Should altruism be selfless? 2015-03-22T22:22:09.183Z
Bitton's 3-month Personal Review 2015-03-09T01:17:59.561Z
Figuring Good Out - February 2015-03-09T00:39:42.178Z
Motte-and-Bailey Explanations of EA 2015-02-17T04:49:15.803Z
Figuring Good Out - January 2015-01-31T16:23:40.890Z
The Choose-your-Charity Tax 2015-01-10T18:26:15.934Z
EA Origin Story: Changing 2015-01-06T14:16:03.470Z
Figuring Good Out - December 2015-01-01T00:49:21.986Z
Summary of Cialdini's Influence 2014-12-16T03:22:57.384Z
Figuring Good Out - Launch Thread 2014-12-01T22:57:04.307Z


Comment by Bitton on [Discussion] What does winning look like? · 2015-06-08T00:58:43.999Z · EA · GW

Some possible criteria:

  • Number of GWWC members
  • Number of GWWC pledge signers
  • Number of EA facebook group members
  • Amount of traffic on this website
  • Amount of money moved by GiveWell
  • Amount of 80k Hours career advice requests
  • Number of applications
  • Amount of media coverage
  • Amount of positive media coverage
  • Number of EA organizations and projects
  • Size and scale of EA organizations and projects
  • Number of job applications at EA organizations
  • Number of applications for EA funds, contests, and projects
  • Amount of money donated by EAs
  • Level of credibility EA holds in academia
Comment by Bitton on Should I be vegan? · 2015-05-17T16:10:07.351Z · EA · GW

I'm in a similar place to you.

One thing I think about that I didn't see you mention in your post is the pressure to remain consistent with this rise in your moral standards.

i.e. if eating meat has a Badness Score of -20 but eating dairy has a badness score of -10, then going from vegetarian to vegan seems to apply pressure on you to give up all your other behaviours that fall between -20 and -10 on the spectrum. (Maybe you now have to care more about recycling or something.)

Comment by Bitton on Five books to make you super effective · 2015-04-08T02:39:38.482Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Do any of these happen to be easily accessible online? I haven't been able to find them yet.

Comment by Bitton on The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis · 2015-03-17T01:24:33.414Z · EA · GW

Probably because the average age is so low (~25) - lots of students and people just starting out their careers.

Comment by Bitton on Seth Baum AMA next Tuesday on the EA Forum · 2015-02-25T02:03:07.395Z · EA · GW

Well, since nobody has asked anything...

Of all the arguments you've heard for de-prioritizing GCR reduction, which do you find most convincing?

Comment by Bitton on 4 Common (Hedonic) Prediction Failures and How to Fix Them · 2015-02-12T02:12:02.473Z · EA · GW

FYI in case you didn't know, CFAR posts are automatically posted to the "Recent on EA Blogs" bar on the right side of the page, which is how I read this piece.

Comment by Bitton on Announcing · 2015-02-02T16:57:25.519Z · EA · GW

Cool. Is the site targeted at people new to EA?

As someone that already knows the basic concepts and the organizations, I don't feel a need to return to the website other than to see what's changed.

Maybe you could link to the EA Forum and the EA Job Board? Have a news feed containing original content, news articles, blog posts, or .impact hackpad posts? Have or link to a page of open research questions?

Features that would get people to return after they've become familiar with the basics.

Comment by Bitton on Stuck? Talk to an EA Buddy! · 2015-01-27T00:23:17.259Z · EA · GW

Any updates on how this has gone?

Comment by Bitton on January Open Thread · 2015-01-26T03:09:34.968Z · EA · GW

I'm interested in the social movement research and in your blogging carnival suggestion.

Comment by Bitton on January Open Thread · 2015-01-22T05:25:59.619Z · EA · GW

Even if your goal is to do as much good as possible, you might do better in a field that really motivates you than in a field that typically produces high salaries but that doesn't interest you much. I also dislike applying for jobs - usually because the jobs I apply for are often jobs that I don't want. However, I like applying for jobs that I do want and that I think I'm qualified for. If you don't feel qualified for jobs in your field then I don't know what to say other than (1) maybe you are qualified but you just have a negatively biased self-image, (2) you can make yourself qualified by learning more and picking up new skills, and (3) figure out what you are qualified and motivated to do and go do that instead.

