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"Ask for help on your project" open thread

9 Post author: Emile 06 February 2012 09:59PM

Quite a few of us are working on interesting projects; many of those are solo, but some could maybe use some help. So here's the place to ask!

Comments (44)

Comment author: jsalvatier 08 February 2012 05:29:16PM 5 points [-]

I (and another LWer) are working on an overview/review of Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids. We have a very rough draft and would appreciate feedback on that.

Caplan argues that twin and adoption studies strongly suggest that parenting has much less impact on adult life outcomes of the children than most people expect. So far we've focused on presenting a rough outline of that argument. Our main intent is to make people interested in reading the book as well as draw out criticism of the book's thesis. I'm curious if you think our focus should be expanded and what can be cut out or should be added.

Comment author: JoshuaFox 07 February 2012 03:59:30PM *  8 points [-]

This thread may not be the right place for it, but LessWrong should host a job board and a place for finding startup co-founders and similar business deals.

It would benefit users:

  1. Instrumental rationality should, if it's all it's cracked up to be, make for better employees and business partners.
  2. The people here are self-selected for greater-than-average intelligence.
  3. A person's LessWrong karma and postings (along with other online materials) give some sense of their abilities.
  4. LessWrong fosters a sense of community, which is useful in making deals.

LW would not be as useful for recruiting to industry-specific roles requiring specific training and experience , but that's not too much of a problem as there is a heavy weighting of people in their earlier twenties,who have not yet launched a career.

It would benefit LW: It would be another draw and build the sense of community; and in the long run, it may result in donations to the relevant organizations; if it is very successful, LW could even charge for job postings.

I note that Quixey has already taken a shot in this direction. There were some negative reactions, which I agree with--why do they get to put commercial material here?

But if this business function were to become official, there would be fewer objections. Such a sub-site could even give advantage to posters with high LW karma.

Comment author: Eneasz 07 February 2012 08:34:27PM 3 points [-]

How would I say this, if I were speaking it out loud?

"All x : Die(x) = Not Exist x : Not Die(x)"

Comment author: TimS 07 February 2012 09:19:57PM 3 points [-]

It's been a while since I learned formal logic. My best guess:

Saying "all things die" is the same as saying "nothing exists that does not die."

"Not" is being used both formally and as part of a title. I'd rewrite the right half of the equation as "Not (Exist x : NotDie x)" to remove that ambiguity.

Also, my interpretation is based in part on a desire to avoid figuring out how to formally state Not Exist X in terms of existential and universal quantifiers.

Comment author: alexvermeer 07 February 2012 02:14:05PM 6 points [-]

As mentioned here, I've spent some time figuring out what specific things I can do to procrastinate less. I turned what advice I found in Piers Steel's The Procrastination Equation into a 'flowchart' that I printed and posted directly above my computer monitor. The instant I notice I'm procrastinating, I look at it, find a specific thing to do, do it, and get back on track. It's been working really well for me.

If anyone is interested, I'd love to get some feedback from others who try out the poster, whether it's helpful, whether it makes sense, what could be changed, etc. The picture is available here.

Comment author: AlexSchell 07 February 2012 05:59:43PM 0 points [-]

Kaspersky says that your last link contains a trojan...

Comment author: Incorrect 07 February 2012 06:47:35PM *  0 points [-]

The only obvious thing I see wrong with the page is he isn't escaping quotation marks in his title attributes with " causing them to be malformed. His copy of jquery 1.7.1 doesn't match the copy I found here but I'm not sure if that's cause for alarm.

Comment author: alexvermeer 07 February 2012 08:58:06PM *  0 points [-]

I'm not entirely sure what those things mean, but I will definitely investigate. I notice my hosting service (BlueHost) was down today, I assumed doing some upgrades or a reboot.

Update: Fixed. The bad jquery was from a bad wordpress plugin. It's gone now!

