Comment by waveman on In Defense of Kegan · 2019-11-18T21:32:13.918Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For people wanting to understand Kegan's key ideas without too much pain, I suggest "The Discerning Heart" by Philip Lewis. It is a concise and excellent introduction to the topic.

Comment by waveman on Climate technology primer (1/3): basics · 2019-11-12T02:02:11.153Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent post.

One oversight I see often in this space, and here, relates to a carbon tax. It is stated that the revenue from a carbon tax can be used to compensate people, especially lower income people, for the increased cost of living resulting from the tax. The fatal problem with this is that in a zero emissions world, there will be no emissions and therefore no carbon tax revenue.

Of course it may be possible to compensate people via other means such as other taxes. But a carbon tax is only required because it is otherwise cheaper to emit carbon. This means costs will go up overall and that there will be a net loss (in the short term at least). There is no free lunch and someone will have to pay.

Comment by waveman on How do you assess the quality / reliability of a scientific study? · 2019-10-30T02:10:40.938Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

One of the most miserable things about the LW experience is realizing how little you actually know with confidence.

Comment by waveman on How do you assess the quality / reliability of a scientific study? · 2019-10-30T02:09:40.846Z · score: 34 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I've probably read about 1000 papers. Lessons learned the hard way...

1. Look at the sponsorship of the research and of the researchers (previous sponsorship, "consultancies" etc are also important for up to 10-15 years). This creates massive bias. E.g: A lot of medical bodies and researchers are owned by pharmaceutical companies

2. Look at ideological biases of the authors. E.g. a lot of social science research assumes as a given that genes have no effect on personality or intelligence. (Yes, really).

3. Understand statistics very deeply. There is no pain-free way to get this knowledge, but without it you cannot win here. E.g. a) The assumptions behind all the statistical models b) the limitations of alleged "corrections". You need to understand both Bayesian and Frequentist statistics in depth, to the point that they are obvious and intuitive to you.

4. Understand how researchers rig results. e.g. undisclosed multiple comparisons, peeking at the data before deciding what analysis to do, failing to pre-publish the design and end points and to follow that pre-publication, "run-in periods" for drug trials, sponsor-controlled committees to review and change diagnoses... There are papers about this e.g. "why most published research findings are false".

5. After sponsorship, read the methods section carefully. Look for problems. Have valid and appropriate statistics been used? Were the logical end points assessed? Maybe then look at the conclusions. Do the conclusions match the body of the paper? Has the data from the study been made available to all qualified researchers to check the analysis? Things can change a lot when that happens e.g. Tamiflu. Is the data is only available to commercial interests and their stooges this is a bad sign.

6. Has the study been replicated by independent researchers?

7. Is the study observational? If so, does is meet generally accepted criteria for valid observational studies? (large effect, dose-response gradient, well understood causal model, well understood confounders, confounders smaller than the published effect etc).

8. Do not think you can read abstracts only and learn much that is useful.

9. Read some of the vitriolic books about the problems in research e.g. "Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime How big pharma has corrupted healthcare" by PETER C GØTZSCHE. Not everything in this book is true but it will open your eyes about what can happen.

10. Face up to the fact that 80-90% of studies are useless or wrong. You will spend a lot of time reading things only to conclude that there is not much there.

Comment by waveman on SSC Meetups Everywhere: Brighton, UK · 2019-09-14T06:03:40.494Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am thinking that "Australia" is not correkt and should read "England".

Comment by waveman on Examples of Examples · 2019-09-07T01:12:33.860Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Examples of "proof by theory"

That someone has a theory that supports something is evidence for something.


1. Once 3 people tell us something, we believe it. Some people think it, so it's true. Even knowing they are in cahoots and trying to manipulate us. I cannot source the study, but try it. It is scarily effective.

