Book review: Age Later 2020-10-27T04:21:12.428Z · score: 25 (6 votes)
Black Death at the Golden Gate (book review) 2020-06-26T16:09:06.866Z · score: 17 (8 votes)
COVID-19: The Illusion of Stability 2020-06-08T18:46:54.259Z · score: 34 (9 votes)
Book review: Human Compatible 2020-01-19T03:32:04.989Z · score: 39 (11 votes)
Another AI Winter? 2019-12-25T00:58:48.715Z · score: 47 (17 votes)
Book Review: The AI Does Not Hate You 2019-10-28T17:45:26.050Z · score: 28 (9 votes)
Drexler on AI Risk 2019-02-01T05:11:01.008Z · score: 34 (17 votes)
Bundle your Experiments 2019-01-18T23:22:08.660Z · score: 19 (8 votes)
Time Biases 2019-01-12T21:35:54.276Z · score: 31 (8 votes)
Book review: Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security 2018-12-08T03:47:17.098Z · score: 30 (9 votes)
Where is my Flying Car? 2018-10-15T18:39:38.010Z · score: 52 (16 votes)
Book review: Pearl's Book of Why 2018-07-07T17:30:30.994Z · score: 73 (28 votes)


Comment by petermccluskey on Effective Epidemiology · 2020-10-23T22:20:07.023Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My guess is that less than 5% of the value of schools depends on paper. I expect that the value of in-person school compared to remote comes from things like interaction with peers, or day care. See The Elephant in the Brain for more hints.

Comment by petermccluskey on Stupid Questions October 2020 · 2020-10-23T04:14:39.129Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The term "life expectancy" usually refers to something that's not a prediction. It's constructed from the past year's results of many age groups. See

Comment by petermccluskey on Effective Epidemiology · 2020-10-23T03:29:19.542Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the general approach and organization of this post.

I have some modest disagreements about the details.

I doubt that many schools will manage to get HVAC right even if someone does provide them with clear rules, and our system doesn't seem competent enough to provide such rules within a reasonable time.

Having schools be mostly outdoors would solve many problems. I expect that most people overestimate the costs of being outdoors.

I know that I am very reluctant to step out into the rain. But there are many situations where I've gone out hiking in light rain, and once I'm out there, the subjective costs feel dramatically lower than they feel when I'm just stepping out into the rain. That remains true even now that I'm aware of the effect. I suspect something like that is causing many people to mistakenly assume that outdoor schools are prohibitively unpleasant.

Comment by petermccluskey on Bet On Biden · 2020-10-18T03:01:02.141Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you have any trust in Nate you cannot think Biden is below ~80% to win.

That seems too strong. I'm assigning a 50% chance to Nate being the best authority on this, and a 50% chance to markets being the best authority. I still agree that betting on Biden has positive expected value.

My main reason for doubting Nate is the likelihood that the pandemic will have strange effects on turnout. I'm unwilling to bet on which direction that will surprise people.

Comment by petermccluskey on The rationalist community's location problem · 2020-10-16T03:02:19.493Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One type of evidence to look at in selecting a location is trust, as in how likely people are to say that others can be trusted.

See figure 3 in Trust, Growth and Well-being for evidence by state.

H/T Joseph Henrich's great book The WEIRDest People in the World.

Comment by petermccluskey on Why Boston? · 2020-10-12T02:33:28.881Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I know that Boston has prestigious hospitals, but I'm unclear how to usefully compare the health they deliver.

One thing I can compare is the ease of getting blood tests. Most states allow residents to order blood tests via, Life Extension, etc. But MA is one of the states that prohibits that, meaning that if you want tests that an average doctor thinks are unneeded (as I often do), it can be costly and time consuming to find a doctor who will sign off on them.

Comment by petermccluskey on Weird Things About Money · 2020-10-06T23:15:43.426Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But if the economy were a computer program, debt would seem like a big hack. There’s no absolute guarantee that debt can be collected.

I can see how mathematicians would dislike an entity that lacks absolute guarantees, but it seems like a quite normal attribute to encounter in the real world.

We can be in a situation where “no one has enough money”—the great depression was a time when there were too few jobs and too much work left undone.

That's mostly accurate, but it leaves out an important step in the causal chain: the "too little money" meant that the wages which workers were accustomed to getting became too high. For reasons that are likely related to bargaining strategies, workers wouldn't accept (or sometimes weren't allowed to accept) wages that gave them fewer dollars, even when those fewer dollars bought them more goods than they were accustomed to.

