Haskenthetical 2020-05-19T22:00:02.014Z · score: 18 (4 votes)
Chris Masterjohn on Coronavirus, Part 2 2020-04-28T21:50:01.430Z · score: 4 (4 votes)
In my culture: the responsibilities of open source maintainers 2020-04-13T13:40:01.174Z · score: 41 (15 votes)
Chris Masterjohn on Coronavirus, Part 1 2020-03-29T11:00:00.819Z · score: 14 (6 votes)
My Bet Log 2020-03-19T21:10:00.929Z · score: 17 (3 votes)
Tapping Out In Two 2019-12-05T23:10:00.935Z · score: 18 (7 votes)
The history of smallpox and the origins of vaccines 2019-12-01T20:51:29.618Z · score: 15 (5 votes)
The Effect pattern: Transparent updates in Elm 2019-10-20T20:00:01.101Z · score: 8 (2 votes)
London Rationalish meetup (part of SSC meetups everywhere) 2019-09-12T20:32:52.306Z · score: 7 (1 votes)
Is this info on zinc lozenges accurate? 2019-07-27T22:05:11.318Z · score: 31 (11 votes)
A reckless introduction to Hindley-Milner type inference 2019-05-05T14:00:00.862Z · score: 17 (5 votes)
"Now here's why I'm punching you..." 2018-10-16T21:30:01.723Z · score: 29 (18 votes)
Pareto improvements are rarer than they seem 2018-01-27T22:23:24.206Z · score: 58 (21 votes)
2017-10-08 - London Rationalish meetup 2017-10-04T14:46:50.514Z · score: 9 (2 votes)
Authenticity vs. factual accuracy 2016-11-10T22:24:38.810Z · score: 5 (9 votes)
Costs are not benefits 2016-11-03T21:32:07.811Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
GiveWell: A case study in effective altruism, part 1 2016-10-14T10:46:23.303Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Six principles of a truth-friendly discourse 2016-10-08T16:56:59.994Z · score: 4 (7 votes)
Diaspora roundup thread, 23rd June 2016 2016-06-23T14:03:32.105Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Diaspora roundup thread, 15th June 2016 2016-06-15T09:36:09.466Z · score: 24 (27 votes)
The Sally-Anne fallacy 2016-04-11T13:06:10.345Z · score: 34 (28 votes)
Meetup : London rationalish meetup - 2016-03-20 2016-03-16T14:39:40.949Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : London rationalish meetup - 2016-03-06 2016-03-04T12:52:35.279Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : London rationalish meetup, 2016-02-21 2016-02-20T14:09:42.635Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : London Rationalish meetup, 7/2/16 2016-02-04T16:34:13.317Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : London diaspora meetup: weird foods - 24/01/2016 2016-01-21T16:45:10.166Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : London diaspora meetup, 10/01/2016 2016-01-02T20:41:05.950Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Stupid questions thread, October 2015 2015-10-13T19:39:52.114Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Bragging thread August 2015 2015-08-01T19:46:45.529Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Meetup : London meetup 2015-05-14T17:35:18.467Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Group rationality diary, May 5th - 23rd 2015-05-04T23:59:39.601Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Meetup : London meetup 2015-05-01T17:16:12.085Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Cooperative conversational threading 2015-04-15T18:40:50.820Z · score: 25 (26 votes)
Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 2015-04-06T14:18:34.872Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
[LINK] Interview with "Ex Machina" director Alex Garland 2015-04-02T13:46:56.324Z · score: 6 (7 votes)
[Link] Eric S. Raymond - Me and Less Wrong 2014-12-05T23:44:57.913Z · score: 23 (23 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup in my flat 2014-11-19T23:55:37.211Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup 2014-09-25T16:35:18.705Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup 2014-09-07T11:26:52.626Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup - possibly in a park 2014-07-22T17:20:28.288Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup - possibly in a park 2014-07-04T23:22:56.836Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
How has technology changed social skills? 2014-06-08T12:41:29.581Z · score: 16 (16 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup - possibly in a park 2014-05-21T13:54:16.372Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup - possibly in a park 2014-05-14T13:27:30.586Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup - possibly in a park 2014-05-09T13:37:19.129Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
May Monthly Bragging Thread 2014-05-04T08:21:17.681Z · score: 10 (10 votes)
Meetup : London social meetup 2014-04-30T13:34:43.181Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Why don't you attend your local LessWrong meetup? / General meetup feedback 2014-04-27T22:17:01.129Z · score: 25 (25 votes)
Meetup report: London LW paranoid debating session 2014-02-16T23:46:40.591Z · score: 11 (11 votes)
Meetup : London VOI meetup 16/2, plus socials 9/2 and 23/2 2014-02-07T19:17:55.841Z · score: 4 (4 votes)


Comment by philh on A taxonomy of Cruxes · 2020-05-28T19:54:31.562Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think they mean "should that "not" be there at all?"

