Belief Change Diary
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Belief Change Diary

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How to solve problems

Fiction

Other Projects

DEEPWAVE

You can comment on everything. Or give me (harsh) personal feedback.

Made with 💙 by me (how to).

Dedicated to my family.

Belief Change Diary

Status: Ongoing List Epistemic status: Decent (depends on the claim) This is an attempt to document every time I change a belief significantly. Rough date when I changed it: old position [new position]

October 2021: Microwave ovens might be [are not] harmful

Previous belief, weakly hold:

While microwaving food is probably not that bad, sceptics might have a point, as there could at least in principle be a mechanism by which its harmful: microwaves use resonance with the hydrogen - oxygen atomic bond. Somehow I assumed this could lead to some weird things if you target organic molecules.

New belief, strongly hold:

First, it’s incorrect that microwave ovens target water, they target polar molecules (which water is one, but not the only one). Second, and more importantly: “traditional” heating has a lot MORE, not less, potential for doing weird things with molecules. If you burn food, you most likely created a molecule that's never been seen on earth (or in the universe for that matter), the combinatorics of organic molecules are that fascinating. Also there is evidence that microwaving food is the cooking method that retains the most nutrients.

This doesn’t mean microwaved food still tastes bad.

December 2021: Overfishing is very bad [maybe good?]

Previous belief, strongly hold:

We have depleted most fish stocks, especially large predators like sharks and tuna to an extreme degree. This has already (and will continue to do so) strong negative effects on the livelihoods of around 60 million people who work directly in fishing, potentially the 1 billion people living off of fish protein, ecosystem stability, collapse of coral reefs, etc.

New belief, weakly hold:

God, I hate wild animal suffering, why can’t the world be simple. But if you subscribe to the view that animals can suffer (which I find plausible, though not completely) you have to be consistent and evaluate the average or extreme state of well-being among wild animals. And that looks very bad. So pick and choose, either hunting fish leads to suffering but reducing the total amount of fish in existence is good. Or fish can’t suffer. That’s a paradox for most environmentalists I know ...

None of that really touches the point of how fishing impacts livelihoods, but again its complicated. If you get rid of fish, because you care about suffering of animals, then you are hurting lots of people who depend on it for their livelihood. If you care about developing economics you should be against industrial fishing.

All that also does not imply fishing itself is ethical. It just means that for us, given the current fishstocks should be hesitant to uncritically accept rewilding as a good thing.

February 2022: Longevity is maybe [most likely not] an EA Cause X area

Previous belief, weakly hold:

Eliminating all diseases of aging is an extremely cost effective way of reducing the total amount of suffering. It’s large (30% of all DALYs lost globally), it’s neglected (philanthropic spending only in the 100 millions) and it’s significantly more tractable then most people assume. It might also be very positive for the long-term future, because I assume people care more about it, if they are part of it (I predict that our discount rates correlate with our perceived life expectancy).

New belief, weakly hold:

I still believe all those claims and are more bullish on our generation finally defeating aging than most other people I know, but I think the point for causing a paradigm shift (which would have been the most effective) has maybe passed. Lots of for-profits have been started since Covid, and the paradigm amongst researchers is also slowly changing. Would love more investigation though, it still could be a potential mega project.

April 2022: Astrology is false and very dangerous [false but alright fiction], homeopathy is false but not dangerous [false but extremely dangerous]

Previous belief, strongly hold:

There is no basis for why astrology could be true, and its empirically false anyway, so holding it teaches bad epistemics and makes people prone to hold other dogmatic views too. Therefore we should fight it. Homeopathy makes no sense mechanistically, but the placebo effect is real, so there isn't real harm. Also the inventors of homeopathy where ahead of its time (cleaning bed sheets of patients, being against smoking), so homeopathy is just misinterpreted today.

New belief, weakly hold:

If you remove the idea that astrology makes truth statements at all, you seem to be left with a bunch of introspection exercises, that - while not being the best use of your time - could potentially lead to positive character development. I’d classify it more as useful but ineffective fiction, the …

May 2022: Animal consciousness is very hard [maybe possible] to prove empirically

Previous belief, strongly hold:

The question of animal suffering is not really clear to me, essentially I think the “Pain” vs. “Suffering” distinction is relevant and meaningful (anesthesia is the strongest argumemt against “all that matters is pain” in my opinion). Sadly, determining whether or not something is sentient should be scientifically really hard and I am not expecting huge progress unless we have developed a really good explanation of what the heck sentience is in the first place.

New belief, weakly hold:

This study made me more confident that we can make progress on this question. Quite the interesting study design: