Cognitive Impacts of Cocaine Use 2021-07-31T21:53:05.575Z
TikTok Recommendation Algorithm Optimizations 2020-03-27T01:03:58.721Z
Why are people so bad at dating? 2019-10-28T14:32:47.410Z
Problems and Solutions in Infinite Ethics 2015-01-04T14:06:06.292Z
Political Skills which Increase Income 2014-03-02T17:56:32.568Z


Comment by Xodarap on Cognitive Impacts of Cocaine Use · 2021-08-18T02:24:55.785Z · LW · GW

Here's a longer quote from the article:

Out of the three PET studies summarized in Table 2, two studies not match groups
on age [111,112] and two did not find significant differences between groups on cognitive
measures [110,111]. The clinical importance of both Bolla et al. [111] and Goldstein et al. [112]
remains ambiguous. Both studies found that cocaine abusers exhibited a degree of cognitive
impairment. While Bolla et al. [111] based their conclusions on PET findings, those of Goldstein
et al. [112] were derived from a neuropsychological test battery. The studies also differed in
sample size, number of tasks administered, and use or non-use of demographically adjusted
scores. It is unclear what PET imaging tells us about the neurocognitive functioning of
individuals with cocaine use disorder, given that findings are open to debate and that doubts
persist as to whether metabolic changes in the brain are linked to a specific drug of abuse.

I interpret the authors as saying that it's unclear whether there's any difference at all, much less a "pretty bad" one.

Comment by Xodarap on Cognitive Impacts of Cocaine Use · 2021-08-01T19:58:41.890Z · LW · GW

I very well could be wrong, but I believe that slower response time indicates less impulsivity, which is "better" sustained attention. Here's how the review article I'm summarizing describes the findings:

Comment by Xodarap on Second Citizenships, Residencies, and/or Temporary Relocation · 2021-05-04T23:39:46.800Z · LW · GW

If I'm understanding this correctly, Cole V. Commissioner argued this and the courts found that the expatriate had to pay taxes:

As a result of moving to Israel, petitioner qualifies for a 10-year Israeli "tax holiday", which exempts him from Israeli tax on non-Israeli-source capital gain income... we hold that petitioner must recognize total long-term capital gain of $114,947 attributable to his sale of Neogen stock in 2010

I am not sure this I am interpreting this correctly, and would love to hear input from others.

Edit: I spoke to an Israeli tax lawyer who confirmed my understanding, though he said to double check with a US lawyer to be sure.

Comment by Xodarap on Notes from "Don't Shoot the Dog" · 2021-04-03T00:39:20.902Z · LW · GW

Thanks for writing this! As a tangent for your friend: Calibre can turn any e-book (including Kindle books protected by DRM) into audiobooks.

Comment by Xodarap on Open & Welcome Thread – March 2021 · 2021-03-10T23:12:07.993Z · LW · GW

The Centre for Effective Altruism is hiring a full stack developer and our partner organization Giving What We Can is hiring a developer/technical product manager.

For the developer position, we are piloting a Tour of Service model: we think that a qualified candidate could transform the community’s online infrastructure in a short, focused period, and we encourage you to apply even if you might only want to stay for 1-2 years.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about the role.

Comment by Xodarap on Are the social sciences challenging because of fundamental difficulties or because of imposed ones? · 2020-11-10T20:36:32.951Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this interesting idea!

I'm curious how you think this explains historical scientific progress. It seems like Ptolemy 2,000 years ago could make better predictions about celestial mechanics than sociologists today can make about crime rates, for example. Modern pollsters have access to way more data points than Ptolemy, but I think his predictions about the position of a planet 10 years in the future are more accurate than pollsters' predictions of elections 10 weeks in the future.

It seems hard to explain this without somehow describing celestial mechanics as "simpler".

