Posts

Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory 2016-07-13T21:11:00.828Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Ann Arbor meetup 2015-07-19T16:41:23.413Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory 2015-07-15T00:10:12.243Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Michigan Meetup Feedback and Planning 2015-06-18T02:06:12.609Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Meetup : Ann Arbor, MI Discussion Meetup 6/13 2015-05-06T22:24:13.786Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Choosing an Inferior Alternative 2015-04-11T16:43:26.875Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
Defeating the Villain 2015-03-26T21:43:03.702Z · score: 30 (31 votes)

Comments

Comment by zubon on Book recommendation requests · 2017-06-05T02:02:39.048Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And then I scroll down and find this, the perfect example of your question about books that can be initially amazing but not great upon re-read or reflection. If you are not familiar with the ideas in GEB, it can be an amazing introduction that opens new horizons. Or it can be too clever for its own good, getting in the way of delivering its own content.

Comment by zubon on Book recommendation requests · 2017-06-05T02:00:09.368Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Frequently to both.

For fiction that I re-read and find it not as good the second time, I suspect the newness of it was the driving force in my initial assessment. Permutation City was life-changing for me, but going back after having more transhumanism in my diet, I don't know that it is even my favorite Greg Egan book.

There are other times where I have that feeling without even needing to re-read. "Upon reflection, I enjoyed that a lot at the time, but there is not a lot of there there."

Comment by zubon on Open thread, May 15 - May 21, 2017 · 2017-05-17T11:35:02.326Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You should be very surprised if you think you have found a new counterexample to a centuries-old discipline that comes from a millennia-old example. Odds are there is an existing literature addressing exactly that question.

Comment by zubon on why people romantice magic over most science. · 2017-03-11T18:16:22.077Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I concur on "do what I want" as the distinction. Magic is teleological: it produces a certain effect, whereas science is about the cause. Magic "just works." You do not need to know how the magic words produce light or fire, they just do. The great usual magical dream is about having massive power under your control, not whether you are the direct cause. Wishes are the archetypal example. You wish for something and it happens. Done. A genie is neither you nor a tool you control, just a massive source of power bound to your wishes.

Magical horror stories are about wishing for effects and either not liking the cause or not specifying the effect properly, like the evil genie or the monkey's paw. Science horror stories are about starting a cause without realizing its effects.

There are plenty of science-like magical stories, where they delve into the rules of magic and effects from causes. And don't those read a lot more like science fiction, whereas a space opera like Star Wars has the trappings of science fiction but Jedi are just space wizards that produce effects by willing them.

Comment by zubon on Did social desirability effects mask Trump's true support? · 2016-11-13T14:28:52.703Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And the direction of the error was known and stated in advance by informed interpreters (538). A fair number of Trump voters would not have been considered "likely" voters based on past non-voting, and that was a systematic bias in the polling estimate rather than something that would affect a few states independently. Pollsters tended to stick with their "likely" filter rather than change it on the assumption that these voters would turn out and vote. They turned out and voted.

I seem to recall seeing Trump doing better in polls of registered voters versus likely voters, but I cannot say I have strong evidence for that and it might have just been comparing a few surveys. Most polls seem to have been of likely voters.

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory · 2016-08-06T17:32:31.374Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Between Halls B and E, nearish giant Pikachu

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory · 2016-08-06T17:12:52.669Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Setting up at the blue Fantasy Flight tables, by the X-Wing Miniatures banner, in front of the HQ table, just before the banner showing the switch to Asmodee.

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory · 2016-08-06T02:04:48.076Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you have spotted a good/better location at the con, suggestions are still open. Otherwise, I will be updating on-site when I arrive on Saturday.

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory · 2016-07-16T18:36:10.337Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Default location is in the card game area, specific location to be found at the time (and then posted here). There are always open tables. I would plan on near-ish the exhibit hall exit, but I have not seen how the layout may have changed this year.

There is also the official open gaming space, but that is $4/person.

We could also take discussion to a restaurant, or start at the Convention Center and wander off for food if we run that long.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 · 2016-02-21T18:53:55.329Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is some small number of people whom I trust when they say they very confident. They can explain the reasons why they came to a belief and the counterarguments. Most other highly confident statements I look upon with suspicion, and I might even take the confidence as evidence against the claim. Many very confident people seem unaware of counterarguments, are entirely dismissive of them, or wear as a badge of pride that they have explicitly refused to consider them.

