Posts

“Meditation for skeptics” – a review of two books, and some thoughts 2021-03-20T23:35:23.037Z
Should it be a research paper or a blog post? 2020-09-24T08:09:08.179Z
Book Review: Fooled by Randomness 2020-07-13T21:02:36.549Z
Don't punish yourself for bad luck 2020-06-24T21:52:37.045Z
Dietary Debates among the Fruit Gnomes 2020-06-03T14:09:15.561Z
Sherrinford's Shortform 2020-05-02T17:19:22.661Z
How to navigate through contradictory (health/fitness) advice? 2019-08-05T20:58:14.659Z
Is there a standard discussion of vegetarianism/veganism? 2018-12-30T20:22:33.330Z
Cargo Cult and Self-Improvement 2018-08-07T12:45:30.661Z

Comments

Comment by Sherrinford on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-10T07:41:03.485Z · LW · GW

Ok, thanks.

Comment by Sherrinford on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-09T22:44:32.504Z · LW · GW

Sure, it's a frontpage feed: https://www.lesswrong.com/feed.xml?view=frontpage-rss&karmaThreshold=45

Comment by Sherrinford on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-08T12:36:47.275Z · LW · GW

Why do the old Sequences posts suddenly appear in my RSS feed?

Comment by Sherrinford on Rigorous political science? · 2021-04-05T15:11:52.490Z · LW · GW

So here's something that is not fomal theory, but may interest you: The Economist, March 27th, has a review of a new book on the history of constitutions called "The Gun, the Ship and the Pen" by Linda Colley.

Comment by Sherrinford on What are all these children doing in my ponds? · 2021-04-04T20:57:22.712Z · LW · GW

Donating shoes/bicycles/etc. to developing nations is a bad idea, because it disrupts and destroys the local economy shoe-production. There simply isn't enough regional demand, factoring in the large donations, to develop the proper economics of scale. I have no literature on this, but a well-thought out philantropist friend has noted this concept to me many times. 

That is an argument I often hear or read, but I never see a good model showing that it would indeed be a consistent argument. Suppose you have an economy that gets all its shoes for free. Why shouldn't people just be happy about that and produce something else?

The brain-drain argument is more complicated, also empirically, but concerning the "rebuild the country" argument: since this post is discussing ethics, I assume the question in this context would be: Why would an individual who is born in Syria be ethically obligated to stay there, while you are not ethically obligated to do everything to rebuild Syria?

Concerning climate goals: While I assume that nobody in Europe would consider starting a war against the US if the US government announces an NDC lacking ambition, I would be interesting which cases of abusing "the commons" actually led to "moral indignation, then war". 

Finally, if you invest in institution-building in your local community, the same things can happen. Other people around you don't develop the capacity to contribute, you help people who could help themselves, and people can abuse the commons. If you can "reap the benefits of local status", you could also reap the benefits of global status.

So I think all of your points may be worthwhile, but they seem somewhat incomplete.

Comment by Sherrinford on Another RadVac Testing Update · 2021-03-24T20:13:44.352Z · LW · GW

Ok this may be a naive question, but given that John brews the stuff and expects certain results anyway: Isn't being congested something that might simply follow from actual placebo effects?

Comment by Sherrinford on “Meditation for skeptics” – a review of two books, and some thoughts · 2021-03-23T23:42:35.484Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the observations.

Regarding the metta stuff, I wonder whether it is a nice-to-have but basically separate from meditation essentials. After all, Zen guys seem to say that zen is just the posture.

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2021-03-21T17:00:13.321Z · LW · GW

More articles on the supposed Astra Zeneca bloodclot mechanism, adding to this:

(All in German, but I think that in general, automated translation has become really good.)

Comment by Sherrinford on Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots · 2021-03-20T19:28:15.851Z · LW · GW

And there's still no mechanism.

Assuming that you refer to a biological mechanism, there are people who claim to have found just that.

Comment by Sherrinford on Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots · 2021-03-20T19:27:03.126Z · LW · GW

The EMA report saying that there may be an association with very rare blood clots ... came out after I hit the publish button. I agree that they then changed their tune from the pure explicit 'no evidence' line ...