My best answer to "inability to believe in oneself" (and almost everything else) is rigorous organization. Track your time, set yourself at least daily, weekly, and monthly goals, develop routines (e.g. a morning routine), exercise regularly, set an alarm even on days that you don't have plans, etc. I started this about five weeks ago and saw extreme results almost overnight.

Comment by Bitton on January Open Thread · 2015-01-20T04:47:01.959Z · EA · GW

What do you think of the forum allowing private messaging and tagging people in posts?

Comment by Bitton on The Choose-your-Charity Tax · 2015-01-12T02:01:00.716Z · EA · GW

From what I understand, donations usually result in tax deductions equal to a portion of the donation (I think 15-30% in Canada) but the article suggests basically making them 100% tax deductible.

Comment by Bitton on EA Vloging · 2015-01-11T22:11:45.181Z · EA · GW

There's a guy on a movie message board I used to read that did a series of "30 Minute Film Schools" a while ago. Here's the one on audio and here's one on prosumer cameras. I think he has an especially fun way of teaching - his writing style reminds me of Slate Star Codex.

Comment by Bitton on EA Vloging · 2015-01-11T18:20:32.329Z · EA · GW

Record room tone so that you don't get that choppy sound every time you cut to a new clip!

Room tone = Before (or during or after) you start shooting, record about a minute of silence in that location. When you lay that audio track underneath the rest of your audio, you'll have a consistent ambient hum instead of one that changes each time you cut.

In terms of content, I thought there was a lot of material in here for this type of video. It was basically 20-30 bullet points in very quick succession, some of them with numbers and details that I, as a viewer, don't have enough time to process. I felt like there was so much information in such rapid fire fashion that I wasn't able to focus on what was being said. I'd recommend keeping the material simple and speaking more slowly.

Comment by Bitton on The Outside Critics of Effective Altruism · 2015-01-09T22:35:58.405Z · EA · GW

Off the top of my head:

  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
  • The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley
  • Moral Tribes by Joshua Greene
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Dennett
  • Freedom Evolves by Dennett
  • The Expanding Circle by Peter Singer

They might mean that our evolved morality is "good" in a different sense than you're looking for.

I haven't read them yet but The Ant and the Peacock, Moral Minds, Evolution of the Social Contract, Nonzero, Unto Others, and The Moral Animal are probably good picks on the subject.

Comment by Bitton on Peter's Personal Review for Oct-Dec 2014 · 2015-01-03T16:52:00.753Z · EA · GW

For the record, I'm 2 weeks into my first Peter-style personal review.

Comment by Bitton on The perspectives on effective altruism we don't hear · 2015-01-02T04:42:13.487Z · EA · GW

My suggestion: if you can't think of an existing resource that answers one of these criticisms, then write it yourself.

Comment by Bitton on Figuring Good Out - December · 2015-01-02T02:09:26.868Z · EA · GW

Some reasons for choosing this topic were:

  • It's easy for anyone to write about
  • It doesn't rehash information that's already known and
  • Provides reasonably useful data about movement-building.

I've already written my origin story but only intend to publish it on my blog as I consider it off topic for this forum.

Comment by Bitton on Gratipay for Funding EAs · 2014-12-29T04:30:30.923Z · EA · GW

I'd be interested in joining Gratipay but I don't seem well suited for it as I'm not currently working on a specific project that requires funding.

Comment by Bitton on How I Raised $5010.32 for AMF and How You Can Too! · 2014-12-28T02:29:38.537Z · EA · GW

Case by case basis, I'd say. If you haven't spoken to this person in years and they didn't respond, then a second email is pretty much spam. If it's someone you know better, a second email might be worth it.

Comment by Bitton on Figuring Good Out - Launch Thread · 2014-12-25T01:10:01.191Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the post!

