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Benefits of EA engaging with mainstream (addressed) cause areas 2019-05-08T20:38:58.879Z · score: 31 (17 votes)

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Comment by blehrer on Benefits of EA engaging with mainstream (addressed) cause areas · 2019-05-09T19:36:23.539Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the reply, Nathan.

I think EA shouldn't want inefficient charities to end simply because it has no ability to actually make this happen. There will always be people who donate with pathos before logos, and this is something that I think EA could be better at knowing how to harness to its advantage.

Yeah I think what I'm advocating for in this post is that you might be able to do more good per dollar by shifting graph to right (if this is in fact possible) because the graph is not actually a nice even bell curve but heavily bunched in the middle, if not to the left.

Comment by blehrer on Benefits of EA engaging with mainstream (addressed) cause areas · 2019-05-09T19:29:38.892Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for your comments, kbog!

The idea behind the post was not to advocate for spending more money on ineffective causes, at least not in the form of donations.

(Let's go with global dev as example problem area) I think providing guidance begins to paint the picture of what I'm advocating for. But something like Vox Newsletters aren't an adequate way to study the effectiveness of global dev. The real issue at hand is what the upside of formal organization around analyzing dev effectiveness could be, i.e. a Center for Election Science for development, or Open Phil announcing a dev Focus Area.

First and foremost, I think that there is a high upside to simply studying what the current impact of the dev sector is. This was the idea behind bringing up the orders of magnitude of difference between EA and dev earmarked capital. It's not about deciding where a new donation goes. Nor is accurate to frame it as deciding between managing '$1mil in domestic versus global health'. The reality is that there is trillions of dollars locked within dev programs that often have tenuous connections to impact. Making these programs just 1% percent more efficient could have massive impact potential relative to the small amount of preexisting capital EA has at play.

The broader point behind addressing these larger capital chunks, and working directly on improving the efficiencies of mainstream problem areas is that the Overton window model of altruism suggests that people will always donate to 'inefficient' charities. Instead of turning away from this and forming its own bubble, EA might stand to gain a lot by addressing mainstream behaviors more directly. Shifting the curve to the right instead of building up from scratch might be easier.