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 08 February 2012 09:16:26AM 0 points [-]

I looked at your page, and the most suspicious part is the "top-10" plugin. Somehow my browser refuses to load it. Where did you get it from? Maybe it is a trojan.

According to Google, something on your page wants to download content from domains "mallazo.osa.pl" and "adera.jesais.fr". If this is true, and if you know nothing about it, then probably some JavaScript on your page is/was doing it. Be careful about scripts you add on your page.

Comment author: dbaupp 08 February 2012 10:47:05AM 0 points [-]

As another data point, the only external request I see is to "google-analytics.com". (So it's presumably been fixed.)

Comment author: Incorrect 07 February 2012 10:03:55PM *  0 points [-]

The quotation marks thing was meant as a joke as it isn't relevant to security although it may be breaking the tooltips (text that pops up when you hold your mouse over something for a few seconds) on some of the things on your page and could be a security problem if the blog were editable by others besides you.

Comment author: XFrequentist 07 February 2012 07:55:04PM *  2 points [-]

I'm initiating an expert group to evaluate the risk of emerging zoonotic infections (the source of most new pandemic hazards).

We have an initial meeting set for the end of the month, and I could use any tips for ensuring that the group provides the most accurate and useful information possible. I see my role in this group as that of Confessor, but I have a fair bit of control over the group's structure and deliberation process.

I've been reading up on eliciting expert probability estimates and group judgement, but I'm sure there are low-hanging fruit remaining for the aspiring rationalist.

I can provide more information by PM/email if requested. Thanks in advance!

Comment author: Kevin 07 February 2012 06:57:54AM *  4 points [-]

I'm looking for a biochemist to cofound a pharmaceutical research laboratory with.

Comment author: Raemon 06 February 2012 10:27:48PM *  7 points [-]

I didn't post about it in the "What are you working on" thread, because... well... I was busy working on it :P

I'm working with a few other Less Wrong folks (from various meetups) to foster a larger, healthier, happier, more productive, more interconnected community of meet-space rationalists. At the Megameetup last weekend I tested some ideas about telepresence, and pitched some ideas to people from Cambrige and Washington DC.

While there are subtler things we're working on, there are four big tentpole events that I hope to rally people around:

1) Hold a Less Wrong meetup at the Reason Rally on March 24th (this was already underway, but a little more concrete now).

2) Hold a Summer Solstice festival (celebrating the natural beauty of the world, and getting us outside for some much needed fresh air and exercise).

3) Sometime in the fall (preferably on some kind of historically significant day), hold a celebration of technology. This holiday will not be repeated each year. Rather, it will be repeated once per cycle of Moore's Law's progress. (We'll be purchasing a cheap computer specifically for Moore Day, and run some complex, visually interesting task that we display on a large monitor. Approximately every 18 months, we'll upgrade it or get a new one and see how well it can perform the original task). This is the event that I was particularly interested in telepresence for. I'm hoping to get multiple communities participating simultaneously and at least briefly getting to wave to each other from across cyberspace. One thing I think most of Less Wrong can agree on, and get excited about, is how awesome technology can get in the future. (Even if we disagree on some particulars, or on ethical concerns).

4) We will be reprising the Winter Solstice, paying tribute to the harshness of the world, respecting the universe as a worthy opponent, and vowing to help create a better future.

What do I need from other people? Well, as much as people have to offer, really. I am confident than I can put something worthwhile together even if I'm doing it alone, but the more people contribute ideas, activities, organization, and grunt work during the execution, the better this will be. And the more people we get ultimately participating, the better the payoff.

If you have any kind of interest, whether in contributing skilled labor, a desire to influence the nature of the events, or a williness to carry boxes or prepare food, you can join the mailing list.

Comment author: shminux 07 February 2012 01:37:27AM 2 points [-]

Sorry, off-topic...

This holiday will not be repeated each year. Rather, it will be repeated once per cycle of Moore's Law's progress.