Comment by Xodarap on For moderately well-resourced people in the US, how quickly will things go from "uncomfortable" to "too late to exit"? · 2020-07-12T21:13:25.791Z · LW · GW

It would be surprising to me if gold was useful. The things you most want are presumably travel (flight/car/fuel for your car), and those things generally seem to be sold by large corporations which don't accept gold.

I guess in theory if you have some gold and your assets get frozen but your neighbors assets are still liquid, you could sell them gold in exchange for cash (or crypto)? But I'm not sure if you can even buy plane tickets with cash these days. You can definitely use cash for buying gas though I guess.

Comment by Xodarap on For moderately well-resourced people in the US, how quickly will things go from "uncomfortable" to "too late to exit"? · 2020-07-12T21:10:30.469Z · LW · GW

Thank you for asking this - I would really like to know what others are planning. My current (very low confidence) triggers:

Scenario: Trump doesn’t leave office, causing a constitutional crisis. Exit conditions:

  • November 5 (2 days after election): media generally report Biden won but Trump doesn’t concede
  • December 1: Results are contested without a clear end state

Scenario: Cultural revolution analog. Exit conditions:

  • Government officials arrested for political reasons
  • Assassination of leader by organized movement
  • Civilian lynchings etc. supported by government officials
  • Assets of general civilians frozen

Regarding assets being frozen: the following are travel agencies which accept cryptocurrencies:

Keeping enough crypto for flights is a small enough cost to me that I'm planning to do so.

I also looked a bit into travel, which is slightly complicated by me having a cat. The easiest is Mexico, which can be visited for up to 180 days with no visa, and cats do not need any certification. Cats can be brought to Canada with a rabies vaccination certificate. My basic thought is that if one of these triggers happen I would go to Canada or Mexico on vacation fairly reflexively, and then reevaluate my options once there.

Comment by Xodarap on Open & Welcome Thread - June 2020 · 2020-07-12T20:59:42.407Z · LW · GW

I also have started making plans and would love to hear what others are thinking.

Comment by Xodarap on Review of "Lifecycle Investing" · 2020-04-30T19:15:36.548Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the helpful summary. Does this imply that young people should invest in cryptocurrency?

Looking at the Samuelson share equation, I'm not sure that premia have been established for crypto? But they do seem more volatile, and perhaps you can invoke CAPM or something to therefore claim they have a premium?

My impression is that they are also easier to leverage, although I'm less sure of that.

Comment by Xodarap on TikTok Recommendation Algorithm Optimizations · 2020-03-27T15:27:35.479Z · LW · GW

Good point

Comment by Xodarap on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-07T03:36:17.190Z · LW · GW

Note that this can act as a Faraday cage around your phone and potentially reduce your reception.

With the fullback of my phone covered in copper I got ~0.2 Mbps on 4G. When I removed a 1 in.² on the upper left (where the antenna is on a Google pixel 3) it went up to 13 Mbps.

I assume having everything except for a small square covered is still pretty good, so I'm doing that.

Comment by Xodarap on Why are people so bad at dating? · 2019-11-01T17:23:21.064Z · LW · GW

I don't think the app has much of an incentive to do this – each individual person wants to look more attractive, but if everyone looks 10% more attractive I'm not sure the community as a whole is benefited.

Some apps do provide feedback on which photos you should choose though, which is kind of similar.

Comment by Xodarap on Why are people so bad at dating? · 2019-10-28T16:27:19.972Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Do you have an analogous confusion about why people are leaving metaphorical $20 bills on the ground? (E.g. you wonder why people are wasting all their time on Tinder instead of hanging out with their friends or whatever you think is more effective.) Or do you think that people are behaving in a pretty optimal manner?

Comment by Xodarap on Why are people so bad at dating? · 2019-10-28T16:21:49.653Z · LW · GW

Thanks! I agree that trying too hard or seeming fake is a big turnoff and would decrease your chances of success, but choosing better photos seems like a pretty covert activity (and one which seems to have reasonably high social approval).