Comment by Bitton on Top Tips on how to Choose an Effective Charity · 2014-12-23T03:12:28.122Z · EA · GW

I would add:

  • Consider the scale of the issue (how many people are being harmed or killed by this problem?)
  • Consider the tractability of the action (how much difference will this cause actually make toward solving the problem?)
  • Consider the room for more funding of an organization (what would this organization do with more money?)
  • As a general rule of thumb, aim for the world's worst off individuals

These are pretty basic but I think most mainstream social causes (e.g. Black Lives Matter, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge) fail to take these considerations into account.

Comment by Bitton on Summary of Cialdini's Influence · 2014-12-22T02:54:55.498Z · EA · GW

How about co-creating summaries together?

Here’s my summary of Chapter 1 of Principles of Marketing. It took me 4 hours of work. Here is a link to the book.

Anybody reading this can feel free to edit my writing or work on upcoming chapters. If everybody works on it a little at a time, it could get done several times faster than if I summarize the 600 page book on my own. Summarizing books seems perfectly suited for crowdsourcing.

Comment by Bitton on Summary of Cialdini's Influence · 2014-12-21T18:24:05.071Z · EA · GW

I'd consider summarizing a sequence.

Comment by Bitton on Summary of Cialdini's Influence · 2014-12-21T01:41:19.919Z · EA · GW

Any suggestions on what would be most useful and practical to summarize? Peter's list was geared toward marketing, outreach, persuasion, and activism. I think that's a good idea. I've started working on a marketing textbook called Principles of Marketing but I can tell that it's going to take me a very long time to do well and I might give up on it after the first chapter.

Comment by Bitton on How to Read · 2014-12-21T01:33:53.137Z · EA · GW

In the same vein as skimming - I sometimes like to just read a bunch of abstracts or literature reviews in a row.

In the same vein as being choosy - textbooks are really good places to start reading about a new subject.

I find that it can help me to read several books at once, also choosing the one I'm most excited to read in that particular moment. I often get bored of books in middle, especially if I'm reading them to learn and don't feel like I'm learning.

Comment by Bitton on Summary of Cialdini's Influence · 2014-12-17T02:07:17.144Z · EA · GW

Just for you, I threw together an <3 page summary but I think it's a lot less useful. It summarizes the basic idea of the book but has no room for examples.

Comment by Bitton on Figuring Good Out - Launch Thread · 2014-12-13T22:20:35.983Z · EA · GW

So my post is up: Investing in Yourself

If you write a post, link to it in this thread so it gets noticed.

Also, let me know if you want to choose next month's topic.

Comment by Bitton on Toronto meetup writeup: 2014-12-11 · 2014-12-13T01:31:55.084Z · EA · GW

I wasn't able to make it. Maybe next time!

Comment by Bitton on Interview with Nir Eyal on Population-Level Bioethics and Non-Utilitarian Effective Altruism · 2014-12-08T04:17:14.065Z · EA · GW

Eyal: "Should we count the death of a one day old baby expected otherwise to live many years as a far worse tragedy than the death of a college student expected to live a few less years forthwith?"

I've wondered this before. What do people think?

Comment by Bitton on Figuring Good Out - Launch Thread · 2014-12-07T19:11:58.482Z · EA · GW

I can't find most people's email addresses but the group is here for people to join.

Comment by Bitton on Figuring Good Out - Launch Thread · 2014-12-06T19:33:18.189Z · EA · GW

Any time before the end of the month. I was going to take a crack at mine today with the hope of inspiring other people to submit posts.

Comment by Bitton on Meetup : Toronto EA meetup · 2014-12-05T03:44:34.384Z · EA · GW

Also, you may want to post in the EA Facebook group. I think there are 3 or 4 others from Toronto.

Comment by Bitton on Meetup : Toronto EA meetup · 2014-12-05T00:41:49.503Z · EA · GW

Hey Giles, I met you at a LW meetup about a year ago at the Imperial. I mentioned EA to you (and the only other guy that showed up) and I got the impression that neither of you were familiar. Out of curiosity, was that your introduction to EA?

Comment by Bitton on The new GiveWell recommendations are out: here's a summary of the charities · 2014-12-01T18:25:04.899Z · EA · GW

Good Ventures granted $3M to SCI but only $250k to DtWI. Why such a big difference?

