Open Thread 201
This is the weekly visible open thread. Odd-numbered open threads will be no-politics, even-numbered threads will be politics-allowed. This one is odd-numbered, so be careful. Otherwise, post about anything else you want. Also:
1: A few months ago, I wrote about how I tracked my performance on word games over different carbon dioxide levels, and found they didn’t matter. Some people offered to replicate my work in different ways, and the first to come back with their findings is Steven Kaye, who has 88 days of chess-playing data. He also mostly finds it doesn’t matter, though some ways of slicing the data might suggest a weak trend. There are still people who seem really into CO2 effects, so I encourage more people to find their own ways of experimenting on this.
2: Some good discussion on my Pascalian Medicine post, see especially David Chapman’s tweets and Jay Daigle’s blog. But I do feel like some the responses flirt with assuming everything has the most convenient possible value to fit a morality tale. Suppose someone you love gets COVID, and you have the option to either recommend or disrecommend that they take a cocktail of melatonin (a harmless sleep supplement, I take it every night, eight unreliable studies have shown it treats COVID), curcumin (a harmless-when-sourced-correctly spice, six unreliable studies have shown it treats COVID) and Vitamin D (a harmless vitamin, twelve unreliable studies have shown it treats COVID). What do you do, here, in the real world? I’m honestly not sure, and I think my discomfort with this question is a lot more interesting than some too-pat fable about The Rationalist Who Thought The Real World Was Exactly Like A Casino.
4: The co-author of one of the winning 2019 adversarial collaborations is looking for participants in the continental U.S. for a large and rigorous (but informal and not-affiliated-with-an-academic-institution-or-IRB) trial of homeopathy, which he thinks should work better than previous approaches. Homeopathic remedies are tested/invented via a measure called “provings”, where they create symptoms if given to healthy people. Homeopaths take provings pretty seriously but don’t consistently double-blind them. So the idea is to do a blinded proving and see if the people who get the homeopathic solution get more side effects than the people who don’t; this would sidestep a lot of the arguments homeopaths usually give for why negative homeopathy studies often find no effect. Anyway, he wants 250 people to sign up to receive homeopathy or placebo by mail, take it, and report what happens. Read more here, sign up here if interested.
5: This should be obvious, but there will be another Book Review Contest next year. I will let you know when I have exact dates and rules together, but assume it will be due sometime like March or April, and otherwise pretty similar to last year. I don’t think there are any surprises that should stop you from starting to prepare entries now if you want
6: I beg continued patience from ACX Grants applicants and funders. The most likely schedule is that I’ll give funders more information around December 14, and announce most winners around December 25, with Grants ++ coming some time after that. I’m not considering late applications; please don’t email them to me.