Comment by anonymous_ea on Legal psychedelic retreats launching in Jamaica · 2019-04-17T20:16:53.661Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

OP neglected to mention that the retreat costs $1700 according to the website. Neither does there seem to be some kind of financial aid plan or discount for EAs, like CFAR does.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Who is working on finding "Cause X"? · 2019-04-15T17:25:54.831Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

The link didn't work properly for me. Did you mean the following comment?

We're also working on understanding invertebrate sentience and wild animal welfare - maybe not "cause X" because other EAs are aware of this cause already, but I think will help unlock important new interventions.
Additionally, we're doing some analysis of nuclear war scenarios and paths toward non-proliferation. I think this is understudied in EA, though again maybe not "cause X" because EAs are already aware of it.
Lastly, we're also working on examining ballot initiatives and other political methods of achieving EA aims - maybe not cause X because it isn't a new cause area, but I think it will help unlock important new ways of achieving progress on our existing causes.
Comment by anonymous_ea on Who is working on finding "Cause X"? · 2019-04-12T17:27:29.420Z · score: 14 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Can you expand on this answer? E.g. how much this is a focus for you, how long you've been doing this, how long you expect to continue doing this, etc.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Apology · 2019-03-25T16:10:37.622Z · score: 15 (14 votes) · EA · GW

As an extreme example, the Young Adult fiction community has recently seen multiple authors cancel their completed and to-be-published books based on allegations that would not be taken very seriously in EA or most communities. One example is detailed in Slate, where Amelie Zhao's anticipated book, Blood Heir, was essentially retracted by the author after completion but before publication because of social media pressure stemming from flimsy-seeming accusations of racial insensitivity and plagiarism.

To be clear, I do not think it is plausible that Jacy is wholly innocent. Persistent accusations going back to him getting expelled from college seem quite likely to be rooted in some level of harmful behavior. But I don't think Jacy apologizing and stepping back from public life is strong evidence of anything - it seems to me that he would likely do that even if he thought he had only committed minor misdeamoners. CEA's response seems like stronger evidence of harmful behavior to me.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Apology · 2019-03-25T15:36:34.411Z · score: 29 (15 votes) · EA · GW

Julia Wise clarified this in her reply elsewhere in this comment section:

The accusation of sexual misconduct at Brown is one of the things that worried us at CEA. But we approached Jacy primarily out of concern about other more recent reports from members of the animal advocacy and EA communities.
Comment by anonymous_ea on Bayesian Investor proposes you can predictably beat the market by ~3% following a simple and easy strategy · 2019-03-15T17:45:06.584Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I don't know much about investing, but a couple of quick comments might be helpful:

I understand many people knowledgable about about investing have thought they could beat the market and were wrong, but how many people were both knowledgeable about investing and about rationality but were still wrong? Given how few rationalists there are, I doubt there have been many.

Is there any empirical reason to think that knowledge about 'rationality' is particularly helpful for investing?

If we assign a 1/3 chance of the strategy beating the market by 3% and otherwise matches the market

1/3 chance seems possibly orders of magnitude too high to me.

Comment by anonymous_ea on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-02T22:26:20.322Z · score: 14 (9 votes) · EA · GW

I also perceived the personalized email as indicating a reasonable (30-50%+) chance of getting hired if I applied. I certainly didn't perceive it as indicating the 10% or perhaps even lower chance it seems to be after reading this thread. It was only after a couple of my friends also got similar emails that I realized that Open Phil was probably sending personalized emails to dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants.

Something that may be hard for Open Phil to know is that it felt really flattering for me to get a personalized email from one of the most prestigious EA orgs asking me to apply. It's sort of like if Harvard sent me an email saying that they'd seen my resume and thought I would be a good fit for them because of X, Y, and Z (all of which happened to be factors I personally also thought I was a good fit for Harvard). That may have caused me to overestimate my chances, and also would probably have led to me being more disappointed than otherwise if I had been rejected.