In other words, there's a path for the value of money to re-adjust, but there's enough opposition to it that most economists have given up on it.

The scarcity problem would not exist if money could be reliably manufactured through debt. ... So it seems like we want to facilitate negative bank accounts “as much as possible, but not too much”?

I'm unclear what "facilitate" is doing here. "Negative bank accounts" is one way to describe a solution, but deflation meant that pretty much everyone preferred a positive bank account to "borrow and invest".

Central banks know how to manufacture money. The main problems are figuring out the right amounts, and ensuring that central banks create those amounts.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 9/10: Vitamin D · 2020-10-02T22:17:28.910Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The White House has announced that Trump is taking vitamin D. I presume that will increase its popularity a bit, but it might also increase resistance from Very Serious People a bit.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 9/10: Vitamin D · 2020-10-01T17:06:38.612Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

According to this crude estimate, one sheep can support enough vitamin D for several thousand people. There are over a billion sheep, so if all wool went to vitamin D production, it would be enough for several trillion people.

The price of lanolin would likely soar, but that's a small problem compared to the pandemic.

There's likely some important constraints on scaling up the manufacturing process, maybe complicated by safety regulations which would be inappropriate for this context.

Something is likely to keep the number of people taking vitamin D well below a billion this winter, but my best guess is that it's going to be lack of demand rather than major supply constraints.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 9/10: Vitamin D · 2020-10-01T02:10:47.156Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What limits scaling up the wool-based production? I'm pretty sure there's enough wool.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 9/10: Vitamin D · 2020-09-30T04:28:17.578Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The skin color study confirms that vitamin D doesn't protect against infection. But I don't see it saying anything clear about how much harm a person suffers if they're infected.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 9/24: Until Morale Improves · 2020-09-28T03:37:30.514Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The Japanese study is pretty weird.

Here are some ideas I brainstormed fairly quickly:

I see no signs of researcher misconduct, but I don't see enough evidence to be very confident that their evidence is real.

Could people in Japan be much healthier to start with than most of the countries that have an IFR > 0.1%?

  • what are Japanese vitamin D levels?
  • I suspect they have high vitamin K2 levels (from natto, kimchi, etc.). What does this do?
  • less obesity?
  • different genes (blood type? fewer APOE4 alleles?)

Could transmission there involve a much lower initial viral load?

Could they do an unusually good job of preventing transmission to vulnerable people, while enabling plenty of transmission between others?

The only research I found time to do was to check the vitamin D content of fish. I was mildly surprised to find that it's high enough to make vitamin D deficiency fairly rare in a culture that expects virtually everyone to eat fish.

I'll give a 25% chance that vitamin D explains more than half of this puzzle. Most of the other ideas are quite unlikely to explain more than 5% each.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 9/24: Until Morale Improves · 2020-09-26T02:30:35.203Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've got this Povidone Iodine Prep Solution USP, from a Chris Masterjohn recommendation. He suggested (back in May) diluting it 20x.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 9/17: It’s Worse · 2020-09-19T01:15:23.158Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This Wikipedia page says the pre-1800 average was 4.4 million acres. So it looks like burning every 20 years was typical for a California forest.

Comment by petermccluskey on Efficacy of Vitamin D in helping with COVID · 2020-09-09T20:27:33.134Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How high does the base rate need to be in order to explain most COVID deaths?

Note that your reference defines deficiency as less than 20 ng/mL, but correlation studies suggest using 30 ng/mL as the COVID-relevant threshold for deficiency.

Comment by petermccluskey on Efficacy of Vitamin D in helping with COVID · 2020-09-09T20:16:29.401Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No consensus, but probably at least 1000 iu per day.

Comment by petermccluskey on Efficacy of Vitamin D in helping with COVID · 2020-09-08T16:34:13.529Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

LWers have been mentioning this topic since at least Feb 29. LWers on Facebook have been mentioning the new study a fair amount, and discussing how much vitamin D to take.

Anyone who has been paying attention has presumably been ensuring that their vitamin D levels are at least 30 ng/mL.

It's hard to make money off of this, which might be part of why it's not front page news in most places.

Comment by petermccluskey on When should I be concerned about my Oura measurements indicating COVID-19? · 2020-09-05T01:55:46.939Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

All I can find is a hint from this story:

One user of ours in Finland was traveling in early March. His scores were normally in the 80s or 90s and he noticed his readiness score dropped to 50 and that caused him to get tested.

