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Comment author: Lumifer 20 July 2016 05:35:01PM *  0 points [-]

A more massive car has more energy to dissipate but also more structure (crumple zones) to apply this energy to. The net balance is not obvious me, either.

While most car accidents do not involve hitting walls, a lot involve hitting objects-other-than-cars (guard railings, trees, animals, etc.) where being heavy can be an advantage (because that excess energy that you have you dissipate into the object). As to pedestrians, the mass discrepancy is big enough to not matter -- the consequences to the pedestrian of being hit by a 1-tonne car are the same as being hit by a 2-tonne car.

Comment author: gjm 20 July 2016 08:59:18PM -1 points [-]

The 2-tonne car may be harder to stop or steer so that it doesn't kill the pedestrian.

Comment author: turchin 20 July 2016 10:43:06AM 0 points [-]

While at first I thought to agree with you, I have a counterexample. Bigger car is safer if it collides with a wall, small ones and bikes are more dangerous in this case, because they result in quicker deceleration of the driver.

So longer cars are also safer, and longer car tends to be heavy ones. So if all cars will be large we will get safer driving environment.

So it is easy to imagine "absolutely" safe car: it would be large, heavy and very slow (like 30 miles per hour).

Comment author: gjm 20 July 2016 05:16:09PM -1 points [-]

Maybe bigger cars are safer if they hit walls, but it's not entirely obvious to me. The more massive the car, the faster it will still be going when its front crumple zone finishes crumpling and wall and windscreen make contact; isn't that bad? Slower driver deceleration isn't a good thing if the still-fast-moving driver starts colliding with bricks.

Anyway, most car accidents don't involve hitting walls, and many car accidents endanger people other than the occupants of the cars, which means more mass => more danger.

Comment author: turchin 19 July 2016 10:11:23PM 0 points [-]

I think that if we include all driving habits, single car crashes, observation selection we will get probably 1 in 10 difference, but I still surprised by 1 to 1000 difference in fatalities between most dangerous and most safe cars.

I think that also weight is very important factor: heavier cars are much safer.

Comment author: gjm 20 July 2016 01:20:32AM -1 points [-]

Heavier cars are safer for the people in the heavier cars, and more dangerous for others with whom they may collide.

This produces a sort of evolutionary arms race in the direction of larger heavier cars, making everyone less safe overall.

(Other changes in car design have made them much safer over the years. Today's cars are much safer than those of, say, 30 years ago. But not, I think, because they are heavier.)

Comment author: root 18 July 2016 09:42:37PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the long answer! I just looked at the Cambridge prices for overseas students and it made me feel poor. Might as well seen a 500,000 ILS debt in my bank account.

I live in Israel and maybe I should study here. None of my family has any education though so I'm not really sure what to do. Do you know any universal things I should look for when considering higher education? ('Is it worth it?' sounds like a good question now..)

Comment author: gjm 18 July 2016 11:07:50PM -1 points [-]

Yeah, Cambridge is pretty expensive. (I think the best US universities are a lot worse, but haven't actually looked at the numbers. Some or all of these places may have some kind of assistance available if you're very poor or very good or both.) The recent reduction in the value of the pound (because of all the "Brexit" hoohah) has made UK universities a bit cheaper for foreign students.

I'd hesitate to call anything universal, but I'd consider at least the following things. You've probably thought of them all already :-). Some of them are awfully hard to assess. You may be able to get useful answers to some of them from the universities themselves, though of course it may be in their interests to mislead you or to refuse to answer some kinds of question.

  • How well do the courses available match what I am actually interested in learning?
  • What possible career paths might I follow, and will going [wherever] and studying [whatever] help with them? (Be realistic!)
  • Will I enjoy my time there? (This depends on things like climate, culture, difficulty of course, interestingness of course, other people there, ...)
  • Will I meet plenty of people who will be friends, mentors, useful future contacts, etc.? (How much this matters, and how much use you can make of the meeting-people opportunities, depends on your goals, personality, etc.)
  • Will my having gone there impress people? Will I care?
  • Will the academic work be too easy or too difficult for me?
  • Is it assessed in ways I can do well at? (I'm not sure how much this varies. But e.g. there may be variation in whether it's only your final year's examinations that count; in whether there's coursework as well as examinations; in whether some examinations are "open book".)
  • How much will it cost? (Take into account any scholarships, bursaries, loans, etc., available to you.)
  • If while there I find that I want to be doing something else, how flexible will they be? (At some universities, perhaps all, it's pretty easy to change subjects, at least if you're moving from a "harder" to an "easier" subject.)
  • Will they actually have me? If it's uncertain, am I giving up better opportunities by trying?
  • If the university is abroad, will I face prejudice from the locals? Or feel prejudice myself against the locals? How comfortable am I in the local language? How comfortable am I with the local culture? Will the food etc. be OK for me?
  • How do they teach? What's the actual quality of teaching like? Will I be being taught by world expert researchers or struggling graduate students? (Note: the former are not necessarily better teachers.)
Comment author: Lumifer 18 July 2016 09:07:27PM *  0 points [-]

True, though I think the real question is "better by how much" :-) If, given the ability, the top schools provide no better prospects, then (a) The common advice of "go to the best school which accepts you" is misguided and (2) the top schools have been running a marvelously successful con for decades and even centuries.