2. Ancel Keys formulated his dietary fat / heart disease hypothesis in the 1950s. Over a period of 3-4 years he moved from "hypothesis" to "almost certain" even though no new evidence arose in support of the hypothesis. It appears that every time he wrote on the issue, he noted that he himself, a very intelligent and credible authority, believed the theory, which seemed to weigh in favour of the theory. He cited his own previous papers which then added to the weight of the case, in his mind. [Keys may also have been influenced by the fact that his chief rival John Yudkin believed that sugar was the chief culprit, which view was therefore clearly wrong (theory in this case as anti-evidence). We are still sorting through the wreckage of his catastrophe].

3. Teenage fashions in clothes and politics. Teenagers are very concerned about acceptance by the group, and at the same time they have little experience and knowledge. So they seek cues from those around them as to what fashion statements and political opinions are acceptable. They are seeking cues from those around them, who are just as clueless as they are. Result: strongly held but more or less random fashions and opinions. One late teen recently told me he considers himself fortunate indeed to have been born at that one magic time when his peer group adhered to basically every right and true political and social opinion.

4. Contagion in financial markets. Didier Sornette has had some success in modeling the structure of financial bubbles and crashes based on the premise that speculators are very anxious about the direction of prices and highly uncertain about them at the same time. They have very little good information about future prices. In Sornette's model, traders take cues from traders they are in contact with, resulting in violently fluctuating "phase changes" in investor opinion leading to log-periodic hyper-exponential price moves. Again the opinions of other traders are taken as data when in fact they have little information content.

Comment by waveman on How do you learn foreign language vocabulary, beyond Anki? · 2019-08-28T04:20:07.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I found early on, when learning a foreign language (German and French), that it was better to read English books translated into the language at first. They tended to be lighter on the colloquial and idiomatic expressions.

There is a great book "Teach yourself a foreign language quickly" by Azzopardi tha I would recommend. It is really excellent for languages with phonetic scripts. PM me if you can't find it; I can lend you a copy.

One thing that slowed me down is my failure to 'believe' that gender of nouns is important. In German it is vital to learn the genders of nouns. Similarly in Italian (and you also need to remember the doubled consonants and where the accent lies).

You cannot learn a language in a big rush. Persistence is the key.

Comment by waveman on How do you learn foreign language vocabulary, beyond Anki? · 2019-08-28T04:12:58.893Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1. Obviously there are many general techniques for memorization you can use, which mostly amount to moving the task into either sensory/visual or spatial memory. Visual and spatial memory are huge, fat larger than verbal memory.

2. With Anki specifically:

2.1 Include an example of use in a sentence (as a separate note from the bare word).

2.2 I find it is very very useful to bring words in initially only a few at a time e.g. 5 at a time. If I bring in 50 new words I find, as with your experience, I am cycling around and the cycle time exceeds my memory.

2.3 Do it every day. I found my progress more than doubled

With these techniques I learned 1500 Italian words pretty fast. (the vocab required for B1 level).

3. Reading really helps to build vocabulary. You get exposed to the most common words more frequently, in an automatic and natural way. Start with really simple material and build up.

Comment by waveman on I'm interested in a sub-field of AI but don't know what to call it. · 2019-08-25T22:56:07.050Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models has some material about deciding between models on this though pretty low level.

Looking at my bookshelf most general AI/ML books have starting points.

"Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning" Bishop

"Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems: Networks of Plausible Inference" Pearl

"Probabilistic Graphical Models: Principles and Techniques" Koller

This is a super-hard problem but worth tackling.

Comment by waveman on Am I going for a job interview with a woo pusher? · 2019-08-25T22:35:47.643Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

N=1: Person close to me had NF treatment for ADHD and it was very effective. Unfortunately the outfit closed up, there was no local alternative, and he/she regressed. I think there is something to it.

But no doubt there is a lot of woo woo everywhere. Use as interview practice and ask them what is their evidence (other than X on their web site which no doubt you will closely examine).

... looks further ... they look pretty serious to me

Comment by waveman on A misconception about immigration · 2019-08-20T02:12:37.249Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You yourself are ignoring a huge part of the issue - capital.

