What are the leading critiques of "longtermism" and related concepts 2020-05-30T10:54:50.075Z
A minimal definition of Effective Altruism: 2015-09-20T18:43:31.385Z
Effective Altruists elsewhere: Bronies for Good 2014-12-21T16:58:54.106Z
Please vote for our video on Deworm the World in this online poll. 2014-12-13T19:27:40.626Z


Comment by AlasdairGives on Possible changes to EA, a big upvoted list · 2023-01-19T07:15:39.890Z · EA · GW

Apologies for the mistake!

Comment by AlasdairGives on Possible changes to EA, a big upvoted list · 2023-01-18T19:37:38.838Z · EA · GW

I think this post fails on three really important metrics: 1)the EA forum is a highly selective non-representative sample. Its not at all legitimate to suggest the views of people 2)the EA forum is a forum for discussion; it is not a way to

Comment by AlasdairGives on Muslims for Effective Altruism · 2022-07-27T19:55:55.568Z · EA · GW

I think this is exciting - what I would like to see at this stage is a board or advisory group with members both with predominately EA and predominately Muslim views who can review your activities and give you advice from both perspectives. I’m sure you’ve considered that but it seems like the missing bit in terms of feedback and development at the moment.

Comment by AlasdairGives on The 0.7% Campaign appears higher impact than we expected · 2022-07-15T08:00:48.856Z · EA · GW

It would be a longer piece of work to engage with the model here, intuitively I find the estimate surprising

However I'd just say that the fact you've undertaken this process at all is valuable, and I think both the campaign and model will be good proto-examples for the future of how EA has tried to engage with policy change work. 

Comment by AlasdairGives on Why and how to start a pilot project in EA · 2022-06-13T15:31:32.988Z · EA · GW

I thought this was a really interesting post, thanks! Did you have a full time job while working on your pilot project? If so I'd be interested to know how you navigated your time and any tips you have on that

Comment by AlasdairGives on [Link] Luke Muehlhauser: Effective Altruism As I See It · 2022-06-07T16:13:48.644Z · EA · GW

This is a good article. I don't think the point on farm animal welfare can possibly be correct though. There are many animal welfare charities and organisations (as well as many commercial players) that while they don't focus on farm animals exclusively or with the same mindset, surely dominate the "farm animal welfare" space. 

Comment by AlasdairGives on Why CEA has stopped using Net Promoter Score · 2022-02-04T12:35:24.448Z · EA · GW

I'd also be interested in this!

Comment by AlasdairGives on Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics · 2021-12-29T01:50:19.655Z · EA · GW

I just mean this could have been two posts - one about the paper and one about the experience of publishing the paper. Both would be very valuable.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics · 2021-12-29T01:21:24.855Z · EA · GW

I think it is disappointing that so many comments are focusing on arguing with the paper rather than discussing the challenges outlined in the post. From a very quick reading I don't find any of the comments here unreasonable but I do find them to be talking about a different topic. It would be better if we could separate out the discussion of "red teaming" EA from the discussion of this particular paper

Comment by AlasdairGives on Why SoGive is not updating charity ratings after malaria vaccine news · 2021-04-25T08:28:18.497Z · EA · GW

Good post Sanjay, though I think a better title would be "Why SoGive is not yet  updating charity ratings after malaria vaccine news" though. 

 I don't disagree with any of the points you've made - and there are certainly large uncertainties around this, but  there is at least a significant possibility that when some uncertainties are resolved this could  displace nets in terms of cost-effectiveness.  So its certainly a very promising development and even if we don't change our immediate funding priorities, we need to think about how they might change in the future.

Comment by AlasdairGives on [Linkpost] New Oxford Malaria Vaccine Shows ~75% Efficacy in Initial Trial with Infants · 2021-04-24T11:14:30.832Z · EA · GW

I think this is potentially very significant news - i’m hoping to write a more detailed post once I’ve looked into it more but a previous 35% effective vaccine was found to be only marginally less cost effective than LLIN nets in preventing malaria spread - a 75% effective (and cheap!) vaccine has at least the potential to shoot to the top of our list of most effective global health and poverty interventions, to the extent that we may want to think about pooling EA funds towards the project (perhaps creating a special EA malaria vaccination fund)

Comment by AlasdairGives on As an EA, Should I renounce my US citizenship? · 2021-04-19T09:23:47.971Z · EA · GW

US citizenship is extremely valuable and your career opportunities at this stage are likely to be far more valuable to you in future earnings expectations than a few additional  percentage points on investments. 