Comment author: gjm 18 July 2016 10:53:10PM -1 points [-]

The answer to the question "do I get anything valuable from going to a better university?" might of course differ according to what it is you value; e.g., it could turn out that the "best" ones do a better job of preparing you for academic research but are no better for your out-of-academia career prospects, or vice versa.

(As it happens, I agree with you that they probably do have genuine advantages whether you're looking to maximize learning, future job prospects, useful contacts, or whatever.)

Comment author: root 18 July 2016 02:59:31PM 2 points [-]

What are the differences between the 'big names' of higher education, in comparison to other places?

For example, I often hear about MIT, Oxford, and to a lesser extent, Cambridge. Either there's some sort of self-selection, or do graduates from there have better prospects than graduates of 'University of X, YZ'?

In a little bit of unintended self-reflection I noticed that I have a strange binary way of thinking of higher education. It feels that if I don't go to one of the top n, my effort is wasted. Not sure why.

I'm just becoming somewhat paranoid regarding the real world after reading HPMOR because I always get a 'how much do I really know?' feeling. I'm not sure how my impressions were formed and I better double-check how well does the ideas in my mind reflect the real-world truth but at the same time I'm not even sure what's a reliable indicator.

Post-high education LWers, do you think the place you studied at had a significant effect on your future prospects?

Comment author: gjm 18 July 2016 08:04:19PM *  -1 points [-]

I studied at Cambridge (which, btw, is definitely better than Oxford :-)).[1] Being in the Cambridge area when I got out of academia meant that there were plenty of jobs around that suited me. (Obviously that's a good thing in itself, but perhaps if I'd been somewhere else then I'd have moved to, say, London and had a different range of job opportunities.)

Pretty much every job I've taken I've found out about because someone at my new employer knew me. In some cases those were people who studied with me. Does that count as an effect of having been at a good university? I don't know -- if I'd been somewhere else, presumably other people would have known me, and maybe they'd have been even more impressed for want of strong competition :-). But there are lots of Cambridge people in Cambridge jobs, for obvious reasons.

The point here is that lots of things useful to my career have arisen from my having gone to a good university -- but not in the obvious way (people looking at my history and saying "oooh, Cambridge PhD, must be very smart").

[1] It occurs to me that there is a slight danger of that being taken more seriously than I intend it, so let me mention that Oxford and Cambridge are traditional rivals and that of course I would say Cambridge is obviously better. My actual opinion is that Cambridge is somewhat better for maths, science, technology, engineering, while Oxford is better for classics, history, politics, etc. If you want to be prime minister, go to Oxford. If you want to start a billion-dollar tech company, go to Cambridge. I'm not sure how they compare for intermediate fields like philosophy and law.

Comment author: Lumifer 18 July 2016 05:12:01PM 0 points [-]

you'll be totally fine and get a reasonable job

Sure, but the question wasn't what would get you a reasonable job. The question was whether graduates from top schools have "better prospects" than graduates from no-name schools and yes, they do.

Comment author: gjm 18 July 2016 07:56:20PM -1 points [-]

I think the real question is whether they have better prospects given their level of ability and that's harder to assess.

Comment author: username2 18 July 2016 10:51:37AM 2 points [-]

Because people believe that the driver's skill is significantly more important factor in determining safety. I don't know if this belief is correct but it sounds plausible. Do insurance companies offer different prices for owners of different cars?

Comment author: gjm 18 July 2016 11:09:44AM -2 points [-]

Not only driver skill, I'd have thought; also how they're used. The Dodge Caravan is a big thing with space for lots of people. I bet it's used mostly for transporting large-ish families around. Whether you're an expert driver or a very poor one, I expect you drive more slowly and more carefully when your spouse and children are on board.

Comment author: hg00 17 July 2016 01:40:05AM *  -1 points [-]

I refuse to sacrifice my life to protect billionaires who would not do the same for me.

Elon Musk has risked his entire fortune for you. "In my case, I think these things are important... I need to do it, I promised people I would do it, but I'm not doing it because this is the most fun way to live."

