LessWrong developer, rationalist since the Overcoming Bias days. Connoisseur of jargon.


Challenges to Christiano’s capability amplification proposal

This topic is more technical than you're treating it; I think you have probably misunderstood things, but the combative stance you've taken makes it impossible to identify what the misunderstandings are.

Public Figures Contracting COVID-19 as Positive Event

I think this mattered in March, but the visibility of COVID-19 is pretty much maxed out at this point and has been awhile.

As a heuristic, if something is object-level bad, with the silver lining that it would make people take a problem more seriously if it happened... then it's bad overall. This is not an ironclad law of nature, but it's usually true, and short-circuits some of the worst failure modes of political reasoning.

Automatically Turning Off Computer at Night

My biggest worry with something like this would be data loss; some programs and web sites don't have good autosave, so unexpectedly shutting down would risk losing work. Delivering a notification 20 seconds before shutdown would help by giving a chance to save; the challenge, then, is to make it so that overriding it is easy to do before the notification arrives, but hard to do afterwards.

Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask

Note that this paper is just a mathematical model, without any actual data, so our default stance should be skepticism. The mechanism seems unlikely, but not impossible. Respiratory droplets apparently do contain whole cells (source), so a way this could happen would be if transmission involves not just virus particles in droplets, but infected whole host cells; in that case, the surface markers of those cells could make a big difference to the initial immune response.

Covid-19: Analysis of Mortality Data

One hypothesis is that the excess mysterious deaths are happening in people who "recovered" from COVID-19, who were then finished off by a comorbidity or other health problem.

Another possibility is that these are deaths from malnutrition. We do have reports of extremely large increases in unemployment and long lines at food banks. First-world malnutrition deaths are pretty much never recorded as such, so this seems pretty likely to me.

The Core Tags

I think the combination of the Rationality and Practical tags gets pretty close to what you want, but to get all the way there you also would add the Motivations tag. Ie

Epistemic Rationality = Rationality & !Practical & !Motivations
Instrumental Rationality = Practical | Motivations

I think the real reason we didn't make Epistemic & Instrumental core tags was because when we tried tagging sample posts, too large a fraction of posts hit corner cases and failed to be well classified by the distinction.

Something about the Pinker Cancellation seems Suspicious

It seems fairly normal to me for an emotionally charged movement to attract people for whom it's difficult to tell whether they're not-too-bright fanatics or agents provocateur.

This is a very good observation, and seems like a pretty big problem for such movements.

COVID-19's Household Secondary Attack Rate Is Unknown


This paper (from June 27) collects studies published after this post, does meta-analysis, and corrects for some methodological problems like false negative rates, and gives a central estimate of the household secondary attack rate of 30%.

Why are all these domains called from Less Wrong?

LessWrong developer here. Here's an overview of what all those domains are. The code is open source, so you should be able to verify these, with some effort.

Algolia (algolia.net, algolianet.com) is a service we use for site search (what you get when you click the magnifying glass icon on the top-bar). They have a mirror of all searchable data (ie non-draft posts and comments, tag pages, user bios); they receive a copy of searches that are performed through the site search box, which they can associate with IP addresses but not with usernames.

Cloudflare is a CDN that is hosting components of MathJax, the Javascript library that renders LaTeX in posts and comments, and some libraries we use for integrating MathJax with the comment/post editors. The CDN URLs were defaults that came with libraries we're using; we could probably move them to our own domain with a little effort. JsDelivr is hosting some things that similarly came with library defaults, as parts of MathJax3 and Algolia.

Cloudinary is an image-hosting CDN that we use for images in some posts and images that are part of the site UI.

dropbox.com and dropboxusercontent.com are hosting images that were used in posts, presumably because they were visible in the Recent Discussion section when you loaded the front page. Currently, when users insert images into posts, depending how they do it and which editor they're using, it may point to the original domain of the image. Also, for authors we have set up automatic crossposting for, the crossposts will use the original image URLs. We will hopefully switch this to always upload those images to Cloudinary and host them there instead, partially for privacy reasons but mostly to prevent link rot in archives of old posts.

dl.drop is not a valid domain name; it's either a broken image link in some post that was in Recent Discussion, or a typo in this post.

The Google domains are from Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Fonts, and ReCaptcha. Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager measure site traffic and aggregate usage patterns.

intercom.io is for the chat icon in the bottom-right corner, used for messaging the admins about the site.

lr-ingest.io is LogRocket. We (the devs) use it to see how the site is being used; we can watch anonymized replays of sessions (anonymized in that the username in the corner is edited out). As policy, we don't read people's direct messages or unpublished drafts, or deanonymize votes, though in principle we have the capability to (both with this tool or with direct database access).

TypeKit, aka Adobe Fonts, is a font library and font hosting service. We could probably consolidate this with one of the other CDNs being used, but font-hosting involves some user-agent-string based compatibility polyfills, which would be somewhat annoying to reproduce ourselves.

Jimrandomh's Shortform

Twitter is an unusually angry place. One reason is that the length limit makes people favor punchiness over tact. A less well-known reason is that in addition to notifying you when people like your own tweets, it gives a lot of notifications for people liking replies to you. So if someone replies to disagree, you will get a slow drip of reminders, which will make you feel indignant.

LessWrong is a relatively calm place, because we do the opposite: under default settings, we batch upvote/karma-change notifications together to only one notification per day, to avoid encouraging obsessive-refresh spirals.

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