I may be naive and sound like a broken record but I still think it would be helpful if claims about what some said or did were backed up by a link or something.

When I say p-hacking, I mean that the search function was identical to what happens when people p-hack, with identical results - they're looking at all conditions and subconditions, in all regions and subregions, with any possible lag ranges, in order to find something that happened above rate. And for the same reason - people are highly motivated to find a positive result somewhere.

So when you say p-hacking, you don't really mean people p-hack? Or maybe I don't understand the aim of your word choice - is this just rhetorics, and not meant to be accurate? It seems related to the questions whether MLK was a criminal, and tax is theft?

I don't think anyone in a meeting said the word "p-hack", but no one has denied that the search took place in this fashion, either, nor did they make any attempt to account for it, or notice any issues after they identified what they suspected was the issue. And there's still no mechanism.

So no one has denied that - was there any public accusation to deny it? Any discussion where it would have to be denied? Or was there at least a serious indication that "the search took place in this fashion"?

I didn't intend to explicitly say that the authorities are failing to use an adjusted background rate, but my prior is that they're not doing so, because no one has mentioned doing the adjustment and in general no one silently does such adjustments when they make things seem more safe, 

"the authorities" seems like a word that doesn't explain anything. The health minister possibly does not "use an adjusted background rate", he relies on judgement by a specialized agency. Assuming that this agency does not use an adjusted background rate seems quite a stretch; of course it's possible, but where is the evidence for that in your summary? Where is the evidence for the claim that "no one silently does such adjustments when they make things seem more safe"?

because again everyone is on the 'make the vaccines look unsafe' team.

I have no idea why "everyone" should be on that side, and again, I don't see any evidence for that. Asked by Watson, 220 German politicians today publicly stated their trust in AZ. Your implicit model of politics (or of whatever, I still don't know who "everyone" is) seems to be wrong.

Comment by Sherrinford on Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots · 2021-03-19T09:37:12.738Z · LW · GW

As always, interesting overview and very useful cost-benefit Fermis etc. As usual, I'm confused by some generalizing statements.

The WHO and EMA said there was no evidence there was an issue.

 The EMA says:

EMA’s safety committee, PRAC, concluded its preliminary review of a signal of blood clots in people vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca ...

  • the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots (thromboembolic events) in those who receive it;
  • ...
  • however, the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia, i.e. low levels of blood platelets (elements in the blood that help it to clot) with or without bleeding, including rare cases of clots in the vessels draining blood from the brain (CVST).

These are rare cases – around 20 million people in the UK and EEA had received the vaccine as of March 16 and EMA had reviewed only 7 cases of blood clots in multiple blood vessels (disseminated intravascular coagulation, DIC) and 18 cases of CVST. A causal link with the vaccine is not proven, but is possible and deserves further analysis.

... Overall the number of thromboembolic events reported after vaccination, both in studies before licensing and in reports after rollout of vaccination campaigns (469 reports, 191 of them from the EEA), was lower than that expected in the general population. This allows the PRAC to confirm that there is no increase in overall risk of blood clots. However, in younger patients there remain some concerns, related in particular to these rare cases.

The Committee’s experts looked in extreme detail at records of DIC and CVST reported from Member States, 9 of which resulted in death. Most of these occurred in people under 55 and the majority were women. Because these events are rare, and COVID-19 itself often causes blood clotting disorders in patients, it is difficult to estimate a background rate for these events in people who have not had the vaccine. However, based on pre-COVID figures it was calculated that less than 1 reported case of DIC might have been expected by 16 March among people under 50 within 14 days of receiving the vaccine, whereas 5 cases had been reported. Similarly, on average 1.35 cases of CVST might have been expected among this age group whereas by the same cut-off date there had been 12. A similar imbalance was not visible in the older population given the vaccine.

