Comment by waveman on Epistemic Spot Check: The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance · 2019-06-26T11:12:18.056Z · score: 14 (9 votes) · LW · GW

There seem to have been a few individuals who could work hard for more than 4 hours a day: Proust (who took vast amounts of caffeine tablets and died at 51), Erdos (who used amphetamines), Richard Stallman who was and is a super motivated individual.

In the book daily rituals, about high achievers, few worked more than 4 hours on their core hard work e.g. writing novels, science etc. You would think if it were possible to work productively at the top level more than that, someone would do it and blow away the competition.

I would be interested in any others, or any evidence that people in general can do more than 4 hours at the top level. Possibly a nap after 3 hours can get you another 30-60 minutes. This was from the violinists study that Cal Newport (I think) referred to.

In general people tend to initially find the 4 hour limit a big problem. My response is to ask people to get back to me when they are consistently doing the 4 hours and we will see how it can be extended. They tend to find it is very hard to get to 4 hours.

Comment by waveman on Defending points you don't care about · 2019-06-21T01:10:31.723Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't read this. There seemed to be no way to tell if it would be of interest other than to read the whole thing. No summary, no tldr, even the title is vague.

Comment by waveman on Is the "business cycle" an actual economic principle? · 2019-06-19T00:02:01.278Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think you may be confusing the business cycle with market cycles.


anticipate a random walk with an average of 10%/year growth,

I suggest anyone who believes this have a closer look at world wide stock market returns over time. If you cherry pick the most successful of the ~200 markets (ie the US market) and ignore inflation you can maybe get 10% PA returns.

But unless you have evidence that you can pick the most successful market prospectively, then 3-4% after inflation and costs is more like it.

Bear in mind at the start of C20 the US had only recently exited a ruinous civil war, rule of law was limited, there was rampant corruption, etc etc. Which country that (might) looks like this would you pick as the top performer of the next 100 years?

Comment by waveman on Critiquing Gary Taubes, Final: The Truth About Diets and Weight Loss · 2019-05-26T02:41:57.614Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think you are being fair minded at all here.

Consider your claim that Taubes "hailed" the 2010 study with the reality

“The biggest study so far on lowcarb diets came out last year. It compared a low-fat diet in which you got Not everyone gets fat from eating carbs, and getting rid of carbs might not make you lean. But it will make you the leanest you can be. 118 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o m 2 / 1 1 1,200 to 1,800 calories per day with a low-carbohydrate diet where you could eat as much as you wanted. The researchers kind of buried this part of it, by the way. They barely touched on the fact that this is a severely calorie restricted diet compared with an allyou-can-eat diet. But what they found was that the low-carb diet did just as well.

Taubes is saying that a low carb diet with no calorie restrictions did as well as a calorie controlled high carb diet. Which is very interesting. But it is not an apples for apples comparison and in no way says that a low carb diet is no better.

I recommend people read Taubes's books for themselves and be mindful that powerful vested interests are at play in this space.

Comment by waveman on How to improve at critical thinking on science/medical literature? · 2019-05-15T00:27:36.052Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Skills: Learn both bayesian and frequentist statistics. E T Jaynes's book, also Gelman's Bayesian Data Analysis, and any solid frequentist textbook e.g. Goodman Teach Yourself Statistics 1972 edition. Also Judea Pearl Causality. Read the papers critiquing current methods (why most published research findings are false, the recent papers criticising the use of P values).

You will need calculus and linear algebra to get far but for reading the medical literature you can probably ignore measure theory.

Heuristics: Look at sponsorship, both for the study itself and for the researchers (speaking fees, sponsorship of other papers. This massively skews results.

Look for ideological or prior commitments by authors. This also massively skews results.

Look out for p hacking / garden of forking paths i.e. degrees of freedom that result in 'significant' results being claimed when this is not valid.

Understand the difference between statistical significance and practical significance. Understand how arbitrary the 5% threshold for statistical significance is. Understand that a result falling short of statistical significance may actually be evidence *for* an effect. No significant effect /= no effect, may mean probably is an effect.

Understand how little most medical people from GP to professors know about statistics and how often basic statistical errors occur in the literature (e.g. lack of statistical significant taken to be disproof as in the Vioxx debacle).