Comment by philh on Why We Age, Part 2: Non-adaptive theories · 2020-05-27T12:38:33.471Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm missing the point, but doesn't "because the juvenile needs to fit inside at least one parent" mostly suffice as an answer?

Comment by philh on What aspects of the world emotionally bothers you on an immediate personal level on a daily basis? · 2020-05-24T21:17:28.958Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Conflict theorists, cashed out as something like "people who saw the article as an attempted power grab and so upvoted the person attacking it" feels like it fits, but... I dunno, I try to be hesitant to use conflict theory as an explanation, because it's so easy to make it fit. On the other hand, that doesn't mean it's wrong.

I appreciated your words more than I would have done upvotes; thank you.

Comment by philh on What aspects of the world emotionally bothers you on an immediate personal level on a daily basis? · 2020-05-24T20:55:32.318Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps, but... I honestly can't tell what opinion that would be.

Like, a thing I appreciate about the commenter is that they're admirably straightforward. They say what they think and don't try to weasel out of it later. I don't love that they're deliberately trying to hurt me (seemingly without checking if they could accomplish their goals some other way), but at least they're upfront about it. It seems to me that there's unusually little room for misinterpretation here.

And yet, so much of what they're saying is completely out there, and I just don't believe that most people agree with it.

I could believe that most people agree, at least unreflexively and perhaps after consideration, with "OSS maintainers have no responsibility". (And possibly even with "no responsibility at all without consent".) But I think most of them would not bite the bullets that this user does.

Like, I could see someone saying "they don't have a responsibility here, but they still shouldn't deliberately introduce bugs to brick people's OSes, and it's totally reasonable for people to complain if they do". And then there's a conversation about what does responsibility even mean, and maybe it turns out we don't mean the same thing by it and don't really disagree that much, or maybe we actually do have some important disagreements. But that's not at all where the conversation went.

I don't believe most people agree with "If someone deliberately bricks a bunch of people's OSes, and then stops doing that, you call them generous". I don't even believe most people agree with the earlier bit about deliberately bricking OSes not being something to complain about.

I could believe that most people agree, at least unreflexively and perhaps after consideration, that I'm being too demanding. I included a list of quotes to say "no, really, I'm demanding very little", but I could see someone thinking I'm demanding more than I realize, or thinking I'm being dishonest about how much I'm demanding, or something. But that's not where the conversation went either. That user doesn't obviously think either of those. They call me a narcissist, but not a liar. They don't say that the opt-outs I offer are burdensome.

I don't believe that most people agree with the thing about "if I have a habit of offering to vacuum for people and not showing up, no one has the right to ask me why".

So to the extent those comments express an opinion held by /r/programming at large, I think they also express much more extreme opinions that /r/programming doesn't hold.

(I could be missing something, of course. I don't trust myself to see clearly here.)

Comment by philh on What aspects of the world emotionally bothers you on an immediate personal level on a daily basis? · 2020-05-22T22:17:21.581Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Lately it's a reddit argument I had recently.

Not just the argument itself. One asshole I could deal with. The fact that people upvoted them...

Like, there's nothing that particularly stands out to me about /r/programming readers. As far as I know they're generally fairly normal humans. And a bunch of generally fairly normal humans apparently thought that those comments were good?


Comment by philh on Haskenthetical · 2020-05-21T21:40:10.007Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, thanks! Someone on reddit also pointed me at purescript.

I've realized that since the only language I know with extensible records is Elm, it doesn't say much that I don't know any with open variants.

Comment by philh on Haskenthetical · 2020-05-20T08:40:41.049Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think I basically agree. If I had to pick a chief benefit (which I don't) I'd say that it enables easy macros - but it does that because it's easy to parse and represent as Lisp data, so to some extent it just depends what level you feel like looking at.

Comment by philh on Haskenthetical · 2020-05-20T08:16:45.157Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's partly the point.