There are others whose intuition I will trust with high confidence on certain topics, significantly because they are aware that they are exercising intuition. They may not know how they know something, but at least they know they don't know how they know it, which tends to get them to the right confidence level.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 · 2016-02-19T16:05:38.402Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"You can’t just decide to be happy."

"No, you can’t. But you can sure as hell decide to be miserable."

-- Quentin and Alice in The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Ann Arbor Meetup, 2/19/16 · 2016-02-11T22:47:09.234Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I only know of 1 at AADL. Folks found it somewhat uncomfortable and wanted to be able to have food and drink. Several were held at Pizza House, just a bit off south campus.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 · 2016-02-07T15:46:50.726Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good point, thank you. I was focusing on the top half of the distribution, when there is also a cutoff in the bottom half.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 · 2016-02-06T15:50:11.002Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Granted. The top hires from the top. This leads to two questions:

  • Do we see corruption in those grades? If that is where it matters, that is where we would expect to see it. Say, does admittance into and top grades at Harvard Law depend mostly on academics or is class rank better predicted by other factors, from social class to blatant bribery you mention above?
  • Once you are below the tournament economy, do we see any corruption? I work for a state government. "Do you have a relevant degree?" is the question, not how good your university was or what your class rank was. Barring extremes (obvious diploma mill, top tier graduate from top tier university), grading just isn't that important.
Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 · 2016-02-05T12:47:58.119Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Moreover, universities have a strong incentive to not be corrupt in their grading - if they let people slip through without learning the work, employers will start to notice and discount qualifications from that institution This assumes that employers are using a college degree primarily as a signal for education, outweighing conformity, conscientiousness, class, deference to authority, low time preferences, habitual credentialism, or anything else a degree might signal. We note that most employers want to know that you have a degree but not, say, "must have at least a B+ in Intermediate Microeconomics," so the entire degree might as well be pass/fail apart from the few hiring at the top of the graduating class. And no employer is going to detect or care whether you legitimately passed something not relevant to work. I had an undergraduate course in Magical and Occult Philosophy, and I have yet to be quizzed on Plotinus and Hermes Trismegistus during a job interview.

The fact that few employers request transcripts and fewer distinguish between "barely passing" and "summa cum laude" (maybe apart from recent graduates?) seems like pretty strong evidence about caring about grading corruption. You really need to corrupt your school's degree award process (like a diploma mill) before anyone will care about it.

Also, as Old_Gold suggests, if you count grade inflation as corruption of grading, empirically this incentive wasn't strong enough. We also note that across-the-board corruption of this type undermines incentives. If someone comes up with a better signal, the entire institution of universities would collapse, but most people have seemed to accept rampant grade inflation with a shrug rather than mostly ignoring degrees. It may eventually collapse, but on a time scale where it seems difficult to believe "this was due to grade inflation starting 50 years ago."

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016 · 2016-01-31T17:54:03.395Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Social desirability bias remains even in randomized, anonymous polls. But the result would be less wrong than self-selected, public polls.

Comment by zubon on "Why Try Hard" Essay targeted at non rationalists · 2016-01-30T01:45:36.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The writing style is ... potentially appealing to a certain sort of nerd. But I'm the sort of person who reads here and I stopped after the first paragraph, which has a geology joke, followed by a too-self-aware pun, then ends on the explicit statement that no one really understands handshakes. The typical mind does not know what the Mohs scale is and intuitively grasps social interactions, or at least it thinks it does.

"those pesky social interactions no one seems to get the hang of" comes across (to me) as signaling a lack of social competence and fluency then typical-minding it onto your readers, which signals low status and low awareness of self and others. Or, dropping our local jargon: "I am autistic and I have not noticed that most people aren't." You cannot hold yourself out as an expert to be listened to after undercutting yourself that much.

That feels a bit harsh but I'm going with it. As you say, you are assuming some frames of mind that are not typical. It is not just that you are not properly modeling normal people well -- it sounds as though you believe you have a great model of normal people while the presentation demonstrates the opposite.

What you're saying here in this reply suggests you think the problem is one of communicating with typical people, not understanding them. The problem is not (misunderstanding people) -> (communicating badly). Okay, it may also be that, but more so (misunderstanding people) -> (what you're telling them is wrong) because you are trying to "fix" a mind that you don't appear to understand.

Comment by zubon on Open thread, Jan. 18 - Jan. 24, 2016 · 2016-01-29T20:34:27.465Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That seems like really sloppy sockpuppetry. Wouldn't that just tell admins which other accounts are likely also the same person, so ban the lot of them?