Comment by Bitton on Should we launch a podcast about high-impact projects and people? · 2014-12-01T17:41:15.012Z · EA · GW

There are some audio recordings of interviews from 2009 here.

Comment by Bitton on Spitballing EA career ideas · 2014-11-30T03:36:20.351Z · EA · GW

Nice post and thanks for the shout out to my blog but for the record, I'm not "a marketer" by any means. I just took an interest in marketing and related fields while researching my thesis paper. I actually do production office work in film.

Comment by Bitton on Effective Altruism Blogs · 2014-11-29T19:52:55.198Z · EA · GW

I think this is a good place to reiterate that I'm interested in beginning an EA blogging carnival where each month, somebody picks a theme and everybody blogs about that theme.

If there's enough interest, I'll pick a topic for Jan 1 submissions.

Comment by Bitton on Effective Altruism Blogs · 2014-11-28T18:24:48.932Z · EA · GW

The Roxanne Heston link doesn't work.

Comment by Bitton on You have a set amount of "weirdness points". Spend them wisely. · 2014-11-27T21:41:32.238Z · EA · GW

I like this way of thinking about weirdness, Peter. I've been saying for a while that EA is associated with a lot of weird ideas that are sure to turn off many ordinary people.

Another thing I'd recommend is remaining sympathetic to mildly and moderately important issues (e.g. fighting police brutality in the USA, supporting gay rights, containing ebola, the ALS ice bucket challenge) even when you see everybody around you overrating their importance relative to other issues that you consider far more important. Raining on everybody else's warm, fuzzy parade will make you "weird," and people will be less willing to hear about your alternative causes. I think the general strategy should be to care about EA issues in addition to mainstream issues, rather than supporting them as an alternative to mainstream issues.

Comment by Bitton on Open Thread 4 · 2014-11-12T01:07:45.018Z · EA · GW

Well, the point is that it's a different person choosing the topic each time so my personal list won't be a good representation of what an actual blogging carnival would like - but here are some possibilities, some of which have already been done to death:

  • Donating Now vs Donating Later
  • EA Outreach
  • The Importance of the Far Future
  • Should EAs Be Vegan?
  • The Role of Self-Improvement in EA
  • Morality and Altruism
  • EA Ideas in Art and Popular Culture
  • Unusual Causes
  • Advanced Finances for EAs
  • The Moral Relevance of Wild Animal Suffering
  • Unknown Unknowns
  • The Epistemology of Cause Prioritization

The topics should be open-ended enough that different bloggers will take the topic in different directions.

Comment by Bitton on Open Thread 4 · 2014-11-12T00:57:45.396Z · EA · GW

Is there any interest in an EA blogging carnival?

How it works is that each month, a different blogger "hosts" the carnival by selecting a topic. Everyone interested in participating for that month then writes a blog post about that topic. The host then writes up a post linking to all the submissions.

Comment by Bitton on Open Thread 4 · 2014-11-09T21:27:42.796Z · EA · GW

This is a bit tangential but I don't know if there's a single EA that smokes cigarettes.

Comment by Bitton on Open Thread 4 · 2014-11-09T01:48:57.237Z · EA · GW

Diego, I don't weight any of the 4 risks you've listed very heavily. I also think you've underestimated the benefits.

In regards to Benefit #1, a vote's relevance doesn't depend on the election being decided by a single vote. If you think probabilistically, then in any given election, your vote has a certain probability of affecting the outcome. You can weight that against how important you think it is for Party A to win over Party B. I think that given how little it costs to vote, it's usually clearly worth it to take a small action with a tiny probability of having large-scale consequences.

I think this is somewhat analogous to going vegetarian, in which case you're contributing to a larger cause even though your individual decision not to buy meat only has a tiny probability of being the non-purchase that causes the grocery store to order one less item next time.

Other benefits:

a) Your vote might cause other people to vote with you. In this case, you are no longer a single vote but a package of votes.

b) There's also something to be said for signalling an interest in politics and social issues.

c) In some elections, your vote might give the party you voted for more seats, funding, power and/or legitimacy, even if they ultimately lose the election.

d) The attention it takes to learn about politics can also have multiple benefits: being in touch with the people around you, learning about issues in society, learning about solving those issues, etc.