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Comment author: VAuroch 08 June 2014 07:09:00PM *  -1 points [-]

Indeed, it is you! Please provide first-hand details. (I'm pretty sure no one else of our mutual acquaintance has written up anything.)

Comment author: Tesseract 10 June 2014 04:18:30PM 1 point [-]

Okay. I'm not going to post my writeup since it's a little outdated — close to two years old now — and contains a lot of info irrelevant to this discussion, but the gist:

I tried out piracetam very actively (using it frequently, varying a lot of things, and closely noting the effects) for about two months in summer 2012, and have been using it periodically since then. I didn't notice any long-term effects, though I don't think I've actually ever tried to test the effects of a fixed long-term regimen.

What I did find was very dramatic acute effects, starting within an hour or two after taking it and lasting for a couple hours. These effects included music enhancement, visual enhancement (colors look brighter, textures look sharper), relief from anxiety/depression accompanied by a sense of clarity, and often mild euphoria.

While I haven't done any blind tests and therefore can't be entirely sure the effects aren't placebo, they're often quite strong (e.g. piracetam has helped me go from being very anxious to feeling very clear and self-possessed in situations where I wouldn't expect that to happen otherwise) and some of them feel quite unlike any state I experience when not using piracetam.

It does seem to be difficult to get piracetam to work right, though — there seems to be idiosyncrasy in the dose people respond to, you have to figure out how much choline to take with it, tolerance builds, you might need to take a high initial dose ('attack dose') to get effects immediately, etc. I can see how this unreliability might seem characteristic of a placebo, but I can also see how it might cause people to falsely conclude that something was a placebo because they didn't get effects from it easily.

Comment author: VAuroch 06 June 2014 10:36:04PM 0 points [-]

One friend of mine (neuropsych major, experienced with a wide variety of psychoactives) got similar but slightly stronger results with what I think was over a slightly longer period than gwern; I think he posted his results only on Facebook, though, so I'm not comfortable sharing a link to his writeup.

And anecdotally, a wide sample of people at the college found other placebos not giving the same benefit; every finals week a large table of food and mostly-placebos is available via a student group, and enough people swore by piracetam over the others that when it disappeared in a particular year (it's sale got somehow regulated), its absence was missed.

Comment author: Tesseract 06 June 2014 10:57:39PM 0 points [-]

Is this talking about me (SL), or is there some other person of our acquaintance who's written up an experience with piracetam? I can chime in with my experiences if so desired.

Comment author: orthonormal 13 June 2012 03:15:50PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for doing this!

I was hoping that you'd also include references for the experiments that Harry mentions offhand, like this one from Chapter 7:

(one experiment had shown that an unconditional gift of $5 was twice as effective as a conditional offer of $50 in getting people to fill out surveys)

I realize that would be a substantial amount of work, but it would be awesome.

Comment author: Tesseract 16 June 2012 05:15:10PM 2 points [-]

This particular reference is from James & Bolstein, 1992, and Eliezer gets it from Influence, Science and Practice. It's on chapter 2, page 26 in the fifth edition.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 08 October 2011 02:18:46PM 21 points [-]

This was a good example, but I think you probably missed a part of the message. Or maybe I am imagining a part that did not exist.

Generally, people are speaking imprecisely. To state one's opinion with a mathematical precision as you did, is rare. (For example, writing this paragraph I would have a problem to precisely define what "generally" and "rare" mean in this context.) And when normally speaking, people tolerate this. ...uhm, usually.

Asking people to be precise is also a signal of something. We usually don't demand perfect clarity for every sentence we ever read or hear, even on LW. I suppose we usually demand it when we disagree with one's opinion.

Placing a burden of preciseness on some people or some opinions, provides their opponents cheap counter-attacks, when they don't have to discuss the argument, only point out the impreciseness.

Now, carefully crafting one's comments into precise sentences is possible, but has a non-zero cost. So by selectively asking people, whose opinion we don't like, to be more precise than usual, we make them pay for their dissent. All while pretending that we only care about the truth, without taking sides.

Of course, people learn that they are asked for higher precision only when expressing certain opinions, so if they want to avoid the costs of such speech, they avoid the sensitive topics. But that's the point, isn't it? By increasing standards of speech for certain opinion, we gradually make it disappear.

I think that people often feel when this is done to them, but it's kind of difficult for them to express what is happening, without seeming kind of paranoid. Also it's kind of difficult to express your feelings in a situation when an extra dose of preciseness is required.

Summary: It is possible to selectively use demands for precision as a form of censorship.

Comment author: Tesseract 02 February 2012 06:59:01AM 1 point [-]

This comment is shockingly insightful and I would like to thank you for it.

Comment author: Tesseract 01 February 2012 07:53:34PM *  24 points [-]

What is the aim of philosophy? To be clear-headed rather than confused; lucid rather than obscure; rational rather than otherwise; and to be neither more, nor less, sure of things than is justifiable by argument or evidence. That is worth trying for.

Geoffrey Warnock

Teaching a short class on Bayes' Theorem?

9 Tesseract 07 December 2011 09:45PM

At my college, there's a week before Spring Semester each year in which anyone who wants to can teach a class on any subject, and students go to whatever ones they feel like. I'm thinking about teaching a class on Bayes' Theorem. It would be informal, one to two hours long, and focused mostly on non-obvious applications of it (epistemology, the representativeness heuristic, etc.)

At the moment, I'm thinking about how to design the class, so I'd appreciate any suggestions as to what content I should cover, the best format, clear ways to explain it, cool things related to Bayes' Theorem, good links, and so forth.

Comment author: Tesseract 01 December 2011 05:43:01PM 1 point [-]

Education helps close the gap between what man believes to be the truth and truth itself.

Richard Scholz

Comment author: Tesseract 01 December 2011 05:40:37PM 24 points [-]

One of the toughest things in any science... is to weed out the ideas that are really pleasing but unencumbered by truth.

Thomas Carew

Comment author: Tesseract 01 December 2011 05:39:22PM 10 points [-]

A system for generating ungrounded but mostly true beliefs would be an oracle, as impossible as a perpetual motion machine.

(McKay & Dennett 2009)

Comment author: Tesseract 01 December 2011 05:35:16PM 6 points [-]

Man’s most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe.

Euripides, Helen

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