Quantified Risks of Gay Male Sex 2014-08-18T23:55:11.577Z
Community bias in threat evaluation 2014-01-17T04:01:57.662Z
Some thoughts on having children 2014-01-08T17:26:16.266Z


Comment by pianoforte611 on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2016-06-18T17:34:52.490Z · LW · GW

I don't understand why you would want this. It doesn't take exactly X times as much effort to provide X times as much productivity, but its a way better approximation than a log scale. Is the goal to discourage commerce, and promote self sufficiency?

Comment by pianoforte611 on Exercise in rationality: popular quotes, revisited · 2016-04-26T13:08:19.435Z · LW · GW

I agree that popular quotes can be used irrationally - a shield to hide behind instead of questioning what is actually best. However, sometimes they are simply good advice in some situations and bad advice in others. Can you not think of a class of scenarios in which Lincoln's advice is good advice?

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-19T14:07:41.645Z · LW · GW

Strongly second the advice to have him go to a psychiatrist or neurologist. The type of seizure you are thinking of is a grand mal seizure which is not the only kind. This sounds like a very typical partial seizure to me.

Comment by pianoforte611 on The Sally-Anne fallacy · 2016-04-12T15:02:32.927Z · LW · GW

I agree very much that this is a thing that happens, but I don't think it needs to a named fallacy. There is even a standard nomenclature - failure of theory of mind (its more general but it works).

Comment by pianoforte611 on [Link] Op-Ed on Brussels Attacks · 2016-04-04T23:02:00.612Z · LW · GW

I skimmed two of your papers. I'm honestly shocked that you're the same person. They were both precise, carefully argued and with none of the pseudo-rigor or tunnel vision that I've found in your other writing. I apologize for misjudging you.

Unfortunately, I'm not interested in debating the specifics of this argument, and I never claimed to be an expert on ISIS. However I maintain that you are going beyond your scope of expertise when you claim to know what "ISIS would love to see".

Comment by pianoforte611 on [Link] Op-Ed on Brussels Attacks · 2016-04-03T22:32:55.374Z · LW · GW

I think can finally state what is it about many of your arguments makes me go "sigh, here we go again". (And I suspect a lot of people, given that your political posts tend to be negatively received by a lot of people).

Your arguments take a general form that is something like the following. State that A could have beneficial effects B, C and D. Dismiss any suggestions that A could have negative effects E, F and G. Insistently state that since A could have beneficial effects B, C and D, then the expected utility of A is positive - throw some made up numbers and probabilities to justify said expected positive utility of A, so therefore we should do A.*

This is incredibly annoying. It is even more annoying because, (and I'm sorry to be blunt), you're way out of your depth on most of the things you write. You don't know how ISIS works (not that I think that the average person should spend time figuring out how ISIS's ideology works), you don't know how politics works, and your model of rationality is out of touch with how human knowledge is actually furthered.

*Also ignore suggestions that A could have a net negative effect on B, C and D via other casual pathways. See here to see what I'm talking about:

Comment by pianoforte611 on The Thyroid Madness : Core Argument, Evidence, Probabilities and Predictions · 2016-03-18T15:21:23.588Z · LW · GW

The medical establishment has already lost interest in doing anything about CFS

Comment by pianoforte611 on The Thyroid Madness : Core Argument, Evidence, Probabilities and Predictions · 2016-03-17T02:20:04.669Z · LW · GW

It seems I somewhat misunderstood your argument and misjudged you; I tentatively pegged you as a pig’s thyroid evangel feigning humility. I apologize. I also apologize because I am not the opponent you are looking for.

Since I apparently didn’t stress this enough, I will conclude by saying again that without interventional data, you have nothing. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, if it disagrees with experiment then its wrong. Repeating your hypothesis again and again, doesn’t help your case, it hurts your credibility. Unfortunately this is all I have to offer that I think is worth offering at this point.