In terms of investing, my understanding is that you are best off investing in the US and that there are US investment options open to you (Charles Schwab I believe often comes up as a broker in this area) rather than in the UK. 

Comment by AlasdairGives on Announcing "Naming What We Can"! · 2021-04-01T12:41:14.641Z · EA · GW

Finally the mystery of how CEEALAR got named is solved :D

Comment by AlasdairGives on CEEALAR Fundraiser 9: Concrete outputs after 29 months · 2020-11-27T16:27:59.458Z · EA · GW

Minor typo - The DOI for Evaluating use cases for human challenge trials in accelerating SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development. Clinical Infectious Diseases  has a trailing e in the url which causes the link to fail

Comment by AlasdairGives on Where are you donating in 2020 and why? · 2020-11-23T22:51:37.147Z · EA · GW

I’ve vaguely thought about this but I’m not a significant enough donor that I’m going to register in people’s calculations, and if I’m donating primarily through third party funds then I’m already quite disconnected. (I.e my money isn't arriving at the charity in December/Feb in any case). I think I prefer the "end of the year" feeling and communal discussions like this to improve my donation habits.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Oxford college choice from EA perspective? · 2020-11-23T22:36:51.870Z · EA · GW

I attended the "Other Place" but my serious answer is the same for Oxford. Research online which colleges are richest (and most prestigious) and apply there unless you have a strong reason to prefer another college. The richest colleges have more grants, funding and opportunities available to students - you can save thousands of pounds and get access to opportunities just not available elsewhere. (For example I found out early on that my peers at another Cambridge college received a grant for books 3x larger each term than my college did - which in turn was more than another gave all year) - likely the additional additive networking opportunities are equally as valuable. Connections to well known EA's within faculty are probably overrated, unless you can be sure of a close connection to a faculty member for several years (as what Cambridge would call a Director of Studies) you won’t gain a significant advantage and you can pursue the interests outside of your formal study program.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Where are you donating in 2020 and why? · 2020-11-23T11:44:34.424Z · EA · GW

I plan to give 10% of my income (as per my Giving What We Can Pledge). I'd previously gotten into a rather weird Feb donation cycle so I'm looking to shift this year back to December. My primary cause area is global poverty and development.

I expect the majority (~75%) of my donation to be to a mixture the Givewell Maximum impact fund or the EA Funds Global Health and Development Fund. I've found the EA funds process to be somewhat lacking in transparency but generally I have been pleased with the donations made. I'd consider donations to the Founders Pledge Health and Development fund which appears a promising new entrant in this area however there does not appear to be a tax efficient (gift aidable) way to donate to this fund at present from the UK. I'm undecided on the split between these two so at the moment it will probably be 50/50.   

For the remainder of my donation I intend to support promising smaller EA Charities. In the past I have donated to the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund but I'm less convinced that this is a good use of funds and more concerned than in the past that my donations shape towards those aspects of EA I want to encourage and away from those aspects I don't align with. I intend to donate to Charity Entrepreneurship which I have been impressed by as an incubator and I intend to investigate the  Global Health charities incubated by Charity Entrepreneurship and do some additional research in December to look at this area. (At least some of my donation will go to the Lead Exposure Elimination project). 

In addition I plan to make nominal donations to all Givewell's Top Charities and standout charities (as well as a number of non-EA charities) directly so that I am registered on their supporter databases. One downside about giving through EA funds is that you are somewhat disconnected from the charities themselves and I'd like to be "on their radar" and getting email updates about their work.  