Comment by zubon on Open thread, Jan. 25 - Jan. 31, 2016 · 2016-01-29T20:32:12.347Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My experience is mostly with formula grants, where the grant is mostly a formality like the EFT reimbursement. Many grants have expected recipients. Others are desperately seeking new applicants and ideas. From the outside, it is difficult to tell which is which, and from the inside grantor agencies often have trouble telling why random outsiders are applying to their intentionally exclusive grants but they have trouble finding good applicants for the ones where they want new folks.

Comment by zubon on Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015 · 2015-12-22T22:02:07.189Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How much do you trust economic data released by the Chinese government? I had assumed that economic indicators were manipulated, but recent discussion suggests it is just entirely fabricated, at least as bad as anything the Soviet Union reported. For example, China has reported a ~4.1% unemployment rate for over a decade. Massive global recession? 4.1% unemployment. Huge economic boom? 4.1% unemployment.

One of the largest, most important economies in the world, and I don't know that we can reliably say much about it at all.

Comment by zubon on Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015 · 2015-12-22T21:47:16.853Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You've stated compatibilism, and from that perspective free will tends to look trivial ("you can choose things") or like magical thinking.

Many people have wanted there to be something special about the act of choosing or making decisions. This is necessary for several moral theories, as they demand a particular sense in which you are responsible for your actions that does not obtain if all your actions have prior causes. This is often related to theories that call for a soul, some sort of you apart from your body, brain, genetics, environment, and randomness. You have a sense of self and many people want that to be very important, as you think of yourself as important (to you, if no one else).

You may have read Douglas Adams and recall him describing the fundamental question of philosophy as what life is all about when you really get down to it, really, I mean really. A fair amount of philosophy can be understood as people tacking "really" onto things and considering that a better question. "Sure you choose, but do you choose what you choose to choose? Is our will really free? I mean really, fundamentally free, when you take away everything else, really?"

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread November 2015 · 2015-11-20T14:39:41.717Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What implies that only a human can do that?

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread November 2015 · 2015-11-15T17:06:44.656Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Related quote from July's thread:

Most people are neurologically programmed so they cannot truly internalize the scope and import of deeply significant, long run, very good news. That means we spend too much time on small tasks and the short run. Clearing away a paper clip makes us, in relative terms, too happy in the short run, relative to the successful conclusion of World War II.

-- Tyler Cowen

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread November 2015 · 2015-11-11T13:12:15.387Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Duplicate, although with the Yogi Berra attribution.

Comment by zubon on Open thread, Nov. 09 - Nov. 15, 2015 · 2015-11-09T12:46:38.255Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Note the alt text about talking its way out of the box.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 · 2015-09-25T12:29:31.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am not saying we should discard our intuitions about relative outrage, but we ought to look at them more closely rather than just riding them to a quick conclusion.

Tyler Cowen, "Just How Guilty Is Volkswagon?"

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 · 2015-09-11T12:25:56.657Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Did you mean to reply to a different post? That doesn't seem relevant to either the quote or the source article. A better metaphor here would be not believing in linens when someone puts on a white sheet and jumps out at you.

Comment by zubon on Bragging thread September 2015 · 2015-09-07T04:58:40.826Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I passed the Project Management Professional certification exam.

Comment by zubon on Stupid Questions September 2015 · 2015-09-05T06:29:14.494Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And, going with Viliam's comment, market power is less threatening than political power, which includes criminal justice and the military. Channel your sociopaths towards dollars, not guns.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 · 2015-09-03T04:26:59.800Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Dupe

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 · 2015-09-03T03:19:09.401Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

People condition on information that isn’t true.

Andrew Gelman, "The belief was so strong that it trumped the evidence before them."

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 · 2015-09-03T03:13:55.717Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As a rule, news is a distraction from worthy intellectual pursuits.

-- Bryan Caplan, expanded here

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread August 2015 · 2015-08-26T00:39:16.501Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It wanders from the original quote, but "irrationality is slow suicide" is a great connection to make. (And if you want a quote, I'm sure you can find something like that from Rand.)

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory · 2015-07-31T15:25:37.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

New games enjoyed day one: Tesla vs. Edison and Blood Rage.

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory · 2015-07-31T15:25:11.010Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Tentative location: Hall F, the green tables just behind the CCG/TCG HQ.

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Ann Arbor meetup · 2015-07-30T16:09:29.496Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Time corrected to PM. Thanks.

