Posts

Some Things That Increase Blood Flow to the Brain 2024-03-27T21:48:46.244Z
Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion 2024-03-25T16:48:08.397Z
The Handbook of Rationality (2021, MIT press) is now open access 2023-10-10T00:30:05.589Z
My guess for why I was wrong about US housing 2023-06-14T00:37:04.162Z
Updates and Reflections on Optimal Exercise after Nearly a Decade 2023-06-08T23:02:14.761Z
Exploring Tacit Linked Premises with GPT 2023-03-24T18:09:10.087Z
Buddhist Psychotechnology for Withstanding Apocalypse Stress 2023-02-25T03:11:18.735Z
Thoughts on ADHD 2020-10-07T20:46:24.827Z
Your Prioritization is Underspecified 2020-07-10T20:48:29.654Z
PSA: Cars don't have 'blindspots' 2020-07-01T17:04:06.690Z
Which facebook groups on covid do you recommend? 2020-03-23T22:34:15.125Z
How to Lurk Less (and benefit others while benefiting yourself) 2020-02-17T06:18:54.978Z
[Link] Ignorance, a skilled practice 2020-01-31T16:21:23.062Z
Is there a website for tracking fads? 2019-12-06T04:48:51.297Z
Schematic Thinking: heuristic generalization using Korzybski's method 2019-10-14T19:29:14.672Z
Towards an Intentional Research Agenda 2019-08-23T05:27:53.843Z
romeostevensit's Shortform 2019-08-07T16:13:55.144Z
Open problems in human rationality: guesses 2019-08-02T18:16:18.342Z
87,000 Hours or: Thoughts on Home Ownership 2019-07-06T08:01:59.092Z
The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) 2019-04-07T21:04:11.353Z
Why do Contemplative Practitioners Make so Many Metaphysical Claims? 2018-12-31T19:44:30.358Z
Psycho-cybernetics: experimental notes 2018-09-18T19:21:03.601Z

Comments

Comment by romeostevensit on Reconsider the anti-cavity bacteria if you are Asian · 2024-04-16T05:56:28.029Z · LW · GW

Thanks! This is much closer to the amount of ethanol you'd get eating 50 bananas a day. That's at least one sanity check it fails then, even under these ideal conditions since, as you noted, there is probably a larger bacteria population than what was measured there.

Now I'm wondering about sanity checks in the other direction though. Is ~.5 ml per hour of ethanol actually a realistic production?

Comment by romeostevensit on Reconsider the anti-cavity bacteria if you are Asian · 2024-04-15T18:33:02.507Z · LW · GW

My understanding is that the amount of ethanol we're taking about here on a daily basis constitutes something like the amount you'd get eating an extra piece of fruit or so. Though I don't know where I originally saw the estimate or if it is good. Does anyone want to do some fermi estimates?

Comment by romeostevensit on Fabien's Shortform · 2024-04-14T16:22:30.970Z · LW · GW

Is there a short summary on the rejecting Knightian uncertainty bit?

Comment by romeostevensit on Medical Roundup #2 · 2024-04-11T15:58:31.032Z · LW · GW

Huge numbers of people are forced to resort to illegal methods of suicide creating legal, emotional, financial, and logistics problems for their loved ones, on top of the additional grief to the suicidee personally.

Comment by romeostevensit on Medical Roundup #2 · 2024-04-10T23:32:27.421Z · LW · GW

I agree my gloss on it is not a substantive engagement, but rather a reminder of what I consider a crucial consideration. Policies that elide horrific suffering are the norm. Part of the point is that suffering, being not available to external quantification, must be left up to the individual whenever possible. Many objections to utilitarianism involve its frequent attempts to obviate subjective effects when this isn't appropriate.

Comment by romeostevensit on romeostevensit's Shortform · 2024-04-09T21:53:48.070Z · LW · GW

Not a new point but perennially worth noting: subcultures persist via failure. That is to say that subcultures that succeed obviate themselves. This is concretely noticeable in ways that, coming in as an outsider, a subculture about X will have a bunch of mysterious self sabotage behavior that actually keeps ¬X persistent.

Comment by romeostevensit on Medical Roundup #2 · 2024-04-09T14:41:18.964Z · LW · GW

I am ready to go ahead and say that, if we have to choose one extreme or the other, I choose ‘this is not allowed.’

Advocating for people to be tortured is bad. We should be willing to accept quite a lot of collateral damage to avoid torturing people.

Comment by romeostevensit on Toni Kurz and the Insanity of Climbing Mountains · 2024-04-02T05:41:45.570Z · LW · GW

didn't know that, I heard it via Bostrom. Thanks.

Comment by romeostevensit on Some Things That Increase Blood Flow to the Brain · 2024-03-30T00:48:49.513Z · LW · GW

Hmm, good point this should probably have an epistemic status.