Comment by AlasdairGives on EA's abstract moral epistemology · 2020-10-20T14:53:07.688Z · EA · GW

She sums up her critique in three points 

The institutional critique alleges that EA disregards the kinds of systematic actions needed to affect social change, 

The philosophical critique alleges that EA’s god’s eye moral epistemology wrongly restricts its view of what values are like.

The core of the composite critique is the idea that social phenomena are ontologically distinctive and that distinctive methods are required to bring them into focus.

I don't think there is any merit to these claims, but unpicking the second and third critique basically depends on unpicking a huge amount of nonsense so i'll leave it for someone else. But anyway I think those summaries in her own words unpick the core claims. 

Comment by AlasdairGives on Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants · 2020-09-18T11:17:15.280Z · EA · GW

"Some donors were surprised by the Fund’s large number of AI risk-focused grants. While the Fund managers are in favor of these grants, we want to make sure that donors are aware of the work they are supporting. As a result, we changed the EA Funds donation interface such that donors have to opt into supporting their chosen Funds. (Previously, the website suggested a default allocation for each Fund.) EA Funds also plans to offer a donation option focused on climate change for interested donors."

This is an extremely positive change and corrects what I have previously considered to be a dark pattern on the EA funds website for a long time. Thanks for implementing it.

Comment by AlasdairGives on What are the leading critiques of "longtermism" and related concepts · 2020-06-02T20:57:22.535Z · EA · GW

that sounds fantastic. I'd love to read the draft once it is circulated for feedback

Comment by AlasdairGives on What are the leading critiques of "longtermism" and related concepts · 2020-05-31T22:00:00.005Z · EA · GW

Thanks - I’ve read the summaries of this but hadn’t twigged it was developed into a full paper

Comment by AlasdairGives on What are the leading critiques of "longtermism" and related concepts · 2020-05-31T21:58:57.733Z · EA · GW

Thanks! The top paper seems very relevant in particular.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Reality is often underpowered · 2019-10-10T20:13:27.963Z · EA · GW

I think this is a great post and makes a really important point. Thanks for posting

Comment by AlasdairGives on Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad? · 2019-10-10T19:42:14.609Z · EA · GW

Thanks, i do think we have a basic disagreement here about design patterns but i appreciate you taking the time to defend and explain your choices.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad? · 2019-10-08T19:37:54.192Z · EA · GW

I don't feel either of these reply's address my points very well (as a member who signed the pledge prior to 2014).

As far as I can tell you accept the first point I made and don't address it. Ok, me. I think the funds are fine you just haven't done the work of showing they are better than other donation routes at all.

In regards to the second point you get very fixated on the default slider setting being representative of the most engaged members of the community. I don't want yet more peer pressure to donate to what the most engaged members of think.(And the fact that you unilaterally changed the pledge still shouldn't invalidate my reasons for signing it). But, even for post 2014 members it takes a lot of chutzpah to just set a default - at the very least even if you are recommending the EA funds start each bar at 0%. It is such a dark pattern when to donate to causes you by default get a recommendation you didn't choose then to find other choices you have to click a "back" arrow to a page you have never seen before, go past a statement saying we recommend these funds then manually unclick/click each choice then click forward again. It's so telling when you do the sliders don't start at some nudge level but at a level the user can choose!

Comment by AlasdairGives on Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad? · 2019-10-07T15:46:38.676Z · EA · GW

There are two long term goals being pursued here by CEA, visible in the design of the site:

1. To increase donations to the EA funds from GWWC members by making the funds the "default" option" and thus increase the importance/power of CEA to guide donations through the funds. (The whole new site is setup to make the funds the default way to give, and to give prominence to the funds, other donation options or recording external donations are much less visible and hidden away in a way that seems deliberate)

2. To set defaults for donations through the site that nudge people towards the cause areas that CEA leadership largely favors and away from cause areas that GWWC was historically focused on. (By default - sliders on the new site allocate the majority of donations made from the pledge page to causes other than global poverty. And this resets as the default every time, with no option to change this or set persistent cause area preferences).

The site is designed with the interests of CEA and what it thinks is best in mind. The functionality for GWWC members is not the priority.