I'm not confident in this answer, but... I don't think I'd prefer Haskell-of-2020 if you straight up switched it to Lisp syntax. But if you took an early version of Haskell, switched that to Lisp syntax, and then continued evolving that through to 2020, I think I might like that better than actual Haskell-of-2020. (Assuming it managed to get a comparable amount of effort put into it, which is dubious. Not everyone likes Lisp syntax. And assuming the effort was directed by a comparable amount of... taste?, which is also dubious. Like, you're making the language design process more individualistic but also more democratic, there's no way that doesn't have some effect on what you end up with. I don't have strong opinions on whether the effect is good overall.)

Comment by philh on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-05-19T22:27:24.403Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On a similar note, I use a kinesis advantage; I had to choose between that and an ergodox and expected to like it slightly more, but I can't actually compare.

I've set it up so that if I hold caps lock, I can control the mouse with my right hand. Not as fluidly as I'd like, at least partly due to (what I believe to be) bugs in the xkb code implementing such things. I can only move 100px at a time. But I also have focus-follows-mouse, and that makes it really easy to jump between two windows, which by itself is a decently big win.

caps lock also mirrors the right side of the keyboard to the left, letting me type (slowly) with one hand and mouse with the other. I haven't ended up using that much though.

Comment by philh on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-15T15:06:46.056Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

that time the market proved to be incapable of doing addition.

The caveat from the link that this mistake couldn't be arbitraged seems important.

I need to resist the temptation here to leap from "can't be exploited" to "therefore not stupid", because that's not what you mean by stupid. But I think it seems important even if I resist that temptation.

Comment by philh on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-15T14:03:46.033Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the stock price rally of the last couple months had not much todo with EMH.

I'm not sure exactly what you're saying here - it sounds like "the EMH didn't cause the rally", but I don't think anyone was crediting the EMH with causing anything?

In any case, the Fed did do what they did. And one could have considered in advance the possibility that they might do so, and priced that into one's predictions. Central bank ad-hoc overnight actions are absolutely something the EMH covers - if not, the theory would be "markets take into account all available information except that about potential central bank ad-hoc overnight actions".

Comment by philh on Insights from Euclid's 'Elements' · 2020-05-07T12:22:49.999Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems worth noting here that Elements isn't entirely rigorous. I don't remember many details about that, but's_Elements#Criticism has some. I do remember this bit (or at least something very similar):

Later, in the fourth construction, he used superposition (moving the triangles on top of each other) to prove that if two sides and their angles are equal, then they are congruent; during these considerations he uses some properties of superposition, but these properties are not described explicitly in the treatise.

Because when we studied Elements at math camp when I was ~16 I remember this standing out to me. I think we were going through it as a group, and the instructor asked if anyone could prove each theorem in turn before giving us the answer if we couldn't. Unsurprisingly, no one could prove this one. When he showed us how it was done I felt a bit... cheated? because no one had told us we could do that. But I didn't do anything with this feeling, I think I just assumed that everything was fine, I should have been able to work out that we could do that.

Later I learned that no, it was in fact cheating and we could not do that.

Comment by philh on SlateStarCodex 2020 Predictions: Buy, Sell, Hold · 2020-05-05T07:53:04.764Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right, yes. I've never got the hang of translating things into bets. I spent several minutes checking and still got it wrong.

Comment by philh on SlateStarCodex 2020 Predictions: Buy, Sell, Hold · 2020-05-05T07:47:42.303Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's fair :)

Comment by philh on SlateStarCodex 2020 Predictions: Buy, Sell, Hold · 2020-05-04T12:35:03.097Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Trump at 50% is quite far off IMO (I’d quote 25@35 for Trump).

That is, you would accept either of the following bets?

  • If Trump wins, you pay 25; if he loses, you gain 75
  • If Trump wins, you gain 35; if he loses, you pay 65

I would take the second one, my $35-70 if he wins against your $65-130 if he loses, if you can give evidence for your trustworthiness. (I can do the same. Nothing personal, just you don't have a history here for me to go on. Lower stakes probably aren't worth the hassle for me.) But fair warning, I would hedge it on betfair to win out either way.

Comment by philh on Prolonging life is about the optionality, not about the immortality · 2020-05-04T07:02:37.184Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Humans that live for a very long time, would have much higher stakes in everything. People don’t care about e.g. the climate when they are old, because they will be dead in a few dozen years anyway. Or, to put it on a higher level, people discount tail risks because of their short life.