Does it mean that instead of praying to the Sun god, you will be praying to a potentially mightier one Technology god? This ritualistic stuff always rubs me a wrong way. I have trouble telling the difference between saying Grace, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, or whatever rationalist chants you guys do. They all seem like dark arts to me.

Comment author: Raemon 07 February 2012 01:52:25AM *  5 points [-]

Not off topic. I acknowledge that I am messing with dangerous forces. But I think it's approximately as dangerous to not mess with it as to mess with them. Traditional epistemic rationality techniques can help us learn important new things. But it can be difficult to bring our emotions and intuitions in line with that knowledge. If we can't make important concepts emotionally resonant, it will be harder to act upon them. I wrote about my concerns about the danger of ritual in this article.

While I think your concern is miscalibrated (in terms of actual danger) I do acknowledge that many people in the community are turned off by this. I won't be publicizing the more extreme ritual-y stuff in the main discussion area, but bringing it up in an Open thread seemed reasonable to me.

I also note that the theme of Moore Day is not "Amazing technology is coming and it will magically fix everything." It'll be more like "Amazing technology is coming and we don't know exactly what the ramifications are going to be, good or bad, but one way or another its going to be interesting."

And it's followed up by the Winter solstice, whose purpose is to remind us that the universe is a complex, unforgivingly neutral place, and not technology nor democracy nor human nature can be counted on to keep us safe. If you want to have a promising future, you yourself are going to have to work hard, not only to accomplish the right actions, but figure out for yourself what the right actions are.

Comment author: falenas108 07 February 2012 03:52:11AM 0 points [-]

2) Hold a Summer Solstice festival (celebrating the natural beauty of the world, and getting us outside for some much needed fresh air and exercise).

Do you think it would be a good idea to combine this with a megameetup between the east coast groups, or do you think too much of the experience is doing this event with people you already know?

Comment author: Raemon 07 February 2012 04:00:57AM *  1 point [-]

Yes. All of these meetups will be public. (This was an outcome of the discussion at last weekend's megameetup)

Comment author: Emile 06 February 2012 10:06:27PM 6 points [-]

I'm working on a Chinese translation of FacingTheSingularity.com; if you are a Mandarin speakers willing to proofread or help translate, please PM me.

A version of the first chapter can be found here.

(I created this thread after wondering about whether I should post an ask this in an open thread, or as a top-level post)

Comment author: mas 07 February 2012 01:40:25AM 2 points [-]

I am a student entering University that just found out that he will have to take some placement exams during orientation. Specifically for Chemistry 131 and Calculus 1. I'm pretty sure that I can place into Cal 1, but I've never taken Chemistry before. I think it would be a cool challenge to see if I can teach myself Chemistry well enough to pass an exam by the time mid June rolls around.

If anyone wants to help just send me a PM telling me what your experience with basic Chemistry has been, and what you think I should focus on for the exam.

I know this isn't anything cool, but it's what I'm working on. It will also be interesting to see how well I am able to use my instrumental rationality to achieve this goal of mine, so I could make it interesting by keeping y'all updated? I don't know, just please let me know if you have thoughts for me.

Comment author: hamnox 07 February 2012 02:38:44AM 6 points [-]

I don't doubt that you could cram enough information into your head to pass the exam, but be sure you don't forget what the exam is for. Placing you at an appropriate course level. It does you no good to optimize for passing a one-time exam only to find that you have not integrated what you've learned well enough to keep up in the class.

That said, passing a placement exam does not mean you HAVE to take the higher course right away if you don't think you're ready. Go for it!

Basic chemistry... My memories of chem are a little fuzzy, but I'd put some emphasis on learning the logic behind how compounds, salts, and acids are named. There's useful information that gets packed into just the name of a substance, and I suspect this would be useful in helping you cover all your bases. [/Pun]

Comment author: mas 07 February 2012 03:31:18AM 0 points [-]

...but be sure you don't forget what the exam is for.