Comment by AlasdairGives on EA Forum Prize: Winners for April 2019 · 2019-06-26T19:24:55.094Z · EA · GW

I would like to see a prize or incentive for the best comment on an article in the last month. Has that been tried before? Looking at the number of articles now submitted, I think the forum is doing well on articles. However, the comments and engagement with each submission is still often low. The winning 3 articles this month got only 9-2-2 comments respectively. If they are exemplary of the community and platform (which after a quick browse I have no reason to doubt) surely it would be worth encouraging a few more comments and a bit more discussion?

Comment by AlasdairGives on EA Survey 2018 Series: Do EA Survey Takers Keep Their GWWC Pledge? · 2019-06-17T09:46:57.061Z · EA · GW

One complexity here may be in how members are treating taxation and tax deductibility in relation to their donations. "income" in your sample is self-reported and it is presumably pre-tax income. However, per GWWC: "While we have defined income as pre-tax in the past, after speaking with members in a variety of situations we believe there should be some flexibility here.

  • If you expect to receive a tax deduction for your donation, we recommend basing your giving on your pre-tax income.
  • If you expect to get little or no tax deduction, for example because your country does not offer tax deductions on donations, you may choose to donate based on post-tax income."

Thus people may be keeping to the terms of their pledge but donating less than 10% of their pre-tax income if they are not getting a tax deduction

Comment by AlasdairGives on Sentientism: Improving the human epistemology and ethics baseline · 2019-03-27T21:46:34.344Z · EA · GW

The title of this post is “Does EA need an underlying philosophy? Could Sentientism be that philosophy?” I would consider both of those points to betray a lack of basic understanding of effective altruism. There are lots of good resources elsewhere- perhaps it would be good to have a basic faq article / wiki that could be Linked in such cases?

Comment by AlasdairGives on [deleted post] 2017-03-17T19:25:11.175Z

i've deleted the post because I would like to make one on this issue with greater subtlety and nuance to do the complex topic of this saga better justice than my rather late night post did - thanks for your comment, I will take it into account.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Advisory panel at CEA · 2017-03-09T16:18:34.968Z · EA · GW

Apologies I had it in my head that ACE was a CEA project

Comment by AlasdairGives on Peter Singer no-platformed by pro-disability protestors at Canadian university · 2017-03-08T21:24:45.582Z · EA · GW

According to my facebook this topic has had 156 comments on the EA facbook group already. I don't want to repeat or diminish those comments here so what is the purpose of opening a parallel discussion here as this seems like a topic which has attracted a huge amount of EA discussion already?

Comment by AlasdairGives on Advisory panel at CEA · 2017-03-08T21:06:19.445Z · EA · GW

One thing I am disappointed about is that this has just been announced - there was no public process or call for comment on the advisory council, its role or what criteria should have been used to choose its members - to the extent that happened all of that was in private as far as I can tell. So all of the power in this situation was held by the CEA and people close to you in informal networks. To get wider views you have chosen a team of 4- 3of whom are or have previously been employed by CEA.

To the extent this is about opening CEA to wider views I can't see how it does that. Perhaps to mitigate my meandering can the members of the council give one example of something the CEA has done in the last 12 months they are willing to publicly disagree with?

Comment by AlasdairGives on Concerns with Intentional Insights · 2016-10-25T21:06:31.898Z · EA · GW

In the original facebook thread I was highly critical of intentional insights, I have not read all the followup here yet, but I would like to note that after that thread the next "thing" I saw from Intentional Insights was this post about EA marketing. I thought that was a highly competent and interesting contribtuion to the EA community. All of the ongoing concerns about II may stand - but there is clearly a few people associated with the org who have valuable contributions to make to the future of the community,

Comment by AlasdairGives on Looking for Wikipedia article writers (topics include many of interest to effective altruists) · 2016-04-17T18:15:30.291Z · EA · GW

I have about ~2000 edits on wikipedia (alasdairedits) and have created a number of DYK articles (though not for several years). I have been thinking about getting back into wikipedia editing and this might be a good way to do so. I know that paid (i.e PR editing on wikipedia) has become a big issue recently though. I would like to know more about how your work interacts with the COI/NPOV guidelines and how you ensure your articles and offering to pay people remains within that scheme. Have you considered using the on site reward board (I don't know how active that is) which would get less related wikipedians involved