Comment by pianoforte611 on The Thyroid Madness : Core Argument, Evidence, Probabilities and Predictions · 2016-03-16T12:22:49.628Z · LW · GW

This seems like the entire problem. How to convince people to do the expensive experiments needed to explore the obvious hypothesis, without already knowing the answers?

Get an MD, prescribe pig's thyroid if you really believe it such a fantastic treatment. If the evidence is clear, start a clinical trial. Admittedly, I don't know if you can do that in the the nationalized UK health system, if you're in private practice in the US I believe you have enough leeway to do that. You'll be under very heavy scrutiny though, and there may be insurance issues but I don't understand them well.

As to what you're missing? It's really simple - you have an interesting hypothesis and not much else. And you have almost no quality data to back it up. Without that, there is nothing there to criticize. Your single case of pig's thyroid working is the most interesting evidence to me, however, personally I would bet on FM and the other somatoform disorders having heterogeneous causes (they aren't the same disease in every person). For example:

I'd be surprised if pig's thyroid cured a mitochondrial myopathy.

Also, the reason why expert' aren't taking you seriously, is that you kind of sound like a crank. A very intelligent crank admittedly, but a crank nonetheless. It's not that you have lots of facts wrong, it's more subtle than that, and I'm afraid it's hard to explain. Statements like this

It seems that one is either forced to accept (CFS/FMS/Hypothyroidism are extremely similar diseases which are nevertheless differently caused), or to believe that blood hormone levels can be normal in the presence of Hypothyroidism.

slightly exaggerated reaction Erm what? No they aren't extremely similar, and that's not even logically correct, rejecting 2.1 doesn't entail accepting 2.2 at all. And why is diseases having similar presentation a grand revelation? Do you know anything about the rest of medicine? Differential diagnoses based on a clinical picture are the rule not the exception.

I'm sorry if that's sounds harsh, but I'm trying to convey the attitude that someone who is in the field might have towards you. You don't quite speak the language. To use an analogy - you know the words but you have funny accent.

Comment by pianoforte611 on The Thyroid Madness : Core Argument, Evidence, Probabilities and Predictions · 2016-03-15T22:37:38.244Z · LW · GW

I honestly want to know - what do you expect him, or someone here to do? Say you're right? Figure out a way to fund a clinical trial of FM patients treating them with T3 or pig's thyroid? (I admit I didn't read all of your posts from beginning to end, you said that such trials were already done? If that's the case are they good quality? If this is such miracle treatment then were the results not clear?)

If you want to convince anyone, then you need interventional data, not hypothesizing. In other words, you have to pony up, or convince someone to pony up and fund said research.

Comment by pianoforte611 on The Thyroid Madness : Core Argument, Evidence, Probabilities and Predictions · 2016-03-15T13:45:03.244Z · LW · GW

Yes he said it could be plausible but would require more work to form better thoughts on.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Would you notice if science died? · 2016-03-09T03:04:25.665Z · LW · GW

It's both. I think the distinction can be reasonably clean - science aims at understanding via explicitly modeling the process (not necessarily mathematically but often) and then testing the model. The process of building the LHC was engineering, the experiments themselves are part of science.

Comment by pianoforte611 on A Rationalist Guide to OkCupid · 2016-02-08T13:47:25.500Z · LW · GW

Alright full disclosure - if you had just said "You should probably have included a "show me the answers" option", I would had agreed and moved on. But instead your tone of ~Bah, everything is ruined!~ I found quite jarring*, especially since I had already gained some useful and surprising information off of despite its limitations. This isn't a particularly scientific poll for many reasons, I don't know how to tease apart strategies that are popular with strategies that lead to long term success which is what the qualifier was for - if I figure out a way to do this some day, I'll be more careful in its implementation.

*I'm not sure why, this LessWrong after all.

Comment by pianoforte611 on A Rationalist Guide to OkCupid · 2016-02-08T00:54:28.640Z · LW · GW

I was going to redo the poll a few hours after I made it, but I didn't think this was a big deal. Just choose I'm not in a relationship or other - neither is an interesting field anyway.