Read the methods section first. Don't read the results part of the abstract or if you do, check that all the claims made are backed up by the body of the paper.

When reading meta-analyses look hard at the papers they are based on - you cannot make silk from sows ears. Be very wary of any study that has not been replicated by independent researchers.

Be aware of the extreme weaknesses of epidemiological and observational studies and be very sceptical of claims to have "controlled for" some variable. Such attempts are usually miserable failures, invalid and can make things actually worse. See Pearl's book.

Comment by waveman on Critiquing Gary Taubes, Part 4: What Causes Obesity? · 2019-05-11T11:07:23.125Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As an example here is copypasta from the latest dietary guidelines:

Adults who are obese should change their eating and physical activity behaviors to prevent additional weight gain and/or promote weight loss. Adults who are overweight should not gain additional weight, and those with one or more CVD risk factors (e.g., hypertension and hyperlipidemia) should change their eating and physical activity behaviors to lose weight. To lose weight, most people need to reduce the number of calories they get from foods and beverages and increase their physical activity. For a weight loss of 1 to 11⁄2 pounds per week, daily intake should be reduced by 500 to 750 calories. Eating patterns that contain 1,200 to 1,500 calories each day can help most women lose weight safely, and eating patterns that contain 1,500 to 1,800 calories each day are suitable for most men for weight loss. In adults who are overweight or obese, if reduction in total calorie intake is achieved, a variety of eating patterns can produce weight loss, particularly in the first 6 months to 2 years; [9] however, more research is needed on the health implications of consuming these eating patterns long-term.

Straight wall to wall calories in calories out.

Comment by waveman on Critiquing Gary Taubes, Part 4: What Causes Obesity? · 2019-05-11T10:44:30.380Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't buy this at all.

The OP has attacked Taubes on a peripheral issue and used that to make it look like Taubes got it wrong on his central theses. And I don't think he did.

Even on this peripheral issue, I think Taubes is actually basically right. I have read 3 of his books and watched a few of his talks so I know his views on the topic.

Overwhelmingly the advice to consumers has been eat less move more. As if that was a solution to the problem of weight gain. My own doctors have said this to me. Not a word about more sophisticated approaches to regulating appetite and hunger.

The scientific rationale for the 2015-2020 guidelines has barely a thing to say about this. They have some ideas about eating less sugar and less takeaway food but evcen there the main argument is the hoary old chestnut about calorie density (fat = 9 calories / gram versus healthy carbs at 4).

Of course you can find some quotes suggesting that regulation of weight is complex. But overwhelmingly the message is calories in calories out. Ancel Keys - who dominated the field, and was funded in part by packaged food companies - gave this message repeatedly in his works.

Dietary policy in the US (and therefore in most of the world) has been a monumental failure with skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes. The fall in smoking rates and better treatments have masked the impact of this on heart disease.

There is a long and sad history of the recommendations not being evidenced based and being skewed by the packaged food industry and by vegetarian/vegan zealots (particularly more recently).The AHA's original big funding splash came from Proctor and Gamble, who marketed the wonder food, Crisco, full of "healthy" trans vegetable fats.

Read the reports over time and look at the evidence that wasn't there and the evidence that was ignored.

Comment by waveman on Critiquing Gary Taubes, Part 4: What Causes Obesity? · 2019-05-11T10:10:34.227Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Weren't you trying to argue that mainstream science doesn't make mistakes?

No Eugine

Comment by waveman on How long can people be productive in [time period]? · 2019-05-07T10:46:49.927Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would emphasise that you can be productive for far more than 4 hours a day. For example doing routine clerical work. But there does seem to limits on work at deliberate practice level or above. If you disagree, install Anki on your phone and download or make a deck of some things you are interested in memorizing. Keep adding cards until you have done 4 hours according to Anki (clock time may be 50% longer as you goofed off at various times without realizing it). Now do this for a week and report back.

Often people will say they practice violin for 6 hours, but you will usually find that there is a lot of down time in there.

Comment by waveman on How long can people be productive in [time period]? · 2019-05-07T10:35:11.185Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why I believe this

1. The book "daily rituals", and references therein. People at the apex of achievement seem to work - at maximum intensity, not drone tier busy work - not much more than 4 hours a day. You would think that if it were possible to do more someone would, and they would surpass them.