Comment by zubon on Open Thread, Jul. 20 - Jul. 26, 2015 · 2015-07-23T21:22:27.887Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Additional note to #3: humans are often the weakest part of your security. If I want to get into a system, all I need to do is convince someone to give me a password, share their access, etc. That also means your system is not only as insecure as your most insecure piece of hardware/software but also as your most insecure user (with relevant privileges). One person who can be convinced that I am from their IT department, and I am in.

Additional note to #4: but if I am willing to forego those benefits in favor of the ones I just mentioned, the human element of security becomes even weaker. If I am holding food in my hands and walking towards the door around start time, someone will hold the door for me. Great, I am in. Drop it off, look like I belong for a minute, find a cubicle with passwords on a sticky note. 5 minutes and I now have logins.

The stronger your technological security, the weaker the human element tends to become. Tell people to use a 12-character pseudorandom password with an upper case, a lower case, a number, and a special character, never re-use, change every 90 days, and use a different password for every system? No one remembers that, and your chance of the password stickynote rises towards 100%.

Assume all the technological problems were solved, and you still have insecure systems go long as anyone can use them.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-19T14:11:37.086Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.

― J.R.R. Tolkien explains how we get problems with the availability heuristic in The Hobbit

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-17T14:42:31.833Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Most people are neurologically programmed so they cannot truly internalize the scope and import of deeply significant, long run, very good news. That means we spend too much time on small tasks and the short run. Clearing away a paper clip makes us, in relative terms, too happy in the short run, relative to the successful conclusion of World War II.

-- Tyler Cowen

Comment by zubon on Philosophy professors fail on basic philosophy problems · 2015-07-16T15:36:53.376Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes: what we learn from trolley problems is that human moral intuitions are absolute crap (technical term). Starting with even the simplest trolley problems, you find that many people have very strong but inconsistent moral intuitions. Others immediately go to a blue screen when presented with a moral problem with any causal complexity. The answer is that trolley problems are primarily system diagnostic tools that identify corrupt software behaving inconsistently.

Back to the object level, the right answer is dependent on other assumptions. Unless someone wants to have claimed to have solved all meta-ethical problems and have the right ethical system, "a right answer" is the correct framing rather than "the right answer," because the answer is only right in a given ethical framework. Almost any consequentialist system will output "save the most lives/QALYs."

Comment by zubon on Meetup : Gen Con: Applied Game Theory · 2015-07-15T02:08:18.023Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Any games you're looking forward to? I'm curious about Pathfinder card game (new stuff coming, never played original), City of Gears, and Die! I was using the BoardGameGeek Origins preview to scout new releases.

ETA: Gen Con preview live

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-09T03:53:01.073Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This being Less Wrong, this might be the point where you bring up whether P=NP and that solutions are often much easier to verify than compute. Easier does not necessarily mean easy or even within human cognitive capabilities. And if it does in whatever example comes to mind, just keep pushing to harder problems until we need not only tools to solve the problem but also meta-tools to tell us what our tools are telling us. And you can keep pushing that meta. (Did I mention that Blindsight is a very Less Wrong book?)

We trust our tools because we trust the process we used to develop our tools, and we trust the previous generation of tools used to develop those tools and processes, and we trust... At some point, you look at the edifice of knowledge and realize your life depends on a lot of interdependencies, and that can be scary.

And then I trust Google Maps to get me most places, because I know it has a much better direction sense than me and it knows things like construction and traffic conditions.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-09T03:52:33.259Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"If you could second-guess a vampire, you wouldn't need a vampire."

-- an aphorism in Blindsight by Peter Watts, page 227

In Blindsight, a "vampire" is a predatory, sociopathic genius built through genetic engineering. They have human brain mass but use it differently; take all the brain power we spend on self-awareness and channel it towards more processing power. The mission leader in Blindsight is a vampire, because he is more intelligent and able to make dispassionate decisions, but how do you check whether your vampire is right or even still on your side? Like Quirrelmort, they are always playing at least one level higher than you.

The synthesist quote is the first time Blindsight brings up the problem of what to do when you build smarter-than-human AI. The vampire quote approaches it from a different angle, with a smarter-than-human biological AI. Vampires present a trade-off: they cannot rewrite their source code, so they cannot have a hard takeoff, but you know they are less than friendly AI.

(If you know what is wrong with the above, please ROT13 your spoilers.)

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-09T03:52:18.498Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

And when your surpassing creations find the answers you asked for, you can't understand their analysis and you can't verify their answers. You have to take their word on faith —-

—- Or you use information theory to flatten it for you, to squash the tesseract into two dimensions and the Klein bottle into three, to simplify reality and pray to whatever Gods survived the millennium that your honorable twisting of the truth hasn't ruptured any of its load-bearing pylons. ...