Comment by pianoforte611 on A Rationalist Guide to OkCupid · 2016-02-05T16:40:35.944Z · LW · GW

Not exactly, see my response to OrphanWilde.

Comment by pianoforte611 on A Rationalist Guide to OkCupid · 2016-02-05T16:39:25.978Z · LW · GW

I agree vehemently and should have probably used a different phrasing. What I was really getting at is that in most anecdotes that I've heard - one person is significantly more enthusiastic to start off with (and I don't think this is necessarily a problem).

Comment by pianoforte611 on A Rationalist Guide to OkCupid · 2016-02-04T23:20:35.027Z · LW · GW

If you are in a relationship lasting greater than 2 years that you consider successful, how did you meet your SO? [pollid:1100]

Comment by pianoforte611 on A Rationalist Guide to OkCupid · 2016-02-04T15:01:32.819Z · LW · GW

I'd love to see the results of a large survey on how successfuly married people found their partner. Is the "love finds you" meme based in anything real? The most common anecdote that I've heard is of the form "I really wanted this person and I pursued them persistently until they settled for me".

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2016-01-03T04:16:29.683Z · LW · GW


Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2016-01-01T21:04:45.309Z · LW · GW


Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2016-01-01T19:43:47.284Z · LW · GW

That was a very entertaining read thanks.

Maybe it depends on a company, and maybe the one where I work now is an unually dysfunctional one (or maybe I just have better information channels and pay better attention), but most management decisions are completely idiotic

It is also possible that you aren't aware of most of what your management does. I'll take your word for it that many of their decisions that are visible to you are poor (maybe most of their decision are, but I'm not yet convinced). As for management consulting, I suppose that is an inferential gap that is going to be hard to bridge.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2016-01-01T19:26:36.314Z · LW · GW

Not sure if there is a thread for this, does anyone have access to this article?

“Comparative Efficiency of Informal (Subjective, Impressionistic) and Formal (Mechanical, Algorithmic) Prediction Procedures: The Clinical Statistical Controvery”, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2: 293—323

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2016-01-01T19:24:27.026Z · LW · GW

A good place to get started there is Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment, summarized on LW by badger

Thanks, I'll try to find the relevant parts.

This suggests that the marginal bit of medicine--i.e. the piece that people don't consume, but would if it were cheaper or do consume but wouldn't if it were more expensive--doesn't have a net impact

I didn't want to get in too in depth into this discussion, because I don't actually disagree with the weak conclusion that a lot of people receive too much healthcare and that completely free healthcare is probably a bad idea. But Robin Hanson doesn't stop there, he concludes that the rest of medicine is a sham and the fact that other studies show otherwise is a scandal. As to why I don't buy this, the RAND experiment does not show that health outcomes do not improve. It shows that certain measured metrics do not show a statistically significant improvement on the whole population. In fact in the original paper, the risk of dying was decreased for the poor high risk group but not the entire population. Which brings up a more general problem - such a study is obviously going to be underpowered for any particular clinical question, and it isn't capable of detecting benefits that lie outside of those metrics.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2016-01-01T06:20:23.905Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the detailed reply.

Regarding arguments that the allocation of medical resources, particularly in the U.S. are wasteful and harmful in many cases - I agree in general, though the specifics are messy, and I don't find Robin's posts on the matter very well argued*. I'm most interested in this bit:

This is statisticians and efficiency experts and so on trying to apply standard industrial techniques to medicine and getting pushback that looks ludicrous to me. For example, human diagnosticians perform at the level or worse than simple algorithms (I'm talking linear regressions, here, not even neural networks or decision trees or so on), and this has been known in the efficiency literature for well over fifty years

Particularly since your initial claim that had me raising eyebrows was that MetaMed failed because they have great diagnostics, but medicine doesn't want good diagnostics.