I don't think this is obvious. My understanding is that high expected lifespan does correlate with low time preference, which I think is at least roughly what you're talking about here. But I don't know what the causal chain is, or how malleable time preference is in currently living people.

Comment by philh on Seasonality of COVID-19, Other Coronaviruses, and Influenza · 2020-05-04T06:39:13.469Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're asking me to do a significant amount of work here, and it's not clear you understand the actual claims being made. "Vitamin D weakens defenses against SARS-CoV-2" is not a good summary of them.

Edit: oh, to be fair that was somewhat my fault, apologies. I linked to the old version, and to a part of the page below where it says it's the old version. has more.

Comment by philh on Seasonality of COVID-19, Other Coronaviruses, and Influenza · 2020-05-03T20:46:33.634Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is, however, no reason to think that taking 1000 IU of vitamin D per day has any harmful effects,

There is some reason to think this, for Covid-19. See (The recommendation there is in fact to supplement 1000 IU daily, but it's a balance-of-probabilities thing. We have some reason to think that would be bad and some reason to think it would be good.)

Comment by philh on Chris Masterjohn on Coronavirus, Part 1 · 2020-05-01T22:46:17.070Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good question, and thanks for looking into it!

This might be about the difference between elderberry and "elderberry extract"? [1] confirms that Sambucol contains 3.8g elderberry per 10ml, as you say. I wish it were more descriptive. [2] says Elderberrys are 80% water, bringing us down to 4.5g of whatever's left over. I could believe that "elderberry extract" is only about 20% again of that? Though my first guess would have been that the extract is just "elderberries with the water taken out".

Looking up the references for human trials, Chris offers [3] and [4]. [3] doesn't seem to be open access and there's nothing helpful in the abstract. Glancing at [4], it's not about Sambucol but they did seem to use ~1g of elderberry extract. I also ran into [5] which Chris doesn't cite but seems relevant since it's actually about Sambucol, but the dose isn't in the abstract. (It says free full text but I couldn't find it with a few seconds of clicking, I think maybe I'd need to create an account.)

So my tentative guess would be that Sambucol just has a lot less "elderberry extract" than the 38% concentration makes it sound like; so that if you're taking that you'd want to take the recommended dose, to get the equivalent of ~1000mg "elderberry extract" from other sources.


Comment by philh on Negative Feedback and Simulacra · 2020-04-29T23:49:47.453Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

choosing/pretending to cut off your awareness of higher levels in order to maintain moral purity does you no good.

I feel like it can be a valid level 4 move, a bid to shift communication in the direction of level 1.

Comment by philh on Forbidden Technology · 2020-04-27T12:12:51.899Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My issue with “pure” functional programming languages, and I’m speaking with a sample size of one here (Haskell), is that Monads and I/​O seem comically difficult to use or explain. It’s possible that I just haven’t put in the hours reading through long detailed explanations of these concepts, and that if I did it’d “click” and I’d never have to think about them again,

Fwiw, yeah, this is basically how it went for me. Or, well, maybe not so much "reading through long detailed explanations" as "reading through through long detailed compilation errors" (though I'm sure I did both). Actually trying to use them seems probably important, not just reading about them. But yeah, I'd say that by now they seem intuitive to me, to the point where I had to resist adding my own attempt at a monad primer to this comment, and I only occasionally have to think in detail about them.

(Also, not really important, but this is more about the type system than about being a pure functional language. I don't recommend using Elm for anything serious, but that has a similar-but-weaker type system without monads or (in some important sense) IO, while remaining purely functional. Early versions of Haskell didn't have monads or (in the same sense) IO either.)

Comment by philh on Why do you have a personal rationalist blog instead of using LessWrong? Why don't you cross-post all your relevant blog posts? · 2020-04-26T20:55:41.800Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've had my blog since before LW had a "nothing is off topic" section, and I've cross-posted almost everything I've written since LW2 came out, and everything I've written since the mods set up automatic cross posting for me. I set up a separate RSS feed so that I could exclude some things, but I haven't excluded anything yet.

I don't actually feel like nothing is off topic on personal blog posts, and since I currently at least click through to most of what gets posted to LW, I'm kind of glad that we don't get people posting daily pictures of their cat. (And if they did do that, I'm not really sure what voting on those posts would be meant to indicate. I'd feel bad downvoting that in a way that I don't feel bad downvoting incoherent ramblings.) So if I do exclude something in future, it may be because I feel like it's off topic regardless of what the LW team thinks.

