willbradshaw's Comments

Why We Age, Part 1: What ageing is and is not

Speaking for the intuition of wear and tear, it does seem surprising to me that an "embedded repair system" has enough redundancy to not get worn down by the real world.

I think this is a priori reasonable, but we do have existence proofs of animals that don't seem to age. Even if you think (say) naked mole rats are probably ageing a bit (just too slowly for us to detect on the timescales of our experiments) that doesn't address why all other rodents don't age at the same (very low) rate. I don't think wear-and-tear will get you anywhere when trying to address divergence in lifespans between related species.

As for bones, there are vertebrates that can regenerate whole limbs, so it's certainly doable.

Highlights of Comparative and Evolutionary Aging

Yup, agreed.

(Unless you're interested in how that kind of influencing is done, in which case it might make a useful case study.)

Highlights of Comparative and Evolutionary Aging

Remember, it's not that they're immortal, it's just that their chance-of-dying-per-unit-time stays flat; that still implies that the number of survivors drops off exponentially over time.

This is true, but does still raise the question of what exactly these 30-year-old mole rats are dying of. They barely get cancer, they don't seem to have high baseline rates of the kinds of intrinsic causes of death you see in humans (heart disease etc.), and in captivity they're not exposed to predation or starvation, so...inter-mole violence? Status anxiety?

According to this popsci article:

Naked mole rats generally don't get many chronic diseases that become familiar to humans as they age, like diabetes or Alzheimer's, Buffenstein said. In the wild, the animals might die by predator attack or from starvation, infection or lack of water, she said. In the lab, the cause of death is usually hard to find; the main issue that shows up in necropsies, Buffenstein said, are mouth sores, indicating the animals weren't eating, drinking or producing saliva well in their last few days and infection set in.

So as of 2018 the answer seemed to be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

(Buffenstein is a mole-rat PI at Calico.)

Three small suggestions for the LW-website

I agree with other commenters that this is a non-issue unless a post is high-karma or curated, in which case unlisting it would be a bad idea and it should get a disclaimer instead. I'm pretty strongly opposed to "editing the record" in the way you describe in the OP.

(Less opposed to suggestions 2 and 3, though they don't seem terribly useful.)

Highlights of Comparative and Evolutionary Aging

I think I would claim that the semipolitical fluff is probably the most valuable part of the book. In terms of moving the needle on mainstream acceptance, having a Harvard professor say fairly directly that "ageing is bad and we should cure it" is something I'd expect to make a significant difference.

Evolution is sampling error


Edited to add:

For the same reason, please correct me if I am going against guidelines or acting in a way which is unusual on LessWrong.

This is a great comment and I upvoted it.

How does publishing a paper work?

I'm currently in the process of trying to convert a preprint into a journal article (and another draft into a preprint), so this is very near-mode for me right now. Restricting my comments to points where I can add something over the other answers (or disagree with them):

  • 1. I personally quite like 2-column PDFs. At the very least they are far preferable to 1-column PDFs. :-P

  • 2. Yes, but a lot of it is pretty important work. I'm generally the plots guy in my collaborations, so a lot of the extra work is coming up with the best visualisations I can for the data, which is valuable. Though there is then a lot of extra extra work of making sure all the visualisations use consistent colour schemes / legends / layouts etc, which is slow and tedious.

  • 3. This is extremely field specific. In mathematics authors generally go alphabetically. In biology the person who did most of the lab work generally goes first, the person who did most of the analysis (if there is one) generally goes second, the first author's boss goes last, and everyone else goes in the middle. Sometimes you have awkward things where the first two or three authors get marked as "co-first-authors", where they did roughly equal amounts but someone has to go first. And so forth. In many arts/humanities subjects almost all papers are single-author so they haven't really worked this out yet. For most other fields I'm not familiar with the conventions.

  • 5. My limited prior experience of peer-review has been frustratingly slow but otherwise broadly positive. Our paper was definitely better after peer review than it was before, and I expect this to be generally true and good. Stephan Guyenet had some recent comments on this that got linked by Slate Star Codex.

  • 6. As others here have pointed out, I think it's generally the other way around.

  • 7. Contrary (or possibly just less diplomatically than?) to Richard_Kennaway, I think the situation here is exactly as terrible as you describe. I consider the major journal publishers to be parasites of the lowest order. But! This does not necessarily apply to the editors who work for those companies, many of whom do useful work.

  • 8. How much preprints substitute for papers varies hugely by field. Physics is an outlier. In biology it's becoming increasingly common but is still far from universal (but at least most of the important journals accept preprints). In other fields it's much rarer, and in some fields the best journals won't take your paper if you preprinted it first (though I think/hope this is dying out?).

  • 10. Is "publishing" in this point supposed to be distinct from preprinting / publishing not-in-a-journal? Assuming it is, "allows future research to frictionlessly cite your findings" is increasingly a non-issue (preprints have DOIs and most journals let you cite them, at least in my field/s). On the other hand, here are two other useful roles served by publishing in journals.

    • Peer-review is pretty good. You need some kind of peer review, broadly defined. I think there are probably vastly better ways of doing it than the current system, but the current system is much better than what most places outside of academia have.
    • When you're deep in the maw of Goodhart's Law it's easy to forget that the metrics everyone is now savagely gaming were originally good metrics. In the absence of another system (arXiv + karma?) for legibly aggregating expert opinion on the quality of academic work, a journal hierarchy does contain useful information. I have never (yet) published in Nature or Science, but my experience of personal encounters with those who have is that they are generally (certain sexy topics excluded) very impressive.
How does publishing a paper work?

The Open Science Foundation has a whole pile of arXivs, most of which nobody has ever heard of.

April Coronavirus Open Thread

From the Center for Health Security's covid19 brief:

PANAMA IMPLEMENTS GENDER-SPECIFIC SOCIAL DISTANCING In an effort to further enforce nationwide social distancing measures, Panama recently announced that it is implementing gender-specific rules for when people can leave their homes. Women will be allowed to be outside on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and men will be allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Sundays, everyone must remain indoors.

More info here. Maybe someone was listening to Scott's surname-based lockdown suggestion.

What should we do once infected with COVID-19?

I'd appreciate knowing why someone downvoted this.

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