In response to Open Thread #40
Comment author: Raltune 14 July 2018 10:36:07PM 6 points [-]

New here. Hoping to get some karma points so that I can ask specific questions for the local community development project I have planned.

I just finished reading "The Nobel Laureates' Guide To The Smartest Targets For The World" and can not find the specific methods that can be employed to achieve the proposed targets. For example: with regard to coral reef loss, if the research is accurate and there is a 24$ economic return for every 1$ spent, through what organizations or processes can this be achieved? The specific dollar figure must imply that the process is known. Is there a separate resource of footnotes that describe how to achieve those returns? The short book was very interesting as a navigation tool towards the initiatives that may have the greatest economic return and resultant prosperity for humankind.

Thanks for any insights if you get the chance. -Tom

In response to comment by Raltune on Open Thread #40
Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 17 July 2018 03:13:02PM 3 points [-]

I don't trust the author (Lomborg), based on the exaggerations I found in his book Cool It.

I reviewed that book here.

In response to Open Thread #39
Comment author: fergusb1232 29 May 2018 10:02:11PM 1 point [-]

Hi everyone.

I've been thinking about the potential effectiveness of lobbying for legalisation of psychedelics (whether individually or as part of a total legalisation of drugs) or the effectiveness of encouraging their use, legal or not, in terms of increasing the empathy of a population (and therefore their likelihood of becoming EAs).

Given their reputation for making people more open to new ideas, psychedelics could significantly bolster the number of people who agree with and act on EA principles.

Does anyone know of any research into anything related / any good articles on this?

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 30 May 2018 01:09:45AM 0 points [-]

I suggest starting with MAPS.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 13 May 2018 08:33:06AM *  4 points [-]

I don't think prediction markets are overused by EAs, I think they are advocated for too much (both for internal lower stakes situations as well as for solving problems in the world) when they are not the best alternative for a given problem.

One problem with prediction markets is that they are hassle to implement which is why people don't actually want to implement them. But since they are often the first alternative suggestion to the status quo within EA, better solutions in lower stakes situations like office forecasts which might have a chance of actually getting implemented don't even get discussed.

I don't think an office prediction market would be bad or not useful once you ignore opportunity costs, just worse than the alternatives. To be fair, I'm somewhat more optimistic for implementing office prediction markets in large workspaces like Google, but not for the small EA orgs we have. In those they would more likely take up a bunch of work without actually improving the situation much.

How large do you think a market needs to be to be efficient enough to be better than, say, asking Tetlock for the names of the top 30 superforecasters and hiring them to assess the problem? Given that political betting, despite being pretty large, had such big trouble as described in the post, I'm afraid an efficient enough prediction market would take a lot of work to implement. I agree with you the added incentive structure would be nice, which might well make up for a lack of efficiency.

But again, I'm still optimistic about sufficiently large stock market like prediction markets.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 13 May 2018 04:36:47PM 1 point [-]

I think markets that have at least 20 people trading on any given question will on average be at least as good as any alternative.

Your comments about superforecasters suggest that you think what matters is hiring the right people. What I think matters is the incentives the people are given. Most organizations produce bad forecasts because they have goals which distract people from the truth. The biggest gains from prediction markets are due to replacing bad incentives with incentives that are closely connected with accurate predictions.

There are multiple ways to produce good incentives, and for internal office predictions, there's usually something simpler than prediction markets that works well enough.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 12 May 2018 07:37:02PM 0 points [-]

I object to the idea that early stage Alzheimer's is incurable. See the book The End of Alzheimer's.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 12 May 2018 04:59:59PM 7 points [-]

Who are you arguing against? The three links in your first paragraph go to articles that don't clearly disagree with you.

I’d also be curious about a prediction market in which only superforecasters trade.

I'd guess that there would be fewer trades than otherwise, and this would often offset any benefits that come from the high quality of the participants.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 18 April 2018 01:37:10PM *  1 point [-]

Metformin is not 8 dollars a day, but 2 cents a day in Indian pharmacies.

Citation needed. Also, the poverty figure I cited is already adjusted for PPP.

As TAME study and adoption will take at least a decade, people will be in general even reacher and can take the drug.

Not by much. Also you assumed that universal drug use would start in 2020, only two years away.

By the way, I'm very confused by the assumption that 5 billion people will be born in 2020. It's obviously wrong, and I don't see what predictive value it has.