(I'd previously intended not to cross post my posts about software. But I saw someone specifically say they wanted to see more about programming here, so I figured why not.)

Comment by philh on covid-19 notes, 4/19/20 · 2020-04-22T08:27:08.293Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Since I didn't recognize the term: NPI seems to be non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Comment by philh on Popular papers to be scrutinized? · 2020-04-18T12:45:51.888Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Malcolm Gladwell's pop science comes to mind, though I wouldn't be surprised if that's already been done to your satisfaction.

Comment by philh on Scraping websites currently free due to coronavirus · 2020-04-17T23:56:53.671Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with the question. I don't know if we should avoid this. But I think we should consider whether, for example, these sites are opening up with the implicit expectation that people will take advantage of it for covid-related purposes; and whether, if we just start scraping everything, that'll make them or similar sites less likely to open up in future.

Comment by philh on Coronavirus: Justified Key Insights Thread · 2020-04-17T11:50:03.871Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Since financial firms generally believe in the EMH,

Hm. This seems worth poking at: if a financial firm believes in the EMH, why would they be making trades at all?

My understanding of the EMH is that an oversimplified version is "you can't beat the market, any public information is already priced in". If you believe this version, you should just buy into low-fee index trackers.

A more sophisticated version is: "the market has lots of clever people trying to beat it. If you can beat those players, you can beat the market". Under that version, it makes sense for a large financial firm to make trades despite believing in the EMH, because a large financial firm is exactly the kind of organization to have the resources to beat those people.

But under that version, it seems like the firm needs to have some way for people to signal "I think I know better than the entire world..." and make trades on that, because that's the only way trades ever get made.

And my intuition-that-I-can't-justify is that: if people couldn't make trades in this specific case due to social reality within the firms being out of sync with actual observable reality, then that's probably not confined to this one particular case; and we'd see individuals beating the market a lot more often than we do.

(This is very much a case of "I don't actually know what I'm talking about.")

Comment by philh on In my culture: the responsibilities of open source maintainers · 2020-04-15T17:17:13.535Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I sort of hinted at what I mean by responsibility but it would probably be good to make explicit. I'm less confident about what responsibility-in-my-culture is than what it involves, but to take a stab at it anyway...

I mostly think of it as a social attempt to solve a coordination game. Broadly speaking, it's good for people to be able to do the things they want; and in some situations, it's good for people to be able to predict what other people will do. One way to solve this is to say "people can just do what they want as long as it doesn't infringe on anyone's rights" but I think that doesn't give very good results. ("Rights" is another rabbit hole here. Not going there.) I think better is to say "people can just do what they want as long as it doesn't infringe on anyone's rights, but also people are able to make commitments about future behaviour", and if they violate those commitments they get punished in some way. My conception of responsibility goes slightly further and says... "here is a set of default expectations we have about people's behaviour. We think they're not too constraining. In some cases, if you don't like them, you can opt out and do what you want. But if you're going to do that, you need to opt out explicitly, and people are at liberty to take that into account in their interactions with you". And then if someone violates one of those expectations, they get punished in some way.

you haven’t laid out the rewards that are contingent on discharging one’s responsibility well.

Yeah, this didn't occur to me at all. Thinking about why... I think to me, the rewards beyond "not getting punished" are mostly much more individual than the responsibilities are. If you maintain an open source project, you presumably get some form of reward for it - maybe prestige, maybe the warm glow of helping people, maybe you're getting paid. It'll be different for different people. But it doesn't really matter what they are. If you can get the rewards without taking on responsibility, good for you. If you can't, then you either take the rewards with the responsibility, or neither. If you try to take the rewards but avoid the responsibility, that's a problem for society-at-large: you're giving people incorrect assumptions about your future actions, in a way that transfers value from them to yourself, and in a way that (mildly) undermines the whole social edifice we've got built up. And so we discourage that, and try to make you choose, and try to give people more correct expectations.

Comment by philh on COVID-19: List of ideas to reduce the direct harm from the virus, with an emphasis on unusual ideas · 2020-04-13T18:59:56.702Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Skepticism regarding that:

Comment by philh on Requesting examples of successful remote research collaborations, and information on what made it work? · 2020-04-03T14:45:35.424Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know much about it, but the Polymath project seems to have had some success. It's both remote and highly distributed though, so unless you're planning to work with 40 people any lessons might not generalize.