My experience suggests that a 20+ point drop indicates either a significant cold, unusual stress, or obvious measurement error. I had a clear-cut cold in November that caused my readiness to drop by 50 points over a period of 2 days. I've had no other times, in the year that I've been wearing my Oura, when I suspected I had a cold or had an unexplained 20+ point drop.

Comment by petermccluskey on The Box Spread Trick: Get rich slightly faster · 2020-09-04T01:10:19.469Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Buying RINF (an etf) would likely be similar but better. There are plenty of other less direct ways, such as gold or cryptocurrencies.

Comment by petermccluskey on Isn't Tesla stock highly undervalued? · 2020-09-01T01:10:35.026Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Buying physical assets generally doesn't lower profits, but accountants don't have a good way to treat R&D, or investment in human capital, as investments.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 8/27: The Fall of the CDC · 2020-08-27T19:27:42.661Z · score: 19 (13 votes) · LW · GW

There are other CDCs, e.g. in South Korea, Taiwan, etc.

Could we just switch to following their advice, and ignore the US CDC?

I'm sure there's something stopping us, but I'm having trouble pinpointing what it is.

Comment by petermccluskey on Why hasn't there been research on the effectiveness of zinc for Covid-19? · 2020-08-26T03:46:46.270Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Trump appears to have a big incentive to do this.

Companies with experience at running clinical trials are probably busy testing more profitable treatments that would bring almost as much goodwill.

Comment by petermccluskey on Tips/tricks/notes on optimizing investments · 2020-08-25T23:59:02.254Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interactive Broker’s liquidation algorithms are aggressively fast, but my rather limited experience suggests they're pretty sensible about what to liquidate.

Comment by petermccluskey on [Geo: California/Bay Area] Mini-Research of 2020 Fire Situation · 2020-08-23T20:46:00.350Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm fairly sure that inmates are used mostly on long-burning fires.

Deaths directly attributed to fires seem to be almost entirely from fires that have started within an hour or so of the deaths, and those seem to be mostly handled by full-time firefighters who live near the scene.

The pandemic-induced inmate shortages might result in a modest increase in smoke from big rural fires, and that might cause more deaths via lung damage than the direct fire deaths. But a hasty evacuation is probably at least as risky as handling that via air filters.

The really unusual feature this year is the lightning. I can recall approximately zero instances of dry-season lightning in the bay area between 1994 and 2019 (although it's more normal farther inland).

Comment by petermccluskey on Search versus design · 2020-08-23T02:20:25.516Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Engineering via search seems less novel than you indicate. The novelty lies more in the automation of search.

Selective breeding of plants and animals for food has been one of the most important classes of engineering projects over the past 10,000 years. It has involved so little design that I suspect most of the engineers were unaware that they were doing engineering until the past century or so.

The smallpox vaccine was developed before any clear concept of a virus, so it seems to have involved more search than design.

Drug development still seems to involve more search than design. That causes major problems for figuring out whether we should trust a drug. For a number of diseases, it leaves doctors with a need to perform a search over multiple drugs for each patient.

Engineering of new institutions is often too hard to do via design. I would summarize Eliezer's description of CFAR's initial steps as "we tried a design-heavy approach, it failed, we switched to a search-heavy approach". The book Seeing Like a State documents more expensive versions of this pattern.

See also Henrich's The Secret of Our Success for arguments that for several million years, humans have been advancing via technologies that were beyond their ability to design.

Comment by petermccluskey on Engaging Seriously with Short Timelines · 2020-08-15T02:42:47.047Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They're harder to evaluate. Broadcom looks somewhat promising. I know very little about the others.

Micron Technology is another one that's worth looking at.

Comment by petermccluskey on Engaging Seriously with Short Timelines · 2020-08-09T04:09:32.936Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, now that I look more carefully, I see that Microsoft's cloud revenues are large enough to be a somewhat plausible reason to bet on Microsoft.

Comment by petermccluskey on Titan (the Wealthfront of active stock picking) - What's the catch? · 2020-08-06T15:34:00.511Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see nothing unusual here. They seem to be following the kind of strategy that generated the Nifty Fifty. I expect it to work well a majority of the time, then occasionally become too popular and underperform for a decade or so.

Comment by petermccluskey on Engaging Seriously with Short Timelines · 2020-08-05T17:15:27.123Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

AI-related investment thoughts:

I have stock in Google and Intel, mainly because of their Waymo and Mobileye subsidiaries, and to a lesser extent due to DeepMind.