Edit: *In the RAND post he argues that lower co-pays in a well insured population resulted in no marginal benefit of health (I'm unconvinced by this but I'd rather not go there), therefore the fact that most studies show a positive effect of medicine is a sham. I'm not sure if he thinks that statins and insulin are a scam but this is a bold and unjustified conclusion. The RAND experiment is not equipped to evaluate the overall healthcare effects of medicine, and that was not its main purpose - it was for examining healthcare utilization. The specific health effects of common interventions are known by studying them directly, and getting patients to follow the treatment protocols that get those results is, as far as I know, an unsolved problem.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2015-12-31T00:49:31.906Z · LW · GW

I've seen this cynical viewpoint before. Honest question - what do you know about management consulting? What specific management consulting decisions are you basing this theory off of and how common are they? And how much of consulting consists of much more boring activities like developing new supply chains and inventory systems, rather than Machiavellian strategizing?

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016 · 2015-12-31T00:40:29.491Z · LW · GW

Compare to MetaMed, which tried to disrupt medicine by providing superior diagnostics. Medicine is not about healing!

I'd love to hear this expanded on. On the surface this comment pattern matches to the sort of low quality anti-establishment attitude that is common around here, so I'm surprised to see you write it.

Comment by pianoforte611 on In defense of philosophy · 2015-12-26T00:17:30.261Z · LW · GW

Not that I know of. Probably not. Still, I wouldn't hold someone to something they said on a blog years ago.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Voiceofra is banned · 2015-12-24T21:26:26.042Z · LW · GW

The sudden very positive karma is extremely suspicious.

Comment by pianoforte611 on In defense of philosophy · 2015-12-24T03:28:17.106Z · LW · GW

LukeProg considers philosophy a diseased discipline

Four years ago! Probably a good idea mention that or check if he still thinks this.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Voiceofra is banned · 2015-12-24T02:54:12.114Z · LW · GW

I believe that Nancy is conservative enough with management that this is not a real danger.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Starting University Advice Repository · 2015-12-04T03:54:45.964Z · LW · GW

Ask for help when you need it. If you're struggling with a class, ask the professor or your advisor where you can find help. If you're struggling with life, find a counsellor. If you're struggling with a paper, find a writing tutor.

Take introductory Calculus, Chemistry and Physics in your first year*. At least at my school it was somewhat difficult to complete a science major in three years, so best to start off as though you are going to do one (unless you really don't want to).

Find a way to contact and talk to people who are where you want to be in the future. That might mean law students, engineers, med students, people working in finance.

*Unless you are doing Engineering in which case your schedule is mostly decided for you.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Crazy Ideas Thread, December 2015 · 2015-12-03T02:40:42.219Z · LW · GW

Less ambitious, but music and art were required at my school. Not much, just one performance to the class and one public piece were required. I don't know how to check if mass shooters were deprived of other forms of public expression.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Weirdness at the wiki · 2015-12-02T04:13:53.313Z · LW · GW

No, these two though mostly the first. I highly doubt that either one would have had positive karma on LW one year ago. I'm not only suspicious because of these comments though.

Edit: these had higher karma when I linked to them, for reasons that are obvious in hindsight.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Weirdness at the wiki · 2015-12-01T23:27:01.635Z · LW · GW

The fact that two blatant ad hominem comments have positive karma is very very suspicious. How much effort would it be to figure out if there is a voting ring problem or puppet account problem?

Comment by pianoforte611 on [Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS · 2015-11-23T14:22:26.902Z · LW · GW

Numeracy and consequence based thinking, sure. But as far as probability thinking goes, I quite disagree for roughly the reasons stated here*.

I tried to illustrate the following but let me try to make it more explicit. In using any sort of mathematical model there are a few steps: The first is to determine relevant parameters that you can try to assign numbers to (such as probability of events). The second is to create a model for how those parameters interact. The third is experiment with different inputs to see the different outcomes so you can optimize your model. Fourth you can make predictions with error bounds as determined by your model.

