The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread - 23 November 2015 Edition

post by SoerenMind · 2015-11-26T10:01:05.809Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW · Legacy · 10 comments
EA Newsletter Logo
Hello, it’s me.

Take a break from listening to Adele and read our newsletter

And be sure to check out GiveWell’s updated top charities, as we’re approaching giving season.

On this forum, this thread doubles as an Open Thread so comment away.

We’ll be evaluating the newsletter after the next edition, so do continue giving us feedback. As always, feel free to submit interesting pieces through this form.

Stay awesome,

The Team
 
Articles and Community Posts

In this short post titled We care about WALYs not QALYs Ben Todd writes about an important misconception about effective altruism and offers practical suggestions on communicating what effective altruists care about.

Read Ray Kennedy’s winning entry in the Giving What We Can essay competition where he describes an underfunded global health intervention that could be rolled out soon.

Mook Bangalore, an effective altruist based in Washington, D.C., co-wrote a recent World Bank report on climate change and poverty, which highlights the acute threat to poorer people across the world.

Thomas Nagel, a household name in philosophy, reviews two of the main books on EA in the Times Literary Supplement: “The effective altruism movement is doing great service in focusing attention on the greatest needs, which can be met at the smallest cost.”

Not an article but Tim Ferriss (of 4-Hour Workweek fame) just released a very enjoyable podcast interview with Will MacAskill, covering a whole range of issues that you can find at the bottom of the linked site.
Updates from EA Organizations and Projects

Future of Humanity Institute

FHI and Nick Bostrom were recently featured in a mammoth profile in the New Yorker, authored by Raffi Khatchadourian who was nominated for a National Magazine Award in profile writing.

GiveWell

GiveWell recently announced their 2015 top charity recommendations. The refreshed list includes rankings and changes to the recommended funding allocation. Overall, GiveWell thinks the case for their top charities is stronger than in previous years, and the room for more funding is greater.

Giving What We Can

Giving What We Can launched their new website. It’s very easy to work with, allowing them to try new content and A/B test messaging and styles. They now have 1,350 members. You can follow their progress on the main metrics on this dashboard.

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and Evidence Action

Today, the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health launched the national control program against two neglected tropical diseases, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths. In the first deworming round, 16.5 million school-age children will be reached. SCI and Evidence Action are providing technical assistance to the ministry.

The Life You Can Save

The Life You Can Save is partnering with Giving What We Can's Washington D.C. chapter to host an online Giving Game that you can participate in. Read about the four great featured charities and vote for your favorite to help decide how to divide the $10,000 prize money.
Other Announcements

Yesterday, the EA Workspace launched, an online co-working space featuring a 24/7 web chat with optional video streaming. People work alongside each other in pomodoros and chat during breaks, thus allowing you to boost your productivity, learn about EA projects and meet old friends or make new ones. Give it a try!
 
Job Postings

In case you didn’t know, there’s also a Facebook group for EA job postings.

number of full-time, part-time and summer employment positions at GiveWell are open at the moment. In addition, the Open Philanthropy Project is hiring for several roles with backgrounds in biosecurity and life sciences funding.
 
What is effective altruism?

EA is a growing social movement founded on the desire to make the world as good a place as it can be, the use of evidence and reason to find out how to do so, and the audacity to actually try.

If you want to learn more, read through What is effective altruism, check out (and contribute to!) the Wikipedia article and have a look at the intro post in the EA Forum.
Go forth and do the most good!

Do tell us how you like the Newsletter and how we can improve it further.

See you in two weeks!

The EA Newsletter Team

Georgie, Michał, Pascal and Sören

The Effective Altruism Newsletter is a joint project between the Centre for Effective Altruism, the Effective Altruism Hub and .impact


10 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by yboris · 2015-11-26T15:13:42.783Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Not sure if this is the proper place to post. This is one of the best philosophy papers I've read in my life:

"The Possibility of an Ongoing Moral Catastrophe" by Evan G. Williams.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10677-015-9567-7

Abstract: "This article gives two arguments for believing that our society is unknowingly guilty of serious, large-scale wrongdoing. First is an inductive argument: most other societies, in history and in the world today, have been unknowingly guilty of serious wrongdoing, so ours probably is too. Second is a disjunctive argument: there are a large number of distinct ways in which our practices could turn out to be horribly wrong, so even if no particular hypothesized moral mistake strikes us as very likely, the disjunction of all such mistakes should receive significant credence. The article then discusses what our society should do in light of the likelihood that we are doing something seriously wrong: we should regard intellectual progress, of the sort that will allow us to find and correct our moral mistakes as soon as possible, as an urgent moral priority rather than as a mere luxury; and we should also consider it important to save resources and cultivate flexibility, so that when the time comes to change our policies we will be able to do so quickly and smoothly."

comment by open_access · 2015-11-26T22:40:49.362Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Protip: To access academic articles that are behind a paywall, try adding "sci-hub.io/" to the beginning of the URL: http://sci-hub.io/http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10677-015-9567-7

comment by Squark · 2015-11-26T16:32:46.321Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think that most people here will tell you that we already know specific examples of such wrongdoing e.g. factory farming.

comment by Linch · 2016-01-02T04:04:03.660Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

The author addresses this:

"The reader may be an activist, already convinced that some specific moral catastrophe is taking place, and doing everything he can to put an end to it. However, so as not to obscure my main point about unidentified catastrophes, I ask the reader to set known catastrophes aside; let him imagine that all of his favorite political causes triumph, and society becomes organized exactly as he thinks best. I hope to convince him that even in such a scenario, a moral catastrophe would still probably be taking place. My reason is this: there are so many different ways in which a society—whether our actual one or the one of the reader’s dreams—could be catastrophically wrong that it is almost impossible to get everything right."

comment by Nekoinentr · 2016-01-04T20:01:29.604Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Not sure if this is the proper place to post.

