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Comment author: stared 23 March 2014 11:24:42AM 0 points [-]

This link does not work for me (it redirects to my event list). I am not sure if it is because of privacy settings or anything else? In any case: what is its full name as it appears on FB?

Comment author: wallowinmaya 23 March 2014 07:45:01PM 1 point [-]

I changed the privacy settings. Link should work now.

Comment author: stared 22 March 2014 07:43:46PM *  1 point [-]

I am interested, but not sure if I will be available on that date (40%?). Do you want to create a FB event? From my experience as an organizer of various stuff it works for seeing who is interested; of course it will attract more newbies and casual readers (I am in this category: up to date, my most serious interaction with LW is this post: http://stats.stackexchange.com/questions/28067/entropy-based-refutation-of-shalizis-bayesian-backward-arrow-of-time-paradox/28634#28634).

Comment author: wallowinmaya 22 March 2014 10:36:26PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: jkadlubo 22 March 2014 06:15:19PM *  2 points [-]

On a general level me and tkadlubo are interested, but not this time. AFAWK there are just over a dozen Polish LWers, scattered around the country and that makes any meetup difficult.

We are going to the Berlin Meetup in 3 weeks, Maybe see you there?

Comment author: wallowinmaya 22 March 2014 10:28:22PM 0 points [-]

Cool, yeah, I'm going to the Berlin Meetup. See you there!

Meetup : First LW Meetup in Warsaw

3 wallowinmaya 22 March 2014 04:41PM

Discussion article for the meetup : First LW Meetup in Warsaw

WHEN: 30 March 2014 03:00:00PM (+0100)

WHERE: Cafe Kulturalna, Plac Defilad 1, 00-901 Warszawa

As far as I can tell, there never has been a Lesswrong meetup in Warsaw, although Warsaw has almost 2 million inhabitants.

I'm currently visiting my girlfriend in Warsaw and we would like to meet folks who are also interested in Lesswrong and related topics.

Regarding the content and structure of the meetup: I would suggest that at first everyone proposes some discussion topics he or she is interested in (e.g. epistemic rationality, effective altruism, far future/FAI, practical life tips, etc.) and then we choose the most popular ones. Simple socializing and getting to know each other is of course also great!

Please leave a comment if you're thinking about attending or are interested in a LW meetup in Warsaw, even if you can't attend this one.

And remember, (almost) everyone is welcome, especially newbies!

(In case you can't find the place or something, here's our number: 0048 693 603 770)

ETA: The meetup will take place at 15:00 PM, local time. 

Link to Facebook-Event

Discussion article for the meetup : First LW Meetup in Warsaw

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 21 January 2014 05:19:13AM 26 points [-]

making physical backups of data

Oh boy, is this ever a good example.

I used to work retail, selling and repairing Macs and Mac accessories. When I'd sell someone a computer, I'd tell them — no, beg them — to invest in a backup solution. "I'm not trying to sell you anything!", I'd say. "You don't have to buy your backup device from us — though we'd be glad to sell you one for a decent price — but please, get one somewhere! Set it up — heck, we'll set it up for you — and please... back up! When you come to us after your hard drive has inevitably failed — as all hard drives do eventually, sure as death or taxes — with your life's work on it, you'll be glad you backed up."

And they'd smile, and nod, and come back some time later with a failed hard drive, no backup, and full of outrage that we couldn't magic their data back into existence. And they'd pay absurd amounts of money for data recovery.

Back up your data, people. It's so easy (if you've got a Mac, anyway). The pain of losing months or years of work is really, really, really painful.

Comment author: wallowinmaya 05 February 2014 11:16:51PM 0 points [-]

You got me kinda scared. I just use Evernote or wordpress for all my important writing. That should be enough, right?

Comment author: wallowinmaya 03 February 2014 01:19:03PM 0 points [-]

Great post of course.

If it took a mutant to do monstrous things, the history of the human species would look very different. Mutants would be rare.

Maybe I'm missing something, but shouldn't it read: "Mutants would not be rare." ? Many monstrous things happened in human history, so if only mutants could do evil deeds, there would have to be a lot of them. Furthermore, mutants are rare, so no need for the subjunctive "would".