Comment by philh on April Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-04-03T14:07:11.937Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How much do we know about gender differences?

I saw a reddit thread suggesting that women have different symptoms than men, though it was super anecdotal and I can't find it now. I know women have a lower death rate, and I understand that was originally suspected to be because men smoke more but more recently maybe that turns out not to explain the whole difference? This paper suggests that men have more ACE2 than women, which is the enzyme the virus binds to.

Is this a thread that's been well explored by others?

Comment by philh on Is this info on zinc lozenges accurate? · 2020-03-24T16:35:41.640Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know and I don't know.

Well, a tablet would be a lot smaller. If they worked at all... I guess either they'd be really low dose compared to a lozenge, and you'd have to suck on many many of them; or they'd be highly concentrated, and then sucking on many many of them seems like a bad idea and sucking on just one seems unlikely to work very well (it's supposed to spend a while dissolving).

If you have specific tablets in mind, you could look at the formulation and see whether, if they were lozenges, they'd be acceptable. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the difference between a tablet and a lozenge is something that would rule out all tablets.

Comment by philh on My Bet Log · 2020-03-20T11:59:49.115Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is now a good time to point out that this bet can be thrown?

As in I could deliberately infect myself or some other member? Sure, but I'm not gonna do that for 30 euros and I think my opponent doesn't expect me to.

If I was that type of person, and ignoring all social, ethical and legal consequences of doing so... there are at least two factors making my expected payout from it lower than 30 euros, potentially even negative in combination:

  1. There's still some chance I'd win naturally.
  2. We decided on a set of mutually agreeable arbitrators in the case of ambiguity. If he thought I'd done this, then regardless of other consequences, he could appeal to one of them, and I think he'd have a decent chance of them siding with him.

When your first sample is from known liars and your second from people that fucked everything else up that doesn’t inspire confidence.

Sure, these numbers are obviously not very reliable. But:

  1. If the actual infection rate is 100x the reported one in Hubei, that's still only 10% of the population. If it's 100x the reported rate in Italy, that's still only 5% of the population. If Italy fucked up unusually badly, it'll be less than 5% in most of the rest of Europe (where most of the chat participants live). Though admittedly the numbers are still growing.
  2. Confirmed numbers are actually unusually relevant for this, because if someone has a mild case and never gets tested, I may not win the bet.

Well, there’s a very good reason for that, isn’t there?

I consider this off-topic and I'd prefer it not to be discussed in this thread.

Comment by philh on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-20T08:28:21.378Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't personally know more than that. The citation for the second bit that I quoted is: Lawson, L. D. & Hughes, B. G. Characterization of the formation of allicin and other thiosulfinates from garlic. Planta Med. 58, 345–350 (1992).

Comment by philh on Welcome to the Haskell Jungle · 2020-03-20T00:37:23.318Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I find type level programming (e.g. type families, higher kinded types) to be fairly important. For example, ghc is implemented using a technique called "trees that grow" that allows you to make slight modifications to a data structure in different places that it's used. Instead of "in this part of the codebase, we assume that the Maybe Frobnicator field has been populated with a Just", you can have "in this part of codebase, that field just has plain old type Frobnicator".

Comment by philh on Where can we donate time and money to avert coronavirus deaths? · 2020-03-19T23:21:40.282Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't read it yet, but this post on the EA forum tries to answer the money question.

Comment by philh on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-19T23:13:25.225Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And since I had to look it up: the RDA is only 600 IU, assuming no sun exposure. (600 IU = 15μg)

Comment by philh on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-19T23:05:35.028Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Note: In the summary post, this comment thread suggests getting only normal amounts of vitamin D.

Comment by philh on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-19T22:55:36.319Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Fwiw Chris Masterjohn (see below) also recommends garlic. He recommends crushing it before eating though:

180 micrograms per day of stabilized allicin; or one clove of fresh, raw garlic, crushed, exposed to open air for ten minutes, and eaten without cooking or mixing with other ingredients; or 4 grams of garlic powder, mixed with water, exposed to open air for ten minutes, and eaten without cooking or mixing with other ingredients.


Garlic does not contain allicin itself. Rather, it contains alliin, which is converted to allicin within ten minutes when raw garlic is crushed, or when garlic powder is mixed with water, and either are allowed to sit at room temperature in the open air for ten minutes.