It would be good to get feed

Comment by AlasdairGives on Call for papers for a special journal issue on EA · 2016-03-14T18:05:32.800Z · EA · GW

9000 words -

Comment by AlasdairGives on [deleted post] 2016-02-15T14:40:20.977Z

I don't think it would be unfair to characterise your argument as: "I have a hunch based on my "tacit knowledge", a report written by a consultancy firm a decade ago and my background in a tangentially related field that the conservative party has been working in secret for 9 years on a bill of "economic rights and freedoms" which they are going to suddenly unveil and force through parliament in a few months attached to their public Bill of rights Proposals. This bill is going to cause all sorts of negative effects by making the courts interfere with a class of laws I am in favour of (Through mechanisms which are unclear).

Leaving aside for the moment whether this is plausibly true or a reasonable way of making judgements - I still don't understand how it relates to effective altruism or how/what you actually want people to do.

Comment by AlasdairGives on $250 donation for best EA intro essay - deadline: March 10 · 2016-02-11T23:46:27.411Z · EA · GW

I think this is the way to go - but a CC attribtuion license is very different from an assignment of intellectual property (in a good way!) - you will need to provide attribtution on the about page and any subsequent usage of the entry for one thing (the whole point of an attribution licenese is to protect those moral rights!). so you should update your faq to reflect this.

Comment by AlasdairGives on $250 donation for best EA intro essay - deadline: March 10 · 2016-02-11T20:50:36.326Z · EA · GW

Per above - CEA owns (is assigned) all the intellectual property of any entry. So posting your essay elsewhere without their permission would be a copyright violation.

Comment by AlasdairGives on $250 donation for best EA intro essay - deadline: March 10 · 2016-02-11T19:31:48.806Z · EA · GW
  • Obligatory EAish objection: Where is the $250 coming from? If it is just $250 from the CEA budget that would otherwise have been spent on EA causes that is not much of an additional incentive unless you have very strong opinions about which cause area is most important.
Comment by AlasdairGives on Announcing ImpactMatters: Auditing Charity Impact across Causes · 2015-12-15T11:00:47.286Z · EA · GW

Dean Carlan has a long history of work on charity effectiveness and rigour long pre-dating EA. He has said on twitter that they took a lot of influence and inspiration from EA charity evaluators (esp Givewell). I think the best way of looking at this and much of his other work (for example Innovations for Poverty Action) is that it is EA-aligned organisation but not part of Effective Altruism as a "thing" since it comes from a different community and background and has a narrower focus ("are these charities effective at what they do" v "what overall is the most effective thing we can be doing")

Comment by AlasdairGives on Updates from Giving What We Can · 2015-11-30T21:46:12.088Z · EA · GW

I am surprised the number of people donating via the trust but who are not GWWC members is so high. This 80% seems like a fertile source either of new members or a worrying statistic about the number of people who become aware of EA ideas but do not wish to change their behaviour to the extent of signing the pledge and I am not sure which

Comment by AlasdairGives on More on REG's Room for More Funding · 2015-11-22T16:23:20.473Z · EA · GW

Does REG not have any full time employees? I am very impressed in their progress if that is the case as I presumed they did!

Comment by AlasdairGives on More on REG's Room for More Funding · 2015-11-21T14:00:25.430Z · EA · GW

I don't know about whether the NY declaration reduces the market by that amount itself. I more see it as an indication of the serious challenges and uncertainties that the DFS market faces in the US.

For example, one DFS operator has ceased US operations in all but 4 states where DFS has explicit state laws allowing it: ( which i found on google has a lot more in depth look at the battles going on all across US on this)

It is clearly a live issue and one clouded with a great deal of legal uncertainty, which I think would benefit from a closer cost/benefit analysis if REG wanted to target this market seriously.