If there is excess capital then this is not relevant. But this is not usually the case. Each immigrant requires capital to support their life and their work. The numbers involved are huge, perhaps $300,000-500,000 per person.

Using econometric data from Australia I estimated that about 25% of its GDP is expended just keeping up with population growth, mostly from (highest in the western world) immigration. New roads, hospitals, schools, colleges, fire stations, houses, power stations, subways etc have to be built. This is why many roads that used to be free to drive on are now toll roads even though the traffic is slower. Taxes go up to pay for new public services.

The rate of spending here is proportional to the rate of growth. For a static population you only need to pay for depreciation and maintenance.

This issue is why it is a cliche in development economics that high population growth rates make it almost impossible for poor countries to get rich. All the growth is consumed paying the the higher population.

It also explains why Japan remains prosperous, clean and a nice place to visit in spite of low GDp growth. With more or less zero population growth the need for new infrastructure is low, free up ~25% of GDP.

Another (more widely viewed) form of capital is land. Combined with restrictive land use regulations in many parts of the rich west, this is a recipe for higher and more volatile land and house prices. See e.g.

Your essay reads - to me - a bit like you are working backwards from a preordained conclusion rather than working forward from the data. Could I suggest going back to square one and taking another look at the whole question.

Comment by waveman on How to improve at critical thinking on science/medical literature? · 2019-08-07T02:03:58.880Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Usually conflicts of interest and funding are disclosed (these days) in the paper. Usually I go there first, before the second step which is reading the methods section.

There are also registers of funding for medical researchers.



But it is imperfect

and of course disclosure is not a complete answer. Disclosed funding greatly affects the reported results.

Comment by waveman on What are the best resources for examining the evidence for anthropogenic climate change? · 2019-08-07T01:48:16.614Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
I have generally just taken the existence of Jesus as a given

I think most people were the same. I was. Our default is to believe what we are told, especially if told by >= 3 people (a heuristic that is good to know if you want to convince someone of something).

In one sense it doesn't matter much because even assuming he existed, there is IMHO very little reliable evidence about what he said or did. Scholars widely believe that the eucharist, the feeding of the 5000 and the sermon on the mount were later additions to the story.

It is worth noting the trend here. Over time the historicity of biblical figures has eroded as older figures are gradually accepted as legendary. Usually this process occurs by the time honoured method of "science advances funeral by funeral". A new generation comes through who accept e.g. tha Abraham or Moses were mythical figures.

Comment by waveman on Epistemic Spot Check: The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance · 2019-08-07T01:41:57.790Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why 4 hours?

1. 4 hours a day has been widely reported as the limit

2. The book Daily Rituals reports high achievers doing 4 hours really hard work a day.

3. Personal experience. Steep drop off after more than 4 hours; burnout after a few days much over 4 hours, etc.

4. Very few examples of people going over that number sustainably.

I suggest people track this themselves and see what happens.

I find I can get to 4.5-5 hours maybe with a lunchtime nap. Maybe much more with lots of micro-naps (doze in chair for 5 minutes).

Currently I am experimenting with turning 24 hours into two days with a long nap in the middle. I am having trouble doing this though.

N.B. This is not 4 hours of any kind of work. This is work at the maximum of intellectual effort e.g. deliberate practice, learning to ride a bicycle, memorizing vocabulary with Anki decks, practising a foreign language at the limit of your comprehension, trying to prove theorems, doing exercises on a hard scientific subject you are learning, writing at the top level of quality and/or on difficult topics, etc.

Comment by waveman on How to navigate through contradictory (health/fitness) advice? · 2019-08-06T07:39:00.694Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also, not all 'experts' are actually expert.

If they can't

  • Build/achieve/create things that are impressive and that work, or
  • Fix broken things that others can't fix, or
  • Predict the future better than simple heuristics can (e.g. present trends will continue), or
  • Explain otherwise baffling things in a parsimonious way, in a way others can't, then

They are not an expert. Even if they have fancy pieces of parchment on the walls of their office, and even if they have fancy titles.