Comment by Xodarap on Why are people so bad at dating? · 2019-10-28T16:15:21.099Z · LW · GW
If you think it feels wrong that most people don't care, consider that you care enough about the subject to write a blog post about it so you're not an average person regarding dating.

Thanks! This just increases my confusion though: the main thing that evolution optimized us for matters so little to the average person that they don't even want to write a blog post about it?

Comment by Xodarap on Why Subagents? · 2019-10-11T16:31:19.085Z · LW · GW

Good point, yeah – it's a lexical ordering, not a unanimous agreement.

Comment by Xodarap on Why Subagents? · 2019-10-09T21:03:51.084Z · LW · GW

This can be formalized in the following sense:

1. Suppose your set of values are lattice-ordered, and
2. Suppose they admit some sort of group structure that preserves this ordering: if you prefer apples to oranges, then you prefer two apples to two oranges, and so forth.


1. As long as you don't have "infinitely" good outcomes, your preferences can be represented by a utility function.
2. If you have "infinitely" good outcomes, your preferences can be represented by a set of agents, each of which has a utility function, and your overall preference is equivalent to these subagents "unanimously agreeing".

The former claim is due to Holders theorem, and the latter is a result of the Hahn embedding theorem. I wrote a little bit more about this here.

Comment by Xodarap on 9/26 is Petrov Day · 2015-09-08T00:26:34.183Z · LW · GW

Does anyone know what Petrov's address is, or any way to reach him?

The Madison, WI effective altruism group would like to write him thank-you letters for our next meetup this Petrov Day.

Comment by Xodarap on Graphical Assumption Modeling · 2015-03-26T13:48:11.648Z · LW · GW

I would use this

Comment by Xodarap on Problems and Solutions in Infinite Ethics · 2015-01-18T16:15:38.542Z · LW · GW

Thanks. As per theorem 3.2 above you can't have both Pareto and an anonymity constraint. Finite anonymity would add a constant factor to the complexity of the utility vector and hence shouldn't affect the prior, so I assume your method follows the finite anonymity constraint.

As a result, you must be disobeying Pareto? It's not obvious to me why your solution results in this, so I'm bringing it up in case it wasn't obvious to you either. (Or it could be that I'm completely misunderstanding what you are trying to do. Or maybe that you don't think Pareto is actually a reasonable requirement. In any case I think at least one of us is misunderstanding what's going on.)

Comment by Xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-09-06T16:06:30.740Z · LW · GW

I agree that ovo-lacto evidence is weaker, but I'll maintain that there is slight evidence in favor of it. Given that a diet including fish, eggs, and milk, is much much easier to adhere to it remains something I recommend. Remember that my approach to nutrition in the OP is that effect sizes are small and you should focus your efforts elsewhere.

At last, we have reached convergence! I disagree slightly (the most recent article you linked again does not find significant differences between vegans and vegetarians as far as I can tell) but I'm fine calling that "slight evidence". The problem was that the OP said:

Ovo-lacto vegetarians live significantly longer than vegans

Which doesn't sound like it's true in either the statistical nor the colloquial sense of the word. Right? So can we just remove that sentence pretty please?

Comment by Xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-07-31T14:30:40.899Z · LW · GW

Right. So given that we don't actually have any evidence to support claims like "Ovo-lacto vegetarians live significantly longer than vegans" don't you think it makes sense to remove those claims?

Comment by Xodarap on Political Skills which Increase Income · 2014-03-04T02:56:05.196Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I've fixed this.

Comment by Xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-04T01:34:26.007Z · LW · GW

Sounds good.

Just reading the wikipedia page#Health_studies) on eggs seems to indicate that evidence for their health benefits is questionable at best, (and even though you were trying to make the argument that eggs were healthy you couldn't find the evidence to do so at first) so given that you're only mentioning "the largest high level features of a diet that have positive or negative impact", I'm not convinced eggs are worth including at all.

Comment by Xodarap on Political Skills which Increase Income · 2014-03-03T01:07:50.823Z · LW · GW

This is a good point.