The Committee was of the opinion that the vaccine’s proven efficacy in preventing hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 outweighs the extremely small likelihood of developing DIC or CVST. However, in the light of its findings, patients should be aware of the remote possibility of such syndromes, and if symptoms suggestive of clotting problems occur patients should seek immediate medical attention ...

The PRAC will undertake additional review of these risks, including looking at the risks with other types of COVID-19 vaccines (although no signal has been identified from monitoring so far). ...

Sorry for the lengthy quote, but I think it's worthwhile to read this, and I think it does not fit your description. I think that's not saying there was no evidence of an issue, it's saying there maybe was an issue among younger people and PRAC should look into that issue, but cost-benefit analysis says vaccination is still much better.

Given the different age groups affected and analyzed, I would like to understand what your "So it’s not remotely fair to use the background population rate when you’re explicitly targeting your elderly population for vaccinations." sentence means. Which background population rate was used by the authorities? (By the way, the media in Germany noted that the difference between UK and EU may be due to the fact that the age groups receiving AZ in these places are different. That is, AZ in Germany was seemingly given to young nurses, many of which are women, because it was restricted to people under 65.)

For your "sequence of events", as always I'd be happy to know whether "there’s extensive reporting of anything that happens to people right after getting the vaccine" is actually true. Intuition tells me that there's also extensive reporting of symptoms of COVID-19 in times of a COVID-19 pandemic, but in fact there's a relevant amount of unknown cases additional to official numbers. If headaches are the symptom of the relevant blood clots, should we really expect overreporting? My intuition would be that people underreported this symptom, in particular because everyone has heard that you should expect to feel sick etc after being vaccinated. On the other hand, after this discussion and media coverage, I expect people to report headaches more often, and this would also happen without any government-imposed interruption of the vaccination campaign - maybe even more so.

Being a European, I guess I must have lost my mind, so I don't really understand what "All of this due, effectively, to pure p-hacking, without even bothering to pretend otherwise." is supposed to mean. "p-hacking" would be intentional behavior, in particular combined with the "pretend" part. So you imply that there was an intention by analysts in some agency to stop the vaccination? And "without even bothering to pretend otherwise", that is, they also said so? (But then again, seeing the Samo Burja tweet and the text around it, I guess it's not even necessary to present a plausible mechanism how such things work. "Malice", "madness", etc. I can imagine the government meeting: "How do we cover up our failure?" "Let's stop vaccination by pointing out blood clots! We understand statistics perfectly, so we know that the experts in the Paul Ehrlich Institute are wrong, but due to our malice and madness, we follow their recommendation.")

"but you have a legal obligation to these people that forces your hand, because ‘there could be legal consequences’? And there’s no way to, say, pass a new law to fix that, even if you should have fixed it long ago? So that’s it, nothing you could do, huh? "

If I am not mistaken about the Bundestag procedures, the interruption of vaccination did not take long compared to the time it takes to change a law

Comment by Sherrinford on Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots · 2021-03-19T08:00:20.131Z · LW · GW

Some people I know basically said they would not want to be vaccinated with AZ before the Paul Ehrlich Institute recommended a pause. I have no reason to assume that these people are particularly unrepresentative of the population. It is possible that the break, consideration, restart, communication (including cost-benefit considerations) works better.

Comment by Sherrinford on Rigorous political science? · 2021-03-12T20:43:22.295Z · LW · GW

Great, then maybe Daron Acemoglu's review of the book is the right place to start.

Comment by Sherrinford on Rigorous political science? · 2021-03-12T19:59:01.565Z · LW · GW

It depends a bit on what you are searching for. Many interesting topics are covered in Persson/Tabellini's Political Economics (they also have a book on constitutions, I cannot say much about that) and Drazen's Political Economy in Macroeconomics. Or maybe you start by having a look at Acemoglu's lecture notes. And there's "Principled Agents?" by Besley, basically applying simple principle-agent models to governments. Which of these models are convincing is a different matter. Having spent a lot of time with Grossman & Helpman's Lobby models, I think they don't tell us as extremely much about lobbyism or politics.

