Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma 2020-07-04T17:10:01.965Z · score: 72 (20 votes)
Short essays on various things I've watched 2020-06-12T22:50:01.957Z · score: 9 (2 votes)
Haskenthetical 2020-05-19T22:00:02.014Z · score: 18 (4 votes)
Chris Masterjohn on Coronavirus, Part 2 2020-04-28T21:50:01.430Z · score: 6 (5 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)


Comment by philh on RFC: COVID-19 Statistical Guilt · 2020-08-06T12:07:14.028Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I can't really help with your model building, but an option you might want to consider - could you skip the "immediate family at home" part and just attend the "extended family in the mountains" part? (Or vice versa.) That would cut out two flights.

Comment by philh on Delegate a Forecast · 2020-07-31T23:22:48.755Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is super self absorbed, and maybe not reasonably doable with the info you have, but... no harm in asking I guess.

I'd like to know my chances of winning the SSC book review contest (assuming Scott starts asking for entries again following this).

(In my favor: I think I'm a pretty good writer, reviewing a book that's totally on-brand. Against me: he had ~20 entries more than a month before the original deadline (and by Sturgeon's law, two of those might have been decent), and I haven't finished yet.)

Comment by philh on Criticism of some popular LW articles · 2020-07-22T17:28:47.958Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And fragility:

  1. It is easy for a flippening to occur.

Elizabeth uses the word "fragile", but doesn't say that this is what it means. I'm not sure exactly what she means by it - and I'm not sure if the thing she means is true - but I don't think this is a likely guess.

(My guess would be something like "unstable", in the sense that once it goes away, there's no particular reason to expect it to come back.)

But mutability does not imply fragility, and Elizabeth specifically says that it does.

Not specifically. She merely says that TPEs are fragile. This is somewhat a nitpick, but... I feel like you're trying to take something informal and formalize it, and some of the features of your formalization don't seem motivated by the informal version.

I’m frequently exposed to people with excessive belief in economic fragility. For example, the idea that “if we all just stopped believing in the value of money, it would be just paper.”

This seems basically true to me? I wouldn't call the economy fragile, because I don't expect this to happen. Sometimes people say things like this and I get the sense that they do think it means the economy is fragile in some way that I don't think it is. I think they're making a mistake, but not about this.

Comment by philh on My Dating Plan ala Geoffrey Miller · 2020-07-21T14:29:09.273Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It has 12 votes; if you remove all downvotes, it doesn’t have low karma anymore.

As a note, I wouldn't have upvoted this post normally, but I didn't think it deserved to be negative so I gave it one. I'm pretty sure there's a bunch of people who vote partly based on the current score, so if you remove all the downvotes, you probably remove a bunch of the upvotes too.

Comment by philh on Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask · 2020-07-20T17:57:15.667Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not a typo, but there was

Comment by philh on News ⊂ Advertising · 2020-07-19T09:12:23.637Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was reminded of this listening to Planet Money, The Holiday Industrial Complex. A bunch of TV stations ran segments on National Splurge Day. The reporter tried to track down where those segments came from, people were generally pretty cagey about it. But in one case it traced back to a PR person who wanted to get a grocery store on TV.

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-12T21:08:13.496Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To my personal taste, “chicken” is the game where 2W<X+Y; I think of chicken as fundamentally being a game where there isn’t a fair and socially optimal outcome w/​o correlated randomness (ie in correlated equilibria, we have the “stop light” solution where one player gets a signal to go straight, with fair odds of who gets to go). It becomes “hawk/​dove” when 2W≥X+Y, representing the idea that fighting can’t increase the amount of resources (at best the hawk strategy doesn’t destroy anything unless there’s another hawk; realistically it burns some resources either way, just a lot more when there are two hawks).

Hm. I agree that Hawk/Dove feels weird with . Chicken... I think I don't have strong feelings on the question. To the extent that I do, it's hard to disentangle from "actually, the outcome where you crash into each other really is super super bad", but that's not actually necessarily true. If I think in terms of "if you both swerve, then you're both cowards", then yeah, does feel natural. For the Farmer's Dilemma I feel like it can go both ways - there can be gains from working together, but also inefficiencies if e.g. you only have one bulldozer.