The typical day would be 4 hours of damn hard creative work, 4 hours of taking care of business, 4 hours of fun. A good life.

2. I go looking for exceptions that do work really hard (deliberate practice hard) and they are few and far between. They seem either to burn out (Proust - died in his early 50s) or use serious drugs (Erdos - amphetamines) or seriously affect their health (Richard Stallman).

3. That study that I can't find right now that the violinists that made it practiced for about 4-5 hours a day. They were able to eke out an extra hour by napping in the middle.

4. My own experience. OK I am not that young anymore but 4 hours a day knocks me out. I am very happy to achieve 4 hours a day. I have been tracking this and average about 2.5/day, gradually going up

When people hear about the 4 hours thing they tend to think it is far too low. My advice to people is to try to get to 4 hours and *then* worry about going past it. If you can actually work maximally hard for 4 hours a day you will kill it. If you try to go past the 4 hours your brain will find ways to "procrastinate".

Also note that IMHO you cannot "carry forward" the 4 hours. Use it or lose it. At least that is my experience. Maybe you can do 3,5,4, etc but not much more, not 2,6,0,8.

I am interested in any other exceptions apart from the ones I listed above.

Comment by waveman on Critiquing Gary Taubes, Part 4: What Causes Obesity? · 2019-04-21T23:17:09.923Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Two issues here

1. Correlation is not transitive as you seem to assume (the claim is a) sat fats corr cholesterol, and b) cholesterol corr to heart disease, therefore c) sat fats corr heart disease, therefore d) sat fats cause heart disease) . A correlated to B and B correlated to C does not even mean A is correlated to C, let alone that A causes C.

2. When you go looking for solid evidence for saturated fats causing heart disease - as I have - it just isn't there.

What seems to have happened is that the field was for many years dominated by one man Ancel Keys who had a hunch that saturated fat was the culprit. He then fell prey to the usual cognitive biases, e.g. confirmation bias, and failed to update his views based on evidence.

Unfortunately the mania against saturated fats has let to a large uptake in intake of carbs in particular sugars (which Keys said was better than SF at least on one occasion), and Omega 6 fats contained in industrial seed oils ("vegetable oils"), trans fats and various other abominations that have been replacing trans fats.

Read this and note how weak and old the evidence cited here is (president of the AHA).

Circulation. 2017;136:e1–e23. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510

Per your comment about realizing there is a mistake I get the feeling that the tide is turning and they are slowly walking it back.

Contrast the article above with this talk on the issue.

Comment by waveman on Akrasia and Shangri-La · 2019-04-15T06:19:58.221Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have a citation but I did read a paper which appeared to show that, while at first fat cells get smaller (and unhappier!), after about two years excess cells get culled. So if you can tough it out for two years it gets easier.

I acknowledge that there is also research that says otherwise. Not too easy to find, though journalism that says this is easy to find.

Both my wife and I lost about 15 kg of fat and did find after a couple of years life got easier, so maybe it's true.

Comment by waveman on The Unfinished Mystery of the Shangri-La Diet · 2019-04-15T05:59:12.211Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I had the same experience. In my case I actually tested this and I found to my great surprise that I was more productive at tough (for me) intellectual tasks when dieting (500 calorie deficit).

It might be worth testing if not actually done yet.

I do accept that some people have terrible problems mobilizing body fat for fuel. This can drive appetite.

Weight loss is a wicked problem. There can be many reasons for overeating. Psychology (i found IFS therapy best here), high insulin from excess glycemic carbs, genetic ungiftedness, hormonal issues often driven by excess fructose and/or Omega 6 fats.

What is frustrating is you have to get it all right before you lose weight sustainably.

Comment by waveman on Ideas for a fact checking widget · 2019-03-18T22:16:49.074Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is not as simple as it looks.

I think it would be better to provide a way to note that a claim is contested. It is just not clear in many cases what the facts are.

To add value to this, you could tell people what things the various parties think are facts. People might be interest to hear that the site says Elvis is still alive, the earth is flat, that evolution is a communist lie,
that this commentator said in 2007 there was a 'zero' chance of a major housing downturn in our lifetime, that this site said that Trump had no chance to win in 2016, that (6 months ago) the Muller report is going to be coming out within a few days, etc.