Comment by romeostevensit on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2024-03-29T20:24:07.435Z · LW · GW

Thanks, this actually highlighted for me another aspect of it. Namely, if someone objects to a claim I did not make, if I respond it feels as though people might go with 'he was actually tacitly making that claim.' Calling out that I'm not making that claim explicitly should help here.

Comment by romeostevensit on Some Things That Increase Blood Flow to the Brain · 2024-03-28T21:25:27.059Z · LW · GW

Sources are a shallow dive of google and reading a few abstracts, this is intended as trailheads for people, not firm recommendations. If I wanted them to be reccs I would want to estimate effect sizes and estimates of the quality of the related research.

Comment by romeostevensit on Some Things That Increase Blood Flow to the Brain · 2024-03-28T01:09:01.795Z · LW · GW

Insulin insensitivity and weight gain Poor sleep Hypertension High cholesterol

Comment by romeostevensit on The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A Partial Summary and Review · 2024-03-27T22:01:36.796Z · LW · GW

Thoughts:

Interesting asymmetry: languages don't constrain parsers much (maybe a bit, very broadly conceived), but a parser does constrain language, or which sequences it can derive meaning from. Unless the parser can extend/modify itself?

Langan seems heavily influenced by Quine, which I think is a good place to start, as that seems to be about where philosophical progress petered out. In particular, Quine's assertion about scientific theories creating ontological commitments to the building blocks they are made from 'really existing' to which Langan's response seems to be 'okay, let's build a theory out of tautologies then.' This rhymes with Kant's approach, and then Langan goes farther by trying to really get at what 'a priori' as a construct is really about.

I'm not quite sure how this squares with Quine's indeterminacy. That any particular data is evidence not only for the hypothesis you posed (which corresponds to some of Langan's talk of binary yes-no questions as a conception of quantum mechanics) but also for a whole family of hypotheses, most of which you don't know about, that define all the other universes that the data you observed is consistent with.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-27T17:33:22.551Z · LW · GW

I think cognitive understanding is overrated and physical changes to the CNS are underrated, as explanations for positive change from practices.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-27T17:26:55.374Z · LW · GW

Was not linear for me afaict

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-27T07:11:10.099Z · LW · GW

I think western psychotherapies are predicated on incorrect models of human psychology. RCTs mostly can't capture the effects of serious practice over a long period of time, but of the ones that have tried, the most robust effect is lowered neuroticism, afaik. This was also my experience. It corresponded to a big positive shift subjectively, as well as expressions of shock from friends and family about the change.

Comment by romeostevensit on My Interview With Cade Metz on His Reporting About Slate Star Codex · 2024-03-27T05:36:51.936Z · LW · GW

I think you're ascribing to stupidity what can be attributed to malice on a plain reading of his words.

Comment by romeostevensit on My Interview With Cade Metz on His Reporting About Slate Star Codex · 2024-03-26T22:51:31.180Z · LW · GW

I hope these responses help people understand that the hostility to journalists is not based on hyperbole. They really are like this. They really are competing to wreck the commons for a few advertising dollars.

Comment by romeostevensit on Modern Transformers are AGI, and Human-Level · 2024-03-26T22:47:35.130Z · LW · GW

I don't mean to belabor the point as I think it's reasonable, but worth pointing out that these responses seem within the range of below average human performance.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-26T20:02:51.545Z · LW · GW

I find looking directly at my own ignorance often uncomfortable but worthwhile.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-26T19:50:33.034Z · LW · GW

I'm guessing you're referring to his revised four path model? It doesn't quite match my experience and he devotes quite a bit of time (as do other teachers I respect) on why attainments are a bit fraught. I had two experiences after several years of practice that caused large portions of previously inscrutable dharma material to click into place, and they roughly corresponded to how people were describing things in first and second path. The first one corresponded to (among other things) dramatically heightened access to meditative states, the second to a large decrease in suffering and percepts of how suffering is constructed. I go into more detail on the video interview on my blog.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-26T14:07:55.558Z · LW · GW

Note I didn't say 'the claims of buddhism' as a whole.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-26T14:00:02.339Z · LW · GW

Neuroticism and conscientiousness are somewhat correlated in the literature and indeed it was my experience that boosting conscientiousness boosted neuroticism somewhat. Being able to spin these dials feels useful. Being very outcome focused rather than input focused is also a recipe for a lot of stress that doesn't necessarily seem very correlated to good outcomes ime. Ofc we want some tracking of outputs as a feedback to inputs so there's a balance to strike there.

Have you investigated the methods of past people you admire who tried for positive impact?

