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Comment author: Lumifer 21 April 2016 01:07:27AM 0 points [-]

Non-conformity usually means low social skills

Er, no, I don't think so.

Conformity is a function that requires a rather important argument: conformity to what? When you see non-conformity, the usual case is that you see someone from a different tribe and that tells you nothing about this person's social skills.

Occasionally there is a different situation: someone is trying to conform and failing. Now that is actually a sign of low social skills. But that isn't quite non-conformity, that's failing at conformity.

Comment author: hyporational 21 April 2016 02:14:34AM *  0 points [-]

Not recognizing what the rules are or not understanding why they exist could be more easily confused with non-conformity, while recognizing the rules but failing to apply them is more apparently incompetent. Volitional non-conformity requires understanding of the rules and the ability to apply them, and it's not entirely obvious what constitutes understanding in this highly subjective matter. The aspect of opting in/out of acquiring the skills needed for conformity complicates things further.

Comment author: James_Miller 18 April 2016 05:57:16PM *  4 points [-]

The LessWrong Facebook group has a post "How many Less Wrongers are natural late-sleepers?" and lots of people, including myself, are. Why are so many of us natural late-sleepers? Speculation welcomed.

Comment author: hyporational 21 April 2016 01:43:57AM *  2 points [-]

Lots of late night computer screen time? That blue light is messing with sleep cycles. I used to think I'm a night owl myself but can adjust my sleep schedule at will if I just mind the lighting. These days I wake up at 2-4am.

Curiously all males in my family used to be late sleepers when young but effortlessly switched to rising early when their careers kicked off. They didn't have computers back then so maybe it was their social lives keeping them up late.

Comment author: Lumifer 20 December 2015 09:55:54PM 2 points [-]

The placebo group is called such because it receives the placebo treatment, not because medical researchers think all improvement in it is attributable to the placebo effect.

Sure. But the question under discussion here is what actually is the placebo effect and how much of it can you attribute to psychosomatic factors and how much to just regression to the mean (aka natural healing).

You are correct in that most intervention studies don't care about the magnitude of the placebo effect, they just take the placebo arm of the trial as a baseline. But that doesn't mean that we couldn't or shouldn't ask questions about the placebo effect itself.

Comment author: hyporational 22 December 2015 11:15:03AM 0 points [-]

the question under discussion here is what actually is the placebo effect and how much of it can you attribute to psychosomatic factors and how much to just regression to the mean (aka natural healing).

In that case your opener is slightly polemical :)

But that doesn't mean that we couldn't or shouldn't ask questions about the placebo effect itself.

Agreed. The problem with nonintervention arms for studying the placebo effect is that there aren't clear incentives for adding them and they cost statistical power.

Comment author: Lumifer 15 December 2015 06:33:10PM 8 points [-]

An interesting blog post which argues that in medical studies the great majority of improvement in non-intervention arms that is attributed to the placebo effect actually comes from regression to the mean.

Comment author: hyporational 19 December 2015 04:19:02AM 3 points [-]

The placebo group is called such because it receives the placebo treatment, not because medical researchers think all improvement in it is attributable to the placebo effect. Results are reported as improvement in the treatment arm vs. the placebo arm, and never have I seen these differences explicitly reported as treatment effect vs. placebo effect, and I've read hundreds of medical papers. The real magnitude of the placebo effect is almost never of interest in these papers. Some professionals in the medical community could have such a misconception because of the usual lack of scientific training, but I'd like to think they are a small minority.

If the placebo effect is of real importance, I think a more significant problem would be the lack of use of active placebos that mimick side effects since most drugs have them and this is a potential source of breaking the blinding of RCTs.

Comment author: Lumifer 14 September 2015 04:32:09PM 3 points [-]

how the need for rationality doesn't become self evident for med students in the process of becoming a doctor,

Is it just a matter of terminology? I would guess that all med students will agree that they should be able to make a correct diagnosis (where correct = corresponding to the underlying reality) and then prescribe appropriate treatment (where appropriate = effective in achieving goals set for this patient).

Comment author: hyporational 14 September 2015 04:44:57PM *  2 points [-]

Whatever the terminology, they should make the connection between the process of decision making and the science of decision making, which they don't seem to do. Medicine is like this isolated bubble where every insight must come from the medical community itself.

I found overcoming bias and became a rationalist during med school. Finding the blog was purely accidental, although I recognized the need for understanding my thinking, so I'm not sure what form this need would have taken given a slightly different circumstance.

Comment author: BiasedBayes 14 September 2015 12:15:30PM 3 points [-]

Thanks hyporational ! It is exactly same here. Cognitive biases, heuristics, or even Bayes Theorem (normative decision making) is not really taught here.

Also I once argued against some pseudoscientific treatment (in mental illnesses) and my arguments were completely ignored by 200 people because of argumentum ad hominem and attribute substitution (who looks like he is right vs. looking the actual arguments). Most people dont know what is a good argument or how to think about the propability of a statement.

Interesting points Anders_H, I have to think about those littlebit.

Comment author: hyporational 14 September 2015 04:39:41PM 5 points [-]

We were taught bayes in the form of predictive values, but this was pretty cursory. Challenging the medical professors' competence publicly isn't a smart move careerwise, unless they happen to be exceptionally rational and principled, unfortunately. There's a time to shut up and multiply, and a time to bend to the will of the elders :)

Comment author: Anders_H 14 September 2015 04:16:31AM *  7 points [-]

I have the Irish equivalent of an MD; "Medical Bachelor, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of the Art of Obstetrics". This unwieldy degree puts me in fairly decent company on Less Wrong.