Moreover, I don't see how there will be 2.5 billion other people alive in 2100. The claim just isn't supported.

Metformin has already passed Phaze 1,2 and 3 for many other conditions so its safety profile is well known. It is even known to extend the life of diabetics so they live longer than healthy people.

I don't know anything about this. It needs to be cited so that it can be verified and contextualized, and included in the original article so as to prevent people from wasting their time. The prospects for Metformin approval are crucial to your argument about its cost-effectiveness. You can't merely add it as a forum comment to whoever happens to reply.

First, I assume that only half people will take it for whatever reason.

That's more than perhaps any medication in history.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 18 April 2018 04:54:40PM 2 points [-]

It is even known to extend the life of diabetics so they live longer than healthy people.

No, it is known to correlate with living longer. But some or all of that correlation seems to be due to the sickest diabetics being switched from metformin to other drugs.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 23 February 2018 11:04:43PM *  1 point [-]

It does seem like there are important areas where medical research is inadequate. I'll suggest that part of the problem is inadequate effort devoted to treatments that aren't protected by patents.

It looks like some unknown fraction of ME/CFS is caused by low thyroid hormone levels. "Subclinical" hypothyroidism has symptoms that are pretty similar to those of ME/CFS. They are usually distinguished by TSH tests. [TSH is the standard measure of thyroid levels; there are a number of other options, none of which are ideal].

Here's speculation that we should distrust TSH results. (There's a more detailed and very verbose version of that speculation here).

There's plenty of confusion about when it's wise to increase a patient's thyroid hormone. E.g. this small RCT study which gave a standard T4 dose, rather than adjusting the dose to achieve some measure of optimal hormone levels. The reported TSH levels of 0.66 in patients receiving T4 suggest that many patients got more than the optimal dose, and/or didn't convert T4 to T3 well.

In contract, two smaller uncontrolled studies (here00014-0/abstract) and here) reported good results from T3 treatment for treatment-resistant depression (H/T Sarah Constantin). Plus there are lots of anecdotal reports of benefits (see mine here).

There are real dangers from overdoses, and it's unclear how well researchers have measured the benefits, so it's easy to imagine that most doctors are erring on the side of inaction.

My intuition says that there's plenty of room for making protocols that more safely determine the optimal dose. I don't have enough expertise to estimate how tractable that is.

Another area where EAs might possibly provide an important benefit is Alzheimer's. There have been some recent claims that there are strategies which substantially prevent Alzheimer's or reverse it in early stages. As far as I can tell, these claims aren't prompting as much research as they deserve.

Some parts of those strategies are backed by small RCTs published in 2013 and 2012, and yet the first Google search result for Alzheimer's is still a page that says Alzheimer's "cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed".

I expect good research about Alzheimer's to be too expensive for EAs to fund directly, but it seem like we should be able to do something to nudge existing research funding into better directions.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 May 2017 10:55:02AM *  1 point [-]

Do you mean Bostrom's estimate that "the Virgo Supercluster could contain 10^23 biological humans"? This did come up in our conversations. One objection that was raised is that humanity could go extinct, or for some other reason colonisation of the Supercluster could have a very low probability. There was significant disagreement among us, and if I recall correctly we chose the median of our estimates.

Do you think Bostrom is correct here? What probability distribution would you have chosen for the expected far future population size? :)

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 23 May 2017 07:11:03PM 3 points [-]

colonisation of the Supercluster could have a very low probability.

What do you mean by very low probability? If you mean a one in a million chance, that's not improbable enough to answer Bostrom. If you mean something that would actually answer Bostrom, then please respond to the SlateStarCodex post Stop adding zeroes.

I think Bostrom is on the right track, and that any analysis which follows your approach should use at least a 0.1% chance of more than 10^50 human life-years.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 22 May 2017 02:41:16PM 5 points [-]

Can you explain your expected far future population size? It looks like your upper bound is something like 10 orders of magnitude lower than Bostrom's most conservative estimates.

That disagreement makes all the other uncertainty look extremely trivial in comparison.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 08 January 2017 07:32:58PM 6 points [-]

You claim this is non-partisan, yet you make highly partisan claims, such as "conservatives have relied much more on lies" (you cite Trump's lies, but treating Trump as a conservative is objectionable to many conservatives).

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