Comment by Sherrinford on Defending the non-central fallacy · 2021-03-10T16:22:42.985Z · LW · GW

Concerning the question of whom to call a murderer, there was a decision on that by the German Constitutional Court.

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2021-03-08T10:22:16.944Z · LW · GW

I had to sigh when I read "it can be hard to find editors who don't have a strong opinion about the person. But this is very far from that, likely one reason why the NYT actually used David Gerard as a source".

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2021-03-08T09:34:55.171Z · LW · GW

It would probably really take a lot of time to even understand what is and what is not considered to be in accordance with wikpedia rules. I note that, as in any other volunteer organization, a lot depends on who wants to put more time and effort into fighting for his/her convictions.

Comment by Sherrinford on The slopes to common sense · 2021-02-23T10:11:24.092Z · LW · GW

It should be noted here that /r/sleephackers and /r/sleep are supposed to be specialized communities, i.e. the kind that would care about even minor factual errors regarding this topic. And /r/ssc, as well as HN, should boast an audience that's educated enough not to confuse science with a new global religion.

Just based on your description (I have never been there), it is possible that the reason for the behavior in these communities is that the supposed attitude of their members does not match their true motivations. 

Maybe their perceived attraction to new members is not only that they are extremely scientific, sceptical, and open to discard their own ideas. Maybe some people go there because they like the idea that 1. science tells them that 2. they can improve themselves 3. in ways that the outside world usually overlooks. Then someone comes along and says: 1. Well no, that wasn't really science, 2. so you basically cannot improve yourself this way, 3. and in fact the book is not even elite insight but popsci rubbish. 

No matter whether people claim to be rationalist/scientific/self-critical/whatever, there are often in fact quite mixed motivations at play.

Comment by Sherrinford on The Prototypical Negotiation Game · 2021-02-22T10:31:35.674Z · LW · GW

This is a nice post about an interesting topic. I think it may be helpful to mention that several of these points are discussed extensively in economics, polsci and game theory, though sometimes with a different vocabulary. (But maybe it is somehow intentional to not mention that, in order to keep the post shorter?)

  • "Successfully meeting up is still far more important than the location chosen, but given a successful meetup, you both disagree on preferred location." This resembles the BoS game.
  • In the section "Powerless Underlings: Intentionally Destroying Communication Channels", I like the idea of destroying communication channels after leaving a coordination message and find it an original idea. The store-clerk example could benefit from mentioning that there is a large literature on optimal delegation, for instance to a bureaucratic agent. This includes models of delegation as a commitment device, also modeling how much leeway you should leave to the agent you delegate to. Sometimes it makes sense to delegate to agents with preferences different from your own. In the 1980s that was the reason modeled in the literature on conservative central bankers. There are also papers on delegating the authority to bargain for you, I think I have seen that in the context of climate change papers.

Another point is that I think it would be helpful to define what exactly you call "negotiation game" more explicitly. Intuitively, I would say that the original usage of the term "Schelling point" or "focal point" suggests that it should be possible to write it down as a simultaneous-move game, and I don't think that applies to every kind of negotiation (but I am no expert on how the term is used).

Comment by Sherrinford on The 10,000-Hour Rule is a myth · 2021-02-01T19:20:49.871Z · LW · GW

In other words, ten thousand hours of practice is necessary and sufficient to become an expert. ...

The best violinists averaged ten thousand hours of practice, compared to their less accomplished counterparts who “only” averaged five thousand.

Well, even if we ignore the average vs. fixed number problem, the second of these sentences implies that this is what people did that succeeded, which is quite different from the claim that doing it would make me succeed?

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-22T19:45:49.933Z · LW · GW

There is something we can frame in two different ways, either "What is it that the mods make exceptions for?" or "What are the real rules?" I assume this comes down to the same question, but the second version is more explicit. 

I think the implicit rule that I perceived was, more or less: "Posts should be about important/useful insights (whatever that means). They should try to explain, be based on and provide evidence when talking about the real world, be written in a level-headed way, avoid sneery comments about outgroups (and be timeless, even though that's sometimes a vague concept). Because the things we want to avoid correlate with politics, we discourage politics in posts." 