NVIDIA was my favorite AI bet in 2017-8, but it currently looks too expensive for me.

One Stop Systems Inc is an obscure company in which I've invested, because its business involves AI. It's hardly a leader in AI, but should benefit by enabling ordinary businesses to use AI.

I doubt that Apple, Microsoft, or Salesforce will be good ways to benefit from AI, and their prices are looking somewhat bubble-like (as do most of the big tech companies).

I expect that semiconductor equipment companies will be somewhat more appropriate, and they currently seem less likely to be overpriced. I've currently got investments in these small semiconductor equipment companies:

  • Amtech Systems
  • Trio-Tech International
  • SCI Engineered Materials, Inc.

The biggest semiconductor equipment companies (symbols BRKS, LRCX, KLAC, and AMAT) look like decent investments, but not quite cheap enough that I'm willing to buy them.

There are some datacenter-focused companies that are potentially good investments, but none of the ones I've looked at appear reasonably priced.

Transformative AI might speed up the creation of an Age of Em scenario, so it might be good to invest in regions which that book suggests might have em cities (places with stable governance, and enough cold water for cooling purposes). Countries that best fit this description include: Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Canada, and Japan.

I currently have investments in New Zealand and Sweden etfs (symbols ENZL, EWD). I'm avoiding Norway for now, and not investing much in Canada, due to their dependence on oil (I expect oil prices to decline this decade).

Here are some ideas for investing in companies that own land (listed by symbol; not AI-focused, but recommended for general diversification of bets): WPS (etf, non-US real estate), CTT (timber lands), TPL, and TRC. I'm currently invested in WPS and a bunch of real-estate-related companies in the US and Hong Kong, but I haven't yet focused on land (I've been betting mainly on buildings).

Comment by petermccluskey on Longevity interventions when young · 2020-07-26T19:12:23.352Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

>The problem is that to get hGH, as a young person, you’d need a doctor that trusts you a lot or you’d need to procure it outside of Europe and the US.

Note that if you're over 40, you might be able to participate in the TRIIM-X trial (probably expensive).

Comment by petermccluskey on Six economics misconceptions of mine which I've resolved over the last few years · 2020-07-23T15:47:15.008Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are complex rules which serve similar functions to reserve requirements. See here for a start.

Comment by petermccluskey on If you are signed up for cryonics with life insurance, how much life insurance did you get and over what term? · 2020-07-22T18:45:13.315Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I got a $50k whole life policy about 24 years ago, to fund an Alcor neuropreservation. Alcor's prices have gone up since then, but they handle that via charging me an extra yearly fee.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid-19: Analysis of Mortality Data · 2020-07-12T17:19:17.819Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a chart showing that there's no recent uptick in deaths. Instead, there was a recent surge in reporting of deaths that happened in April and early May (h/t Tyler Cowen).

I still expect a nontrivial increase in deaths over the next few weeks, but I also suspect there's been a surprising decline in the IFR.

Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 7/9: Lies, Damn Lies and Death Rates · 2020-07-10T19:04:57.071Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I downloaded it in their csv format and whipped up this python program to process it (I hope someone improves on it):

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

import re, sys, io, getopt, csv

def parse(filename):
    column_dict = {}
    list_states = []
    val_dict = {}
    week_dicts = {'2019' : {}, '2020': {}}
    with open(filename, 'r') as fd:
        reader = csv.reader(fd, delimiter=',', quotechar='"')
        for row in reader:
            if row[0] == 'Jurisdiction of Occurrence':
                for i, fld in enumerate(row):
                    column_dict[fld] = i
                unknown_col = column_dict['Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00-R99)']
            yyyymmdd = row[0][:10].replace('-', '')
            yyyy = row[1]
            week_num = int(row[2])
            tokens = row[3].split('/')
            yymmdd = "%s%02d%02d" % (tokens[2][-2:], int(tokens[0]), int(tokens[1]))
            state = row[0]
            mystery_deaths = row[unknown_col].strip(' ')
            all_deaths = row[column_dict['All Cause']].strip(' ')
            if not (state in list_states):
            #print("%s %6s %6s %-s" % (yyyymmdd, mystery_deaths, all_deaths, state))
            week_dicts[yyyy][week_num] = yymmdd
            val_dict[yyyy + str(week_num) + state] = (mystery_deaths, all_deaths)
    num_weeks = len(week_dicts['2020'].keys())
    start_week = 4
    s = "%15s" % ''
    s2 = "%15s" % ''
    for i in range(start_week, num_weeks + 1):
        s += "%6d " % i
        s2 += "%s " % week_dicts['2020'][i]
    tot_w24 = 0
    for state in list_states:
        s = "%-15.15s " % state
        for week_num in range(start_week, num_weeks + 1):
                (mystery_deaths2020, all_deaths) = val_dict['2020' + str(week_num) + state]
                (mystery_deaths2019, all_deaths2019) = val_dict['2019' + str(week_num) + state]
            except KeyError:
                s += '       '
                delta = (float(mystery_deaths2020 or 0) - float(mystery_deaths2019 or 0)) / float(all_deaths)
            except ValueError:
                print("skip %s %s %s %s %s." % (state, week_num, mystery_deaths2019, mystery_deaths2020, all_deaths))
                s += '       '
            if week_num == 24:
                tot_w24 += float(mystery_deaths2020 or 0) - float(mystery_deaths2019 or 0)
            s += "%5.2f  " % (100*delta)
    print("tot_w24 %s" % tot_w24)