Comment by AlasdairGives on More on REG's Room for More Funding · 2015-11-19T23:19:49.512Z · EA · GW

The analysis of the DFS market seems off to me

  1. I don't think the conversion rate is likely to be the same. High earning poker players are to some extent mini-celebrities and seem to have strong image consciousness and network frequently with others. By contrast, high earning DFS players seem to be private people with no public image, working alone or in small teams and with limited contact with wider world. I think marketing to those people would be significantly harder than to poker "stars".
  2. The New York declaration is a significant risk factor for the whole DFS sector. There is some degree of likelyhood that this declaration will lead to other states following suit, while the poker market is global the DFS market is obviously highly US based and there seems to be a significant risk of it being outlawed - or atleast outlawed within a significant number of US states. You seem to understate the size of this risk.
Comment by AlasdairGives on Effective Altruism Merchandise Ideas · 2015-10-20T21:39:20.507Z · EA · GW

I can believe your logo was designed by a professional (i don't like the colour but its kinda cool)! but i was commenting on your clothing not that in isolation. This? That is someone with no design skills taking that logo and bastardizing it. Writing a slogan in a microsoft clipart font and replacing one letter with a bit of your logo is not a design. you use font choices that professional designers openly mock.

I love minimalist designs, but your designs are not minimalist in any sense of the term. even your logo is not minimalist. you are very badly miscalibrated if you think minimal is a word that should be used in relation to either your logo or especially this merch.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Effective Altruism Merchandise Ideas · 2015-10-20T17:24:37.656Z · EA · GW

Ok, i don't want to be rude but there is no nice way to say this, so please just take it as feedback on this project not you as a person. Your existing merchandise is an ugly mess. My reaction to someone wearing an EA themed shirt of the same aesthetic level and quality would be cringing embarrasment not pride in a community.

EA merch as a tribal/signalling thing is a fine idea - but it needs to be of a much higher quality and design. As a bare minimum it should be printed by a higher quality producer than cafepress (like teespring?) and be designed by a professional designer.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Making Effective Altruism more emotionally appealing · 2015-10-13T21:59:33.317Z · EA · GW

reading again this was the bit i found wierd/creepy - For instance, to address the guilt people experience over their previous giving, to address cached patterns, and help people update their beliefs, it helps to use the CBT tool of reframing by encouraging themselves to distance their current self from their past self, and remember that they did not have this information about EA when they decided on their previous giving, making it ok to choose a new path right now. Another approach I found helpful is to encourage people to think of themselves as being at the ordinary human baseline, and then orient toward improving, rather than seeing oneself as never able to achieve perfect rationality in one's giving.

But i actually don't think these ideas are bad i just think the phrasing of them is off. the way you've wrtten this makes it seem a bit "oh we are the enlightened ones and here our our clever ways of manipulating you to join us" but i appreciate that is not what you meant - much more about EA as a movement of people who want to "do good better" than criticise people for not thinking same way we do or manipulate guilt.

Comment by AlasdairGives on Making Effective Altruism more emotionally appealing · 2015-10-13T11:19:00.686Z · EA · GW

Too many thoughts all jumbled up, have to try and write more on this but:

  1. Everyone is an emotional thinker, EA's have some strategies for avoiding worst pitfalls, but still easy and many do fall into them, and we have weaknesses as well which harm our work.
  2. Different strategies needed for between raising profile & funding of highly effective causes and evidence strategies and creating more EA's - and we can do both.
  3. Some of these ideas sound good, some sound weird and creepy and like we have all the answers and are concerned with manipulating people rather than being engaged in a dialogue where we can learn something valuable as well.
  4. Different approaches may work well/less well for different causes, and approaches that work for one may in doing so harm support for others.
Comment by AlasdairGives on EA's Image Problem · 2015-10-12T12:09:15.596Z · EA · GW

When I was at grad school for legal&political science the main way I encountered utilitarianism was as a bogeyman in legal/political/social science papers. Though limited to my own experience and universities I visited - my overwhelming impression is that in most policy connected academic disciplines not specifically housed in dedicated philosophy departments utilitarianism is mostly used as a signalling slur in similar way to a word like "neoliberalism" is and is not considered a respectable "thing" to identify as.