Posts

80,000 Hours is hiring for a marketer 2022-08-04T01:24:17.133Z
Tell 80,000 Hours how we're doing 2022-07-18T14:42:20.903Z
What YouTube channels do you watch? 2022-06-01T11:38:22.453Z
Three minute action to help 80,000 Hours grow 2022-02-18T12:55:20.591Z
Antibiotic resistance: Should animal advocates intervene? 2020-08-14T12:29:16.872Z

Comments

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Have faux-evil EA energy · 2022-08-24T15:52:09.352Z · EA · GW

This is an attitude I hold strongly, though my internal spin on it is something like:

When you're trying to help others, ruthlessly pursue that goal

When you're not trying to help others, ruthlessly do whatever you want all the time.

This really works for me as a framing, personally. Someone pointed out to me today it's very MTG red, if that means anything to you.

(Obviously, this only works well if 'whatever you want' is ~always harmless)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on What’s alive right now? · 2022-08-14T13:26:11.534Z · EA · GW

They're surprisingly well-studied - I think because they have very simple & highly centralised nervous systems. I also liked this Microcosmos video on them :)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Animal rights initiative with far-reaching consequences and possibly high chance of success · 2022-08-12T14:47:10.842Z · EA · GW

Hi - could you share any impressions of the room for more funding here? How much money could be effectively deployed by the team working on this? Do they have fundraising targets?

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Nice 1min 80,000 Hours ad on YouTube video · 2022-08-10T09:39:12.819Z · EA · GW

So, I don't dictate per se, but I have input in two ways:

  1. I send creators an initial doc with 'talking points' (things I'd like them to say about 80k) and example ad reads we've liked in the past
  2. I review the script they'll read from and/or the final filmed video (mostly to veto anything I don't like, because rewording once the video is filmed is pretty costly)

I always encourage creators to use their own tone, say things they think will resonate with their audience, and take judgement calls on what will work best in their context. IME that has higher conversion rates :)

In Tom's case we talked a bit about alternatives, and especially the 'call to action' at the end. I signed off on a script and the final filmed video.

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on What’s alive right now? · 2022-08-10T09:35:33.746Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this. Now I have a clearly-written, concise piece to share with people whenever I go on a rant about the absolutely absurd number of nematodes. (They're the average animal! By the numbers, Animalia is~worms!)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Nice 1min 80,000 Hours ad on YouTube video · 2022-08-09T11:01:17.610Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the crosspost - FYI I negotiated this deal (it was very easy, Tom Scott & his team are lovely & great to work with) so feel free to AMA!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Announcing Non-trivial, an EA learning platform for teenagers · 2022-07-14T18:18:58.183Z · EA · GW

Following the law of equal and opposite feedback: I thought the logo was great, and clearly reads as stairs to me :)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Kurzgesagt - The Last Human (Longtermist video) · 2022-07-04T12:04:37.118Z · EA · GW

3,134 people clicked through to the 80k longtermism article from the Kurzgesagt video. At time of writing, the video has 4.2m views, meaning 0.07% of viewers clicked the link. 85 of those people subscribed to the 80k newsletter (2.24% conversion rate, compared to a 4.2% site average).

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Kurzgesagt - The Last Human (Longtermist video) · 2022-06-30T10:33:53.415Z · EA · GW

I'll reply to this comment with our stats on the link to 80,000 Hours' article in a week or so (or when the video stops getting many more views per day)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on EA Dedicates · 2022-06-24T15:00:17.528Z · EA · GW

Thank you for writing this; I enjoyed it and thought it was novel (to me). The monk analogy seems particularly instructive.

Still - I feel uneasy because I'm not sure which category I fall into, nor which I want to fall into. Probably just because binaries are not (usually) perfect binaries!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on The Case for Reading Books · 2022-06-21T10:20:47.238Z · EA · GW

I liked this post but I think it would have been helpful if you were more clear between two claims you could be making:

  1. 'Reading books is (sometimes) an optimal medium of consuming information, given ~altruistic goals'
  2. 'Reading books is (sometimes) valuable given ~non-altruistic goals - e.g. it is pleasurable, exposes the reader to culture, etc.'

I think you move fluidly between arguing for both 1 and 2, which can be a bit confusing, especially because the framing of the post seems like you wanted to mostly argue for 1.

FWIW I basically think both are true, but with heavy emphasis on the 'sometimes' in 1. For that reason, I'd mostly be interested in a post which talks about when and how books can be optimal ways of consuming info (rather than stuff arguing for 2 which I expect ~everybody agrees with).

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Critiques of EA that I want to read · 2022-06-20T10:03:39.107Z · EA · GW

a moral realism that seems somewhat popular in the EA space

Could you say more about this? (My anecdata suggest that EAs typically embrace anti-realism)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Former high school debaters: Share this VBI EA scholarship with your old team! · 2022-06-03T13:55:27.088Z · EA · GW

Shared! Thanks Abie :)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on What YouTube channels do you watch? · 2022-06-02T18:58:29.221Z · EA · GW

Thank you so much, I hadn't seen this!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on What YouTube channels do you watch? · 2022-06-02T17:58:23.581Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the feedback - sorry you had a slightly frustrating experience!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on What YouTube channels do you watch? · 2022-06-01T14:32:35.347Z · EA · GW

Hey Nathan,

I actually purposefully made it a post rather than a question, as it'd be most helpful for me if people filled out the form I linked rather than replying in the comments with their answers. I figured a question would encourage the latter approach.

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on New substack on utilitarian ethics: Good Thoughts · 2022-05-09T16:39:24.056Z · EA · GW

Can't wait for the issue on metaethical non-naturalism! Subscribed :)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on My Job: EA Office Manager · 2022-05-03T08:11:16.769Z · EA · GW

Adding another comment testifying to the value of Jonathan's work:

I worked at Trajan House for a few months before he started (but left ~as he was taking on the role). I've had the opportunity to visit a couple times since then, and the impact of Jonathan's work is /extremely/ obvious to me. Every issue I'd had with the office was fixed (as far as I could tell), plus a lot more things that I hadn't even thought could be improved. It's a totally different place!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on High absorbency career paths · 2022-04-13T12:33:56.569Z · EA · GW

Bella from 80k here — I really liked this post, and think it points to something important - thanks for writing it!

The ‘absorbency’ of a career path is one of the things we take into account when we decide what to recommend. For instance, being a ‘public intellectual’ is something that can probably absorb only a few people, which is why it’s lower down on our list of top recommended career paths (and we note this in the profile itself, too).

(AndreFerretti asked whether 80k considers absorbency below, but I thought I'd post as a comment not a reply since it might be of general interest) :)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Don’t think, just apply! (usually) · 2022-04-13T12:25:31.908Z · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing your perspective from the hiring & evaluation side!

FWIW I already had some belief of this shape, which is why I added the caveat 'things that I imagine will disappoint people' - some part of me knows that the hirers are very unlikely to actually care, but another part worries & feels aversion to this.

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Don’t think, just apply! (usually) · 2022-04-12T17:02:16.616Z · EA · GW

One pretty mild but countervailing consideration that a friend raised to me is that it can be psychologically taxing to drop out of an application process, & this might skew your decision-making.

I know myself and know that I don't like disappointing people (or, doing things that I imagine will disappoint people); so much so that I might end up dropping out later than is optimal, or not drop out at all until the final stage.

It's hard to tell people no (more so for some personality types than others!), and if you know this to be true about yourself that's a (weak) reason in favour of not putting yourself in situations where you'll need to say no if you later decide the job isn't right for you.

Overall, very much agree with the direction & message of the post!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on The Vultures Are Circling · 2022-04-06T13:34:06.430Z · EA · GW

Strong upvote for the erosion of trust being one of the things I'm really worried about.

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Three minute action to help 80,000 Hours grow · 2022-02-21T16:45:33.085Z · EA · GW

That looks like a good template - thanks for making it & for sharing!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Managing 'Imposters' · 2022-02-03T10:11:14.059Z · EA · GW

"Being the newest member of a team can be daunting, particularly if the new joiner is impressed by the rest of the team. Making sure the person actually chats to the rest of the team makes clear they’re all just people too."

As someone new to the team at 80k, can confirm! Thanks Michelle and also everyone on the team for making me feel so welcome so quickly :)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on The Unweaving of a Beautiful Thing · 2021-12-26T19:55:56.433Z · EA · GW

This was a beautiful story, and it made me cry. I especially liked the section about compassion. Thanks for sharing it, and for writing it.

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Killing the ants · 2021-02-15T17:30:27.606Z · EA · GW

Your suspicions are correct; there's actually some good evidence to suggest that TNR is not effective at reducing feral cat population. Here's a very short summary which links to pages with more detail, if you're interested: https://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/trap-neuter-release/

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on A brief explanation of the Myanmar coup · 2021-02-03T12:47:48.613Z · EA · GW

Could you define 'selectorate' and 'ejectorate'? The paragraph in which these terms are used is quite difficult to read, and I do not know what they refer to. Thanks!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Important Between-Cause Considerations: things every EA should know about · 2021-01-29T09:34:52.203Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this post; really interesting and seems like it could be really important.

You wrote:

"I think this classification allows for there to be potentially astronomical differences in value between the cause areas. There probably won’t be as astronomical differences in value within these cause areas (e.g. between different ways to improve near-term human welfare)."

While I share this intuition (i.e. I can think of some informal reasons why I think this would be correct), I'm not sure it's an obvious enough claim to not need argumentation. Also, I agree with Michael that the importance of IBCs depends in part on this claim.

For that reason, I'd be really interested to see you make explicit your reasoning for saying this, if you can.

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Ranking animal foods based on suffering and GHG emissions · 2021-01-21T09:09:16.665Z · EA · GW

Just wanted to say that this looks extremely cool, and is something I will definitely be sharing with people in my life! (Especially those who insist on still eating shrimp and almost no other animal products...)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on AMA: Owen Cotton-Barratt, RSP Director · 2020-09-06T07:17:18.870Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this interesting discussion; for others who read this and were interested, I thought I'd link some previous EA discussions on this topic in case it's helpful :)

One brief addition: I think the kind of conscientious omnivorism you describe ('I do try to only consume animals I think have had reasonable welfare levels') might have similar opportunity costs to veg*ism, and there's some not very conclusive psychological literature to suggest that, since it is a finer grained rule than 'eat no animals', it might even be harder to follow. 

Obviously, this depends very much on what we mean by opportunity cost, and it also depends on how one goes about only trying to eat happy animals. I'm not sure what the best answer to either of those questions is.

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on The scale of direct human impact on invertebrates · 2020-09-03T14:51:22.807Z · EA · GW

If there was ever something to read to prove that scope insensitivity exists, this would be it! Unreflectively, I feel about as bad about all of these industries, even though there are many orders of magnitude between the smallest and largest.  

Thanks for this very valuable post!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Antibiotic resistance: Should animal advocates intervene? · 2020-08-20T17:10:44.862Z · EA · GW

Arguments like these are some of the reasons why I am less optimistic about total bans, rather than bans on subtherapeutic and growth promotion use of antibiotics. If there aren't good treatment alternatives available, then banning antibiotics outright would probably sometimes force producers to leave disease untreated, which seems like it would be really bad for animal welfare. I don't know how often there are no good treatment alternatives, but I'd guess it's some decent proportion of disease.

However, I do think the argument is a bit disingenuous. I can't find the transcript of that speech on Google so I don't know when it was made, but if it was before March 2019, Sanderson Farms was at that time using antibiotics not just to treat disease, but also to promote the growth of their chickens and prophylactically to prevent disease. Undoubtedly, using antibiotics in these ways has some non-negligable benefits to the chickens' welfare and to their environmental impact (although I don't know anything about the environmental impact of producing antibiotics!). But forgoing prophylactic and growth promoting antibiotic use would not force them to abandon their 'obligation to care for the animals under [their] care'. Also, it doesn't seem like people oppose using prescribed and targeted antibiotics, which is what the speaker was defending here. Both Tyson and Perdue sell antibiotics with the label 'No Antibiotics Ever', but Perdue reassures us in their FAQ:

"Of course, no matter how hard we try, some chickens will “catch something,” and we’ll never withhold appropriate treatment. Those chickens would not be labeled “no-antibiotics ever” and would be sold through different channels."

I'm therefore somewhat confident that even when producers do sell meat which is labelled 'No Antibiotics Ever' they still treat sick animals where antibiotics are the best treatment option. There is a strong economic incentive for them to do so, since mortality, slower growth rates, and worse feed conversion ratios are expensive. 

But of course, if any country were to totally ban antibiotics, they wouldn't be able to do this (I suppose it's possible they could export the animals needing treatment internationally, but this seems pretty unlikely). 

So, for a total ban to be net positive in my opinion, I would have to see strong evidence that a) welfare reforms were widely adopted and b) welfare reforms were effective at preventing disease, or c) antibiotic substitutes were equally effective at treating and/or preventing disease. I think this is a pretty high bar which isn't very likely to be met, so I would only be in favour of a ban on subtherapeutic/prophylactic and growth promoting use. 

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Urgency vs. Patience - a Toy Model · 2020-08-20T16:31:00.595Z · EA · GW

I think that ignoring all the value in futures where we don't safely reach technological maturity kind of stacks the deck against GPR, which I intuitively think is better than your model suggests. This seems especially the case if we have a suffering-focused ethics (I mean by this: there is an asymmetry between suffering and happiness, such that decreasing suffering by x is better than increasing happiness by x). 

Including 'bad futures' would, I suspect, affect how easy you think it is to increase the value of the future by 1/4 (or equivalent). This is because there are lots of different ways the future could be really bad, with loads and loads of moral patients who suffer a lot, and avoiding one of these sources of suffering feels to me like it's more tractable than making the 'good future' even better (especially by some large fraction like 1/4). It would be even easier to improve the value of these 'bad futures' if we have a suffering-focused ethics rather than a symmetrical view of ethics. 

(Note: I wrote this comment with one meaning of 'technological maturity' in mind, but now I'm actually not sure if that was what you meant by it, so maybe the answer is you would be including the kind of futures I mean. In that case, we probably differ on how easy we think it would be to affect these futures.)

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on Antibiotic resistance: Should animal advocates intervene? · 2020-08-14T16:35:02.645Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your question!

I didn’t go as far as doing a cost-effectiveness analysis on this; I think that there are a lot of uncertainties that would make that quite difficult, but it'd definitely be a good next step for this topic.

My guess is that if we purely consider impact on animals then it might come out quite a bit less cost-effective than other interventions, but that if we account for public health benefits as well it might turn out to be comparable in terms of cost-effectiveness.

I think the two most important variables that cost-effectiveness would be sensitive to are whether/what kind of welfare adaptations farmers would make, and how effective antibiotic substitutes are. If we’re including impacts on humans then it would also be very sensitive to what proportion of the antibiotic resistance burden comes from antibiotic use on farmed animals!

Comment by Bella (Bella_Forristal) on My Meta-Ethics and Possible Implications for EA · 2020-08-04T09:38:32.168Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this. I think that we should probably be investigating metaethics much more than it generally seems to be investigated (based on my view that conclusions in metaethics seem like they could be hugely important, mitigated by the fact that conclusions seem very hard to come by). 

I'm not sure I fully understand the claim about population ethics. Is it that population ethics necessarily speculates about things outside of our experience, therefore it's harder to make correct judgements? Or is it a stronger conclusion than that (perhaps, we can't make any judgements at all?). Do you think we might be more likely than random to be right about population axiology, or do we have no guidance at all?