If you look at tables 8 and 9 from Gordon you can see that once you control for "transparency" (i.e. how obvious the bullshit is) the setting is no longer a significant predictor. So I'm not sure I agree that it's the "iterated" part of real-world interactions which cause this result (it seems likely that you can more easily tell if someone's changing their behavior to follow an experiment if they are a close coworker than a random student, for example), but I think your point about transparency being important is relevant.

Comment by Xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-02T17:26:35.835Z · LW · GW

And what little evidence we have points towards ovo-lacto and pescatarians having better health

Um, the article you linked seems to say that vegans are healthier:

  • Vegan All-cause mortality: HR 0.72, 95% CI 0.56-0.92
  • Pesco All-cause mortality: HR 0.81, 95% CI 0.69-0.94
  • Lacto-ovo All-cause mortality: HR 0.91, 95% CI 0.82-1
  • [Meat eaters presumably have an HR of 1]

The difference might not be significant, so I don't know that we would call this conclusive proof. But it seems like if you're going to lean one way, it would be towards vegans being healthier.

Especially since "animal products are bad" is a much simpler model than "animal products are bad, except for these few exceptions."

Comment by Xodarap on Political Skills which Increase Income · 2014-03-01T21:05:14.916Z · LW · GW

From Ng et al.:

Political knowledge and skills included the following two measures: political knowledge (e.g., Chao, O’Leary-Kelly, Wolf, Klein, & Gardner, 1994; Seibert, Kraimer, & Crant, 2001) and supervisor-focused political tactics (e.g., Wayne, Liden, Graf, & Ferris, 1997)

Taking the Chao paper as an example, they look at things like "do you know who the most influential people in your organization are?" and "do you know what to do to get the most desirable work assignments?"

The Wayne paper looked at how frequently people used the tactics I listed in the article.

Comment by Xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-01T18:36:41.871Z · LW · GW

Ovo-lacto vegetarians live significantly longer than vegans

Where does it say that the difference is significant? The only mention of this I see in the cited paper is table 7, and the CIs there overlap a great deal. (And it goes on to say that the numbers should be "interpreted with caution because of the uncertainty of the dietary classification of subjects in the Health Food Shoppers Study".)

Comment by Xodarap on Maximizing Your Donations via a Job · 2014-01-22T13:43:11.970Z · LW · GW

What's the vesting schedule for stock? And are they options or outright equity?

Thank you for this article, it was extremely helpful.

Comment by Xodarap on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-01-19T23:10:42.994Z · LW · GW

I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you're saying? I'm aware of what "EA" stands for, if that's the confusion.

Comment by Xodarap on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-01-19T12:58:23.980Z · LW · GW

I found that 51% of effective altruists had given blood compared to 47% of others - a difference which did not reach statistical significance.

I gave blood before I was an EA but stopped because I didn't think it was effective. Does being veg*n correlate with calling oneself an EA? That seems like a more effective intervention.

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2014-01-19T12:56:25.834Z

If it's more than that the question would be why we should assume whatever further axioms characterize it

from wikipedia:

a partially ordered group is a group (G,+) equipped with a partial order "≤" that is translation-invariant; in other words, "≤" has the property that, for all a, b, and g in G, if a ≤ b then a+g ≤ b+g and g+a ≤ g+b

So if a > 0, a+a > a etc. which results means the group has to be torsion free.

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-11-03T13:48:27.849Z

But you've stated that the lack of an edge from A to B says nothing about whether A < B, now you're talking like if the premises don't conclude that A < B they must conclude ¬(A < B), which is kinda affirming the consequent.

This is a good point, what I was trying to say is slightly different. Basically, we know that (A < B) ==> (f(A) < f(B)), where f is our order embedding. So it is indeed true that f(A) > f(B) ==> ¬(A < B), by modus tollens.

just as the premises support (A < B) ⇒ (utility(A) < utility(B)), they also support (A < B) ⇒ (normalizedU(A)) < normalizedU(B))), such that normalizedU(World) = sum(log(utility(life))

Yeah, that's a pretty clever way to get around the constraint. I think my claim "If the inequitable society has greater total utility, it must be at least as good as the equitable one" would still hold though, no?

