121Joined Jun 2017


I suppose I agree that humanity should generally focus more on catastrophic (non-existential) risks.

That said, I think this is often stated explicitly. For example, MacAskill in his recently book explicitly says that many of the actions we take to reduce x-risks will also look good even for people with shorter-term priorities.

Do you have any quote from someone who says we shouldn't care about catastrophic risks at all?

Maybe a more realistic example would be helpful here. There have been recent reports claiming that, although it will negatively affect millions of people, climate change is unlikely to be an existential risk. Suppose that's true. Do you think EAs should devote as much time and effort preventing climate change-level risks as they do preventing existential risks?

I found this post insightful! Although it's a brief post, I'd recommend providing a brief heading for each section for people who are heavy skimmers.

I'm not sure I understand your point then...

Surely a future in which humanity flourishes into the longterm future is a better one than a future where people are living as "ants." And if we have uncertainty about which path we're on and there are plausible reasons to think we're on the ant path, it can be worthwhile to figure that out so we can shift in a better direction.

For example: Does it make any difference whether a non-alligned superintelligent AGI will actively try to kill all humanity or not? If we are certain that it won't, we would still live in a world where we are the ants and it is humanity.


This misunderstands what an existential risk is, at least as used by the philosophers who've written about this. Nick Bostrom, for example, notes that the extinction of humanity is not the only thing that counts as an extinction risk.  (The term "existential risk" is unfortunately a misnomer in this regard.) Something that drastically curtails the future potential of humanity would also count.

I have no idea, I've spent less than a half hour looking into this. The Cochrane Review shows that there's maaaybe an advantage to water flossing, but there just haven't been that many studies on it. And the studies do assume that participants are  flossing/water flossing at the same frequency. If the pleasant sensation you get from water flossing motivates you to keep doing it, I think that's great!

I like this list!

Just a heads up for the studies about water flossing:

Two of them were  funded by WaterPik and another is published in the "Journal of Baghdad College of Dentistry," which looks... suspicious from my naive perspective.

A recent Cochrane Review compares toothbrushing against tooth brushing + water flossing (aka "oral irrigating"):

Very-low certainty evidence suggested oral irrigators may reduce gingivitis measured by GI at one month (SMD -0.48, 95% CI -0.89 to -0.06; 4 trials, 380 participants), but not at three or six months. Low-certainty evidence suggested that oral irrigators did not reduce bleeding sites at one month (MD -0.00, 95% CI -0.07 to 0.06; 2 trials, 126 participants) or three months, or plaque at one month (SMD -0.16, 95% CI -0.41 to 0.10; 3 trials, 235 participants), three months or six months, more than toothbrushing alone.

It also compares water flossing with regular flossing:

Low- to very low-certainty evidence suggested oral irrigation may reduce gingivitis at one month compared to flossing, but very low-certainty evidence did not suggest a difference between devices for plaque.

Upvoted for curating a list of other product recommendations. Very helpful!

Just to explain why I downvoted this:

I thought that the post could be summarized as: Sometimes it's rational to change one's mind quickly.

I agree that's true, but I don't see it as especially insightful. And the idea of listing out more ways in which people might be irrational isn't all that neglected. See, for example, the Wikipedia page on biases, which lists hundreds(?) of biases.

I'd prefer to see more substantive posts on this forum.

I'm sorry to hear that you've experienced sexism both within and outside EA.

Just to clarify your view, you said that:

there is data to suggest the variability hypothesis may be true in some places and for certain kinds of intelligence.

But an implication of the hypothesis is that men will make up a greater proportion of the "intelligent" people in those places for those kinds of intelligence.

Do you think it would be fine to use this information as a prior in those contexts?

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