Other useful information: Who owns, sponsors, pays for lots of advertisements etc on that site? Where would you position them ideologically? Do they admit errors and publish retractions?

Trump has a good chance to win the 2016 election.

Fact check: False! The NYT says Clinton has > 98% chance to win!

Comment by waveman on Is there a difference between uncertainty over your utility function and uncertainty over outcomes? · 2019-03-18T22:08:04.654Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW
if you were to discover that apples were twice as valuable, you could simply pretend that you instead received twice as many apples

No, because twice as many apples are not usually twice as valuable. This because utility functions are not linear.

You can kind of deal with uncertainty about utility by fudging expectations about outcomes but, trust me, it is the primrose path to hell.

Comment by waveman on Ask LW: Have you read Yudkowsky's AI to Zombie book? · 2019-03-18T11:13:02.401Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Read a few of the sequences. Then read the book. Then read all the sequences.

I found the book very good.

Comment by waveman on Risk of Mass Human Suffering / Extinction due to Climate Emergency · 2019-03-17T09:38:27.354Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do not have time to wade through a one hour presentation without a strong indication that it is very good.

Found and read the speaker notes.

  • Utterly fails to make the case
  • Basically it is emotive activist propaganda
  • Full of left wing applause lights
  • I agree global heating is a big problem. A wicked hard to solve problem. Along with a lot of other problems we face that are just as bad or worse. I find it strange - this mono-focus on global heating.

    Comment by waveman on Less Competition, More Meritocracy? · 2019-02-14T07:17:04.401Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

    Finance is full of such hidden risks. Start a fund, take insane risks, maybe generate outsize returns => profit by growing funds under management and take a % of that.

    If not, try, try again. Google "incubator funds". Taleb's Fooled by Randomness has many examples.

    But if you are taking risks, won't people see it and shun you? Probably not. It is very hard to see risk after the event. It is not too hard to "stuff the risk into the tails". There are even conslutants who will help you do this.

    Even without cheating, when a test is very stringent, then an alarming fraction of the apparent top performers may have just had a lucky day.

    Comment by waveman on Building up to an Internal Family Systems model · 2019-01-27T03:04:49.197Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
    It seems that sub-personalities do not actually exist, but are created by the human mind at the moment of query.

    This is one good way to rationalize them. It doesn't really much matter whether this is true or not.

    Comment by waveman on Building up to an Internal Family Systems model · 2019-01-27T03:01:24.219Z · score: 16 (5 votes) · LW · GW

    I am not OP but I can give an example.

    As background there are some activities that are general purpose feeling obliterators and thus are commonly used by firefighters: binge-eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, sex, TV, video games...

    I have been fighting with my weight for many (26!) years. I did lose a lot of weight but still at BMI 26 and could not get off that last 7kg. Using the IFS process I identified the firefighters which used eating to make various feelings go away:

    Social stress, anxiety about food being available (from when I was young = "Jimmi"), feelings of emotional deprivation (childhood situation), feelings of frustration when I could not understand something, feeling tired, feeling frightened (childhood situation)

    Once I connected with these protectors and made friends with them, connected (with their permission) with the original exiles, and established that the problems have solutions, I have been able to stick to my diet for 50 days straight and lose 2.5kg in less than two months. This takes me almost half way to my target.

    As an example how much has changed I have had a packet of chocolate biscuits in my refrigerator for the last few weeks with no drama at all about being tempted to eat them (

    Why do I have a packet of tim-tams in the fridge?

    This is a possibly interesting aspect of the IFS process. Having satisfied all the exiles that their problem is solved you are supposed to check in with them every day for a week. You should also check in with the protectors every day, that they are happy also and that they are liking the new roles they have chosen for themselves.

    Well the character Jimmi above on the second check-in said that he bought in theory that nowadays I can always get the food I need but he wanted actual proof. So we went and bought various foods that 8 year old Jimmi liked. Thus the tim-tams. This then satisfied him. But I ate them as part of my diet e.g. this morning I had two tim-tams as my carb/fat portion of breakfast. They were delicious!

    I give this as an example of where thinking of the parts as characters can sometimes help. How you rationalize them is less important.

    LWers can get too hung up on the theory of things. "I know it works in practice but does it work in theory" as one economist said.

    All models are wrong but some are useful. I find this one useful.

