All of FJehn's Comments + Replies

Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures

Good idea. I'll look into this when I find the time and report back here. 

Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures

Our conversation kinda feels like to me that we are talking a bit past each other. As I understand your message you are saying that the shift in temperature focus is due to the Paris Agreement. This is also what we say in the paper. However, you disagree in the conclusions from that, by saying that this does not imply a focus shift. 

And this is the part I don't get. If the IPCC focuses on different things due to the Paris Agreement, how is this not a shift in research focus? Especially after you said in your post before that your statement is based on... (read more)

Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures

We also looked into the RCP mentions. Going from AR5 to AR6 RCP8.5 increases ~ 10 %. Same goes for RCP2.5. The change is mainly caused by RCP6.0 mentioned less. RCP4.5 roughly stays the same. 

As the RCPs weren't really used before AR5, we cannot compare it to anything before that. This is also one of the reason for using temperature, as we can look compare all reports and not only the last two. 

The shift in temperature mentions is way stronger than the shift in RCPs. Especially if you compare it to the reports before AR5. 

I think the shift i... (read more)

I think the shift in temperature focus is almost entirely because of the Paris Agreement. It's pretty natural that they would mention 2 degrees and 1.5 degrees a lot given Paris. Indeed, they had a special report on 1.5 degrees for that reason. I don't think it implies a change in research focus in the main reports since, as we have seen almost all impacts lit assesses the effects of RCP8.5. 

Given that the RCP mentions have been pretty constant (barring RCP6 being mentioned less), I don't really see that there has been any change in research focus. I ... (read more)

Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures

Alright, that's settled then. Also looking forward to resolution!

4Stephen Clare7h
Major kudos to both of you for this bet. I'll probably refer to this thread in future as a great example of respectful, productive disagreement!
Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures

I get your reasons and I hope I lose the 100 $. I also think the probable temperature for 2100 will continue to go down. However, we still have quite a long way to go to get to 2°C. 

The IPCC does not really attach probabilities to temperatures. Therefore, it is not really possible to directly go for the IPCC reports as resolution. One possibility would be the Internationale Energy Agency. They regularly publish estimates of likely temperature trajectories. Their current estimate is that with currently (in 2021) stated policies we'll get 2.6°C in 2100.... (read more)

Sounds reasonable enough to me.

The bet will resolve in your favor if the median temperature increase in the stated policies scenario of the 2032 IEA report is above 2°C.

If the IEA report does not exist or does not report an equivalent of their stated policies scenario the bet resolves ambiguously.

Very curious to see what will actually happen!

Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures

I don't see how this contradicts with the paper above. It does not say we should focus on RCP8.5 or a warming of 4.3°C. The main takeaway is the IPCC reports now focus on lower temperatures as they did before. I think this implies a shift in research. If you have another explanation for this I'd be happy to hear it. 

9John G. Halstead11d
Hiya, I think the latest IPCC report reflects the literature in that it also focuses on RCP8.5 (i.e. 4 degrees). You have sampled temperature mentions but I think if you has sampled RCP mentions, your main finding would no longer stand. For example, for the latest IPCC report, pretty much every graph includes the impact of RCP8.5. Agriculture Ocean ecosystems Coral reef Shoreline change Phytoplankton phenology Marine species richness Marine biomass etc
Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures

Thanks for your comment. Unsurprisingly, I am less optimistic. While I also think that climate news gotten better over the last years, I still think there is a big chance we end up at over 2°C. The Twitter thread you linked to says "It finds that, if all the countries of the world fulfilled their climate commitments, the world would most likely limit climate change to just under 2 degrees C." That's quite a big if. 

The post by John and Johannes mainly argues that extreme warming is not likely, which I also agree with. However, I see the research gap m... (read more)

Good points, I agree that the articles I linked dont directly imply a less than 50% chance of 2ºC warming.

And FWIW Metaculus disagrees with me here, the community prediction is 85% probability of >2ºC warming.

I still hold my position, where my model is that:

  1. Predictions today are much more optimistic than predictions 10 years ago
  2. I expect that trend to continue, because we keep understimating social and tech progreess
  3. I think that the academic process is biased towards being more pessimistic on climate change than the evidence warrants, because of policy c
... (read more)
Potatoes: A Critical Review

Thank you. I'll probably won't have the time to make a full post out of this, but this was strongly inspired by the series about 1848 in the Revolutions Podcast and especially this episode:

So, if you are looking for additional information, you'll likely find it there. 

