I am Issa Rice. https://issarice.com/
Based on this Wayback snapshot it seems to be a paper called “A Contamination Theory of the Obesity Epidemic” by Ethan Ludwin-Peery and Sarah Ludwin-Peery. I was able to download the PDF of the paper at this link (the main body of the PDF is 63 pages as claimed in this LW post, and the PDF is dated July 3, 2021, which is just before this LW post was published, so it is likely the version of the paper being discussed here).
The main blocker for me is social rather than technical. Back when the new wiki first started, I created a page but the LW devs (or at least one of them) didn’t like the page. There was some back and forth, but I came away from the discussion feeling pretty unwelcome and worried that if I were to make more contributions they would also involve lengthy debates or my work would be removed. I haven’t really kept up on the wiki since that time, but I haven’t seen anything that has changed my mind about this.
A few technical things that would make it nicer to edit:
Wikilinks (perhaps things have changed now, but it was not possible to surround words in double square brackets like on many wiki software)
I have not gotten prayer to really work for me yet, but I’ve experimented with it a bit (I feel somewhat embarrassed to admit this, but yeah I’ve gotten desperate enough and have thought I was possibly going to die on multiple occasions now and have entered mental states where I think praying might be the only thing I can do).
“Prayer” in the sense of “ask for a thing in your head and then the thing happens in real life” is obviously not going to work. But I think this may be the wrong way to think about prayers/praying (disclaimer: I am not religious at all and never was, so I have no idea what I’m talking about). Anna Salamon has an old post where she talks about “useful attempted telekinesis”, and I think this may be one valid way to make sense of praying. Repeatedly and vividly visualizing the things you value/the things you want may magically make it easier to get that thing, at least some of the time. Another way to think about it might be as a dual to gratitude journaling: in gratitude journaling you examine what you value/don’t value in terms of what you already have, whereas in prayer you examine the same things in terms of what you don’t currently have. (Why should the latter work? Shouldn’t it just lead to envy/sour grapes/bitterness about your life? Yeah, I don’t know. Anna’s post talks about useful vs harmful telekinesis and I think there’s possibly a lot to explore here.)
Praying combined with chanting + rocking may be even more effective, because the latter two have some shot at directly affecting your physiological state. I’ve not really gotten chanting to work for me, but rocking sometimes calms me down a little bit.
Homeopathy: yeah, agreed, not sure what’s going on here and hope that I don’t have to get to the point of trying it out.
People often claim that consumer products have been declining in quality over the decades. Some people even claim that such a decline is inevitable under market forces. I’ve seen this discussed a lot especially for laptops, where supposedly desirable qualities like durability and repairability have declined. I’ll focus on these two qualities in particular below.
In contrast to the observation above, I learned the following argument from one of David Friedman’s books: if people are willing to buy a crappy product for $x, then they should be willing to pay $10x on the same product that lasts 10 times longer (because in both cases, the amortized cost is the same). So as long as the more durable product does not cost 10 times more to manufacture, the company’s revenue is higher if they sell the more durable product.
From this, I conclude that one potential thing that could be going on is that the reason products are crappy is that consumers prefer the crappy product; they aren’t willing to pay 10 times more for a 10 times more durable product. This might happen because of information asymmetry reasons (it’s easier to tell which of two products are immediately better, than to tell which of two products will last much longer) or maybe because consumers prefer the small advancements they get if they keep buying new products, instead of staying with one product for a long time. Or maybe due to high temporal discounting and inability to save money, consumers prefer cheaper things.
I am still pretty confused about all of this, because I personally do prefer more durable/repairable products and would be willing to pay more for them. But perhaps my preferences are pretty unusual.
I’m focusing on durability and repairability because these seem more straightforward as they don’t require answering questions about how much more one would pay in a given instant for a higher quality. For example, maybe kitchen shears are declining in how well they cut things but maybe that’s okay because people just like cheaper shears that cut less well. Whereas if kitchen shears decline in durability, it doesn’t matter how much money people would pay for shears to cut better; for any given preference, I can check whether someone is willing to pay 10 times more for something that lasts 10 times longer.
