Simfish/InquilineKea's Thoughts

List of hypotheses I once considered crazy, but now which i see as having points
June 23, 2011, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

this will be updated with time. i’m trying to make this list so that i can make more accurate predictions in the future. this is related to the Calibrated Probability Assessment – a test to assess one’s overconfidence/underconfidence.

research ideas i proposed that were later independently proposed (and worked out) by someone else

– habitable exoplanets around evolved stars due to sun shields (and their detectability) – independently proposed by Ray Pierrehumbert

– I once emailed the Wild Dolphin Project, suggesting that they crowdsource their dolphin videos so that the public could decode dolphin communication for once and for all. I didn’t get a reply, but a later idea along the same vein came up several months later (

– Could we get more measurements of conditions below sea ice if we simply attached sensors to penguins, seals, fish, and whales? (didn’t know it was already done by the time I asked the question)

ideas i was initially resistant to, but later accepted:

– paleolithic diet (i used to be strongly pro-vegetarian). but now the evidence for some implementations for this is pretty compelling. refined grains are a much bigger threat to health

– vegetarians might actually live no longer than non-vegetarians (once you control for SES and health habits). but meat still has several risks not found in plant food (just that these risks aren’t strong enough to affect statistical measurements to a level of significance) – methionine, pesticide accumulation from food chain

– that grammar/punctuation/capitalization really doesn’t matter.

– that standardized tests matter a lot less than i used to believe. and same with grades

– connection between gum health/tooth decay *and* heart disease (seriously, it sounds so crazy, but it’s true due to inflammation getting into the rest of the body). A crazier (but still possibly true) connection might be sun exposure and inflammation (even exposure to UVA rays can cause inflammation that could possibly spread)

– that there is nothing morally wrong with drugs, sex, or having outside non-academic interests

– panspermia (the credibility of it anyways, though it still might not have happened in this solar system). asteroid that made the dinosaurs extinct collided so hard that it ejected debris from Earth that went *so far* that it went HALFWAY to the moon and back (but 10% of the material went off into space – seriously increasing my posterior probability that panspermia actually might have happened)

ideas i was resistant to probably due to assumptions I had shared with the rest of society + my intrinsic skepticism of wishful thinking (even though they were ideas that were highly compatible with my belief system+personality), but later accepted. in other words, in favor of wishful thinking, but so contrary to expectation that i corrected for that wishful thinking.

– crowdsourcing

– Wikipedia

– aubrey de gray’s SENS (his implementation may be wishful thinking, but the basic science is not)

– unschooling

– best way to prevent skin aging: avoid the Sun. See picture at

– penguin intelligence (especially gentoo penguins, wow)

– some of PETA’s arguments (they said not to eat fish due to mercury). i thought they were using lame arguments to bolster their claims. but turns out, that argument has a lot of legitimacy. same thing with PETA and arguing that animals are often contaminated with fecal matter + pesticides. not saying that i support what they do (i’m indifferent)

– UW Academy

– low conscientiousness + high intelligence => high creativity

– getting a laptop in college was super-beneficial to me (because i didn’t get one freshman year, and the end result was that i ALWAYS slept in the physics/astro building because i was addicted to the internet, and there is no way to control that now)

somewhat crazy ideas (inconclusive evidence)

– that increased education funding does not necessarily imply better outcomes.

crazy ideas i proposed that later turned out to actually *have* points: (even though i didn’t even believe them when i first stated them). in many cases, i just wanted some way to merge two things together even though i thought they weren’t really mergeable. but actually they were more than i thought

– in 8th grade, i proselytized vegetarianism. anyways, i wanted to think of justifications for vegetarianism that didn’t involve animal rights (since they’re more likely to convince people). anyways, the methane from all these cows was the justification i thought about. back then, i thought the effect was minimal so i thought that i was making an ingenuous argument. well, as i found out several years later, their contribution actually can be pretty significant..

– using CAM3 to model exoplanetary atmospheres

– rogue planets, stable atmospheres, and their ability to be detected. i proposed that idea in my meeting with kasting (well actually i only asked about his interest in rogue planets). anyways, i didn’t think that the chances of achieving a significant result were high. but 6 months later, a paper comes out showing that significant results might actually be possible (both with rogue planets+life ) and rogue planets+detectability

– parallel computing for exoplanets. okay, so i sometimes just say random things just to integrate my interests together even though it’s wishful thinking. and i said that in my meeting with kasting. but as it turns out, parallel computing is necessary for 3D exoplanet modelling

– the idea that wikipedia and facebook would both massively expand way back in 2005 (in 2005, they both seemed crazy. in 2010, EVERYONE knows their merits)

– cascadia subduction zone and methane clathrates

– global warming and increased variability in wintertime temperatures (vs variability in temperatures elsewhere)

– SETI@Home for climate simulations (where user actually sees the output his computer generated): an idea i proposed – then i found out that someone had already implemented the idea

– putting sensors on animals for the sake of making earth science measurements (cheaply too!)