    As OP pointed out, IFS is very useful for understanding other people. Additionally if you model someone's bad behavior as a part flaring up, it can help you to be more compassionate.

    Comment by waveman on Failures of UDT-AIXI, Part 1: Improper Randomizing · 2019-01-06T06:41:18.581Z · score: 1 (6 votes) · LW · GW

    This post would be much helped by some explanation and context.

    AIXI - I happen to know what this is but maybe not everyone does

    UDT - Maybe Updateless Decision Theory? Maybe something else?

    "the policy" - what policy?

    "the algorithm I wrote" - where might I find this algorithm?


    General practice is to have links from new terms.

    I see that most of your postings seem to have similar issues. Even in pure math papers they tend to put references so the reader has some chance to work out what you are talking about.

    Comment by waveman on Spaghetti Towers · 2018-12-22T05:54:15.884Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW


    There is a rich literature on design anti-patterns and the reasons they exist and survive.

    Agree that biology looks like a classic legacy system, but worse:

    3.5B years old

    No documentation

    No source code

    Comment by waveman on Reasons compute may not drive AI capabilities growth · 2018-12-21T08:57:40.890Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

    Suggestion to test your theory: Look at the best AI results of the last 2 years and try to run them / test them in a reasonable time on a computer that was affordable 10 years ago.

    My own opinion is that hardware capacity has been a huge constraint in the past. We are moving into an era where it is less of a problem. But, I think, still a problem. Hardware limitations infect and limit your thinking in all sorts of ways and slow you down terribly.

    To take an example from my own work. I have a problem that needs about 50Gb RAM to test efficiently. Otherwise it does not fit in memory and the run time is 100X slower.

    I had the option to spend 6 months maybe finding a way to squeeze it into 32Gb. Or, what I did: spend a few thousand on a machine with 128Gb RAM. To run in 1Gb RAM would have been a world of pain, maybe not doable in the time I have to work on it.

    Comment by waveman on Good arguments against "cultural appropriation" · 2018-12-18T21:27:03.445Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

    I think you need to make a stronger case that mockery is bad.

    Cultures often have harmful dysfunctional components, which should be criticised - and mockery is one of the more potent forms of criticism.

    Comment by waveman on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-12-11T02:42:30.568Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW
    not a statement of universal fact

    I have seen a lot of these generalized disclaimers. They don't mean much. What is more important is the hard work of closely examining every assumption and every logical step.

    It reminds me somehow of the way many Christians talk a lot about humility but in practice are extremely arrogant towards non-believers. I am not specifically thinking of you in this paragraph.

    Comment by waveman on Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”) · 2018-12-10T21:57:03.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

    Not sure if you've tried the IFS therapy technique or not.

    One example of a part that many people may have experienced is where you behaved in a way that you later regretted - "what came over me?". Perhaps sometimes you became surprisingly angry or upset about something.

    From a rationalistic perspective you could think of a part as a configuration of yourself. For example you might feel anxious about something and be unable to sleep because you keep thinking about it. You could think of this as being taken over by a part, or by yourself in a configuration of anxiety and worry.

    In my experience the parts vary wildly in completeness. Some are very simple and others more complex.

    Comment by waveman on Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”) · 2018-12-10T21:50:52.485Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

    I've done a lot more with this over the last week with TBH miraculous results. I highly recommend.

    I am very appreciative to you for bringing it to my attention.

    Comment by waveman on Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”) · 2018-12-05T02:27:22.336Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

    While you can treat the parts as stories or metaphors, in practice these 'entities' behave so similarly to actual sub-personalities of varying degrees of complexity that you may as well treat them as real.

    Comment by waveman on Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”) · 2018-12-05T02:25:40.257Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

    Thank you for this post!

    I have been reading the book (80%) and doing the exercises and find it very helpful. This framework is both very powerful and easy to understand.

    One of its greatest strengths, based on my experience so far, is that it provides a way to get past resistance and to get to the core of the problem and fix it.

    Comment by waveman on Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”) · 2018-11-30T08:53:15.961Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

    I think OP does not appreciate sufficiently that this work is like weeding lawn of crabgrass. '

    Every "aha!" removes a bit of crabgrass, though it feels like more than that. After a while the lawn starts to look pretty good.

    Comment by waveman on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-23T00:55:54.672Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW
    It makes me sad to keep reading this kind of history propaganda.

    Motivated reasoning is so obvious and blatant when it concerns beliefs we don't share ourselves. The OP is almost embarrassing.

    Our own motivated reasoning is harder to notice. That is the hard thing.

    Comment by waveman on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-23T00:50:23.527Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

    I have done this. In year 10.

    We tried to troll the teacher saying that the larger object landed first. He claimed this was due to 'parallax error'.

    Science is murkier than it looks.

    Comment by waveman on Debt is an Anti-investment · 2018-07-22T22:58:54.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
    The market disagrees with you.

    I would be interested in any evidence for this. The existence of compelling reasons for outperformance at current prices would suggest that current prices are wrong.

    which is why you hold a globally diversified portfolio. You don't place bets

    OP was I think suggesting that the SP500 performance was something that one could expect ongoing by investing in the US market. Or you could diversify.

    I agree that betting it all on one market is probably foolish. (But may do very well)

    Comment by waveman on Logical Uncertainty and Functional Decision Theory · 2018-07-11T01:12:44.700Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

    I suggest

    1. Define acronyms e.g. FDT.

    2. Structure this post better. E.g The first paragraph should be an outline of what you have to say.

    Comment by waveman on Debt is an Anti-investment · 2018-07-05T22:48:34.922Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

    Good article but I take issue with two points

    The S&P has a yearly volatility of 15-20% (call it 17%) and a return of 6%. Let’s notate this [6,17] The MSCI world index (global stocks) has higher returns but is also riskier, perhaps [8,25].

    You seem to be confusing past returns with prospective returns.

    When you take into account markets that completely imploded, confiscations, and selection bias (advanced countries = countries that were successful in the past) the likely prospective figures are much lower.

    For the MSCI world I am not sure where the figures come from. Since 1987 the return was less than 8% before inflation.

    Also anyone who takes the US market as a representative of likely future returns should be aware that it was the top performing market over the last 100 years. There is no compelling reason to think such outperformance will continue into the future.

    I that people factor in future returns more like 4-5% after inflation. This is more like the long term returns from "the triumph of the optimists" but also allowing for markets that went to zero, which the book excludes.

    And the variance means you may get nothing near that return. There have been multi-decade periods of virtually no return.

    Don’t hold any debt at above 4%.

    It depends. If debt is tax deductible then it can make sense to hold it. Or based on the size of the opportunity.

    As a general principle you are right.

    Update (from MSCI data and using a web inflation calculator

    US 1969-present return after CPI deduction 5.7% World 5% PA which was not higher than the US (note this has a degree of survivorship bias) Australia 4.4% (as an example of a country that did reasonably well until then)

    This is a 50 year period.

    For those thinking that they can pick the winning countries in the future, consider what the winning countries looked like in 1900. England Russia Germany Argentina... the US was then a wild frontier economy recovering from a ruinous civil war, and no-one would make a big bet on that... predictions are hard to make, especially about the future.

    Comment by waveman on Improving Teaching Effectiveness: Final Report · 2018-06-30T02:13:38.806Z · score: 5 (1 votes) · LW · GW

    Fewer students per teacher

    From my reading class sizes don't matter much within a wide range (6-30). I would be interested in good studies that show something different.

    Class sizes greatly affect teacher workload so smaller classes are very popular.

    The main problem seems to be that they didn't actually get rid of any (<1%) underperforming teachers.

    Teacher quality is a big issue. Again from my reading the IQ of teachers makes a big difference but this is not mentioned in the report.

    Kudos to the Gates foundation for publishing the outcomes, but across the board they seem to be monumentally ineffective.

    They are funding circumcision (males only of course) in Africa on the basis of studies that suggest it is about as effective in reducing disease as using a condom every 4-5th time you have sex.

    Insert snarky remark along the lines of what do you expect from the perpetrator of MS Windows - quality?

    Comment by waveman on A possible solution to the Fermi Paradox · 2018-05-05T22:00:10.233Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

    To add to this, if we assume

    a) many universes (1),

    b) that it is unlikely that any given random universe supports intelligent life (2),

    then a universe that does support intelligent life would most likely just barely do so. That is a kind of prediction.