Yes, thank you for saying this. It is my intention to actually learn the material, not merely pass the exam.

Comment author: PECOS-9 07 February 2012 02:53:02AM 2 points [-]

Spaced Repetition is very useful for studying efficiently.

Comment author: BenLowell 07 February 2012 03:19:59AM 3 points [-]

Spaced repetition is great, but doesn't necessarily mean anki and flash cards. For chemistry, this could mean doing reactions / stoichiometry along with naming, in a spaced, repetitious fashion. Flash cards/anki would work well for knowing specific compounds though.

Comment author: gwern 06 February 2012 11:07:05PM 3 points [-]

For the last 30+ days, I've been randomly taking vitamin D before bed and recording sleep data with Zeo as well as my best guess whether it was D or placebo: http://www.gwern.net/Zeo#vitamin-d

But I'm going to finish within the next <10 days, and then it's time for analysis. I would like to do a real statistical analysis, like a 'one-tailed T test', on the ZQ and components like length of REM sleep, but I don't actually know how - I've never used the standard statistical programs or packages like R. (Yes, yes, I know, I should learn real statistics. I haven't yet, though.)

My needs aren't too complex, I'm just asking whether the vitamin D did anything (bad), so maybe there is an easy to use online tool or something which would handle it?

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 07 February 2012 01:57:38PM 2 points [-]

Badger's solution works, but an alternative is to post a link to the data here and let LW take a crack at it. I can fit a wide variety of models in a matter of minutes in R, and wouldn't mind spending an hour or two doing so and writing up the results.

Comment author: gwern 07 February 2012 03:12:32PM *  1 point [-]

Well, I usually include an export of my Zeo CSV data for anyone to look at (not that anyone apparently has for the earlier bigger melatonin data), and I was going to link the results here in an open thread or something.

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 07 February 2012 05:32:21PM 0 points [-]

Got a link to you melatonin data?

Comment author: gwern 07 February 2012 05:53:17PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Andy_McKenzie 07 February 2012 04:08:13AM 4 points [-]

My alma mater hosts a widely used web-based tool for statistical procedures that includes t-tests. Find it here. Click on "t-Tests & procedures", then go to "Two-Sample t-Test for Independent or Correlated Samples", then click on "independent samples" (given the description of your set-up above), then enter in the values for each condition, click "calculate", and viola you'll have your results.

Cool experiment by the way. Note that if you do multiple tests (like on both ZQ and length of REM), you might want to do a multiple comparisons correction to maintain that familywise error rate.

Comment author: gwern 07 February 2012 03:31:50PM *  1 point [-]

Thanks for the link! That seems like what I want; for example, I didn't have any problem plugging in my placebo/D ZQ scores to get a one-tailed p = 0.078395.

you might want to do a multiple comparisons correction

The only one I know is the Bonferroni one, but that's for independent tests, IIRC, while I strongly expect correlations among the results (ZQ is made partially out of things like REM and deep sleep length, so there'd be correlations by definition, and one would expect my sleep quality rating to correlate with ZQ even assuming that's not being factored into ZQ already).

Reading Wikipedia, I get the impression that using Bonferroni when I know the tests to not be independent would result in fewer false positives, but many many more false negatives. Since my data has so little power as it is...

Comment author: Andy_McKenzie 08 February 2012 03:14:09AM 2 points [-]

Yes, that's a good point. I suggest that if you are testing many hypothesis, you use the false discovery rate (here's the useful, original pdf, cited 10,000+ times).

As an example, let's say that you test 6 hypotheses, corresponding to different features of your zeo data. You could use a t-test for each, as above. Then aggregate and sort all the p-values in ascending order. Let's say that they are 0.001, 0.013, 0.021, 0.030, 0.067, and 0.134.