I may be generalizing from a sample of one, but my impression is that medicine selects out rationalists for the following reasons:

(1) The human body is an incompletely understood highly complex system; the consequences of manipulating any of the components can generally not be predicted from an understanding of the overall system. Medicine therefore necessarily has to rely heavily on memorization (at least until we get algorithms that take care of the memorization)

(2) A large component of successful practice of medicine is the ability to play the socially expected part of a doctor.

(3) From a financial perspective, medical school is a junk investment after you consider the opportunity costs. Consider the years in training, the number of hours worked, the high stakes and high pressure, the possibility of being sued etc. For mainstream society, this idea sounds almost contrarian, so rationalists may be more likely to recognize it.


My story may be relevant here: I was a middling medical student; I did well in those of the pre-clinical courses that did not rely too heavily on memorization, but barely scraped by in many of the clinical rotations. I never had any real passion for medicine, and this was certainly reflected in my performance.

When I worked as an intern physician, I realized that my map of the human body was insufficiently detailed to confidently make clinical decisions; I still wonder whether my classmates were better at absorbing knowledge that I had missed out on, or if they are just better at exuding confidence under uncertainty.

I now work in a very subspecialized area of medical research that is better aligned with rational thinking; I essentially try to apply modern ideas about causal inference to comparative effectiveness research and medical decision making. I was genuinely surprised to find that I could perform at the top level at Harvard, substantially outperforming people who were in a different league from me in terms of their performance in medical school. I am not sure whether this says something about the importance of being genuinely motivated, or if it is a matter of different cognitive personalities.

In retrospect, I am happy with where this path has taken me, but I can't help but wonder if there was a shorter path to get here. If I could talk to my 18-year old self, I certainly would have told him to stay far away from medicine.

Comment author: hyporational 14 September 2015 04:13:19PM *  4 points [-]

Huh. My experience is somewhat similar to yours in the sense that I never was a big fan of memorization, and I'm glad that I could outsource some parts of the process to Anki. I also seem to outperform my peers in complex situations where ready made decision algorithms are not available, and outperformed them in the few courses in medschool that were not heavy on memorization. The complex situations obviously don't benefit from bayes too much, but they benefit from understanding the relevant cognitive biases.

The medical degree is a financial jackpot here in Finland, since I was actually paid for studying, and landed in one of the top 3 best paying professions in the country straight out of medschool. Money attracts every type, and the selection process doesn't especially favor rationalists, who happen to be rare. It just baffles me how the need for rationality doesn't become self evident for med students in the process of becoming a doctor, not to mention after that.

Comment author: BiasedBayes 13 September 2015 03:51:11PM *  8 points [-]

Hello all!

Im a medical student and a researcher. My interests are consciousness, computational theory of mind, evolutionary psychology, and medical decision making. I bought Eliezers book and found here because of it.

Want to thank Eliezer for writing the book, best writing i have read this year. Thank You.

Comment author: hyporational 14 September 2015 02:51:47AM 5 points [-]

Welcome! I'm an MD and haven't yet figured out why there are so few of us here, given the importance of rationality for medical decision making. It's interesting that at least in my country there is zero training in cognitive biases in the curriculum.

Comment author: Elo 23 August 2015 10:00:15PM *  1 point [-]

Can I get a link to repligo? Can't seem to find it in a quick search...

Also I downloaded the RittR labs stuff and alarm clock plus to try it out.

Comment author: hyporational 24 August 2015 05:42:23PM 1 point [-]

You know what's sad? It seems the support was discontinued a year ago. I never noticed because it still works just fine, syncs the annotated pdf files to dropbox and all that, and still seems to be the best pdf reader there is.

Found and apk that seems legit, I'll pm the link to you, try at your own risk.

Comment author: hyporational 22 August 2015 06:27:42PM *  3 points [-]

More apps for Android (5.0.2):

Alarm clock plus - probably the most feature rich alarm bell app. It allows for multiple alarms on different days with different tones, alarm labels, gently rising alarm, quick to set one time alarms and alarms that won't stop unless you solve a math problem which is useful for deep sleepers.

Clockwork Tomato - a fully customizable pomodoro timer.

Darker - pretty much the same as Night Mode, except that it also allows for color adjustment. Unfortunately Android doesn't seem to support dimming certain wavelengths and the color is just slapped over everything (the strength is adjustable), so the contrast isn't that great.

I think what sets the above mentioned ES File Explorer above others is the integrated networking capability, you can use cloud storage, FTP and LAN sharing with the same app.

FBReader with TTS Plugin - listen to .epub and .mobi formatted ebooks.

Libra - weight tracking with charts, weight loss goal tracking, statistics on weight change and excess/shortage of calories.

Pocket - put articles you find during browsing to a safe place for later reading. It has a browser extension on PC for Firefox and Chrome and sync capability. Also, it has a page flipping mode that allows reading articles as if you were reading an ebook, and inverted color rendering for night time reading.

Repligo PDF Reader - I think I've tried every pdf reader there is on Android, and this is the only one that can both reliably reflow text for easier readability and has inverted rendering. Also has a text-to-speech option.

Rittr Labs Push Ups, Sit Ups, Pull Ups and Squats - All of the four apps are separate but I haven't found a better app for automatically generated calisthenics workouts. These calculate the first workout sets based on your max repetitions and the next workout based on how people usually progress, which is further adjusted by telling the program whether the workout was too hard, just right or too easy. I'd recommend you give at least a day or two for recovery between workouts, for example have a different workout for each day with a four day rotation.

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