Thanks. I wonder if there's anything similar for the Great Famine of 1876 [] (I don't think so; it looks like it didn't affect the global North very much, and governments remained stable).
Potatoes: A Critical Review

I'll use this post to add some other potato related thoughts I had some time ago, as this chance might never come up again in the EA Forum: 


Are the potato famine and the revolutions of 1848 an example for the fragility of the modern world?

Recently I came across the potato famine and how it contributed or even caused the revolutions of 1848. I wondered if this is an good example to show how cascading failures lead from an natural event to an agricultural crisis, to an economic crisis, to an financial crisis and finally resulting in a political cr... (read more)

This is wonderful the way it is, but perhaps it could be developed into an amazing top post. Allfed would like it. Suggestion of a catchy title: "Blame the Springtime of Nations on the Incas"
FJehn's Shortform

Is it an important research topic to explore the availability of flammable materials in major NATO cities to assess the effects of nuclear war?

Today I read "Examining the Climate Effects of a Regional Nuclear Weapons Exchange Using a Multiscale Atmospheric Modeling Approach". It models the effect of a regional nuclear war between Pakistan and India. One quote stood out to me:

"The assumed 16 g cm−2 fuel loading and 100% burn rate for the fire is actually uncertain, and in fact, Reisner et al. (2018) assume only ∼1 g cm−2 fuel loading. Reisner et al. (2018) ... (read more)

Impactful Forecasting Prize Results and Reflections

Oh wow, did not really enter to win anything. I just participated because I thought the idea is really cool and it gave me a good opportunity diving into a variety of topics. A pleasant surprise :)

I am a bit surprised by how few people participated. If I remember correctly, 4/13 submissions were by me.  I talked about this prize with several people and all seemed eager to participate, but apparently they didn't.  So, I am not sure if the lack of forecasters is due to too little promotion (though more would probably helped as well). Seems like the... (read more)

Will the next global conflict be more like World War I?

Thank you for the answer. I thought this might be a topic discussing in the forum, as the shape of future wars seems like a thing that could influence the long term future by a lot. 

 I don't think that tanks shifted WWI on their own, but more in a combination of changed strategies and tactics.  I fear more that a future war would grind to a kind of stalemate quickly, as modern weapons are so lethal (as you described) and favor the defender. Nuclear weapons would be a way to break such a stalemate. Therefore, I fear that this change in war might make the use of nuclear weapons more likely.  

What are some examples of EA <-> Academia collaborations?

Not sure if this is a direct answer of your question, but what worked good for me was using my position on my university to allow students to work on ALLFED topics as their master thesis. This resulted in one very good master thesis on loss of industry scenarios. 

Maybe you could reach out to academics with a bunch of possible thesis topics that they could do in cooperation with EA orgs. If they are a good fit for the researcher you reached out to, this might be an interesting offer for them.

Some reflections on testing fit for research

Thank you for writing this. I think this contains lots of good information for the people you are aiming at.

An interesting read might be this paper here: I think some of the struggles you ran into are just a part of doing research and do not make your fit for research smaller.

Thanks, I enjoyed that post (and it's quite short, for people considering whether to read).
FJehn's Shortform

This comment was mainly inspired by the revolutions podcast:

FJehn's Shortform

Are the potato famine and the revolutions of 1848 an example for the fragility of the modern world?

Recently I came across the potato famine and how it contributed or even caused the revolutions of 1848. I wondered if this is an good example to show how cascading failures lead from an natural event to an agricultural crisis, to an economic crisis, to an financial crisis and finally resulting in a political crisis.

 So what happened?

In the 19th century potatoes became a staple crop in Europe, because they were easy to plant and harvest, cheap and filled ... (read more)

This comment was mainly inspired by the revolutions podcast:

This is a bit harder, as awards are usually given for a specific piece of research and as long as you haven't produced anything, you cannot get an award. However, there are some opportunities. For example, on conferences there are often things like poster awards for work in progress research you can participate in. 

Even if it is less random than I think, I'd still argue that people should be more proactive when it comes to applying to awards. 

Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research
  1. That's what I meant, sorry if I phrased this incorrectly.
  2. I did not mean to say that they did not look at specific temperatures at all. I meant that they did not look at it in the amount the probability of the specific warming would make sensible.

Is your critique that we used "severly neglected", but you would have been ok with "neglected"? Or is your model that the scientific community does the right amount of research for different temperatures,  given the likelyhood of reaching these temperatures?

Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research

The Sherwood reference was only included during the review process, as it was not yet published when we originally came up with the analysis.  As you probably know, going from an idea to a published paper can take quite some time and you cannot read and update on all the papers that are published during that time. 