if __name__ == '__main__':
    import getopt
    avail_opts = ['acct=', 
    (options, args) = getopt.getopt(sys.argv[1:], '', avail_opts)
    option_dict = {}
    for opt in options:
    option_dict[opt[0][2:]] = opt[1]
Comment by petermccluskey on Covid 7/9: Lies, Damn Lies and Death Rates · 2020-07-09T23:06:30.295Z · score: 16 (5 votes) · LW · GW

For suspicions about bad reporting of deaths, this CDC page (somewhat tricky to read) has relevant data in the column 'Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00-R99)'.

New York state showed an unusual surge that peaked in late February.

Many states have shown unusual increases in that category starting around mid April.

It looks like the deaths in that category for the week ending June 13 were about 2491 above 2019 levels (more recent weeks have less complete data).

The states with the biggest recent increases in that death category (using the difference from the comparable week in 2019, as a fraction of all deaths): Hawaii, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Ohio. I'm unsure what to make of this pattern.

Comment by petermccluskey on Something about the Pinker Cancellation seems Suspicious · 2020-07-09T02:00:05.777Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It seems fairly normal to me for an emotionally charged movement to attract people for whom it's difficult to tell whether they're not-too-bright fanatics or agents provocateur.

Here are two more hypotheses about who might benefit:

  • a Trump fan who realizes that Trump's main hope for reelection involves running against the cancel culture (I doubt that Trump himself is competent enough to arrange this).
  • the Chinese government might want to foment something like this in order to discredit the Western idea of free speech, since that idea is in some tension with the Chinese government's legitimacy. This would be pretty mild compared to, say, what the CIA did in Iran in 1953.

Too many hypotheses, too little evidence.

Comment by petermccluskey on High Stock Prices Make Sense Right Now · 2020-07-05T15:45:29.402Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When I mentioned p/e ratios, that was just a hasty simplification, not a description of how I generated the list. I looked at a variety of indicators, including free cash flow, revenues, forecasted earnings, and dividends. For Amazon and Salesforce, GAAP earnings imply extreme overvaluation, but are a bit misleading, and free cash flow provides a better measure (they still look overpriced, but not dramatically enough that I'm eager to short them). For the other 4 that I listed, p/e ratios look about as informative as the other measures.

Comment by petermccluskey on High Stock Prices Make Sense Right Now · 2020-07-04T02:33:07.320Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That would make sense if the increase in savings was expected to be mostly permanent. But in this case, the savings rate seems likely to revert to normal in a year or so. Why aren't investors who see that selling enough now for stock prices to anticipate that return to normal?

My answer is that markets were fairly irrational in April, and have now mostly returned to expecting the economy to be back to normal in a year or two.

I see little reason to think that an unusually large fraction of stocks are overpriced.

However, I do see some puzzles when I look at a fairly select group of stocks with high market capitalization:

  • Amazon
  • Salesforce
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Home Depot
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill

These and a modest number of similar companies have suspiciously high p/e ratios, and are big enough that a few dozen of them can be enough to make the S&P 500 overpriced, even if the majority of small-cap companies are underpriced.

Their prices are now saying that the pandemic did not cause harm. However, that might just be a continuation of a strange trend that was in place before the pandemic.

These stocks remind me of the Nifty Fifty of 50 years ago. Investors seem likely to be overconfident in these stocks, much as they were 50 years ago.

