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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?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Market Misconceptions · 2020-09-22T23:10:48.032Z · LW · GW

Also, are you sure your definition of beta matches Wikipedia's? I'm not seeing how they can be the same thing

Comment by PatrickDFarley on The Mind: Board Game Review · 2020-09-22T23:08:18.267Z · LW · GW

everyone's sense of "speed" is quite different.

There's an obvious Schelling point for that though ;) once three of us found it, our performance drastically improved, but I think I missed most of the excitement you're describing

Comment by PatrickDFarley on The Mind: Board Game Review · 2020-09-22T23:04:08.414Z · LW · GW

Thank you! I and two other players landed on this strategy independently within like 20 minutes. And then the group's performance obviously improved, but it was no longer a game, it was "count accurately."

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Market Misconceptions · 2020-09-22T22:18:04.778Z · LW · GW

Because the markets are so efficient, the market doesn't punish you much for being wrong

Could you explain this cause-effect a bit more? My intuition says if I make the wrong choice where the vast majority is making the right choice, my losses will quickly get snapped up into everyone else's gains

Comment by PatrickDFarley on The Wrong Side of Risk · 2020-09-22T21:59:44.005Z · LW · GW

It's hard to judge the level of my audience.

Fwiw your posts are exactly appropriate to my level and are motivating me to go and learn more about some of these strategies.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Unifying the Simulacra Definitions · 2020-09-16T04:37:56.981Z · LW · GW

Can you speak more to how higher levels would allow predicting the future better?

I might be mistaken - my understanding of this is that the act of knowing and understanding that other people are on levels 3 and 4 is itself still a level-1 act: it's an object-level belief about the states of human minds in the universe. And therefore you can be aware of the level-3 and level-4 effects of your own actions (and choose them accordingly), without being on 3 or 4 yourself. To be on level-3 or level-4 involves actually missing information (or at least risking missing it). As I've understood it.

And that's why Zvi put the "Pragmatist" at only level 2, even though he "balances impact at all levels they are aware of slash care about." He can lie, or he can tell the truth, and he does whatever will bring his net preferred effect across all levels. I think rationalists are the Pragmatist.

Comment by PatrickDFarley on The Four Children of the Seder as the Simulacra Levels · 2020-09-16T03:45:49.507Z · LW · GW

This was fascinating.

I guess this was the intuition pump that finally did it for me. I can't believe this sentence is what got me comfortably understanding the simulacra levels:

The wicked understand, acknowledge and value the Wise—they depend on the Wise for their own cynical gain. The simple don’t see the point of wisdom. Those who do not know how to ask don’t even know wisdom is a thing.

But Zvi, what do we do to prevent the initial progression to the Wicked? Does it actually work to "blunt his teeth / speak harshly to him"? That sounds like the analog of leveling an accusation of dishonesty / bad faith, with all the connoted shame. Does that work, or does it just confirm to them, "Yes, we're making declarative statements only to gain selfish advantage now"? The alternative would be to speak to him as if he's Wise but mistaken - pretending not to see the deception. Any feeling about which approach actually works more often?

Comment by PatrickDFarley on Chapter 87: Hedonic Awareness · 2020-09-10T23:18:43.815Z · LW · GW

Lol that was a bloodbath