"Essayer is the French verb meaning "to try" and an essai is an attempt. An essay is something you write to try to figure something out... In a real essay, you don't take a position and defend it. You notice a door that's ajar, and you open it and walk in to see what's inside." -- Paul Graham


Meetup Advice
Meetup Theorizing
Cryonics Signup Guide
The 'Meetup Writeups' Experiment


I don't understand why the target subject here should be people who have never put any effort or thought into their diet. That way you don't get relevant evidence about the prevalence of iron deficiency among veg*ns, but only the almost trivial conclusion that people who don't take any care of their dietary health have some deficiencies.


It makes plenty of sense to me; I think the vast majority of people don't put any thought into what vitamins they might be deficient in. I was vegan in college for ethical reasons, and I was in the school's vegan / animal welfare club, and the entire year I was in that club I didn't hear a single mention of taking supplements to offset what we weren't getting through our diet. I had never heard about B12 or creatine supplementation until I came to the rationalist community. 

And in any case if Elizabeth is trying to study the impact that ~veganism has on micronutrient levels, then comparing [~vegans who don't take supplements] to [omnivores who don't take supplements] will give the clearest data.

What was hard about drinking from a can?

My understanding is that the anti-tourniquet meme is outdated, and the emergency medical response advice now is that the benefits of potentially preventing someone's death from blood loss outweigh the risk of amputation. I recall being taught in my college course in 2015 that it's fine to put on a tourniquet, just mark it with the time. And a few years ago, when my mom pulled a heavily bleeding man out of the cab of his overturned truck and wouldn't let any of the other truckers apply a tourniquet to his arm because she'd been taught that you should never apply a tourniquet, the nurse who showed up at the scene later (and applied a tourniquet) told her it would have been fine to do so. (Yes my mom is a way better person to go to in an emergency than I am, guess it's not hereditary.)

And I mean yeah, most people aren't going to successfully tourniquet anything even if they try so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But I still think it might be anti-helpful to propagate the 'don't apply tourniquets' meme.

I took an emergency medical response course in college (~40 hours, all in-person, with a mix of verbal lessons and practical exercises in each class), and the most important thing I learned was that having memorized what to do in an emergency is not sufficient to get you to actually act. [ETA: Also, to call 911 in an emergency!]

I got 100% on the written test and still remember much of it to this day, but I am an absolutely terrible person to go to in an emergency because I panic and freeze every time. I've seen this play out in myself many times over my life, not only when witnessing real falls, car accidents, and other incidents, but even in the practical exam for the course. The exam involved diagnosing and describing the treatment for instructors acting out different emergency scenarios, and while there were other contributing factors, ultimately the fact remains that I got 0% on the practical and failed the course because I had a panic attack and had to leave.

Knowing how to do chest compressions on a dummy is better than not knowing how to do that. But doing chest compressions on a dummy is extremely different from being faced with an unresponsive person, knowing that they'll die if you don't act, and knowing that even if you successfully save their life, administering CPR means a good chance of breaking some of their ribs. It's better to know how to drag someone out of a burning building than to not know, but dragging an unconscious person through a smoky inferno is going to be different than doing the same motion in a brightly-lit classroom with a conscious and cooperative partner, where there are no real stakes for messing up.

On balance I'm still glad I took the course. But I caution anyone against thinking that just studying flashcards is sufficient preparation for real-life emergencies — at the very least, take a class like Jason did, with some in-person practical components.

Thanks for the last section because that's totally what I was going to comment while reading the rest of it! Feminine beauty standards are so deeply internalized that they don't subjectively feel like they have anything to do with men or dating — they feel closer to, like, moral truths? Or something?

Like, I'm afraid of gaining weight not because I think it would be bad for my health or make my husband stop liking me, but because I've internalized the message that being fat is an unacceptable moral failing — and I've felt this way since at least the beginning of puberty, even though I never dated anyone until I was 21, and don't date much in general or have much interest in it. My sister feels this way and she's a lesbian who has never had any interest in dating anyone in her life. I feel better and happier when I'm wearing a pretty dress and have taken good care of my skin. I like putting on makeup despite the fact that my husband actively dislikes it (as have some other men I've lived with, but at least my husband is nice about it). Why any of this? idk tbh

I'm confused, it was my impression that a lot of Chinese people, including in the West, have been masking strategically since like 2003 (the first SARS wave), i.e. wearing a mask if they are sick, or if the risk of getting sick is unusually high (e.g. a bad flu season at university). The only people I ever saw wearing masks for illness prior to 2020 were Asian (except for one very immunocompromised white friend). Honestly it seems crazy to me that the norm prior to this was just to do nothing to try to prevent illness, because being sick is both terrible in the moment and maybe/probably bad for you longterm!

I do think the trade-off differs for different people — some people, like my husband, absolutely hate every minute of wearing a mask, so it's a big cost for them; but for others, wearing a mask isn't that unpleasant, so it can be worth doing it for a few hours at a time in order to prevent future major inconvenience. 

I, like Jeff, have been masking more than usual recently, since I, like him, am running music for a Solstice this weekend. This makes sense to me because (a) I don't hate wearing a mask that much, (b) it's only for short periods, not for like a full workday in an office every day, and (c) it would be really unfortunate to not be able to be in Solstice. I've put in a ton of preparation, and while we do have contingency plans in place, me being sick would still create a burden on other people, make the performance run less smoothly, and also mean that I wouldn't get to perform, which would be sad for me.

I guess my point is, everything in life comes with trade-offs, and it's up to you how you weigh those.

I use ibuprofen almost exclusively because a source I trusted told me years ago that it was better for me longterm than acetaminophen (alas I have no idea what the source was) but I think the same principle applies. I always take one pill to start because I worry about developing tolerance / rebound headaches / kidney damage / stomach upset, and then if that doesn't seem to make a difference within 60-90 minutes, I take a second one. I find that usually I need two (i.e. the recommended dose), perhaps since I only take painkillers at all when the pain has risen beyond a certain level, but sometimes one is sufficient.

I realize this isn't actually evidence that a half-dose is at all distinguishable from placebo, but the point is, if you worry about overuse like I do (e.g. because you have a chronic condition), I see no reason to not just take one pill to start. If it alleviates your pain, then great, if not, you can take another.


This seems wrong to me? Hard to say because it was so long ago but I imagine I spent at least 15 hours a week on homework. I went to a basically normal public high school, and while most of the work wasn't hard for me (varying between mindnumbingly easy and moderately challenging), there was just so much of it that it took a ton of time. Sure I wasn't 'working smart', and I was a perfectionist to an unreasonable level, and I cared too much about what my teachers thought of me, but I imagine none of those things are unusual for kids trying to get into good schools.

No. I would wake up early to do homework, spend 8 to 10 hours at school (and often do homework during class), and then go home and do more homework. Looking back I got a lot more value out of my non-school activities and hobbies than I did out of doing homework, but there was just so little time for anything else. I was constantly stressed about missing deadlines and usually extremely tired. Meanwhile when my husband was in high school he did zero homework and actually did things in the world like building a house and starting a startup, which seems way better to me.

And then my top university was a miserable place where I learned nothing and didn't even make any useful connections, and just suffered for four years while my parents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for it, and THEN it turned out that ~all of the jobs I've ever had, including my first job out of college, I got based on performing well on work tests, which I could absolutely still have done if I'd gone to some small liberal arts school. No one has even asked to see my resumé since 2019 and all of my work has been completely unrelated to my degree.

tl;dr school is a scam don't fucking go don't do it stay the fuck away

Load More