I would agree that today the picture looks better as in comparison when we started working on that paper. However, predicted temperatures and mentions in the IPCC still don't overlap and therefore we still have a research gap, albeit a ... (read more)

2John G. Halstead6mo
Ok, that makes sense on the Sherwood thing. I'm not sure I understand point (1) in your last paragraph. 'Mitigation' with respect to climate usually refers to reducing CO2 emissions, so I don't see how there could be a specific problem of 'mitigating at higher temperatures'. Perhaps you mean adapting to higher temperatures? I don't think your point (2) hits home. The impacts literature that I have outlined and pasted above does look at specific temperatures. It looks at the most likely level of warming on RCP8.5. In your paper you say that warming of >3 degrees is 'severely neglected'. This is not true, and hasn't been for years. If you had said >5 degrees that would have been true, but the claim is about >3 degrees.
Common Points of Advice for Students and Early-Career Professionals Interested in Global Catastrophic Risk

Thank you this post! This kind of collection was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

You're welcome!
Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research

Thank you for your feedback!

It is true that our phrasing around Sherwood et al (2020) can sound a bit misleading. However, this was not in bad faith. We did not intentionally leave out the decreased tail risks. 

Overall, your criticism mainly seems to be the fact that current estimates of climate sensitivity have a smaller range that the one we used. This is true. It does not change the point of our paper though. While the range decreased, the mean basically stayed the same and if you look at our figures, this still means that there is likely to few re... (read more)

2John G. Halstead6mo
Hello, thanks for your response. On the Sherwood et al thing, another issue is that I don't understand why you would use the Weitzman estimate of ECS when you have already mentioned the Sherwood et al (2020) estimate. The Sherwood et al (2020) estimate is superior, and that is clear from reading their paper. The IPCC also now accepts that it is superior. So, I don't understand why you would mention "the most recent estimate" and then use one from 6 years ago instead. "Overall, your criticism mainly seems to be the fact that current estimates of climate sensitivity have a smaller range that the one we used." That is not my criticism. My criticism is that emissions look set to lower and the right tail of climate sensitivity has thinned which makes a clear material difference to your conclusions. On your last point: this does make it look like the central claim of your paper is wrong. I am going to paste some charts from the last impacts report below on some key climate impact areas to illustrate: Sea level Food yields Floods Species loss Fire frequency Ocean net primary production Precipitation Maximum fish catch potential (A1B is between RCP6 and RCP8.5) On drought they say "Climate change is likely to increase the frequency of meteorological droughts (less rainfall) and agricultural droughts (less soil moisture) in presently dry regions by the end of the 21st century under the RCP8.5 scenario (medium confidence). {WGI AR5 Chapter 12} This is likely to increase the frequency of short hydrological droughts (less surface water and groundwater) in these regions (medium evidence, medium agreement)." Ocean acidification
How to best address Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

One thing I find very useful but I haven't seen recommended anywhere is simply adding a second mouse to your computer. It allows you to easily switch between both hands. This gives your main hand some rest, but doesn't overuse the other one.

Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research

Unfortunately, I cannot really provide conclusive answers here, as our paper only looked into the amount of research overall, but not into specific topics. Getting an overview of this is basically a major research project itself. However, a student of mine looked into this a bit and her preliminary results seem like it is more of a general problem and not specific to certain fields of research.

3Madhav Malhotra10mo
It's good to be aware of where you're not an expert. Thank you for being honest!
Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research
  1. We settled on Wagner and Weitzman because it is well known and also because they were kind enough to provide us with their data and code. It is indeed true that other probability curves might paint a more optimistic picture. However, the differences are so large that I would be surprised if it would change the conclusion of our paper.
  2. We looked at the complete IPCC reports, because we wanted to understand the overall focus of policy relevant research. But it is indeed true that the research gap differs between the working groups and the research gap is larger when it comes to the impact focused reports.
Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research

I would say that there are several promising research directions when it comes to higher end warming:

  1. Exploring in detail what the effects of higher end warming even are. E.g. what are the possible effects on crops, livestock, habitable zones for humans, but also the economy?
  2. How could we cope with such possibly massive changes? Are there precedents in history where we had to undergo such massive changes and did it work?
  3. Taking a deeper look into geo-engineering, especially the potentially very effective, but more out there approaches like e.g. Project Vesta

A... (read more)

Thanks! Good points.
1Madhav Malhotra10mo
Would you have more specific hypotheses? :-) Ex: Within geoengineering, carbon capture is one possibility. Do you know of neglected areas regarding other types of geoengineering? Or within exploring the effects of higher end warming, which crops/livestock do we need more research in? Which industries in the economy? Thank you for any clarifications!
FJehn's Shortform

Knowledge is fractal. Every time I wander into a new field of knowledge I am fascinated that it has its own tales, language, heroes, secrets and traditions. However, it does not stop at this scale. Every field had its own subfields and again we find exactly the same thing. You could spend your whole life trying to understand a field and you would still be completely surprised by what you might find in its subfields if you venture out. And again you would just find more subfields of the subfield you started exploring. It seemingly never ends. I like this p... (read more)

Linch's Shortform

This resonated with me a lot. Unfortunately, I do not have a quick fix. However, what seems to help at least a bit for me is seperating planning for a day and doing the work. Every workday the last thing I do (or try to do) is look at my calendar and to do lists and figure out what I should be doing the next day. By doing this I think I am better at assessing at what is important, as I do not have to do it at that moment. I only have to think of what my future self will be capable of doing. When the next day comes and future self turns into present self I ... (read more)

Yeah, this seems relevant. There's also a Forum tag for posts relevant to progress studies [].
Worried about goodharting effects. I expect authors and others would start using number of views as a quality signal and start optimizing towards more views. But I, having access to that signal, am confident it really very much isn't a good quality signal, and if LW and the EA Forum had a gradient that would incrementally just push towards more of the posts that get a lot of views, this would really destroy a lot of the value of a lot of posts.
Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time

That's a valid point. Here's the controversy graph if you exclude all posts that don't have any downvotes:

Overall trend seems to be similar though. And it makes me even more interested what happened in 2018 that sparked so much controversy^^

Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time

You can ask the API for "viewCount". However, it seems to always return "null". Not sure if this means that you aren't allowed to query for this or if the problem is just me not getting the queries right^^

Yep, it's an admin-only property. Sorry for the confusion!
Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time

That seems to have been the case. Sorry about that. Does it work now?

Yes, thanks!
Making a collection of freely available mental health resources
  • Name: Replacing Guilt Series
  • What is it? 
    • This is a collection of blog articles by Nate Soares that tackle the problem of using guilt as your main motivator. 
  • Why do you like it? 
    • Motivating yourself can be hard and the default motivator is often guilt and the feeling that you “should” be doing something. These posts try to show that guilt is not a good (and especially not a sustainable) way to motivate yourself and explore more long term approaches to keep your motivation running.  
  • Where to start? 
    • Simply start with the first entr
... (read more)
Making a collection of freely available mental health resources
  • Name: Woebot
  • What is it? 
    • Woebot is a chatbot that does cognitive behavioural therapy with you. 
  • Why do you like it? 
    • While a chatbot is obviously not the same as having a therapist, it is easily available and for some cognitive behavioural therapy exercises you basically only need someone to talk you through it. Woebot is more on the cute side, which I guess could be annoying for some people, but I think it sets a friendly atmosphere. It also helps you to track your mood and has a vast collection of exercises to help with sleep problems, stress
... (read more)
Making a collection of freely available mental health resources
  • Name: The Happiness Lab 
  • What is it? 
    • The Happiness Lab is a podcast by Dr. Laurie Santos which discusses new scientific insights about happiness research.
  • Why do you like it? 
    • I enjoy listening to this podcast because it is basically a self-help guide, but deeply grounded in scientific research. Also, it has a cheerful tone to it, which makes me more likely to tune in. I think it has helped me to build a more optimistic view on life.
  • Where to start? 
    • In march 2020 The Happiness Lab started a mini series  to help with the mental problems
... (read more)
In diversity lies epistemic strength

It seems like my post created more of a buzz than I anticipated. Many people seem to get the message from it: “we should only care about demographic diversity and nothing else”. I’m sorry that my wording was apparently so vague, as this is not really what I meant. 

To create a fruitful discussion you not only need diversity, but also at least some value alignment and some knowledge about the topic that is being discussed. Given that some value alignment and some knowledge about the topic are present, diversity of perspectives is a powerful way to make ... (read more)

In diversity lies epistemic strength

You seem to assume that diversity of perspectives is easy to measure, because you only link it to the professional background of a person. However, I would argue that while profession is important, so is how I grew up and what experiences I had in my life due to sex, gender, race and other markers. Those things you cannot easily measure directly, but they improve discussions, as they lead to more assumptions being challenged. 

