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Tag Archives: lw

1960: The Year The Singularity Was Cancelled

[Epistemic status: Very speculative, especially Parts 3 and 4. Like many good things, this post is based on a conversation with Paul Christiano; most of the good ideas are his, any errors are mine.] I. In the 1950s, an Austrian … Continue reading

Rule Thinkers In, Not Out

Imagine a black box which, when you pressed a button, would generate a scientific hypothesis. 50% of its hypotheses are false; 50% are true hypotheses as game-changing and elegant as relativity. Even despite the error rate, it’s easy to see … Continue reading

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Is Science Slowing Down?

[This post was up a few weeks ago before getting taken down for complicated reasons. They have been sorted out and I’m trying again.] Is scientific progress slowing down? I recently got a chance to attend a conference on this … Continue reading

Cognitive Enhancers: Mechanisms And Tradeoffs

[Epistemic status: so, so, so speculative. I do not necessarily endorse taking any of the substances mentioned in this post.] There’s been recent interest in “smart drugs” said to enhance learning and memory. For example, from the Washington Post: When … Continue reading

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The Tails Coming Apart As Metaphor For Life

[Epistemic status: Pretty good, but I make no claim this is original] A neglected gem from Less Wrong: Why The Tails Come Apart, by commenter Thrasymachus. It explains why even when two variables are strongly correlated, the most extreme value … Continue reading

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Melatonin: Much More Than You Wanted To Know

[I am not a sleep specialist. Please consult with one before making any drastic changes or trying to treat anything serious.] Van Geiklswijk et al describe supplemental melatonin as “a chronobiotic drug with hypnotic properties”. Using it as a pure … Continue reading

Varieties Of Argumentative Experience

In 2008, Paul Graham wrote How To Disagree Better, ranking arguments on a scale from name-calling to explicitly refuting the other person’s central point. And that’s why, ever since 2008, Internet arguments have generally been civil and productive. Graham’s hierarchy … Continue reading

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Recommendations vs. Guidelines

Medicine loves guidelines. But everywhere else, guidelines are still underappreciated. Consider a recommendation, like “Try Lexapro!” Even if Lexapro is a good medication, it might not be a good medication for your situation. And even if it’s a good medication … Continue reading

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Adult Neurogenesis – A Pointed Review

[I am not a neuroscientist and apologize in advance for any errors in this article. A recent study came out contradicting some of the claims mentioned here. See here for study, this comment for some discussion, and entry #20 on … Continue reading

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God Help Us, Let’s Try To Understand Friston On Free Energy

I’ve been trying to delve deeper into predictive processing theories of the brain, and I keep coming across Karl Friston’s work on “free energy”. At first I felt bad for not understanding this. Then I realized I wasn’t alone. There’s … Continue reading