Comment by philh on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-19T22:48:19.183Z · score: 11 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He's now made public the list of what he's doing, just with a lot less detail.

Comment by philh on Programmers Should Plan For Lower Pay · 2020-03-19T11:16:32.692Z · score: 23 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Update: I lost this bet and have paid out.

Comment by philh on Where can we donate time and money to avert coronavirus deaths? · 2020-03-18T22:37:36.414Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

GiveWell seems like a natural recommendation. They've said they're looking into it:

But if they already have a lot of cash lying around, donations to them now might not increase the amount of good they can do with it short term. Their 2018 financial statement says they had $26m cash compared to $36m donations from that year, but I don't know how much of that they'd be able to use for this purpose. Oh, I guess "net assets without donor restrictions, $12m" is the relevant number for that?

Still, they're currently my default.

Comment by philh on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-18T21:29:44.715Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To be clear, he recommends for getting normal levels of vitamin D and A, but against supplementing. For someone likely to be deficient, I guess that might mean supplementing small amounts, or larger amounts every few days.

I've skimmed it; he sounds very convincing,[1] and he previously turned me on to zinc. I'm not capable of following the science directly. I wonder if it's worth trying to convince him to release it freely (possibly with a lump sum of money), but first I'd want someone more knowledgable than me to evaluate it. When I raised the possibility on the EA coronavirus facebook group, I mostly got the reaction that he seems sketchy (which, yeah, looking at his website he absolutely does); and that nutritionists in general are unreliable even when they seem to have good science. I'm not sure how much weight to assign to those.

Copying from what I wrote on facebook:

So the argument against vitamin D supplementation is that it increases the amount of ACE2 on our cells. ACE2's normal role is in blood pressure and keeping the lungs and heart healthy. (There's a lot more detail on that in the "detailed scientific analysis" section.) But SARS-Cov-2 gets into cells by hijacking ACE2. It has this in common with regular SARS and only one other known human coronavirus (NL63). Specifically the claim seems to be that ACE2 currently docked on cell surfaces would allow viral entry, and ACE2 that's been shed from cell surfaces ("serum ACE2") "is likely to be protective or irrelevant", though that bit doesn't have a citation.

The evidence that vitamin D increases ACE2 seems to be mostly based on rat studies. There were three supporting this, three contracticting (of which one was on humans). But two of the contradicting studies (including the one on humans) looked at serum ACE2 which may not correlate with docked ACE2. The other one had a thing going on with kidney injury that could have caused the effect. He concludes that "On the balance, vitamin D is likely to increase ACE2 expression" and recommends against supplementing it.

(I think the argument against vitamin A supplementation is also that it increases ACE2, but I haven't looked closely at that.)

So I guess concrete(ish) questions that I have:

  • Does SARS-CoV-2 indeed get into cells by taking advantage of ACE2, and specifically ACE2 docked on the cell surface? Wikipedia on ACE2 says "ACE2 receptors have been shown to be the entry point...", and points out that receptors are different from ACE2 itself.
  • Are there experimental/observational studies on the effects of Vitamin D supplementation on SARS?
  • Two of the rat studies showed that "calcitriol, the active metabolite of vitamin D ... synergizes with diabetes to increase ACE2 protein" in different parts of rats. Does that mean they only tested on diabetic rats, and would that make the studies not generalize very well?
  • Does this kind of argument have a history of predicting experimental/observational results? I'm reminded of Scott's recent post on the fat diet, which I think roughly concluded "yah that seems like a solid theoretical argument, but all the empirical evidence seems to contradict it so???"

The citations offered for SARS-CoV-2 getting into cells by ACE2 docked on the cell surface:

The second one apparently is free, but behind a login screen.

Also, citations for vitamin D raising ACE2:

  1. Xu, J. et al. Vitamin D alleviates lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury via regulation of the renin-angiotensin system. Mol. Med. Rep. 16, 7432–7438 (2017).
  2. Lin, M. et al. Calcitriol regulates angiotensin-converting enzyme and angiotensin converting-enzyme 2 in diabetic kidney disease. Mol. Biol. Rep. 43, 397–406 (2016).
  3. Cui, C. et al. Vitamin D receptor activation regulates microglia polarization and oxidative stress in spontaneously hypertensive rats and angiotensin II-exposed microglial cells: Role of renin-angiotensin system. Redox Biol 26, 101295 (2019).
  4. Andersen, L. B. et al. Vitamin D depletion aggravates hypertension and target-organ damage. J. Am. Heart Assoc. 4, (2015).
  5. Ali, R. M., Al-Shorbagy, M. Y., Helmy, M. W. & El-Abhar, H. S. Role of Wnt4/β-catenin, Ang II/TGFβ, ACE2, NF-κB, and IL-18 in attenuating renal ischemia/reperfusion-induced injury in rats treated with Vit D and pioglitazone. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 831, 68–76 (2018).
  6. Anguiano, L. et al. Circulating angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 activity in patients with chronic kidney disease without previous history of cardiovascular disease. Nephrol. Dial. Transplant 30, 1176–1185 (2015).

The first three are pro, the others are con.

[1] By which I mean, he sounds like he's done lots of research, weighed it up, and followed where it took him. He includes disclaimers like "as a hedge" and "here are some studies disagreeing, which I think is because..."

Comment by philh on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-18T21:09:05.057Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I had to look it up:

So to be clear, you're saying that paracetamol is probably safer than NSAIDs, but avoid even that if you can?

Comment by philh on Rationalists, Post-Rationalists, And Rationalist-Adjacents · 2020-03-16T15:54:59.251Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The post-rationalist category can be talked about constructively, although it’s a bit hard to do this in a way that satisfies everyone, especially rationalists, because it require giving up commitment to a single ontology as the only right ontology.

To clarify syntax here, and then to ask the appropriate follow up question... do you mean more like

  • In order to give a satisfying constructive definition of post rationalists, one must give up commitment to a single ontology

(Which would be surprising to me - could you elaborate?)

or more like

  • The constructive definition of post rationalist would include something like "a person who has given up commitment to a single ontology"

(In which case I don't see why it would be hard to give that definition in a way that satisfies rationalists?)

Comment by philh on Meetups in the era of COVID-19 · 2020-03-15T21:22:08.135Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. We do have a Facebook group and slack channel for this, and the slack channel is barely used. But I could believe it would be valuable if it was used (it offers different affordances than Facebook, which is why we bothered to set it up). Discord is similar to that, and would be more likely to get used if it was also used for the meetups.

Hangouts worked fine today, but we're leaning towards trying discord for next time.

Comment by philh on The absurdity of un-referenceable entities · 2020-03-15T13:56:17.534Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Countable doesn't mean finite. See

Comment by philh on Meetups in the era of COVID-19 · 2020-03-15T13:03:25.113Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Off the top of my head, relevant considerations for comparing options:

  • Does it work on Linux, Windows, OS X, Android and iPhone?
  • Does everyone need to download something?
  • Do users (and organizers, but less important) need to create an account with something?
  • What's the quality like?
  • If the organizer needs to leave early, can everyone else stick around?
  • Is there text chat as well?
  • Is there text chat also available outside of the meetup times?
  • Is there value in picking the same option as other meetups?

I'm not sure how to weight these. I'm also not sure how much it really matters; it may be a case of "just pick something decently good".

Comment by philh on Meetups in the era of COVID-19 · 2020-03-15T11:10:12.411Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you know how Discord compares to other options for group calls? I'd been planning to have the London meetup today on Google Hangouts on the basis of not needing people to download something (I think).

(Though downloading something is probably less of an issue if this is going on for months.)

Comment by philh on Rationalists, Post-Rationalists, And Rationalist-Adjacents · 2020-03-14T14:07:50.510Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

if there’s a domain where the model gives two incompatible predictions, then as soon as that’s noticed it has to be rectified in some way.

This feels excessive to me, but maybe you didn't intend it as strongly as I interpret.

I do think it's the case that if you have incompatible predictions, something is wrong. But I think often the best you can do to correct it is to say something like...

"Okay, this part of my model would predict this thing, and that part would predict that thing, and I don't really know how to reconcile that. I don't know which if either is correct, and until I understand this better I'm going to proceed with caution in this area, and not trust either of those parts of my model too much."

Does that seem like it would satisfy the intent of what you wrote?

Comment by philh on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-11T10:34:19.225Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It interacted with them, but it's not clear to me that it interacted in a way that's relevant to the credibility of the CDC.

The examples are "a list of actions from the CDC that we believe are misleading or otherwise indicative of an underlying problem", but this isn't an action from the CDC and it doesn't obviously indicate a problem at the CDC.

Am I missing something?