The first two steps are incredibly important, but I often see naive bayesians jumping straight to the third or even fourth step. But with complex systems subject to uncertainty and unknown factors, almost all of the work lies in the first and second steps. Getting back to one of my early comments if you construct a model in which only considers the ways in which an aggressive military intervention can increase the number of suicide bombings, then you'll of course show that such an intervention will increase the number of suicide bombings. But this is modeling failure at the first step, by choosing only those parameters you've assumed your conclusion. It's not the math that is the problem, it is lack of understanding of the phenomenon being described (and I think this is at the heart of many or even most instances of failed models).

*I know that post is long but I highly recommend reading at least section I on what probabilities are and section V on why/when you can use them.

Comment by pianoforte611 on [Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS · 2015-11-23T02:35:13.464Z · LW · GW

The comments on that article don't seem to responding to anything in the article itself. Many are just ad hominem followed by a strongly stated opinion. From what I can tell the Plain Dealer is a relatively liberal newspaper, but the comments don't seem to reflect that.

Anyways, probabilistic thinking has become a reverse dogwhistle for me and I think part of your argument illustrates why:

For instance, consider what happens when Muslim media report an airstrike by Western forces that kills civilians. At any point, myriad Muslim youths are angry at the Western intervention into Syria. For a number of them — say, 100 — the report will be the thing that tips them over from anger to outrage, and they will decide to join ISIS.

Let's say 5 percent get trained in ISIS camps as suicide bombers. That means five new suicide bombers per report of an airstrike killing civilians, ready to wreak havoc on the United States or other Western countries.

Why did you choose those numbers? Do you have any inside knowledge as to why people join ISIS? And why would 100 new ISIS members lead to any increase in the number of suicide bombings? I doubt that the decision of ISIS to cause a suicide bombing is constrained by the number of members, or willing members. And are you sure that the only effect that more aggressive interventions can have is to increase the number of willing suicide bombers? Even granting that aggressive measures do push people over the edge into joining ISIS, what if they also scare some people out of joining ISIS? What if they kill more ISIS members than the create?

We can make up numbers but that isn't particularly productive, because the math isn't the hard part - it isn't where most of the uncertainty is.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open thread, Nov. 09 - Nov. 15, 2015 · 2015-11-10T03:48:30.750Z · LW · GW

What's the goal? Dancing? Gymnastics? Less pain? Without a goal I know I would inevitably give up.

But to answer the question: stretch, do yoga or pilates (these are good because they create a goal, something to improve upon).

Comment by pianoforte611 on "How To Become Less Wrong" - Feedback on Article Request · 2015-10-28T13:41:51.807Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure. Tentatively, if it is for a popular audience, then you need to do two things: -Convince them that biases or errors in thinking are a problem, possibly by providing some examples. -Convince them that trainings can result in better decision making, not just because they are backed up by experts, but because they work. Describe or give examples of how these trainings improve people's decision making.

Comment by pianoforte611 on "How To Become Less Wrong" - Feedback on Article Request · 2015-10-28T00:23:47.046Z · LW · GW

Upvoted for improving in response to feedback. I know it can be daunting to receive negative or even neutral feedback over something that you put time and effort into. It still feels like an underdeveloped thesis though. The main message seems to be applying behavioral science to all kinds of decision making, but that is very ambitious, and the content doesn't quite get there.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-14T14:12:31.332Z · LW · GW

I didn't know that the Big Bang was compatible with an infinite universe, I learned something today.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-14T03:44:48.038Z · LW · GW

Isn't it pretty established that the universe is not infinite?