I think it'd be a good place to post; it's an open thread!

comment by impala · 2015-11-27T19:47:15.707Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

This is catty, but has anyone else noticed how many of some CEA members' blog posts and Facebook updates are about how we should keep giving to and growing metacharities like CEA?

comment by MichaelDickens · 2015-11-28T03:22:42.446Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think this is a good thing and more charities should do it. As a potential donor, it makes my job a lot easier when charities publicly present the best arguments in favor of donating to them.

comment by Bernadette_Young · 2015-12-11T13:32:01.731Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'd find it weird if people who chose their careers based on what they thought was of the greatest benefit didn't advocate for that work to other people with similar priorities.

And in response to the suggestion of self-serving behaviour or even corruption raised by this post, it should be made absolutely clear that the trustees of CEA are legally barred from being employed by or financially profiting from its operations.

comment by Linch · 2015-12-22T10:50:10.792Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

http://sinesalvatorem.tumblr.com/…/1352…/making-a-difference

"On this blog, I’ve talked a lot about my bad luck. I have a ’tragic backstory’ tag, after all. I was born in the third world, in a place with incredibly low incomes which fail to be mirrored in particularly low cost of living. As such, people make do with malnutrition, lack of medication, and ever present mosquitoes. There’s just no other way. You live cheap or die – living free was never an option.

I also happen to be transgender. If living in squalor wasn’t enough, try living in squalor while surrounded by hatred. I am queer in a place where politicians talk about the importance of getting rid of people like me, due to the threat we pose to “public morals”. Where, as a member of my school’s debate team, I was forced to argue for why people like me should be barred entry to the country. The head of the team wanted to know why I found the topic upsetting. Of course, I didn’t tell him. I didn’t want to be expelled.

However, despite all that and more, I have a lot of good luck.

" There are now plans in motion for me to emigrate to California next year. This would completely change my life. All that bad luck wiped away with a set of immigration papers. But that’s just a cure for me. There are billions of people who are also in dire straits. People who can’t string a few words together and pull themselves up into a better life. There are people who face more poverty than I. More malnutrition and mosquitoes and lack of medication. People who aren’t safe in their homes.

I don’t deserve my luck. I don’t deserve the bad that’s happened to me, but I don’t deserve the good either. I haven’t earned my fortune. Luck just happens. We often feel like the world is how it is for a reason and that all the good and the bad is where it is with just cause. We’re wrong. The world isn’t fair. Fate doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints.

But the world doesn’t have to be as bad as it is. I don’t want anyone to have the bad luck I’ve had, and I wish they could all have my good luck. Well, there’s something I can do about that. The very first thing I want to do when I have a job in California. I can give money to push the scales of fate until they’re a little more fair. I can give money to people so they can feed their families. I can provide them with medication. I can protect them from the mosquitoes.

"Giving What We Can is currently holding a pledge drive. They’re asking people to pledge that they’ll give 10% of their income to the world’s most effective charities every year for the rest of their lives. I want to do that. I want to take the opportunity that human kindness has given me and make a hundred more. And I’d like you to do the same.

If you feel like making someone’s life dramatically better, saving the world, or just committing to be as good tomorrow as you are today; I couldn’t recommend this enough. Each of us have the power to make the world a little brighter. Each of us can make an enormous difference with just a tenth of what we have. I believe we should take the good luck we have and spread it around. If you agree with any of that, this is your moment. This is your chance to save someone like me. This is your opportunity to be the hero you always wanted to be.

Do not throw away your shot."

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2015-11-26T10:50:41.006Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've been compiling a list of effective organizations by cause area. I could sort the lists by:

  • global health
  • poverty reduction
  • global catastrophic and existential risk
  • policy reform and institutional change
  • animal welfare, rights, and liberation
  • scientific and breakthrough research
  • rationality and coordination
  • synthetic meat and meat substitutes
  • effective altruism companies
  • metacharity and philanthropic infrastructure

Some of the causes on this list are relatively close to one another, and there are some organizations which overlap between them, so two or more could be collapsed into a single list or category. I've been thinking additional newsletters in addition to the main one published here could be constructed. This could be useful for effective altruists who have selected a particular cause, but also for activists or interested parties in the cause outside of the EA community, which could in turn inject greater awareness of effectiveness into those movements. For example, there are plenty of people interested in philanthropy, poverty reduction, policy reform, systemic change, animal activism, transhumanism, or existential risk reduction who aren't part of effective altruism. Each of those communities might benefit from a mailing list, or hub of any kind, seeking effective programs on those causes. Let me know if there'd be interest in constructing one of those, and I can help construct them the same way I helped with the initial design of the EA newsletter.

Of course, that could add up to a lot of newsletters, so we could set them up, and then hand them off to an organization which can better use them. For example, one about effective animal activism could be handed off to Animal Charity Evaluators to run on their own, or one about GCRs and x-risk reduction could be handed off to FLI, CSER, or FHI.