Now, steelmanning, one could argue that the new rule is the same is before but augmented by "However, if a post contains expectionally important/useful insights (e.g. emergency information), all other criteria can be overruled. If the mods find the main points of a post convincing, other statements in the post then do not have to be rigorously argued for or be backed up by evidence, rants can take the place of level-headed writing, sneery comments about outgroups are ok (timelessness is not a criterion in an emergency anyway), and politics in general is not a problem anymore, including if that essentially means that LessWrong effectively endorses political demands that are not implied by being a rationality community." (I am not saying Zvi's posts are completely like that; instead I am trying to describe a potential rule that would potentially put them in the set of posts allowed for the frontpage, without saying that they are at the extreme border of that set.)

Is that the reasoning?

If so, I'll note that I think it still damages the culture of the forum, but of course that may be justified. But then only the net effect is the justification. And the posts would therefore have to be really exceptionally important. Another possibility would be that the true rule should better be thought of as some function of the listed criteria? Then the more the other criteria are violated the more exceptional the main contant would have to be. However, that would not fit the "exception" reasoning. In any case, I think that it damages the culture more if it's just left as a vague "We'll make an exception", combined with the implicit claim that Zvi's post are very similar to other COVID posts (like this?).

Moreover, I am a bit suspicious of the claims about the unique value of these posts ("to make sure that people who follow LessWrong have at least basic guidance and advice during the most crucial phases of this whole coronavirus pandemic", as habryka wrote above), which would fit the first dimension of the "exception criteria". But as I am not in the US and do follow a different country's media (including social media), it is of course possible that all other sources of information in the US are basically useless. 

What I also don't see is why this is "a decent middle-ground of not completely breaking our guidelines"; exceptions do break rules, otherwise they would not be exceptions, right?

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-22T18:01:31.585Z · LW · GW

I still don't fully understand what you are saying, so: 1) What does the word "utilitarian" add to this explanation? 2) What would LessWrong run by "consequentialist calculus" look like, in contrast to "run by utilitarian calculus"? 3) Do you equate "habryka thinks" with the utilitarian calculus that is supposed to run LW?

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-22T06:05:13.875Z · LW · GW

Please explain.

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-21T22:34:01.016Z · LW · GW

I guess I can't suggest a rule here; I seem to misunderstand the rules that are valid on LessWrong. With respect to the more-or-less explicit ones ("unusually high standards of discourse" etc, and "explain not persuade"), my understanding seems to be different from yours. There are also implicit rules which I thought existed as a standard or as an ideal, but they would not fit the preferences revealed by frontpaging or by popularity.

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-21T11:49:26.522Z · LW · GW

After some reflection, I still do not understand the reasoning why the new rule is that Covid-19 content is forbidden except for Zvi's? Why are more level-headed posts banned from the frontpage, making spicing up articles with a certain rhetorics a necessary condition for Covid-19 frontpage posts?

Comment by Sherrinford on Covid: The Question of Immunity From Infection · 2021-01-21T11:24:12.063Z · LW · GW

"Over and over and over again, I’ve been told we should expect immunity from infection to fade Real Soon Now, or that immunity isn’t that strong. ... the inevitable media misinterpretations ... Naturally, the public-facing articles all seem to quote the 83%, and ignore the 95% and 99%. ... (And again, they also take something presented after five months of follow-up, and report it as ‘immunity lasts five months’ because journalism.)"

While this may be true (who knows), can we maybe make it a norm to back up major empirical claims and generalizations with evidence?

Comment by Sherrinford on Are there examples of rationalists getting censored for COVID-19 related communication? · 2021-01-16T15:54:31.921Z · LW · GW

What's the background to this question?

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-15T07:39:28.043Z · LW · GW

Another way you can follow the new posts of all kinds is the RSS button on the frontpage (together with an RSS feed reader). You can also select to see all kinds of posts above a certain threshold of "karma", e.g. this. (I think that is independent of whether it's just a personal blogpost, but I currently have a technical problem and cannot really check that.)