Home water testing: these are periodic tests rather than continuous monitors, and aren’t cheap either. My doctor recommended this one but it’s more expensive than the water filter I use, so maybe find a cheaper one or skip straight to filtering (the test did verify my filter worked, and this was pretty late in the filter’s lifecycle). You can also use EWG to check your city’s water data, although it will miss problems in your own pipes.
Did you have a reason to suspect that your tap water in particular was bad (e.g. after seeing EWG’s measurements), or was the filtration more of an attempt to reduce all the possible environmental contaminants in general? I have heard a lot about air quality impacting health, but not as much about water quality. I would be grateful to hear about any resources you have in mind for why one should pay more attention to water quality.
A functioning liver.
What tests do you do or have done or consider to check for a functioning liver?
I found that if my tongue doesn’t block my mouth I can only breathe through my mouth and if it does I can only breathe through my nose.
Huh, this isn’t what happens when I try it. If I keep my tongue out or at the base of my mouth, I can still definitely choose whether to make the air go through my nose or mouth. If I try to block my mouth with my tongue, that does obstruct the airflow through my mouth but I can still breathe mostly okay (even if I plug my nose).
I used to have a model of breathing that went something like this: when breathing in, the lungs somehow get bigger, creating lower air pressure inside the lungs causing air to flow in. Then when breathing out the lungs get smaller, creating higher air pressure inside the lungs and causing air to flow out. How do the lungs get bigger and smaller? Eventually I learned that there’s a muscle called the diaphragm that is attached to the bottom of the lungs (??) that pulls or pushes the lungs. If I keep my nose plugged but my mouth open, the air will travel through my mouth. If I keep my mouth closed but my nose open, the air will travel through my nostrils. So far, so good.
Then a few days ago, I noticed that if I keep both my nose and mouth open, I could choose to breathe in solely through one or the other. This… doesn’t make sense, according to the model. The model would predict that the air just flows through both pathways, maybe preferentially going through the mouth since that seems like the larger pathway.
So something is clearly wrong with how I think about breathing. Is there some sort of further switch inside that blocks one of the pathways? Does the nose or the mouth contain variable-size cavities that can control air pressure to direct the flow? I still have no idea. I’m eventually going to look it up, but I might think about this for a little bit longer (or maybe someone here will tell me).
I thought this was a pretty interesting example of how the explanations you hear about seemingly-basic things are easy to accept but don’t make sense on further reflection. But it’s hard to notice the flaw too. In my case, after a recent ENT visit where I was told my nasal passages are inflamed, I’ve been putting more effort into consciously breathing through my nose. Then one day I woke up and as soon as I woke up I did something like consciously breathe through my nose with mouth closed, and then somehow I opened my mouth but then still tried to breathe through my nose (or maybe it was that I noticed I was breathing through my mouth, and since I was still waking up I didn’t bother to close my mouth and just tried to breathe through my nose with my mouth open), and was surprised this was even possible.
I don’t think “throw every explanation possible” is the right takeaway from your experience. To me, it seems like the teacher was failing to model what you were getting stuck on, and so the takeaway would be something more like “try to model the learner better, so as to produce better (not more!) explanations”.
“Throw every explanation possible” might still be learning-complete in some sense, so might be worth exploring.
Back in the 2010s, EAs spent a long time dunking on doctors for not having such a high impact (I’m going off memory here, but I think “instead of becoming a doctor, why don’t you do X instead” was a common career pitch). I basically mostly unreflectively agreed with these opinions for a long time, and still think that doctors have less impact compared to stuff like x-risk reduction. But after having more personal experience dealing with the medical world (3 primary care doctors, ~10 specialist doctors, 2 psychiatrists, 2 naturopaths, 3 therapists, 2 nutritionists/dieticians, 2 coaching type people, all in the last 4 years (I counted some people under multiple categories)), I think a really agenty/knowledgeable/capable doctor or therapist can actually have a huge impact on the world (just going by intuition of how many even healthy-seeming people have a lot of health problems that bring down their productivity a lot, how crippling it is to have a mysterious health problem like mine, etc; I haven’t actually tried crunching numbers). I think such a person is not likely to look like a typical doctor working in a hospital system though… probably more like a writer/researcher who also happens to do consultations with people.