I've never convinced myself that we made the right choice. I can cite the usual justifications in my sleep, talk endlessly about the rotational topology of information and the irrelevance of semantic comprehension. But after all the words, I'm still not sure. I don't know if anyone else is, either. Maybe it's just some grand consensual con, marks and players all in league. We won't admit that our creations are beyond us...

Maybe the Singularity happened years ago. We just don't want to admit we were left behind.

-- Siri Keeton explains what a "synthesist" does in Blindsight by Peter Watts, page 35-37

Blindsight is an amazingly Less Wrong book, with much discussion of epistemology and cognitive failures, starting with the title of the book. It is some of the hardest science fiction in existence, with a 22-page "Notes and References" section walking through 144 citations for the underlying science.

Pushing a related quote to a comment... Pushing discussion to another comment...

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-01T22:53:25.447Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

To match action to word, here are some of Ken's specific examples of vague legal claims, presumed meritless until actual examples can be cited (in reverse chronological order):

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-01T22:52:29.966Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Vagueness in legal threats is the hallmark of meritless thuggery.

-- Ken White from Popehat

Ken wants you to be specific because a vague claim is usually a meritless claim. Not citing a good example implies that there are no good examples.

Comment by zubon on Rationality Quotes Thread June 2015 · 2015-06-30T02:46:15.861Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's accurate but not very precise, in the same way that the story about how there are wet streets and rain is true but misses the inner connections. Many people fail to get the distinctions between programmers, artists, and designers, because they want designers to fix bugs, just shift staff to design, etc. And testers are nowhere in that simplified model. So people have enough of an idea to get the wrong idea.

Many game developers have a shaky idea of how game development works once the team is larger than can work in one room. That becomes project management, and if you ever want to to see the planning fallacy in all its glory, follow game development and the timelines of when things will be ready. Showing off my own availability bias, the first example that comes to mind is this game, which was "two months from beta" three years ago and has yet to release. Heck, last week's big story in game development was the PC port of Batman: Arkham Knight, a major release that had to be taken off the market and is now labeled as available this fall. They had to revise the release date after releasing.

Comment by zubon on Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015 · 2015-06-26T16:59:12.081Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

According to a distinction that originates with Aristotle himself, his writings are divisible into two groups: the "exoteric" and the "esoteric". Most scholars have understood this as a distinction between works Aristotle intended for the public (exoteric), and the more technical works intended for use within the Lyceum course / school (esoteric). Modern scholars commonly assume these latter to be Aristotle's own (unpolished) lecture notes (or in some cases possible notes by his students). ... Another common assumption is that none of the exoteric works is extant – that all of Aristotle's extant writings are of the esoteric kind.

Wikipedia on Aristotle

Comment by zubon on Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015 · 2015-06-26T16:55:04.113Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Stronger point: since we are at Less Wrong, think Bayes Theorem. In this case, a "true positive" would be cancer leading to death, and a "false positive" would be death from a medical mishap trying to remove a benign cyst (or even check it further). Death is very bad in either case, and very unlikely in either case.

P (death | cancer, untreated) - this is your explicit worry P (death | cancer, surgery) P (death | benign cyst, untreated) P (death | benign cyst, surgery) - this is what drethelin is encouraging you to note P (benign cyst) P (cancer)

My prior for medical mishaps is higher than 0.5% of the time, but not for fatal ones while checking/removing a cyst near the surface of the skin. As drethelin's #2 notes, this is not binary. If it is not a benign cyst, you will probably have indicators before it becomes something serious. Similarly, you have non-surgical options such as a cream or testing. Testing probably has a lower risk rate than surgery, although if it is a very minor surgery, perhaps not that much lower.

If the cyst worries you, having it checked/removed is probably low risk and may be good for your mental health. But now we might have worried you about the risks of doing that (sorry) when we meant to reduce your worries about leaving the cyst untreated.

Comment by zubon on Michigan Meetup Feedback and Planning · 2015-06-23T23:42:41.646Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Me, I'm comfortable having somewhat meandering discussions. One of our meetup best practices suggests that groups have more success (measured in terms of interest and retention) with a project or something specific to do rather than socialization. Maybe we cut in the middle of that with a discussion group rather than resembling a cocktail party. I am also concerned that having something that looks like a homework assignment would cut against our "all are welcome" goal.

So perhaps I could rephrase it as "what do you (general you) want from a meetup?" The link has some ideas that have worked nicely elsewhere.