Comment author: MikeJohnson 18 February 2018 07:54:36PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for this writeup. I found it thoughtful and compelling.

My understanding is that ME is real, serious, and understudied/underfunded. Perhaps the core reason it's understudied is that it's unclear where to start, physiologically speaking -- there's a lot of ontological uncertainty in terms of what this thing is that sometimes cripples people.

This is sometimes solvable by throwing resources at the problem, and sometimes not.

It might be helpful to survey some other diseases that followed a similar trajectory (mysterious crippling conditions that later resolved into known diseases with known causes and known treatments) and see if there are any general lessons to learn. My expectation here is that often, what makes a mystery disease 'make sense' is a new method that gives a novel/fresh window into physiology. Celiac disease could be an interesting case study: it was hugely mysterious (and hugely underdiagnosed) until (1) we got a decent IgG screen, and (2) we started to understand how gut permeability works.

I'd also suggest that you may be a little too cynical about alternative medicine; there's a huge amount of snake-oil there, but alternative medicine is also highly heterogeneous, exploring a lot of the possibility space. There will be a lot of bs, but there often are some pearls as well. Mainstream medicine is also not particularly known for immediately finding these pearls and synthesizing them back into the medical literature, so I think it's also plausible that a viable way to make progress on this problem is to survey what alt-med thinks it knows about ME, filter the bs out, and see if there's anything left that can help mainstream medicine understand what ME is and what general class of treatments might help.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 27 February 2018 09:35:39PM 0 points [-]

After different forms of resting Low-Dose Naltrexone seems to be the treatment that was reported as most beneficial on CureTogether for CFS. Fortunately there’s an ongoing clinical trial to test this treatment.

I think the fact that there are some pearls in alternative medicine but there no efficient way to find them is a more fundamental problem that is it’s own cause worth looking at. Our at LessWrong I wrote proposed Prediction-based Medicine. It would be possible to create a startup that puts Prediction-based Medicine to work and afterwards it would be possible for patients to go to alternative medicine providers who can reliably predict the treatment success they have for the patients.

The startup would need a good team and some funding but Musk-level funding wouldn’t be required to put the idea effectively to work.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 27 February 2018 09:30:35PM 0 points [-]

Your article doesn’t mention Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). It’s the new name the Institute of Medicine (IOM) gave the disease. Given that we are on the internet it’s helpful to work all relevant keywords into an article like this even if you don’t like the new name.

Comment author: casebash 15 February 2018 10:56:06PM *  0 points [-]

One of the biggest challenges is trying to even figure out how likely it is caused by something physical vs. a psychological root cause. It is a very controversial topic, to say the least. I spent about an hour looking into this, but I wasn't really able to get anywhere, at least without any knowledge of the field or where to find reliable information.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 27 February 2018 09:29:49PM 0 points [-]

Mind-Body dualism isn’t a productive framework. For many diseases you have a mix of “physical” and “psychological” effects.

In response to comment by William_S on Open Thread #38
Comment author: arushigupta 29 August 2017 05:38:33AM 1 point [-]

I've been thinking about this as well lately, specifically in terms of reducing hatred and prejudice (racism, sexism, etc). For example, this is anecdotal, but one (black) man named Daryl Davis says that he has gotten more than 200 KKK members to disavow the group by simply approaching them and befriending them. Over time they would realize that their views were unfounded, and gave up their KKK membership of their own volition. This is an interview with Davis: and I think there is also a documentary about him.

This is a great Vox article about a study that discusses ways to reduce people's biases: The article title is about reducing racism, though the study discussed is about views on transgender people. It suggests that just a 10-min, open conversation can significantly reduce people's biases, and that these changes persist.

And lastly, another anecdotal story on how Derek Black, the godson of David Duke, and the son another very prominent figure in the alt-right, ended up leaving the alt-right after a group of diverse college classmates befriended him, and he slowly abandoned his previous views over the course of months.

While two of these links are to anecdotal stories, I think they are important in showing that even those with really extreme prejudice (KKK members and a young alt-right leader!) can let go of their prejudices when approached in the right way.

It definitely seems like an intervention that would require lots of grassroots, individual action, I suspect it could be very hard to measure the benefits of it - the amount of lives lost to this kind of prejudice and polarization is pretty low (at least in the US), and the other benefits that would arise are hard to measure. If someone else has good estimates on how impactful this would be, I'd love to hear them! Regardless I'm very excited to see some interventions in reducing prejudice and hatred that do seem to actually work, though more study into this is definitely necessary!

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 29 August 2017 12:11:30PM 0 points [-]

I don't think the recent rise of polarization in the US over the last decade is driven by a rise in racism or sexism. Activism to reduce either of them might be valuable, but I don't think it solves the issue of polarization.

Comment author: TruePath 29 August 2017 06:59:00AM *  0 points [-]

I'm a huge supporter of drug policy reform and try to advocate it as much as I can in my personal life. Originally, I was going to post here suggesting we need a better breakdown of particular issues which are particularly ripe for policy reform (say reforming how drug weights are calculated) and the relative effectiveness of various interventions (lobbying, ads, lectures etc..).