Comment author: gwern 10 January 2014 03:00:11AM 13 points [-]

Meta-analysis on cognitive effects of modafinil (my bachelor thesis)

Well, meta-analyses certainly are an area of interest to me, and I was disappointed in 2012 by "Cognition Enhancement by Modafinil: A Meta-Analysis" (Kelley et al 20120) which used only 3 studies, and so was not very informative. A new meta-analysis would be great. But... I read quickly through it, and I saw no meta-analysis. Just a literature review. What's with the post title?

Modafinil significantly improved performance in 26 out of 102 cognitive tests, but significantly decreased performance in 3 cognitive tests.

Nitpick: I really hate this use of 'significantly' and I ban it from my own writing. Is this referring to effect sizes or p-values?

Notably, modafinil appears to have detrimental effects on mental flexibility. Although 4 studies employed the Intra/Extradimensional Set Shift task (ID/ED), no performance improvements could be detected. Performance was even reduced in a study by Randall et al. (2004). Furthermore, Müller et al. (2012) found that subjects on modafinil had lower flexibility scores in the Abbreviated Torrance task for adults.

Eh. Absence of improvement != damage. Randal 2004 didn't find a statistically-significant decrease (and it's not clear whether it should, given that it reports 25 datasets for 3 groups, so hunting for decreases incurs worries about multiplicity). And I have to point out, as far as Müller et al 2012 goes, the decrease didn't reach p<0.05 (just 0.053), and if you're willing to accept just trending, then you should also be accepting the increase in the GEFT/Group Embedded Figures Task (p=0.08).

How important are these observations...? Well, as you found out, it can be hard to compare or meta-analyze psychology studies since studies may cover the same topic but use different sets of tests, frustrating the most obvious approach 'just univariate meta-analyze everything!'

Reprinted from Baranski et al. (2004) without permission.


Comment author: wallowinmaya 10 January 2014 07:14:24PM *  5 points [-]

But... I read quickly through it, and I saw no meta-analysis. Just a literature review. What's with the post title?

You're right. I don't remember why I wrote "meta-analysis". (Probably because it sounds fancy and smart). I updated the title.

Is this referring to effect sizes or p-values?


Eh. Absence of improvement != damage.


...Randal 2004 didn't find a statistically-significant decrease...

No. In Randall et al. (2004) participants in the 200 mg modafinil condition made significantly more errors (p<0,05) in the Intra/Extradimensional Set Shift task than participants in the placebo and the 100 mg modafinil condition. (The 200 mg group made on average around 27 errors. The 100 mg group around 14. The control group around 17 errors.)

Actually, you linked to a different study. The results can be found in the complete study I linked to. I can upload it if you want to see it yourself.

Reprinted from Baranski et al. (2004) without permission.

Every single graphic in this whole thing is reprinted without permission, to tell the truth. (Is this a problem?)

Comment author: nydwracu 09 January 2014 02:44:00AM 1 point [-]

High-functioning in terms of IQ or in terms of ability to get things done?

(Has anyone come up with a motivation enhancer? Nicotine used to work for me, but not anymore.)

Comment author: wallowinmaya 09 January 2014 12:14:49PM 1 point [-]

Well, I take modafinil primarily as a motivation-enhancer.

Literature-review on cognitive effects of modafinil (my bachelor thesis)

33 wallowinmaya 08 January 2014 07:23PM

Modafinil is probably the most popular cognitive enhancer. LessWrong seems pretty interested in it. The incredible Gwern wrote an excellent and extensive article about it

Of all the stimulants I tried, modafinil is my favorite one. There are more powerful substances like e.g. amphetamine or methylphenidate, but modafinil has much less negative effects on physical as well as mental health and is far less addictive. All things considered, the cost-benefit-ratio of modafinil is unparalleled. 

For those reasons I decided to publish my bachelor thesis on the cognitive effects of modafinil in healthy, non-sleep deprived individuals on LessWrong. Forgive me its shortcomings. 

Here are some relevant quotes:


...the main research question of this thesis is if and to what extent modafinil has positive effects on cognitive performance (operationalized as performance improvements in a variety of cognitive tests) in healthy, non-sleep deprived individuals.... The abuse liability and adverse effects of modafinil are also discussed. A literature research of all available, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies which examined those effects was therefore conducted.