I also see some puzzles when I compare US stocks to other countries. Why do US stocks have high p/e ratios, high price/book ratios, etc, compared to countries which have handled the pandemic competently?

Comment by petermccluskey on High Stock Prices Make Sense Right Now · 2020-07-04T01:46:24.808Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Two months ago, many investors predicted that unemployment would remain high for a long time, presumably because that's how a typical recession works. There's been a fair amount of evidence since then that employment is able to recover from this atypical downturn much faster than those investors expected.

That's not the whole story, but I'd guess it accounts for at least 1/3 of the SPY rise over the past 2 months.

Comment by petermccluskey on Second Wave Covid Deaths? · 2020-07-02T01:43:10.530Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe in northern states. But I doubt that vitamin D levels are increasing in the southernmost cities, where heat is likely driving people indoors. Those are the areas that most need explaining.

Comment by petermccluskey on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-25T16:52:58.339Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've become a bit more suspicious of Cade Metz, now that I've noticed that he had some sort of association with former CEO Patrick Byrne. My impression of Byrne has long been that his personality is sort of like Trump's, but a bit less intelligent.

Anyone writing puff pieces about Byrne is likely to, at best, have poor judgment. That doesn't tell me much about the current controversy, but I now put a moderate probability on the idea that Metz knows he's working for some malicious people.

Also, Metz contacted me on June 1, wanting to ask questions about the rationality community and its overlap with Silicon Valley (he did not mention SSC). I offered to answer questions by email, but not by phone. He did not respond. I don't infer much from this, beyond the fact that his initial interest in a story was not due to something controversial that Scott posted in June.

I sent the following email to (before I noticed Metz's puff pieces about Byrne):

I'm puzzled by your apparent plan to publicize Scott Alexander's real name.

It sounds like you're following a policy which has a chilling effect on any psychiatrist who wishes to comment on public affairs. Can you explain how broad this policy is, and the purpose behind it? I'm having trouble imagining how it serves any professional purpose.

Comment by petermccluskey on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-24T17:23:25.643Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Tom Chivers has a nice opinion piece here.

Comment by petermccluskey on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-23T17:00:22.830Z · score: 13 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think "wants to doxx Scott" is the best description of their goals. This looks like part of a pervasive rule that also leads many media companies to deadname trans people.

Comment by petermccluskey on How to analyze progress, stagnation, and low-hanging fruit · 2020-06-15T21:52:02.780Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I will remind people that the book Where is my Flying Car? has a good deal of interesting thoughts on this topic.

Comment by petermccluskey on Isn't Tesla stock highly undervalued? · 2020-06-07T20:17:49.146Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've now invested in NIO, mainly because it's a leader in fast battery swapping. Most likely other companies will eventually catch up in that area, but being first will give it a shot at being one of the frontrunners.

Comment by petermccluskey on Most reliable news sources? · 2020-06-07T02:48:21.265Z · score: 15 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I skim the headlines for several topics on I read the Wikipedia current events portal. Stat is good for more depth, but covers fewer topics.

Comment by petermccluskey on Will the many protests throughout the USA prove to be good test cases for reopening? · 2020-05-31T17:20:06.389Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't expect any clear evidence. I expect that outdoor gatherings are fairly safe, especially in warm weather.

If there were no arrests, I'd predict no correlation with COVID-19 trends after adjusting for factors such as income and race. Crowded jails likely create some problems, but if jails spread the virus, that doesn't tell us much about health policies.

Comment by petermccluskey on Isn't Tesla stock highly undervalued? · 2020-05-19T19:16:40.628Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm guessing that no single company will dominate the battery market. I see some pro-Tesla hype, but little that would motivate me to pay 5 times sales for Tesla rather than 1 times sales for BYD.

Comment by petermccluskey on Isn't Tesla stock highly undervalued? · 2020-05-18T02:14:29.167Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Most investors are unaware that internal combustion engine cars are doomed. But I expect that they'll mostly be replaced by cheap electric cars from companies with little brand name recognition. Car use will continue to move to an Uber-like service model, where the car is a commodity. I'm betting on BYD, not Tesla.

Comment by petermccluskey on Project Proposal: Gears of Aging · 2020-05-14T16:52:47.900Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

People who fund billion dollar trials normally demand that they be run by relatively cautious people. That conflicts with the need for innovative models.

The good news is that there's wide variation in how expensive trials need to be. The larger the effect size, the smaller the trial can be - see the TRIIM trial.