However, on reflection I think there might be good reasons not to get involved in this project.

Probably the biggest problem for both EA and drug policy reform is the perception that the people involved are just a bunch of weirdos (we're emotionally stunted nerds and they are a bunch of stoners). This perception reduces donations to EA causes (you don't get the same status boost if its weird) and stops people from listening to the arguments of people in dpr.

If EA is seen as being a big supporter of DPR efforts this risks making the situation worse for both groups. I can just imagine an average lesswrong contributor being interviewed on TV as to why he supports dpr and when the reporter asks him how this affects him personally he starts enthusiastically explaining his use of nootropics and the public dismisses the whole thing as just weird druggies trying to make it legal to get high. This doesn't mean those of us who believe in EA can't quietly donate to dpr organizations but it probably does prevent us from doing what EA does best, determining the particular interventions that work best at a fine grained level and doing that.

This makes me skeptical this is a particularly good place to intervene. If we are going to work in policy change at all we should pick an area where we can push for very particular effective issues without the risk of backlash (to both us and dpr organiations).

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 29 August 2017 10:07:29AM 0 points [-]

I don't think the average nootropics user would appear to have a goal of getting a legal high in a television broadcast.

It's more interesting for a journalist to tell a story about a computer programmer who takes LSD to help him with a difficult programming problem on which he worked for months without a satisfying answer than to tell a story about the computer programmer wanting to get high with LSD.

The story about how nerds in Silicon Valley do everything to enchance their performance is more interesting than the story about a random person taking drugs.

More generally EA is also full of weird causes as Scott Alexander describes very well in his blog post about EA Global.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 29 August 2017 09:53:04AM *  0 points [-] :

Donate to Make MDMA a Legal Medicine

Research is showing that MDMA combined with psychotherapy can be an effective option for people who haven't been helped by other treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be caused by trauma from war, sexual assault, violence, accidents, natural disasters, and other stressful events.

You can help make MDMA a legal medicine and heal people suffering from trauma by making a tax-deductible gift to fund Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.


We estimate that it will take $870,000 to complete our Phase 2 studies, and roughly $25 million to complete Phase 3 and establish MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a legally available treatment.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 23 August 2017 07:10:45AM *  0 points [-]

We could talk to campaigners, both those campaigning directly for drug reform in particular, as well as for other issues (outsiders might engage less in wishful thinking) and ask them how much money they think they would need to be 10%, 50% and 100% confident they could organise enough people to change policy.

I'm not sure that's are particularly meaningful question. Drug-policy changes regularly.

Germany ended up with 1P-LSD being legal which is an LSD analoge that's believed to have the same effects as LSD without anybody passing a law. It's legality also rests on it being a substance that doesn't have medical applications.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 23 August 2017 06:50:43AM *  0 points [-]

The reason no (serious) politician will endorse DPR is because the public are against it.

How do you know? Why should your audience believe that you understand the motivations of the relevant politicians?

In the UK a plurality even supports decriminalization of cannabis.

Certainly, I think the argument we should make it easier to for doctors to do research into drugs just to see if they can help miserable people, but we that shouldn’t change the law and make it any easier for the public to gain access to drugs, seems pretty hard to object to. That’s seems the least controversial, but not the most impactful, line to take.

It seems to me that you ignore the politics of the situation. Mental health policy is largely driven by Big Pharma and their agenda. You want to change the policies for mental health drugs in a way that leads to the perscription of unpatented drugs in cases where Big Pharma currently makes money with their patented drugs.

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 09 August 2017 08:35:54PM 0 points [-]

Personally, I'd recommend donating to fund nanotechnology research (especially nanobiotechnology). Almost all diseases fundamentally occur at the nanoscale. I'd assume that our ability to manipulate matter at this scale in targeted ways is close to necessary and sufficient to cure many diseases, and that once we get advanced nanotechnology our medicine will improve leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, people like to feel that their interventions are more direct, so basic research that could lead to better tools to cure many diseases is likely drastically underfunded.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 10 August 2017 01:32:52PM 0 points [-]

Almost all diseases fundamentally occur at the nanoscale.

What exactly does that mean? What kind of nanotech are you thinking about?

Comment author: MichaelPlant 09 August 2017 03:26:20PM 0 points [-]

What do you mean by 'super-medicinal'? I mean 'recreational' as opposed to 'medicinal', where it's taken to solve a particularly health problem like depression.

I'm sadly not at EA global; reckoned it was too expensive to come from the UK.

Just messaged you via the facebook.

Comment author: ChristianKleineidam 10 August 2017 01:22:42PM -2 points [-]

In Europe the European Court of Human right ruled in 2014 that substances that are used recreationally aren't drugs and thus not forbidden under drug regulation.

As a result, there's currently 1P LSD which is legal in Germany and does roughly the same thing as LSD.

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