Assume, arbitrarily, that you want the overall false discovery rate to be 0.05, which is in this context called the q-value. You would then sequentially test, from the last value to the first, whether the current p-value is less than ((the current index * the false discovery rate) / the overall number of hypotheses). You stop when you get to the first true inequality and call the p-values of the rest of the hypotheses significant.

So in this example, you would stop when you correctly call 0.030 < ((4 * 0.05) / 6), and hypotheses corresponding to the first four p-values would be called significant.

Comment author: gwern 08 February 2012 07:33:01PM *  1 point [-]

Interesting procedure. I tried it out on my melatonin and one-legged standing data, putting the results in the same footnotes as the R sessions, and no surprise, nothing survives. (A little depressing, but it's not like there were very many p-values in the 0.01 or lower range.)

EDIT: however, one result from my vitamin D experiment did survive multiple correction!

Comment author: badger 07 February 2012 01:47:29AM 4 points [-]

If you have prior programming experience, R is simple for basic analysis. I don't know of any online tools. The following would be close to sufficient for what you seem to want:

mydata <- read.table("c:/sleepdata.csv", header=TRUE, sep=",") # Read in data w/ variable names in header
fit <- lm(ZQ ~ guess + placebo, data=mydata) # Compute linear regression
summary(fit) # Get estimated coefficients with t-statistics and p-values

For cookbook code, see Quick R. If you do use R, the RStudio IDE is very useful.

Comment author: gwern 07 February 2012 05:52:21PM *  2 points [-]

I really only know Haskell, but to my surprise, R wasn't too hard to work with. I didn't go with your linear regression code but just some straight t-tests on the variables of interest. I worked the averages and p-values into the text, and put the full R session output into 2 footnotes:

Comment author: gwern 14 February 2012 04:45:19PM 0 points [-]

I've finished my experiment; if you want to check my R interpreter usage, I put it in the footnotes in http://www.gwern.net/Zeo#vitamin-d-analysis

Comment author: erratio 07 February 2012 01:25:52AM *  2 points [-]

The Khan academy lectures (and worked examples therein) are pretty awesome at showing you how to do relatively simple things like t-tests. Although I should add that I've taken stats in the past so it wasn't completely new to me, YMMV. But since each lecture is all of 10 minutes long I don't think the costs are too high.

Comment author: beoShaffer 07 February 2012 01:00:29AM *  0 points [-]

If you have a Graphing calculator it can probably do it for you. If you have a TI-84 its Stats->tests I think you'd want "2-SampTTest" but its been a while since I've used that function. Their website gives more info. -edit to add detail/clarification

Comment author: gwern 07 February 2012 01:03:03AM 0 points [-]

I don't, no.

Comment author: r_claypool 07 February 2012 04:21:12AM 1 point [-]

I stopped believing in God a few years ago, and - like this tradition - I'm writing an essay to explain how that happened.

I need some constructive, critical feedback on the current draft. Is anyone interested?

Comment author: michaelcurzi 07 February 2012 06:56:11AM 0 points [-]

How long is it? If it's short, I'll take a look.

Comment author: r_claypool 07 February 2012 05:01:18PM 0 points [-]

Good question, about 10 pages. Message me if you are still interested.

Comment author: Curiouskid 06 February 2012 11:00:34PM 2 points [-]

Working on collaborative argument mapping/debate mapping with a bunch of other people. Facebook group here. It's very multidisciplinary and has the potential for high impact.

Comment author: Morendil 12 February 2012 05:11:57PM *  0 points [-]

I have a second post nearly ready, in what could (but I have no firm expectations on this score) develop into a mini-sequence on rationality and software engineering. It's about causal inference, causal diagrams, and some famous results on causes of software project failure.

Anyone interested in reading the draft and commenting, before I post to Main?

Any advice on the timing of releasing this second post? Specifically, is it too soon yet after last week's?

Also, I'd be interested in getting in touch with people who have access to the SpringerLink article database. For, um, general discussion, please pm me.