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-26T13:53:58.295Z · LW · GW

Aduashanti/Jed McKenna/Chongyam Trungpa would all agree that real deal spirituality is highly uncomfortable. Waking up out of the shared dream state can be highly alienating, especially at first as you learn new ways to relate to others who are mostly paying attention to their own projections and not what is happening moment by moment. Projections that lead us in a circle back towards comfortable, familiar thoughts. Fortunately, it also gives us the tools for working effectively with those feelings of alienation and loneliness.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-26T00:11:54.629Z · LW · GW

For people contemplating entering a period of serious practice what I typically ask about is whether they would be okay losing/destabilizing their job and primary relationships (romantic, friends, family). Not okay in the sense of it wouldn't suck emotionally, but they would be basically secure (financial runway, other friends/teachers to turn to for advice, mental health history and medications, etc.) and be able to make it through to the other side if it took up to 18 months.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-25T22:36:46.995Z · LW · GW

I expect it to be dangerous in low openness environments with strong religious norms.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-25T22:32:25.090Z · LW · GW

I've seen surveys report 10-35% experienced at least some unwanted effects. More severe effects harder to classify. Here 1.2% for adverse effects affecting functioning for more than 1 month: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8636531/

see also: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8693904/

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-25T22:28:46.613Z · LW · GW

This seems like claims about reality? TBC I think the claims about suffering in Buddhism are claims about how our mammalian nervous systems happen to be wired and ways you can improve it. I also think nihilistic readings of Buddhism are probably mistaken.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-25T21:15:58.796Z · LW · GW

Q1: I think waking up out of social reality is a mini enlightenment, one many people have gone through (esp. those who exited a religious or quasi-religious community). A downside is that it is now more difficult to be fully bought in to any social reality, including much healthier ones.

My take on interacting more harmoniously with others was touched on by the representational flexibility stuff. It's a skill set that feels strongly related to empathy for me. E.g. providing safe trails of retreat for people when they aren't ready for too many degrees of freedom on a load bearing belief yet.

Q2: Not really. Reports of greater well being are almost universal past certain milestones. IIRC Jeffrey Martin's survey data set included 4-5 people who found the experience neutral and 4-5 who found it actively negative, but notably the active negative cases were all cases of people who had stumbled into such things on their own and hadn't had any guidance on working with the common failure modes. On being put in touch with others like them who gave them some advice, reportedly all of them were able to resolve the negative valence stuck points.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-25T21:05:22.770Z · LW · GW

I do think serious meditation practice is more akin to drugs than something more psychologically innocuous like exercise or cold showers.

Comment by romeostevensit on Should rationalists be spiritual / Spirituality as overcoming delusion · 2024-03-25T19:06:14.268Z · LW · GW

https://www.wisdomlib.org/buddhism/book/vinaya-pitaka-1-bhikkhu-vibhanga/d/doc227270.html

Comment by romeostevensit on Monthly Roundup #16: March 2024 · 2024-03-19T19:43:25.095Z · LW · GW

Are we this obsessed with a low headline number?

Depends, is the governing body in question run by humans? Are said humans having their attention adversarially optimized against? Summary statistics are both necessary and the vector of rot.

there are big returns to being Crazy Prepared

This is stupendously true to a degree that is mostly obvious in retrospect, so the catch is that when you are young you are likely to wind up trying to get Crazy Prepared at the wrong things.

Such Sufferin

The claim seems to me to be that suffering is, in theory or practice, an irreplaceable type of computation. This is worth investigating, but my sense is that it is not strictly necessary, just something evolution hit upon that worked well early in the process and we now have path dependent lock in. Future generations, should they exist, may very well regard our attitude here as similar to thinking that we need infectious diseases and other naturalistic fallacies. Also a note that much of the engagement with these proposals are conflating between no suffering and no pain. No pain is in some ways simpler, but in the most important ways much more complicated/fraught and will take longer to figure out.

Comment by romeostevensit on Hints about where values come from · 2024-03-18T20:40:01.264Z · LW · GW

I mostly got this from Nozick's final book Invariances

Comment by romeostevensit on Celiefs · 2024-03-17T02:51:54.752Z · LW · GW

A type of celief that resists updating is one that discourages you from talking about it with others.

Comment by romeostevensit on Transformative trustbuilding via advancements in decentralized lie detection · 2024-03-16T22:00:37.191Z · LW · GW

Every subculture I've participated in has lowkey bad actors. The harms this causes are underrated imo.

Comment by romeostevensit on One-shot strategy games? · 2024-03-11T04:13:13.624Z · LW · GW

Deck builder rogue lites maybe. Slay the Spire, dicey dungeons etc.

Comment by romeostevensit on Simple Kelly betting in prediction markets · 2024-03-07T02:35:25.601Z · LW · GW

Might want to mention that Kelly is an upper limit, and that most will then reduce from this on the basis of multiplying by some confidence function.