Comment by anonymous_ea on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-02T19:13:44.990Z · score: 34 (20 votes) · EA · GW

A meta point: A lot of the discussion here has focused on reducing the time spent applying. I think a more fundamental and important problem, based on the replies here and my own experiences, is that many, many EAs feel that either they're working at a top EA org or they're not contributing much. Since only a fraction of EAs can currently work at a top EA org due to supply vastly exceeding demand, even if the time spent applying goes down a lot, many EAs will end up feeling negatively about themselves and/or EA when they get rejected. See e.g. this post by Scott Alexander on the message he feels he gets from the community. A couple of excerpts below:

It just really sucks to constantly have one lobe of my brain thinking “You have to do [direct work/research], everybody is so desperate for your help and you’ll be letting them down if you don’t”, and the other lobe thinking “If you try to do the thing, you’ll be in an uphill competition against 2,000 other people who want to do it, which ends either in time wasted for no reason, or in you having an immense obligation to perform at 110% all the time to justify why you were chosen over a thousand almost-equally-good candidates”.
So instead I earn-to-give, and am constantly hit with messages (see above caveat! messages may not be real!) of “Why are you doing this? Nobody’s funding-constrained! Money isn’t real! Only talent constraints matter!” while knowing that if I tried to help with talent constraints, I would get “Sorry, we have 2,000 applicants per position, you’re imposing a huge cost on us by even making us evaluate you”.
Comment by anonymous_ea on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-02T19:04:31.824Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

To add another anecdote, my story is broadly similar to your story as well: Top college, focused on EA, was particularly well informed on long termist topics, did plenty of EA projects, got good feedback from EAs, and now have fairly increased anxiety and depression about my ability to contribute to long termism that I didn't have before. I haven't applied to many EA jobs, but a similar thing would probably happen to me as well if I did.

Comment by anonymous_ea on [blog cross-post] The remembering self needs to get real about the experiencing self. · 2019-02-10T06:37:52.444Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! I don't disagree. Btw the link to the Remembering self is dead.

Comment by anonymous_ea on [blog cross-post] The remembering self needs to get real about the experiencing self. · 2019-02-09T04:04:58.207Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm glad I read this piece. It makes a good point!

Can you expand on the connection to EA? I'm not sure I quite see it.

Comment by anonymous_ea on EA Boston 2018 Year in Review · 2019-02-05T22:19:29.446Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this great review. It helps outsiders understand how different EA groups and social scenes work.

Do you have estimates for how many people are involved in different groups and overall in Boston? Potentially for different levels of involvement? E.g. 30 hardcore/dedicated (whatever word seems best) EAs, 100 casual EAs.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Open Thread #43 · 2019-02-05T22:05:12.219Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Future Perfect put out an article on this recently.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Is intellectual work better construed as exploration or performance? · 2019-01-28T22:51:25.979Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW
Clearly both metaphors do work – I'm wondering which is better to cultivate on the margin.
My intuition is that it's better to lean on the image of intellectual work as exploration; curious what folks here think.

I'm a bit unclear on the question exactly. You ask which metaphor is better to cultivate on the margin, but I'm not sure for whom or for what purpose. Both metaphors seem clearly true to some extent to me, and which metaphor it fits more depends a lot on individuals and fields IMO.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Vox's "Future Perfect" column frequently has flawed journalism · 2019-01-28T22:45:59.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW
Dylan Matthews' claim that nuclear war would cause "much or all of humankind" to suddenly vanish is unsubstantiated. The idea that billions of people worldwide will die from nuclear war is not supported by models with realistic numbers of nuclear warheads. "Much" is a very vague term, but speculation that every (or nearly every) human will die is a false alarm. Now that is easy to forgive, as it's a common belief within EA anyway and probably someone will try to argue with me about it.

Could you expand on this or give sources? I do hear EAs talking about nuclear war and nuclear winter being existential threats.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Vox's "Future Perfect" column frequently has flawed journalism · 2019-01-28T22:38:17.212Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I think Vox, Ezra Klein, Dylan Matthews etc would disagree about point 2. Not to put words in someone else's mouth, but my sense is that Ezra Klein doesn't think that their coverage is substantially flawed and systematically biased relative to other comparable sources. He might even argue that their coverage is less biased than most sources.

Could you link to some of the criticisms you mentioned in point 1? I've seen others claim that as well on previous EA Forum posts about Future Perfect, and I think it would be good to have at least a few sources on this. Many EAs outside the US probably know very little about Vox.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Announcing a predoctoral research programme in economics at the Global Priorities Institute · 2019-01-21T21:14:19.751Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

How many fellows do you plan to accept?

Comment by anonymous_ea on A guide to effective altruism fellowships · 2019-01-21T21:12:41.743Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

This is a really great and helpful post. Thanks so much for running it, trying to evaluate its impact, and writing it up!