The world's wealthiest people (the "ownership class") is increasingly made up of scientists and engineers:

If you work your way down the Forbes 400 making an x next to the name of each person with an MBA, you'll learn something important about business school. After Warren Buffett, you don't hit another MBA till number 22, Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike. There are only 5 MBAs in the top 50. What you notice in the Forbes 400 are a lot of people with technical backgrounds. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Jeff Bezos, Gordon Moore. The rulers of the technology business tend to come from technology, not business.

- Paul Graham

Paul has written 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 essays that touch on the topic of why cooperators tend to get rich in Silicon Valley rather than defectors. The Silicon Valley elite is giving their money away significantly earlier in life than previous generations of wealthy people, and there are indicators that they care more about having their philanthropic dollars actually do good--here's tech billionaire Sean Parker on his giving philosophy. (Not to say that other wealthy people are especially lacking in their philanthropy--check out the Giving Pledge signatories.)

Scientists get less sex than criminals.

High IQ people, regardless of gender, have less sex. But it's hard to tease out exactly why. I lean towards Paul Graham's explanation--highly intelligent people tend to be interested in things other than sex, whereas average people structure large amounts of their lives around it (for example, it's typical for every Friday and Saturday evening to be spent drinking carcinogens and searching for sexual partners). More evidence for this hypothesis: Intelligent people seem to be taller and better looking on average. And intelligent friends of mine who have chosen to optimize for having more sexual partners have done well, especially if they're willing to date down in intelligence (to avoid the problem that highly intelligent women are outnumbered by highly intelligent men and also relatively uninterested in sex) and live in an area with a favorable gender ratio. If you want more sexual partners, a good first step is to start working out--it will give you a masculine physique, help you live longer, improve sleep, improve immune system, improve willpower, etc. Once you've spent some time optimizing to increase your number of sexual partners, you'll likely feel less insecure about who your girlfriends have slept with. (And once you've conquered your insecurities, you can work on cool stuff like decreasing existential risk.)

(BTW note that there are more women graduating college nowadays than men, at least in the US, so being educated gives you a leg up.)

all of my ex-girlfriends had sex with someone who doesn't share my values

You're looking at a small number of data points. Psychological research, insofar as it relates to this topic, is more mixed. Research also seems to indicate that having lots of sexual partners is associated with decreased happiness. Those dominant "defector" types are often rejected by women for longer-term relationships, which sucks a lot more than you would think (speaking from personal experience as someone with a dominant/masculinized facial appearance).

It's illegal to punish people who always defect in prisoner's dilemmas.

If there's a particular sort of defection you are concerned about, you can work to change society in order to disincentivize it. This probably isn't the best example, but I've always wondered why we don't punish rapists (and maybe other criminals) with castration. It seems like something that both the far left and the far right could get behind--the far left is full of feminists who think rapists are unadulterated evil, and the far right can appreciate the eugenic benefits of sterilizing criminals. It's cheaper and more humane than locking someone in a hellish prison cell for years on end. It helps solve the root problem, given testosterone's role in facilitating aggression. And it sends the right message to other folks in society. "Here's a man who defected against the rest of us. He speaks in a high voice now because we literally chopped his balls off. He tried to rape a woman, but now he will never have sex again." I think castrated criminals who lived in lower class communities would inevitably get bullied and made fun of, which seems like exactly what we want to happen (as long as someone is going to get bullied and made fun of in lower class communities, which seems inevitable).

Comment author: gjm 17 July 2016 10:44:02AM -2 points [-]

I had the impression castration in adulthood doesn't actually mean never having sex again, and while reducing testosterone levels may make someone less aggressive, having had their balls cut off may make someone more angry and hence more aggressive. And (whether it makes sense or not) a lot of people class any sort of physical mutilation as cruel and unusual punishment even if it actually causes the punishee less suffering than e.g. locking them up for 10 years.

Comment author: Algernoq 16 July 2016 10:25:52PM 1 point [-]

OP wants me to help stop global catastrophic risks.

It's illegal to hurt the people who created the global catastrophic risks, so count me out. I don't work for free. I'd rather enjoy a nice life.

"Why, no," said Professor Quirrell. "I stopped trying to be a hero, and went off to do something else I found more pleasant."

"What? " said Hermione without thinking at all. "That's horrible! "

Comment author: gjm 17 July 2016 01:02:02AM -2 points [-]

OP hasn't asked you to do anything; just presented some information that he hopes will help people trying to stop global catastrophic risks. If that's not a thing you want to do, it's just not addressed to you.

(You sound very angry and upset. This probably isn't a helpful thing to say right now, but I'll say it anyway: if you can get less angry that will probably help you be less upset.)

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