Overview of effects in healthy individuals:

...Altogether 19 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies about the effects of modafinil on cognitive functioning in healthy, non sleep-deprived individuals were reviewed. One of them (Randall et al., 2005b) was a retrospect analysis of 2 other studies (Randall et al., 2002 and 2005a), so 18 independent studies remain.

Out of the 19 studies, 14 found performance improvements in at least one of the administered cognitive tests through modafinil in healthy volunteers.
Modafinil significantly improved performance in 26 out of 102 cognitive tests, but significantly decreased performance in 3 cognitive tests.

...Several studies suggest that modafinil is only effective in subjects with lower IQ or lower baseline performance (Randall et al., 2005b; Müller et al., 2004; Finke et al., 2010). Significant differences between modafinil and placebo also often only emerge in the most difficult conditions of cognitive tests (Müller et al., 2004; Müller et al., 2012; Winder-Rhodes et al., 2010; Marchant et al., 2009).

Adverse effects:

...A study by Wong et al. (1999) of 32 healthy, male volunteers showed that the most frequently observed adverse effects among modafinil subjects were headache (34%), followed by insomnia, palpitations and anxiety (each occurring in 21% of participants). Adverse events were clearly dose- dependent: 50%, 83%, 100% and 100% of the participants in the 200 mg, 400 mg, 600 mg, and 800 mg dose groups respectively experienced at least one adverse event. According to the authors of this study the maximal safe dosage of modafinil is 600 mg.

Abuse potential:

...Using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design Rush et al. (2002) examined subjective and behavioral effects of cocaine (100, 200 or 300 mg), modafinil (200, 400 or 600 mg) and placebo in cocaine users….Of note, while subjects taking cocaine were willing to pay $3 for 100 mg, $6 for 200 mg and $10 for 300 mg cocaine, participants on modafinil were willing to pay $2, regardless of the dose. These results suggest that modafinil has a low abuse liability, but the rather small sample size (n=9) limits the validity of this study.

The study by Marchant et al. (2009) which is discussed in more detail in part 2.4.12 found that subjects receiving modafinil were significantly less (p<0,05) content than subjects receiving placebo which indicates a low abuse potential of modafinil. In contrast, in a study by Müller et al. (2012) which is also discussed in more detail above, modafinil significantly increased (p<0,05) ratings of "task-enjoyment" which may suggest a moderate potential for abuse.

...Overall, these results indicate that although modafinil promotes wakefulness, its effects are distinct from those of more typical stimulants like amphetamine and methylphenidate and more similar to the effects of caffeine which suggests a relatively low abuse liability.


In healthy individuals modafinil seems to improve cognitive performance, especially on the Stroop Task, stop-signal and serial reaction time tasks and tests of visual memory, working memory, spatial planning ability and sustained attention. However, these cognitive enhancing effects did only emerge in a subset of the reviewed studies. Additionally, significant performance increases may be limited to subjects with low baseline performance. Modafinil also appears to have detrimental effects on mental flexibility.

...The abuse liability of modafinil seems to be small, particularly in comparison with other stimulants such as amphetamine and methylphenidate. Headache and insomnia are the most common adverse effects of modafinil.

...Because several studies suggest that modafinil may only provide substantial beneficial effects to individuals with low baseline performance, ultimately the big question remains if modafinil can really improve the cognitive performance of already high-functioning, healthy individuals. Only in the latter case modafinil can justifiably be called a genuine cognitive enhancer.

You can download the whole thing below. (Just skip the sections on substance-dependent individuals and patients with dementia. My professor wanted them.)

Effects of modafinil on cognitive performance in healthy individuals, substance-dependent individuals and patients with dementia

Comment author: Roho 10 December 2013 09:15:01AM 1 point [-]

What a pity I missed that! How did the meetup go? Is there another NRW meetup planned? Would anybody like to play a round of "Paranoid debating"?

Comment author: wallowinmaya 12 December 2013 12:41:57PM 1 point [-]

In my opinion it went good. Maybe I'll organize another meetup in january or february. Sure, we can play "Paranoid debating".

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