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-13T23:19:25.241Z · LW · GW

I did not mind the amount of "coronavirus-related content" in April, and I do not remember the site being overwhelmed with political content.

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-13T10:56:21.887Z · LW · GW

I did not interpret Zvi's delenda calls as calls for killing people. However, the usage of historical phrases is not innocuous. When you do that, you explicitly refer to the context, including the modern usage. I think it's not useful to make up new interpretations of words on the fly, otherwise we might end up in a Humpty-Dumpty usage of language.

Moreover, I know that the LW community, like every community, likes to use a lot of insider language (which may be signalling, which I explicitly note here also to include an example). But then you should expect that outsiders do not understand it, and give it a different interpretation. 

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-13T10:27:23.569Z · LW · GW

If I recall the old days and my memory does not fail me, back in the era of the first wave, LessWrong had a a lot of useful Covid-19 content, a bit like an wiki and newsfeed for understanding the situation and getting some tips for self-care. In the comment by Habryka you link to, he explains that it's "Player vs. Environment" and therefore seemingly not as political; in any case, I would understand that description as a normative call. (Of course, putting it in a World War 2 / Manhattan Project context is a bit risky, and at some point some historic explanations for the desire to take action may also be used to summon, say, a taskforce against certain anti-American foreign powers; but I think as of now that is hypothetical.)

At some (relatively early) point of time, the systematic covid-19 coverage was discontinued. Among some other posts, there were Zvi's (personal blog) posts. For these, Habryka's explanations are not valid because they are to a large degree political in the ordinary sense; nonetheless, as you note, one was curated. In my opinion, there would not be much of a need for explaining the reasons for frontpaging if the reasons for curating were clear. 

In the linked comment by Habryka and the comments around it, it is claimed that LW's corona coverage has a lot of influence. If that is correct, then calling for the dissolution of the WHO may have had an impact, who knows. But in any case, it seemed and seems to me that LessWrong as a website/community/brand or whatever you may call it embraces the political conclusions when such posts are curated. 

For the record, when the first Zvi covid-post curation took place, the explanation was this. I noted my discomfort with the curation. Zvi shrugged. Rob seems to have agreed that Zvi's post was full of "heated rhetoric" but stated that it would probably be fine to people with a lot of insider knowledge and/or deeper insights. At this point, it seemed to me that the criteria for what constitutes an exemplary lesswrong post are applied in a somewhat subjective manner. Rob then said that in a utopian world, politics would be standard LW content; I had no idea what to do with that. The discussion ended. Meanwhile, jacobjacob also saw long-run costs even if he explicitly felt the need to note that he somehow disagreed with me. 

I would like to note that the justification for encouraging/frontpaging covid content and the discussion about whether political texts should be encouraged and frontpaged are two very different animals. I welcome covid posts (e.g. this, this, this). I don't even mind politics-related posts very much if they try to be factual, objective, neutral, explanatory, open and avoid to be one-sided, straw-manning, sarcastic, and pandering to insider opinion and requiring club knowledge. I do not say that I never enjoy one-sided, sarcastic essays, or that Zvi's posts are all like that and not useful; and this is not statement about the extent to which I agree with Zvi. But I feel discomfort when rules are applied to everybody except the gold-star club members. I'm not sure I agree with the claim that "once you make enough exceptions then the rule is lost"; I'd rather say "once you make an exception then the understanding of the word 'rule' changes". The previous behavior may have been compatible with a strict understanding of the word, but once you make an exception the meaning changes. I would have preferred a regime of "topics that may have political implications: yes; gray tribe op-eds on American politics: no". (After all, AI safety stuff is also politics-related.)

And let me note that those "in the LessWrong community" who "do not have good information sources during this crisis" and agree that "Zvi's updates are high-quality, honest, readable, and trustworthy" usually see them whether they are frontpaged or not, and whether they are curated or not. I assume frontpaging and curation is more about presentation of the website to the outside. (Though currently, this display window is constituted by curated and shortform posts...)