In any case, I don't think so. Even in an infinite universe there is the possibility of loops or repetitions. Also you can have an infinite but not comprehensive set of events even if those events are all unique.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Open thread, Oct. 12 - Oct. 18, 2015 · 2015-10-13T22:33:53.053Z · LW · GW

Thomas, please read and understand query's response above. In attempting to dismantle a concept you don't like, you've lost precision. Formalize your questions and concerns rigorously and then see if a seeming contradiction is still there.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Crazy Ideas Thread - October 2015 · 2015-10-08T05:10:09.209Z · LW · GW

I understand why most historical simulations would be of historically important people, but why would most or even a lot of simulations be historical simulations?

Comment by pianoforte611 on How could one (and should one) convert someone from pseudoscience? · 2015-10-06T22:25:08.985Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what country you live in, but from a relative of mine who works in a cancer treatment centre, there are a fairly large number of patients who eschew treatment in favor of herbal remedies for instance. They eventually get treatment when said remedies don't work but the cancer would have gotten worse by then. It's partly false beliefs, wishful thinking or just avoidance of the issue. Do very many people really believe that a herbal treatment is going to cure cancer and the whole medical community is stupid? No, but for many people it gives them enough to pretend that everything is going to be okay and they don't have to worry.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Two Growth Curves · 2015-10-04T14:47:45.329Z · LW · GW

hesitate to ask dumb questions, to publicly try skills I was likely to be bad at, or to visibly/loudly put forward my best guesses in areas where others knew more than me.

Something else that is in this category for me - bringing up personal conflicts and trying to resolve them as they happen vs ignoring them and having them eventually blow up. It feels bad to bring up conflict but letting it simmer is so much worse in the long term.

Comment by pianoforte611 on [Link] Marek Rosa: Announcing GoodAI · 2015-09-15T22:17:26.425Z · LW · GW

He prefers his Facebook audience. It's a more constructive environment, and there are people whose opinions he cares more about (I assume, he may have other reasons).

Comment by pianoforte611 on Flowsheet Logic and Notecard Logic · 2015-09-09T20:11:37.211Z · LW · GW

I think the point of notecard logic that someone using it doesn't care whether the argument was addressed appropriately. And the point of flowsheet logic is that someone using it doesn't care why an argument was unaddressed. I claim that this is a thing that happens and is very common; and is pretty difficult to confuse with legitimate desire to understand and discuss.

However, I think that fixing notecard logic doesn't get you that much closer to good epistemology. Even if your refutations are sound, if you miss the overall logical structure then you can refute anything you want. I think this is a frustrating problem here and in other online communities. Basically too many people are stuck in Stage 2.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Stupid Questions September 2015 · 2015-09-03T13:36:36.871Z · LW · GW

Well this certainly lives up to the discussion thread title. This is an ill posed question because it selectively carves out a very specific definition of human value for obviously ideological reasons. Why is capital the definitive measure of contributions to the human race? What about the wheel (Mesopotamians), what about fire (Africans - geographically, probably no one knows the taxonomy but certainly not northern Eurasians). What about geometry? Or perhaps something fairly important called numbers. Are those not knowledge?

Comment by pianoforte611 on Robert Aumann on Judaism · 2015-08-22T13:21:39.181Z · LW · GW

From your last line, I think its unlikely that unlikely that this is going to be productive. It sounds like you think that epistemology is simply erudite nonsense and philosophers need to just accept probably Bayesianism or the scientific method or something. I think this is quite disappointing, mathematicians could have similarly dismissed attempts to ground calculus in something other than loose arguments of the form "well it works what more do you want" but we would have a much less rich and stable field as a result. But if this is a mischaracterization of your view of epistemology then please let me know.

Comment by pianoforte611 on Robert Aumann on Judaism · 2015-08-22T04:57:00.183Z · LW · GW

Do you think that Aumann's statement can only be interpreted as six 24 hour days?

Of course, one could charge that it's not intended to do so, and yack on about separate magisteria

This is a very jarring dismissal of a very difficult to resolve problem, despite it being very old. Here are some maps that do not yield testable predictions:

-Other people exist

-Other people are conscious

-I was not created in the last minute with all of my current memories

Epistemology is much more than creating testable predictions.