Sure, but in the above post you claim that demographic diversity is the best way to measure diversity of perspectives, which is a much stronger claim. I am not saying demographic diversity is completely irrelevant, I am just saying that it seems far from the best measure of cognitive diversity that we have.

In diversity lies epistemic strength

Simply asking someone about their beliefs works if you have something conrete to ask for and know that kind of perspective you want to include. However, how would you know which questions to ask for? Aren't the questions you are asking not based on your own perspectives? What this post aims for is highlighting the importance of perspectives you cannot easily predict. For example, if you would you are doing a Hamming Circle you might have a hunch beforehand which people you would like to include, but during the circle the best feedback and help comes from a... (read more)

In diversity lies epistemic strength

That is true. To participate in any discussion you must know something about the topic at hand. Still, I don't think this is at odds with my post. To stay with your example in philosophy, my post does not intend to argue that basically everyone in the world should partake in philosophy discussions, but merely that the philosophy community should make sure that important perspectives are not overlooked, by a diverse set of people. Your idea of having to have a claim of expertise to meaningfully contribute to a discussion is also highlighted in "Why trust Sc... (read more)

In diversity lies epistemic strength

Thank you for your comment. Could you tell me which part of my post led you to the conclusion that we should leave out perspectives of privileged people? I saw my argument as "include as many perspectives as you can to challenge more assumptions". Or are you making a general comment on your view of feminism?

1Chris Leong1y
It was a general comment how this lens is often applied in practise, even though this isn't the only possible way for it to be applied.
My recommendations for RSI treatment

Did you have time to look at the evidence? If so, what is your impression? 

The funnel or the individual: Two approaches to understanding EA engagement

Thank you for this article. I really like the idea of your model and how you highlight how it compares to the funnel model. I think it is a good idea for the EA community to focus more on the "middle" and how to keep people motivated who are not the most highly engaged. This is especially important as it is unclear what causes might be the most important in the future. Right now highest engagement is only really possible for people who are working in the currently most valued causes areas. However, those might change in the future and we might need people with different skills and perspectives and retaining those people is only possible if we offer everyone ways of participation and growth. 

What are some potential coordination failures in our community?

That is indeed a problem, I also saw signs of this several times. Thank you for that comment. At least for initial funding lotteries might be a good idea, as they would allow much quicker grant applications and would remove bias. I recently asked a questions about this here:

While I do think that lotteries have some flaws, they still seem pretty good to me when it comes to initial funding. 

An aspect of the funding problem is that money allocation is bad everywhere. (On a larger scale, the market mostly woks, but if you get into the details of being a human wanting to trade your time for money, most things around job applications and grant applications, is more or less terrible.) If we design a system that don't suck, over time EA will attract people who are here for the money not for the mission. 

A solution should have the feature:
1) It don't suck if you are EA aligned
2) If you are not EA aligned it should not be easier to get money fro... (read more)

Lotteries for everything?

That's a great resource. Thanks!

Lotteries for everything?

I think the problem that it is really, really hard to come up with better systems. As mentioned above research grants have quite a few problems. Those problems are founded in human bias and a lack of knowledge. I cannot really evaluate the value of a grant if I have not seen all the other grants and I might be influenced by my biases so give it to a scientist I like or trust. In addition, if there would be an easy and obvious system people would probably already have implemented it.  

So, lotteries solve this problem. There might be better approaches, ... (read more)

There are mechanisms that aggregate distributed knowledge, such as free-market pricing. Not with 100 percent accuracy, but that's not the right question. We want to know whether it can be done better than chance. Someone can lack knowledge and be biased and still reliably do better than random (try playing chess against a computer that plays uniformly random moves). Wouldn't the "efficient-policy hypothesis" imply that lotteries are worse than the existing systems? I don't think you really believe this. Are our systems better than most hypothetical systems? Usually, but this doesn't mean there's no low-hanging fruit. There's plenty of good policy ideas that are well-known and haven't been implemented, such as 100 percent land-value taxes. Let's take a subset of the research funding problem: How can we decide what to fund for research about prisoner rehabilitation? I've suggested a mechanism that would do this [] .
Lotteries for everything?

Its true that this is probably most suited to a funding scheme aimed at early researchers due to the limitations mentioned by you. However, I might think that the grant success might go up if you use a model were you sort out all bad research first, because your 20 % is probably relate to the overall number of applications. Or maybe you could give people more tickets in the lottery if they have proven they can produce good research. However, this might introduce new biases.  

In addition, it might still be a good approach for intermediate researchers b... (read more)

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