Comment by anonymous_ea on What has Effective Altruism actually done? · 2019-01-16T19:26:03.028Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Interesting question! I think Givewell's estimate for how much money they've directed over the years should be counted in some way as well.

Comment by anonymous_ea on EA Giving Tuesday Donation Matching Initiative 2018 Retrospective · 2019-01-08T18:37:32.220Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I want to echo other people in saying that this was both incredibly impressive and very impactful! Thank you so much :)

Comment by anonymous_ea on The Global Priorities of the Copenhagen Consensus · 2019-01-08T17:27:42.902Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · EA · GW

(Replying to my own comment) I'm copy-pasting the Criticism section on Wikipedia:


Members of the panel including Thomas Schelling and one of the two perspective paper writers Robert O. Mendelsohn (both opponents of the Kyoto protocol) criticised Cline, mainly on the issue of discount rates. (See "The opponent notes to the paper on Climate Change" [27]) Mendelsohn, in particular, characterizing Cline's position, said that "[i]f we use a large discount rate, they will be judged to be small effects" and called it "circular reasoning, not a justification". Cline responded to this by arguing that there is no obvious reason to use a large discount rate just because this is what is usually done in economic analysis. In other words, climate change ought to be treated differently from other, more imminent problems. The Economist quoted Mendelsohn as worrying that "climate change was set up to fail".[28]

Moreover, Mendelsohn argued that Cline's damage estimates were excessive. Citing various recent articles, including some of his own, he stated that "[a] series of studies on the impacts of climate change have systematically shown that the older literature overestimated climate damages by failing to allow for adaptation and for climate benefits."

Members of the panel, including Schelling, criticised the way this issue was handled in the Consensus project.[citation needed]

The 2004 Copenhagen Consensus attracted various criticisms:

Approach and alleged bias

The 2004 report, especially its conclusion regarding climate change was subsequently criticised from a variety of perspectives. The general approach adopted to set priorities was criticised by Jeffrey Sachs, an American economist and advocate of both the Kyoto protocol [29] and increased development aid, who argued that the analytical framework was inappropriate and biased and that the project "failed to mobilize an expert group that could credibly identify and communicate a true consensus of expert knowledge on the range of issues under consideration.".[30]

Tom Burke, a former director of Friends of the Earth, repudiated the entire approach of the project, arguing that applying cost–benefit analysis in the way the Copenhagen panel did was "junk economics".[31]

John Quiggin, an Australian economics professor, commented that the project is a mix of "a substantial contribution to our understanding of important issues facing the world" and an "exercises in political propaganda" and argued that the selection of the panel members was slanted towards the conclusions previously supported by Lomborg.[32] Quiggin observed that Lomborg had argued in his controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist that resources allocated to mitigating global warming would be better spent on improving water quality and sanitation, and was therefore seen as having prejudged the issues.

Under the heading "Wrong Question", Sachs further argued that: "The panel that drew up the Copenhagen Consensus was asked to allocate an additional US$50 billion in spending by wealthy countries, distributed over five years, to address the world’s biggest problems. This was a poor basis for decision-making and for informing the public. By choosing such a low sum — a tiny fraction of global income — the project inherently favoured specific low-cost schemes over bolder, larger projects. It is therefore no surprise that the huge and complex challenge of long-term climate change was ranked last, and that scaling up health services in poor countries was ranked lower than interventions against specific diseases, despite warnings in the background papers that such interventions require broader improvements in health services."

In response Lomborg argued that $50 billion was "an optimistic but realistic example of actual spending." "Experience shows that pledges and actual spending are two different things. In 1970 the UN set itself the task of doubling development assistance. Since then the percentage has actually been dropping". "But even if Sachs or others could gather much more than $50 billion over the next 4 years, the Copenhagen Consensus priority list would still show us where it should be invested first." [33]

One of the Copenhagen Consensus panel experts later distanced himself from the way in which the Consensus results have been interpreted in the wider debate. Thomas Schelling now thinks that it was misleading to put climate change at the bottom of the priority list. The Consensus panel members were presented with a dramatic proposal for handling climate change. If given the opportunity, Schelling would have put a more modest proposal higher on the list. The Yale economist Robert O. Mendelsohn was the official critic of the proposal for climate change during the Consensus. He thought the proposal was way out of the mainstream and could only be rejected. Mendelsohn worries that climate change was set up to fail. [34]

Michael Grubb, an economist and lead author for several IPCC reports, commented on the Copenhagen Consensus, writing:[35]

To try and define climate policy as a trade-off against foreign aid is thus a forced choice that bears no relationship to reality. No government is proposing that the marginal costs associated with, for example, an emissions trading system, should be deducted from its foreign aid budget. This way of posing the question is both morally inappropriate and irrelevant to the determination of real climate mitigation policy.

Panel membership

Quiggin argued that the members of the 2004 panel, selected by Lomborg, were, "generally towards the right and, to the extent that they had stated views, to be opponents of Kyoto.".[32] Sachs also noted that the panel members had not previously been much involved in issues of development economics, and were unlikely to reach useful conclusions in the time available to them.[30] Commenting on the 2004 Copenhagen Consensus, climatologist and IPCC author Stephen Schneider criticised Lomborg for only inviting economists to participate:[36]

In order to achieve a true consensus, I think Lomborg would've had to invite ecologists, social scientists concerned with justice and how climate change impacts and policies are often inequitably distributed, philosophers who could challenge the economic paradigm of "one dollar, one vote" implicit in cost–benefit analyses promoted by economists, and climate scientists who could easily show that Lomborg's claim that climate change will have only minimal effects is not sound science.

Lomborg countered criticism of the panel membership by stating that "Sachs disparaged the Consensus ‘dream team’ because it only consisted of economists. But that was the very point of the project. Economists have expertise in economic prioritization. It is they and not climatologists or malaria experts who can prioritize between battling global warming or communicable disease," [33]

Comment by anonymous_ea on The Global Priorities of the Copenhagen Consensus · 2019-01-08T17:24:20.739Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Interesting! Could you expand on how CC is controversial and political?

Comment by anonymous_ea on Altruistic Motivations · 2019-01-07T00:06:52.157Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing this!

(Reposted under Nate Soares' account, with Nate's permission, by Forum admin aarongertler. Nate gave blanket permission to cross-post his old essays, and this is one of my favorites.)

I don't understand this. Admins can post on behalf on users, making it appear as if the user themself posted?

Comment by anonymous_ea on Why You Should Invest In Upgrading Democracy And Give To The Center For Election Science · 2018-12-30T21:10:38.366Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you! I appreciate these response and the thought behind your initiative. Best of luck! :)

The case for taking AI seriously as a threat to humanity

2018-12-23T01:00:08.314Z · score: 18 (9 votes)
Comment by anonymous_ea on What movements does EA have the strongest synergies with? · 2018-12-22T22:20:55.095Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Raising for Effective Giving was started by poker pros part of the EA community to raise funds from other poker pros to EA charities. It's pretty quite successful. REG claims to have influenced over $6.5m, including $5.75m to global health, animal welfare, and x-risk charities, with a fundraising multiplier > 1:15.

Comment by anonymous_ea on What movements does EA have the strongest synergies with? · 2018-12-22T22:15:14.661Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Google turns up Juan Mata's Common Goal initiative: 'I am pledging 1% of my salary to Common Goal, a collective fund — run by the award-winning NGO streetfootballworld — that supports football charities around the globe.'


Comment by anonymous_ea on Response to a Dylan Matthews article on Vox about bipartisanship · 2018-12-22T21:57:27.653Z · score: 17 (7 votes) · EA · GW

That's a good point, but I think Larks is annoyed that they do make that tradeoff - they're okay putting in jibes at conservatives because it potentially helps them with leftists.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Why You Should Invest In Upgrading Democracy And Give To The Center For Election Science · 2018-12-20T06:14:59.621Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This sounds very interesting! I'm trying to understand it better and have a few questions:

1a. You mentioned that other groups are trying to implement IRV and may not even understand that approval voting is superior. Can you explain why you think other people think this and even advocate for apparently inferior methods? Your article seemed convincing at first glance and I don't think this is a particularly partisan issue.

1b. "We also haven’t faced organized opposition." What kind of opposition do you anticipate facing? IRV supporters? Elected officials?

2. Since legislative reform is a nonstarter according to you and ballot initiatives for changing voting methods are present in less than half of US states, what is the medium-long term plan? Get as many cities on approval voting as possible and hope that this builds pressure for approval voting nationally?