Comment by romeostevensit on The Parable Of The Fallen Pendulum - Part 1 · 2024-03-01T18:57:05.965Z · LW · GW

Theories are invariants. Invariants screen off large numbers of contingent facts. That's why we have reference classes. A reference class is a collection of contingent factors such that we expect an invariant to hold, or know exactly* which contingent factors are present in which amounts such that we can correct for their contribution such that the remaining invariant holds.

*in practice you know this with some noise, even up to a large amount, what matters is that you can then propagate this through the model correctly such that you know how much noise your resultant answers are also subject to.

I don't expect to be able to explain this to students.

Comment by romeostevensit on Conspiracy Theorists Aren't Ignorant. They're Bad At Epistemology. · 2024-02-29T02:57:39.666Z · LW · GW

Conspiracy theories are a bad reference class due to the lumping together of real actions by nation-states with crackpot schizophrenic fantasies. This was intentional and you shouldn't buy into it.

Comment by romeostevensit on R&D is a Huge Externality, So Why Do Markets Do So Much of it? · 2024-02-26T22:55:12.225Z · LW · GW

specifically documented? No. I think some of the obvious examples are in things like batteries, materials science, and computer parts, where there are strong IP fights. Eg AMD, Intel, Nvidia, and ARM all license some but not all of their core tech to their rivals. I'm actually pretty confused about how they determine when to do this vs not, but would guess that this is at least somewhat inefficient by over optimizing on short term gains vs the more nebulous future payoffs of what would be enabled with more licenses.

Comment by romeostevensit on Rationality Research Report: Towards 10x OODA Looping? · 2024-02-25T03:29:08.117Z · LW · GW

The cleanest example is during Ravens testing, noticing that checking a particular set of hypotheses one by one is taking too long. Zooming out and seeing them as a class of hypotheses, what they have in common, and then asking what else is possible. If the different moving parts of the puzzle are slot machines, then it's an explore exploit problem.

Comment by romeostevensit on Rationality Research Report: Towards 10x OODA Looping? · 2024-02-24T23:37:52.545Z · LW · GW

One of the things that helped a lot with the predictions part was reading Judea Pearl's Heuristics. It seemed to make me better at noticing that a big part of my problem solving was split into two things: my representation of the problem space, and then my traversal of that space. I would notice more readily when I had stuck myself with an intractably sized space for the traversal speed available, and conclude that I needed to switch to trying to find a different representation that was tractable. Others might get very different insights out of the book, the search-inference framework is pretty flexible (also covered in Baron's Thinking and Deciding).

Comment by romeostevensit on Deliberative Cognitive Algorithms as Scaffolding · 2024-02-24T03:32:02.617Z · LW · GW

What is most upstream of good cognitive strategies that lead to useful behaviors? What is most upstream of bad cognitive strategies that lead to maladaptive behaviors?

Comment by romeostevensit on Why you, personally, should want a larger human population · 2024-02-23T21:42:50.640Z · LW · GW

I want a smarter and longer lived population, and reject that playing slots to get more of those with sheer quantity is the only play here.

Comment by romeostevensit on Deep and obvious points in the gap between your thoughts and your pictures of thought · 2024-02-23T07:57:50.876Z · LW · GW

Another hypothesis: the moment of compression feels amazing, because you need to deeply understand something about a phenomenon to compress it. The zip file feels mundane and doesn't include the insight of building new frontiers in your compression library.

Comment by romeostevensit on On coincidences and Bayesian reasoning, as applied to the origins of COVID-19 · 2024-02-23T02:45:55.189Z · LW · GW

assumption of independence

Comment by romeostevensit on The Gemini Incident · 2024-02-22T21:19:22.309Z · LW · GW

Companies, in service to the liability monster, try to reduce complaints, as many enforcement mechanisms (such as the FDA) are largely complaint based. This situation is generating complaints, but no plausible mechanism by which those complaints will turn into lost money so far.

Comment by romeostevensit on On coincidences and Bayesian reasoning, as applied to the origins of COVID-19 · 2024-02-22T20:52:47.314Z · LW · GW

Interesting that conjunctive fallacy is a broadly used term but disjunctive fallacy is not.

Comment by romeostevensit on On coincidences and Bayesian reasoning, as applied to the origins of COVID-19 · 2024-02-22T16:37:52.340Z · LW · GW

Is there a name for these sorts of errors of conjunction and disjunction in super high dimension parameter spaces? I usually just refer to it as 'cold reading yourself.'

Comment by romeostevensit on Updates and Reflections on Optimal Exercise after Nearly a Decade · 2024-02-22T00:55:23.966Z · LW · GW

much lower weight