware of the others.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Seek Upside Risk · 2020-10-01T04:16:21.768Z · LW · GW

Would you have preferred the post if framed around E(log(X))?

Technically yes, but I know it'd be harder to use as a mental model in everyday life. And anyway, I have the same initial bias as you

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Seek Upside Risk · 2020-09-29T22:01:22.691Z · LW · GW

I love the spirit of this post, but all the focus on expected value raised some alarms in my head. 

Maximizing the expected value in ordinary (financial) betting leads to bad decisions (St. Petersburg paradox), and it can do the same in other areas of life. I can see you know this intuitively, because you mentioned Pascal's Mugging. Just letting you know that there's math that accounts for this, too:

To avoid wasting life on Pascal's Mugging (or going broke on bad bets), we maximize the expected logarithm of value (Kelly Criterion), because we get diminishing utility from higher amounts of the same thing.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on is scope insensitivity really a brain error? · 2020-09-29T16:50:10.625Z · LW · GW

No, that's not my position. Read it again and see if there's a nuanced view that better fits my words.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on is scope insensitivity really a brain error? · 2020-09-29T06:42:17.883Z · LW · GW

You're right, I did miss that in your last paragraph, my bad.

It shouldn't matter if they care more about human suffering: as long as bird-lives have nonzero value to them (and they revealed this by pledging any money at all), then the money donated should scale with the lives saved.

If they couldn't afford more, then they already made a mistake in donating their maximum to the first arbitrary opportunity presented. That's like a broader kind of scope insensitivity - valuing all large-sounding benefits exactly the same.

And, if they only pledged money to make themselves look good, they still failed due to scope insensitivity, because it looks bad to value 200,000 lives as little as 2000.

Anyway, as jimrandomh said, other examples are easy to find. I wouldn't believe in scope insensitivity if I'd never heard anything like the bird example, but I have.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on is scope insensitivity really a brain error? · 2020-09-29T00:21:20.500Z · LW · GW

scope insensitivity would only be irrational if saving birds were the only criteria in play. to save more birds, give more money. but this is almost never the case

The question was designed to isolate those two factors. You can claim the respondents all had secret, rational reasons to answer the way they did, but there's no evidence of that, and you haven't even proposed what those reasons could be.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on "The Holy Grail" of portfolio management · 2020-09-24T03:11:03.839Z · LW · GW

In that case consider shorting the index (thus effectively setting β = 0.0) along your investment

Is this assuming you already have other investments with high beta, and you just don't want more beta with your new stock pics?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Charting Is Mostly Superstition · 2020-09-23T18:07:43.450Z · LW · GW

Thanks gilch, I've got a lot to look into but I'm kind of excited to try this stuff out. Your series + some other materials I've been watching has convinced me that finding alpha isn't as impossible as I thought.

Do you currently use any strategies whose edge you've confirmed by automated backtesting?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Market Misconceptions · 2020-09-23T17:57:18.376Z · LW · GW

Thanks, this is very valuable. I'll have to think about this some more; I don't think I've internalized it enough yet:

If a market was 100% efficient, the price moves would be 100% unpredictable

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Charting Is Mostly Superstition · 2020-09-23T03:35:07.811Z · LW · GW

I tried out a few of these. Strongest correlation I found was between SPY-1 and NDX, fwiw. It feels like I shouldn't be doing so much of this work in spreadsheets though, because of the time cost. Is this the kind of thing Quantopian is mainly used for?