Comment by Sherrinford on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T09:59:13.406Z · LW · GW

I endorse the current LW system where you can talk about politics but it's not frontpaged.

Would you please briefly define what you consider to be politics? I would assume that posts calling for the "delenda" of the WHO or using wordings like "Second-worst person New York Mayor DeBlasio" or affirmatively citing this tweet are political. And these posts seem to be frontpaged.

Comment by Sherrinford on What currents of thought on LessWrong do you want to see distilled? · 2021-01-11T16:07:08.433Z · LW · GW

To "fact-checked" and "compelling examples" etc, I would add the request that it would actually try to steelman these institutions' actions.

Comment by Sherrinford on COVID-19: home stretch and fourth wave Q&A · 2021-01-08T10:08:21.969Z · LW · GW

"but it may mean a few months of never leaving the house without a positive-pressure suit"

This suggests that the air outside your house is densely infected with corona viruses? Which reminds me of the pictures of Chinese large-scale disinfection spray in cities. Is there any evidence that that is sensible and effective?

Comment by Sherrinford on COVID-19: home stretch and fourth wave Q&A · 2021-01-08T10:05:47.211Z · LW · GW

"Overshooting herd immunity" means we achieve herd immunity in the space of a few weeks, with perhaps 60+% of  all Americans getting sick; and then (because the total number of infectious people is so high) a large portion of the rest of the population gets infected too even though the virus's effective reproduction number R is much lower now.

 I don't understand what that means. How is herd immunity in this context formally defined?

Comment by Sherrinford on My Model of the New COVID Strain and US Response · 2020-12-28T21:11:48.299Z · LW · GW

Update. Doing a quick search led to this:

"The U.S. public’s overall trust in Fauci, the National Institutes of Health’s top infectious disease doctor, has declined 10% since April. Republicans have particularly soured on him: His favorables dropped nearly 30% among Republicans since April. Democrats’ confidence in Fauci, meanwhile, has increased from 80% to 86% since April." (Statnews, Sep 10)

"79% of Democrats said Fauci has done a good or excellent job handling the pandemic, compared with 56% of independents and 54% of Republicans." "Voters have consistently rated the WHO, the CDC and their state governors above lawmakers and the president." (Oct 14, Morning Consult)

I would be very interested in knowing whether you use more up-to-date polls for your statement.

Comment by Sherrinford on My Model of the New COVID Strain and US Response · 2020-12-28T14:14:33.883Z · LW · GW

 Thanks for explaining your assessment of the situation.

They all have negative credibility at this point with many Americans.

 Are there polls supporting this view? (Negative credibility would mean that people assume the opposite of what is said by these people is true, right?)

Comment by Sherrinford on What trade should we make if we're all getting the new COVID strain? · 2020-12-26T21:48:43.806Z · LW · GW

"I think the modal outcome is that ~50% of Americans will get it by the early summer"

What is the model for that expectation?

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2020-12-17T14:19:19.854Z · LW · GW

Yes maybe an ITT tests a fleshman instead of a steelman or a strawman...

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2020-12-16T18:21:17.824Z · LW · GW

Yes, though I assume the best test for whether you really steelman someone would be if you can take a break and ask her whether your representation fits.

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2020-12-16T16:49:19.212Z · LW · GW

What I mean is: 

I would like to see that people who write articles about what the supposed actions or motivations of other people - or government agencies, firms, or whatever - are to actually try to present their actions and motivations in a way that at least assumes that they are not completely dumb or evil or pathetic. It seems to be fashionable that when people do not see the sense behind actions, they do not try hard but jump to the conclusion that it must be due to some despicable, stupid, or at least equilibrium-inefficient behavior (e.g. some claims about "signalling"; no proper analysis whether the claim makes sense in a given situation required). This may feel very insightful; after all, the writer seemingly has a deeper insight into social structures than the social agents. But supposed insights that feel too good can be dangerous. And that a model is plausible does not mean that it applies to every situation.