    And sure enough, our universe does seem to barely support intelligent life. We only appeared after 15 billion years or so. Vast portions of the universe are devoid of life. It appears that after a while all life will die out and the universe will be sterile forever. Humans were down to a few thousand breeding pairs and could have easily gone extinct.

    (1) There are different kinds of many worlds. Quantum many-worlds, but also it is possible there are many worlds from multiple inflationary processes, each with their own physics constants, and some people think that every mathematically possible universe exists in some sense.

    (2) Most toy universes seem to be degenerate in some way e.g. everything collapses into a black hole, no atoms form, etc.

    Comment by waveman on Rationality: Abridged · 2018-02-20T01:20:16.172Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

    I just finished reading it. I find it a very useful summary and that is a hard thing to do, I know, and takes a lot of work. Thank you.

    I noticed a typo

    "The exact same gamble, framed differently, causes circular preferences.

    People prefer certainty, and they refuse to trade off scared values (e.g. life) for unsacred ones.

    But our moral preferences shouldn’t be circular."

    scared => sacred

    Comment by waveman on TSR #9: Hard Rules · 2018-01-10T03:47:51.007Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

    This blog is amazing - thank you.

    Comment by waveman on Insights from 'The Strategy of Conflict' · 2018-01-04T05:31:12.227Z · score: 31 (10 votes) · LW · GW
    >>> The final conclusion I'd like to draw from this model is that it would be preferable to not have weapons that could destroy other weapons. For instance, suppose that both parties were countries that had biological weapons that when released infected a large proportion of the other country, caused them obvious symptoms, and then killed them a week later, leaving a few days between the onset of symptoms and losing the ability to effectively do things. In such a situation, you would know that if I struck first, you would have ample ability to get still-functioning people to your weapons centres and launch a second strike, regardless of your ability to detect the biological weapon before it arrives, or the number of weapons and weapons centres that you or I have. Therefore, you are not tempted to launch first.

    This was the case with the San people (formerly Kalahari Bushmen). They had slow acting poison arrows . This meant that any deadly fight resulted in the death of all the parties. So such fights were few and far between.

    Comment by waveman on Superhuman Meta Process · 2018-01-03T23:39:27.388Z · score: -6 (7 votes) · LW · GW

    Half way through I started to wonder if it is satire.

    Comment by waveman on Epistemic Spot Check: Full Catastrophe Living (Jon Kabat-Zinn) · 2017-12-29T09:02:59.106Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

    MBSR (sometimes MSBR in this article) = Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

    Please explain acronyms when first used

    Comment by waveman on Why did everything take so long? · 2017-12-29T05:35:27.194Z · score: 20 (6 votes) · LW · GW

    It might be profitable to take a recent breakthrough and see why it didn't happen before.

    When I did this I found

    a) Often an invention requires a lot of prerequisites. Useful wheels seem to require some strong metal as a core component. Also they need open country and smooth hard surfaces to run on. Deep learning required fast computers with a lot of memory.

    b) Some actually important inventions are not seen as useful. The Romans had little use for labor saving devices because they had slaves.

    c) There are many ways to do something that are obvious, plausible, simple, and wrong. E.g. Edison's famous comment about the light bulb.

    d) Some inventions go against received wisdom. Stretching the definition of invention little, Kepler discovered of the elliptical orbits of the planets and pubished the results, stating that it could not be correct because as we all know the true orbits must be based on circless.

    As an exercise, take a current unsolved problem and try to solve it. Consider friendly AI.

    What are you up against? <This is a stupid problem and does not require a solution> <We will not understand AI until we understand consciousness> <True intelligence in the human brain comes from quantum magic> <It cannot be solved> <Just turn the thing off if it becomes a problem> Etc.

    Or better batteries (100X better batteries would solve so many problems).

    Comment by waveman on The Behavioral Economics of Welfare · 2017-12-22T13:24:57.249Z · score: 1 (4 votes) · LW · GW

    to the best of my knowledge

    You need to improve on this. Also, consider the costs of welfare. And look into the history a bit more.

    Many of the functions of welfare were provided by mutual societies, not by charities as we know them. You might find looking into who introduced welfare systems and why quite informative. It often had little to do with charitable notions and more to do with reducing crime.