Farmer's Dilemma is definitely the less common name. (I didn't think I coined it myself but couldn't find any other references to it. From memory, I wrote most of the linked article without realizing it was the same as Chicken.) But I also just like it better as a name, and I have the vague sense that people equipped with that name will have an easier time recognizing instances of the problem. It's probably relevant that Order Without Law talks about problems that it calls Prisoner's Dilemmas, that I think are often Farmer's Dilemmas, in the context of... well, ranching, but close enough.

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-09T23:14:43.729Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I hadn't seen it before, but this file on wikipedia seems like it might be roughly that expanded version? Info Direct link to pdf I haven't looked closely at it though. The pdf doesn't render in firefox for me, but does render in evince, my external pdf viewer.

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-09T23:01:56.014Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for finding this! I'm a bit confused, though; it suggests that the game with payoffs

3,3   2,1
1,2   0,0

(an instance of Cake Eating), is equivalent to one of those named games. But... which? It only has one pure Nash equilibrium, so it can't be either hawk-dove or BOS, which both have two. And it can't be equivalent to PD - an instance of that would be

3,3   1,4
4,1   0,0

and these aren't equivalent. We have (3 > 1) but (3 < 4). So what am I missing?

(I had intended to try look this up myself, but I'm unlikely to do that in a timely manner, so I'm just leaving a comment. No obligation on you, of course.)

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-05T17:36:39.885Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I absolutely think it makes sense, I just don't know if I endorse it. Maybe it's context dependent; someone who just wants to write about the Nash equilibria of games won't have any reason to distinguish these cases, and lumping them all under "Prisoner's Dilemma" seems absolutely fine. But Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma (in my sense) is probably a very different game from Iterated Too Many Cooks, but I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone talk about ITMC. And from a social perspective, "punish anyone who defects in a PD" makes sense but "punish anyone who doesn't cook in TMC" risks leaving value on the table.

Maybe it would make sense to call them a "(something) Prisoner's Dilemma" and a "(something else) Prisoner's Dilemma" but I'm not sure what the somethings would be.

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-05T09:59:16.937Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-05T09:58:56.553Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, yeah. I had the same trouble and that would have been way better.

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-04T21:29:51.868Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't in general think there's anything wrong with comparing utilities between people in these things - that's what I'm doing when I talk about whether - but it would be simpler not to do so. Still, even then I think extending to all 8 would give far too many possibilities to be manually tractable - I make it .

But it wouldn't be too hard to write a program to classify them according to Nash equilibria, if someone wanted to do that. That might be a decent start.

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-04T21:15:32.023Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It does seem like the "best" game, Cake Eating, takes the "most holy" slot and the "worst" one, PD, takes the "most profane" slot. TINACBNIEAC.

Comment by philh on Classifying games like the Prisoner's Dilemma · 2020-07-04T19:04:10.751Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, GreaterWrong makes the link very obvious, but I couldn't see it on LW. Have done, thanks.

Comment by philh on Radical Probabilism [Transcript] · 2020-06-29T22:18:06.655Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(Transcription nitpick: IIRC I said "fewer constraints", not "pure constraints".)

Comment by philh on Prediction = Compression [Transcript] · 2020-06-26T16:27:46.678Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A comment from the zoom chat (I forget who from) said something like: If the environment gives you a hash of an observation, and then the observation itself, then you have compression but not prediction.

(I.e., you can take the output and remove the hashes to compress it, but you can't predict what's coming next.)

Comment by philh on Short essays on various things I've watched · 2020-06-13T18:29:50.084Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you elaborate? The wikipedia summary, which accords with my memory, is that

  1. She kills the person she thinks is the God of War. This doesn't stop the war.
  2. Steve sacrifices himself to stop the poison gas. (This is most of the "not literally nothing" I was referring to. I may have been downplaying it.)
  3. She kills the actual God of War. The war stops. (This is the "beat up the villain and then everything will be fine" I was referring to.)

If it weren't for (3) I'd agree with you.

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: 8 (3 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.