If I had to rewrite the EA pitch for people who wanted to become doctors it would be something like “First think very hard about why you want to become a doctor, and if what you want is not specific to working in healthcare then maybe consider [list of common EA cause areas]. If you really want to work in healthcare though, that’s great, but please consider becoming this weirder thing that’s not quite a doctor, where first you learn a bunch of rationality/math/programming and then you learn as much as you can about medical stuff and then try to help people.”
Typographers focus almost exclusively on designing texts that are meant to be read linearly (and typography guidelines follow this as well, telling writers to limit line length, use a certain font size, etc.). But if you look at the actual stuff happening in the reader’s mind as they interact with a book or webpage, linear reading is only one of many possible ways of interacting with a text. In particular, searching for things, flipping around, cross-referencing, and other “movement” tasks are quite common. For such movement tasks, the standard typographic advice seems like a poor choice. Some websites, like the English Wikipedia until this year (example), seem to design for such movement tasks by making the font size smaller, line length longer, etc., but this runs into the opposite problem where if someone does want to linearly read an article on such a page, it will be harder to do so. Other websites, such as the 80,000 Hours podcast website (example), seem to come to a compromise by designing for both kinds of tasks simultaneously (but by doing so fits neither task perfectly). I propose that the typography of a page should dynamically change to match the reader’s current task. This may be a bit disorienting at first, but skilled readers would be able to have the best typography in any situation. I don’t have a great idea for how to implement this in practice (I welcome suggestions), but one naïve idea is to have a button at the corner of the page that can toggle between “absorbing/linear mode” and “movement mode” (and possibly other modes; I’m interested in hearing what other cognitive tasks should be prioritized by the design of a page).
A while ago a PDF article was posted in the EA space (written by people who are pretty deep into EA) which used the Computer Modern font (the default font used in LaTeX) but which was clearly created using Microsoft Word. The cynical interpretation is that (on some level) the authors wanted to deceive readers into thinking that LaTeX was used to typeset the paper when in fact it was not. I do believe such deception will work, because very few people seem to know anything about typography. (I don’t claim to be much better; I’ve learned just a little bit more than the default state of zero knowledge.) I wonder how people feel about this sort of thing.
I found this Wikipedia article pretty interesting. Even in a supposedly copyright-maximalist country like the US, the font shapes themselves cannot be copyrighted, and design patents only last 15 years. Popular fonts like Helvetica have clones available for free. Other countries like Japan are similar, even though a full Japanese font requires designing 50,000+ glyphs! That is an insane amount of work that someone else can just take by copying all the shapes and repackaging it as a free font. In my experience there are only like a few main Japanese fonts, and I used to think it was just because it takes so much work to design such fonts, but now it occurs to me that the inability to make money from the design (because someone else can easily steal your designs) could be the bigger factor. (I have not yet done the virtuous thing of digging in to see if this is true.)
Not quite sure what you are asking, but if you mean something like taking some of my points and editing them into your own post, that’s fine with me.
This post was apparently translated to Chinese, and there is some discussion there. I can’t quite tell if it’s actually humans writing the comments (and Chrome’s translation is just not very good) or if the content and discussion is all AI-generated.
Here’s the list I came up with when I did something similar (I was thinking about written explanations in general, which I called “word explanations” on that page). I have an older attempt here. And here’s a similar thing I did for a specific textbook.
I didn’t log the time I spent on the original blog post, and it’s kinda hard to assign hours to this since most of the reading and thinking for the post happened while working on the modeling aspects of the MTAIR project. If I count just the time I sat down to write the blog post, I would guess maybe less than 20 hours.
As for the “convert the post to paper” part, I did log that time and it came out to 89 hours, so David’s estimate of “perhaps another 100 hours” is fairly accurate.
This post by Brian Hamrick makes a similar point about how organizational mottos should prioritize a single thing (but leaves the “large company” part implicit).
Not the same paper, but related: https://twitter.com/jamespayor/status/1634447672303304705
Can someone say more about what is meant by credit allocation in this conversation? The credit allocation section here just talks about BATNAs and I don’t see how BATNAs are related to what I imagine “credit allocation” might mean. I searched Michael Vassar’s Twitter account but there are only three instances of the term and I couldn’t quickly understand any of the tweets. I also don’t understand what “being able to talk about deceptive behavior” has to do with credit allocation.