As Barbara Oakley pointed out in the excellent "A mind for numbers", claims of expertise not accompanied by proof are worse than acknowledged incompetence. At least the acknowledged incompetent will not act on a false basis of competence.

Comment by waveman on How to navigate through contradictory (health/fitness) advice? · 2019-08-06T07:33:05.691Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a very hard problem. I really have no answer other than learning as much as you need to know. Keep asking "what is the evidence for this?", and learn statistics deeply. I read lots of books and read the FAQs and watched the debates on /fit/ etc.

Most of the fitness advice you will hear is bad. But this is not unique; the same applies to financial advice and to medical advice, including from doctors and specialists. Conflicts of interest play a role but incompetence is rife. [Conflicts of interest: I commented to a General Practitioner here that surgeons often have a conflict of interest - they recommend surgery and also profit from. His comment was that there was no conflict - they are in it for the money!. Perhaps slightly too cynical but not bad as a first approximation. Incompetence: Anyone who has read the medical literature or looked deeply into their own medical issues and then spoken to doctors and specialists will be appalled. This post is too short to go into details but if at all possible and you have a serious medical issue - read up both on statistics and on the particular problem.] Also worth noting that, far more than most other scientific fields, medicine is a 'status' model not a 'knowledge and evidence' model. Pernicious and wrong ideas can live for decades because the people who hold them are powerful and have high status.

I think part of the problem is government enforced licensing of medical people. if you can do a better job that current endocrinologists for example and start doing that, the government will put you in jail. Add to this the fact that membership of the esteemed order of endocrinologists is at the whim of the current endocrinologists. For example in my country having seen at least a dozen endocrinologists I have yet to find one who has even an elementary grasp of medically relevant statistics, nor have I found one who seems to be able to think of the endocrine system as a complex non-linear feedback system. Usually you don't get much beyond "your blood level is normal therefore there cannot be a problem". And how is 'normal' defined ...

Having gotten into fitness myself thanks to a back problem, I do agree with the proposition that lack of strength is behind many but not all such problems. But hormonal issues are important too - if you have low testosterone (which many young males do, and by low I mean < 450ng/dl USA or < 15nM/L everywhere else). High cortisol can also nuke any fitness program.

I also agree with warm-ups. Not with stretching. Warm up for me = a few minutes of walking and then reps of the target exercise at low weights, gradually building up 10X10kg, 5X30, 3X50, 2*65...

On the other hand I found machines to be of limited value in producing real world strength because the unnatural movements only trained a very specific set of muscles and did not train proprioception and bodily intelligence. I switched to barbells.

On cardio I think that it is good if intense and in small doses i.e. HIIT. Long moderate cardio only put up my stress hormone levels and left me debilitated. Cool down from intense cardio is important I think to restore normal blood flow and avoid staving the heart of oxygen. Again just walk a few minutes. At this time you can stretch if flexibility is a goal - now, not before exercising.

For burning calories long slow walks are best IMHO. You can use the time for 'diffuse mode' thinking which is important. If you are very young you might be able to get away with slow running.

Comment by waveman on What are the best resources for examining the evidence for anthropogenic climate change? · 2019-08-06T03:28:20.516Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I could not find one a few years ago. I read the last couple of and the first IPCC report. Read sceptic books and blogs and looked for refutations. I took what looked like the 3 strongest sceptic arguments and studied them in detail (all proved fallacious). Though I did conclude that there had been early on an overconfidence about the accuracy of the projections.

Analogously I am looking for the best rebuttal to Richard Carrier's book questioning the existence of the historial Yeshua / Joshua / Jesus (in Greek). It is difficult because almost all biblical scholars are in a position where even entertaining the question might be a career threatening move, and all the texts basically simply assume his existence. I read Bart Ehrman's attempt ( and found it an embarrassment (to him). I have looked at the Josephus and Tacitus texts and find them to be very weak evidence.

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: 13 (8 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)