    Comment by waveman on Books I read 2017 - Part 1. Relationships, Learning · 2017-12-18T11:00:49.385Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

    Good summary. I would recommend "A Mind for Numbers" for anyone specificall learning a high technical field, because it contains many specific and useful recommendations for that.

    Comment by waveman on Comment on SSC's Review of Inadequate Equilibria · 2017-12-01T23:24:29.338Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

    I would be interested in some good generic tecniques for

    1. Working out how expert the experts actually are. There seem to be whole fields of experts who are nto actually any good at what they ostensibly do. Easy example: Freudian psychoanalysts seemed to have no actual skill in helping people get better (beyond what an intelligent layman with a 1/2 day's training in counselling techniques could offer).
    2. Understanding the limits of the experts and where they systematically get it wrong. Example: the very strong bias in the medical system to treat patients with drugs that are currently under patent.
    3. Working out how my own limitations relate to the above, when trying to work out what to do. As an example, it is notorious that doctors overstate benefits and understate risks of treatment (even after the treatment is complete and the downsides are, or should be, obvious). So I try to apply a discount factor and double check the cost/benefit before agreeing to a treatment.

    I felt the book left me dangling in this regard. There is a lot of insight but not as actionable as I would have liked.

    Comment by waveman on Any Good Criticism of Karl Popper's Epistemology? · 2017-12-01T05:28:11.091Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW
    > This doesn't solve the problem of figuring out which ideas are good, it just gives an arbitrary answer (shorter doesn't mean truer).

    It taken literally this suggests you don't understand SI. Which says that shorter explanations are preferred all else being equal. A short hypothesis that strongly contradicts the data is not preferred to something consistent with the data in various ways.

    I have ordered his response to critics and will read it. But I find the contrast bettwen his claimed disproof of induction and the no free lunch theorems reflects quite poorly on Popper.

    What the NFL theorems say, roughly, is that to learn from inducation you need a prior on hypothesis. With that, you can learn. So example, a bias towards simplicity is a prior, as are spatial and temporal locality. No-one knows why these priors work but they do so far. Popper seems to say (like many philosphers he maintains plausible deniability) is that it us just am anazing fluke that it has worked so far.

    What does Popper really offer? A room full of philosphers to work it out? Vague formulations like that we "prefer" certain hypothesis?

    I don't see anything of value so far but I will read his response.

    On the other hand I wish more people woudl listen to him on the open society and the value of free discourse.

    Comment by waveman on Any Good Criticism of Karl Popper's Epistemology? · 2017-11-29T00:49:58.453Z · score: 20 (8 votes) · LW · GW

    Can you suggest a good statement by Popper of his final position? He seemed to be a) forever railing that people misunderstood him b) frequently changing his positions. So it is hard to know what to criticize.

    And given he seems to be in low repute among professional philosophers (that I have spoken to) it would be good to hear the elevator pitch as to why understanding his ideas in detail is a good use of our time.

    You could start with the criticisms in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry.


    a) Refutation requires acceptance of the theory underlying the experiment that refuted the theory. E.g. Think of all the theory that needs to be accepted to agree that the Michelson-Morley experiment refuted absolute space-time. So if you cannot prove any theory refutation also fails.

    b) All critical tests are actually repairable and are not fatal even if failed. Also all tests are probabilistic - you never have a 100% refutation. The way anomalies are actually dealt with is way beyond the scope of Popper's theory.

    c) The importance of auxiliary hypotheses in any test. It is argued that Popper, in dealing with this issue, greatly reduced the scope of his theory, and made it far weaker and more subjective.

    Comment by waveman on [deleted post] 2017-11-25T20:37:49.838Z
    >>> In this paper

    The link is broken and you give no details of the paper. Please provide a proper citation so we can find the paper.

    Comment by waveman on Hubris, Pride, and Arrogance · 2017-11-21T22:52:27.512Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

    You could make this less unclear by doing these things

    1. Explain that 'link' is you. Why use a common noun to name yourself, which doesn't even match your userid if you are not trying to confuse people.
    2. Provide a link, and preferably an explanation of what on earth you are talking about here: "compare and contrast Pat Modesto to Simplicio.".
    3. Avoid terms that exclud outsiders and beginners e.g. "EY"
    4. Use the structure of the document to help rather than hinder the reader. What are the "three often conflated (and highly correlated) states of mind"?
    5. Provide some structure and headings.