– computer games for making friends/socializing with ppl

– pre-calculus in 9th grade summer even though i was lazy and skeptical that i was ready for 10th grade calc (turns out that it was WELL worth it)

– self-studying 4 APs in 10th grade

– PBio 504

– putting in unnecessary things in emails/posts for the 1 in 1000 chance that the reader actually MIGHT find it extremely interesting and mention something completely unexpected (sometimes it’s even a potential goldmine)

– benefits of video games+internet culture (turns out that talking about video games+internet culture is an excellent way to meet nerds)

– also, proposing certain controversial ideas online. the truth is, some people are more likely to spend more time online than others, and many who do spend more time online are also simultaneously more receptive to those controversial ideas than average. so it’s funny

-cloud computing (had thought of that, didn’t know the name at the time)

-hoarding EVERYTHING from my past life: turns out that psychology research shows that old people get much happier when put in environments that resembled their childhood pasts (i’ll cite it alter). also, i did not anticipate the age of digitization (which slowed down the accumulation of material, and which may someday mean that i can just digitize my papers and no longer have to keep them)

not ONLY that, but it can actually be a REALLY good socialization tool. 40 years from now, all your same-age peers will wax nostalgic for their pasts and will immensely thank you for hoarding everything too! You don’t even have to show them the items in real life – just take a picture and send it to them. just look at all these nostalgia posts that get high numbers of upvotes on reddit

crazy ideas i kind of believed in (didn’t independently propose) that ultimately turned out to have some points

cell phones and possible negative health effects

endosymbiosis more prevalent than suspected

things i failed to do due to failures in self-control (even though failures in self-control really benefited me in the end)

become cherub/angel at AoKH

– create a geocities website better than the one i originally planned

– make any effort to write essays for AP Euro/AP World

– most of my failures in self-study (other than the failures to self-study math)

– my failures to be a good friend in some cases (i guess i really needed some time to myself, and it was better than a horrifically messy breakup later, with more time consumed and more time spent away from studying)

– leave CC for once and for all once i got in UW Academy (well, turns out that almost all my internet friends came from my activity on CC well beyond the point when i really should have stopped posting there)

-not  interact with the younger acad kids (well, turns out that it’s not so embarrassing to associate with them)

– not troll (turns out that there are signalling benefits to trolling, and it results in more-compatible friendships later on)

– ALL sins actually have potential benefits precisely due to signalling [they are signals to people who are potentially extremely compatible with you since they forgive your sins and even see possible benefits in them]. and this is more possible on the internet

weird things i did that somehow *did* have benefits in the end (benefits that i could not have ever anticipated at that time):

spamming my Internet name everywhere (with VERY surprising benefits – first of all, i made new friends after a year when i lost all my friends [because the new friends internet-stalked me and thus i was in a position to talk to them without seeming creepy]. and second of all, i can google anything i posted on the internet, making it much easier to find articles i read/ideas i proposed several years ago)

– trolling CC/other places: surprisingly, it’s an excellent way to meet people who are really compatible with me (it happened both in CC and with UW academy) – since people who like trolls are more likely to tolerate other things i do too

– hanging out with assholes: turns out that it is important to know what they do too. because their private convos do happen among others too, and it’s important to get a sense of what people are doing

– paying for discover magazine and scientific american just so that i could show off (even though i was too lazy to read them in 8th grade). but whatever. even though i barely read them, a single discover magazine article i did read ended up paying MASSIVE dividends in the end (one about glycemic index, and another about aubrey de gray)

– paying clint $15 to get a website host that i never ended up creating or using (whatever, through that i got access to the fusionmatrix forums and saw a random comment neff made about summer classes at UW. through that i learned about summer stretch, making that an INCREDIBLY good investment in itself)

– paying for a gaming computer (even after i stopped playing games, the extra RAM+CPU power was necessary for all my academic work in the 2010-2011 year)

things that *really* surprised me (in favor of my wishful thinking, contrary to expectations):

be close friends with some of the smartest people in the nation (even though those friendships ultimately failed, but whatever)

extremely high intelligence of people on BOTH CC AND heavengames

ideas i strongly believed in that really did work out in the end (despite people’s skepticism) [in favor of wishful thinking, in accordance with expectation]:

the thing with the ADD drugs

ideas i predicted that turned out to have good points in the end (no prevalent skepticism at time of proposal)

– that keas were among the smartest parrots (predicted 2006, verified 2010)

– astrophysics+earth science are REAL goldmines, and also the fields most tolerant to people like me. and where i have the most potential for advancement.

jumping on the bandwagon VERY early (before most)

facebook, wikipedia, glycemic index, calorie restriction

my failed predictions when i strongly believed in them

i really need to dig up my history. but basically, most of them happened with social interactions (i overestimated the extent with which people would put up with me)

– i predicted that there was nothing wrong with slouching despite parental nagging. turns out that there is

biggest regrets

not getting laptop first year of college

– staring at math books and trying to go through their proofs and getting NOTHING out of them (because concepts are more important)


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