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-11-03T13:34:55.539Z

How about - order should be preserved if we shift the zero-point of our happiness measurement. That seems pretty common-sense. And yet it rules out total utilitarianism. (2,2,2) > (5), but (1,1,1) < (4).

The usual definition of "zero-point" is "it doesn't matter whether that person exists or not". By that definition, there is no (universal) zero-point in average utilitarianism. (2,2,0) != (2,2) etc.

By the way, it's true you can't shift by a constant in total utilitarianism, but you can scale by a constant/

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-11-02T20:10:06.816Z

it would be trivial for finite generating groups... That would mean only finitely many utility levels and then the result is obvious

Z^2 lexically ordered is finitely generated, and can't be embedded in (R,+). [EDIT: I'm now not sure if you meant "finitely generated" or "finite" here. If it's the latter, note that any ordered group must be torsion-free, which obviously excludes finite groups.]

But your implicit point is valid (+1) - I should've spent more time explaining why this result is surprising. Just about every comment on this article is "this is obvious because ", which I guess is an indication LWers are so immersed in utilitarianism that counter-examples don't even come to mind.

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T22:25:31.971Z

which, please note, does not amount to any sort of argument that we must or even should just glue values-of-lives together in this sort of way.

Thanks for the feedback, I should've used clearer terminology.

I do not see any sign in what you have written that Hölder's theorem is doing any real work for you here

This seems to be the consensus. It's very surprising to me that we get such a strong result from only the l-group axioms, and the fact that his result is so celebrated seems to indicate that other mathematicians find it surprising too, but the commenters here are rather blase.

Do you think giving examples of how many things completely unrelated to addition are groups (wallpaper groups, rubik's cube, functions under composition, etc.) would help show that the really restrictive axiom is the archimedean one?

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T22:15:39.584Z

Specifically, I believe I have some ordering, and you have some ordering, but strongly suspect those orderings disagree, so don't think we have one unambiguous joint ordering.

I'm not certain this proves what you want it to - it would still hold that you and I are individually total utilitarians. We would just disagree about what those utilities are.

Specifically, I believe that lives interact

I guess I don't find this very convincing. Any reasonably complicated argument is going to say "ceteris paribus" at some point - I don't think you can just reject the conclusion because of this.

This is only a "pure math" argument for total utilitarianism because you're talking about the group (R,+) instead of addition, but the two are the same

I guess I don't know what you mean. By (R,+) I was trying to refer to addition, so I apologize if this has some other meaning and you thought I was "proving" them equivalent.

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T22:08:41.067Z

Not all, just countable...

Z^2 lexically ordered is countable but can't be embedded in Z.

It seems like your intuition is shared by a lot of LW though - people seem to think it's "obvious" that these restrictions result in total utilitarianism, even though it's actually pretty tricky.

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T19:41:35.631Z

This is a good point - I am now regretting not having given more technical details on what it means to be "order preserving".

The requirement is that X > 0 ==> X + Y > Y. I've generated the graph under the assumption that Medium > 0, which results in (very good, medium) > (very good). Clearly the antecedent doesn't hold if Medium < 0, in which case the graph would go the other direction, as you point out.

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T19:30:31.603Z

The badness of inequality will show up in the utilities

Sure. This is probably not a majority opinion on LW, but there are a lot of people who believe that equality is good even beyond utility maximization (c.f. Rawls). That's what I was trying to get at when I said:

In fact, it is so bad that there are circumstances where increasing equality is good even if people are, on average, worse off.

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T19:26:50.619Z

Not sure if that's an application as much as a tautology

It's a proof, so sure it's a tautology.