3. What factors led to the convincing margin of victory in Fargo despite it being seen as a long shot by the media?

4. What would make you change your mind about approval voting being the best option to advocate for?

Comment by anonymous_ea on 2018 AI Alignment Literature Review and Charity Comparison · 2018-12-20T01:11:53.598Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · EA · GW

Why is this seemingly reasonable comment at a score of 0 with 8 votes? Am I missing something?

Comment by anonymous_ea on [blog cross-post] We are in triage every second of every day · 2018-12-19T06:34:46.801Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Haha sounds good! I'm looking forward to it. Do you plan on posting the discussion on your FB wall about long-termism a while back? I think that would be valuable to have here.

Comment by anonymous_ea on [blog cross-post] We are in triage every second of every day · 2018-12-12T22:07:48.485Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for posting this here. I think it makes an important point as to why EA is important.

Btw, you might want to consider spacing out posting your old blog posts here just a little more :) I'm glad to see more good content here, but it feels a little spammy to me at the moment.

Comment by anonymous_ea on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2018-12-12T19:33:54.924Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW
If that's true, then "getting AI safety right" leaves a lot of things unaddressed, because in most scenarios "getting AI safety" right is only a small portion of the picture.

I didn't understand this. Could you explain more?

Comment by anonymous_ea on Pandemic Risk: How Large are the Expected Losses? Fan, Jamison, & Summers (2018) · 2018-11-26T19:50:14.705Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for posting this! A quick note: Millett & Snyder-Beatie (2017) is repeated here (it's both no. 7 and no. 8). I look forward to reading/hearing about your lit review!

Comment by anonymous_ea on Pandemic Risk: How Large are the Expected Losses? Fan, Jamison, & Summers (2018) · 2018-11-23T22:29:21.301Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the detailed reply! Is there a better or alternative paper you would recommend for this topic?

Comment by anonymous_ea on EA for different abilities... · 2018-11-21T19:39:35.784Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm sorry to hear about your illness but it's good to hear about your interest in EA! I imagine it'll be hard to give concrete advice without knowing more about your background, interests, and skills. Do you mind giving a little more information?

You might find some of the general advice on the website of 80000 Hours interesting, although their advice is targeted at a slightly different demographic.

You may also want to join a local EA group in your city or university, if there exists one :)

Comment by anonymous_ea on Critique of “Existential Threats” chapter in Enlightenment Now · 2018-11-21T19:34:08.038Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Sidenote: The general phenomenon you mentioned is sometimes referred to as the Gell-Mann amnesia effect.

The Gell-Mann amnesia effect describes the phenomenon of an expert believing news articles on topics outside of their field of expertise even after acknowledging that articles written in the same publication that are within the expert's field of expertise are error ridden and full of misunderstanding.

Pandemic Risk: How Large are the Expected Losses? Fan, Jamison, & Summers (2018)

2018-11-21T15:58:31.856Z · score: 22 (10 votes)
Comment by anonymous_ea on William MacAskill misrepresents much of the evidence underlying his key arguments in "Doing Good Better" · 2018-11-20T23:22:45.044Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Would this be a good top-level post for the forum? I imagine lots of EAs have read Enlightenment Now or are planning to read it. It seems relevant to highlight the flaws that an influential book might have relating to its treatment of existential risks.

Comment by anonymous_ea on William MacAskill misrepresents much of the evidence underlying his key arguments in "Doing Good Better" · 2018-11-20T17:42:34.151Z · score: 28 (12 votes) · EA · GW

As a datapoint, I thought that your reply was so bad that it was not worth engaging in, although I think you did find a couple of inaccuracies in DGB and appreciate the effort you went to. I'll briefly explain my position.

I thought MacAskill's explanations were convincing and your counter-argument missed his points completely, to the extent that you seem to have an axe to grind with him. E.g. if GiveWell is happy with how their research was presented in DGB (as MacAskill mentioned), then I really don't see how you, as an outsider and non-GW representative, can complain that their research is misquoted without having extremely strong evidence. You do not have extremely strong evidence. Even if you did, there's still the matter that GW's interpretation of their numbers is not necessarily the only reasonable one (as Jan_Kulveit points out below).

You completely ignored MacAskill's convincing counter-arguments while simultaneously accusing him of ignoring the substance your argument, so it seemed to me that there was little point in debating it further with you.