Comment by Sherrinford on Open & Welcome Thread - December 2020 · 2020-12-16T13:58:11.705Z · LW · GW

 THIS is still true: https://www.lesswrong.com/allPosts?filter=curated&view=new looks really weird (which you get from googling for curated posts) because the shortform posts are not filtered out.

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2020-12-16T13:22:35.743Z · LW · GW

I would love to see examples of contributions with actual steelmanning instead of just seeing people who pay lipservice to it.

Comment by Sherrinford on Parable of the Dammed · 2020-12-11T08:56:58.938Z · LW · GW

I agree in general, though afaik there is just no really rigid theory for what constitutes a focal point - it can be anything that is salient. If you let people play in a lab and give them game matrices with multiple equilibria with identical payoffs, then coloring one equilibrium can make it focal point; but in reality many things can seem salient. Maybe it's somehow built into our genetic and cultural code what we coordinate on - e.g. what's best for "all" or what's best for "our group" etc. (IIRC, Ken Binmore suggests something along the lines of "Evolution makes us find Nash bargaining solutions fair" in the book Natural Justice, but I don't remember what his evidence is to support that.)

Concerning symmetry and Nash: you can model the Nash bargaining solution asymmetrically, but of course it's unclear whether that helps. Models like Rubinstein's are elegant but not really realistic in their assumptions and neither in their implications.

Comment by Sherrinford on Parable of the Dammed · 2020-12-10T19:30:46.414Z · LW · GW

That is very interesting. I have not read Schelling's book, and having worked a lot with and/or read things applying Nash's bargaining solution as an axiomatic version of bargaining and Rubinstein-like alternating-offers games over the years, it seemed to me that agreeing on sharing rules should be considered distinct from uncoordinated behavior. In this sense, I do buy the point that a river can be an "agreement focal point", but only if it is roughly in the middle. It seems to me that the fairness focal point would be a 50:50 split, and using a river instead is a pragmatic deviation from that, because of the fact that the river is a barrier and any crossing and violation of the agreement can be observed easily. I doubt that you could "shift the focal point" by damming because that constitutes such a violation, and then the focal point becomes non-cooperation. (Concerning the incomplete contracts I mentioned: In practice not even that will work, because when the other side sues you, a judge would probably rule against you but that may depend on the legal system.)

Comment by Sherrinford on Parable of the Dammed · 2020-12-10T15:36:01.361Z · LW · GW

I like the story as illustrating inefficient fighting over resources and entitlements. However, I am not sure your interpretation of moving focal (or Schelling) points works?

In general, a focal point is needed when you have to choose something without being able to explicitly coordinate on it (and when there are multiple equilibria). Here the families do coordinate - they negotiate. As a fairness norm, I'd guess that choosing the middle of the river works because the river "ran roughly through the middle of their territories". When one conflict party afterwards manipulates the river, the river becomes useless as a border, and trust is destroyed (ending 1), or one conflict party just does not notice what happened and seemingly has limited attention or limited information (ending 2), or the destruction of trust again leads to wasteful fighting (ending 3). Endings 1 and 3 can be interpreted as the "bad" Nash equilibrium of a repeated game. Standard game theory does not offer convincing solutions for why one of the possible equilibria (cooperate or don't) is chosen, so focal points may be part of the answer, but then the river is not the focal point; rather, "cooperation" is the focal point.  

Since the parties agreed to use the middle of the river as the border and then one of the parties had the idea to manipulate it, the story may illustrate a problem of incomplete contracts.

Comment by Sherrinford on Open & Welcome Thread – November 2020 · 2020-11-09T15:12:57.257Z · LW · GW

Great vaccine news!

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2020-11-06T19:08:05.960Z · LW · GW

At least you didnt write a long longform post :)

Comment by Sherrinford on Notes on Industriousness · 2020-11-06T17:41:27.320Z · LW · GW

About that Warren Buffett advice: It seems to be made up, or at least wrongly attributed.

Comment by Sherrinford on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2020-11-06T08:17:01.105Z · LW · GW

It would be great if people first did some literature research before presenting their theory of life, universe and everything. If they did not find any literature, they should say so.