Here's a better way of masking it though: suppose we believe:

  1. We should be non-sadistic: X < 0 ==> X+Y < Y
  2. Accepting of dominance: X > 0 ==> X+Y > Y

This is exactly what it means to be order preserving, but maybe when phrased this way the result seems more surprising (in the sense that those axioms are harder to refute)?

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T19:23:24.944Z

I think this is a great question, as people who accept the premises of this article are likely to accept some sort of utilitarianism, so a major result is that average utilitarianism doesn't work.

If we are average utilitarians, then we believe that (2) ~~ (1,2,3). But this must mean that (2,6) ~~ (1,2,3,6) to be order preserving, which is not true. (The former's average utility is 4, the latter's 3.)

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T19:17:36.023Z

First, I think that what you call lattice order is more like partial order, unless you can also show that a join always exists. The pictures have it, but I am not convinced that they constitute a proof.

I agree, I didn't show this. It's not hard, but it's a bit of writing to prove that (x1x2 \/ y1y2)=(x1\/y1)(x2\/y2) which inductively shows that this is an l-group.

It looks like all you have "shown" is that if you embed some partial order into a total order, then you can map this total ordering into integers. I am not a mathematician, but this seems rather trivial.

It's not a total order, nor is it true that all totally ordered groups can be embedded into Z (consider R^2, lexically ordered, for example. Heck, even R itself can't be mapped to Z since it's uncountable!). So not only would this be a non-trivial proof, it would be an impossible one :-)

Comment by Xodarap on [deleted post] 2013-10-27T19:12:52.660Z

Yes, one way to rescue this is to value equality instrumentally, instead of intrinsically.

Comment by Xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-03T13:20:19.522Z · LW · GW

Fair enough. What if we replace (1) with

  1. If we allow subjective opinions, then ridiculous conclusions are possible.

Keep in mind that I was responding to Lumifer's comment:

Humans are special in the same way a roast is tasty or a host charming. It is entirely in the eye of the beholder, it's a subjective opinion and as such there is no "actually" about it.

This is not intended to be a grand, sweeping axiom of ethics. I was just pointing out that allowing these subjective opinions proves more than we probably want.

Comment by Xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T11:57:19.593Z · LW · GW

Good point, thank you. I have tried again here.

Comment by Xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T11:56:42.400Z · LW · GW

Thank you Said for your helpful comments. How is this:

  1. Suppose we are considering whether being A is more morally valuable than being B. If we don't require evidence when making that decision, then lots of ridiculous conclusions are possible, including racism and sexism.
  2. We don't want these ridiculous conclusions.
  3. Therefore, when judging the moral worth of beings, the differentiation must be based on evidence.

Regarding your "Finally" point - I was responding to Lumifer's statement:

Humans are special in the same way a roast is tasty or a host charming. It is entirely in the eye of the beholder, it's a subjective opinion and as such there is no "actually" about it.

I agree that most people wouldn't take this position, so my argument is usually more confusing than helpful. But in this case it seemed relevant.

Comment by Xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T01:57:29.405Z · LW · GW

Do we disagree on questions of fact? On rereading this thread, I suspect not

I think so? You seem to have indicated in a few comments that you don't believe nonhuman animals are "self-aware" or "conscious" which strikes me as an empirical statement?

If this is true (and I give at least 30% credence that I've just been misunderstanding you), I'd be interested to hear why you think this. We may not end up drawing the moral line at the same place, but I think consciousness is a slippery enough subject that I at least would learn something from the conversation.

Comment by Xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T01:46:10.048Z · LW · GW

I apologize for presenting the argument in a way that's difficult to understand. Here are the facts:

  1. If you believe that subjective opinions which are not based on evidence are morally acceptable, then you must believe that sexism, racism, etc. are acceptable
  2. We* don't believe that sexism, racism, etc. are acceptable
  3. Therefore, we cannot accept arguments based on subjective opinions

Is there a better way to phrase this?

(* "We" here means the broader LW community. I realize that you disagree, but I didn't know that at the time of writing.)