Universal cost-effectiveness calculator 2020-10-11T13:54:24.086Z · score: 17 (9 votes)
A counterfactual QALY for USD 2.60–28.94? 2020-09-06T21:45:08.476Z · score: 37 (18 votes)
Data Analysis Involvement Opportunity (~10 hours) 2020-09-06T21:39:30.929Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
Sample size and clustering advice needed 2020-07-29T14:21:02.976Z · score: 15 (4 votes)
EA Cameroon - COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention in the Santa Division of Cameroon Project Proposal 2020-07-25T20:19:01.733Z · score: 62 (28 votes)
Effective Altruism and International Trade 2019-10-15T03:21:37.652Z · score: 37 (13 votes)


Comment by brb243 on Effective Giving Advocacy Challenge · 2020-10-29T13:29:45.432Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

For sure, if you want to get a bit serious about this, please join the EA Lobbying Discussion next Thursday (November 5, 2020) at 5pm UK time at We should have an overview of negotiation basics and policy advocacy insights from two government officials. Maximize your leverage by institutionalizing a 'giving' policy.

Comment by brb243 on Data Analysis Involvement Opportunity (~10 hours) · 2020-10-15T19:27:17.716Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hi! This one should be taken care of. I can let you know about other opps.

Comment by brb243 on Effective Altruism is a Question (not an ideology) · 2020-10-11T20:37:21.989Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

But I am an Effective Altruist, Helen -- 😓 By definition, as a member of the Effective Altruism community, no matter what I do or what I ask. Of course, engaging with the movement, I am more likely to expand my moral circles, gain knowledge and motivation to do great, et cetera, just like the other Effective Altruists. Held accountable by the institution itself, I enter, remain, or exit freely.

Comment by brb243 on A counterfactual QALY for USD 2.60–28.94? · 2020-10-08T20:57:13.317Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW


I found the dataset that I thought I saw before: the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 (GBD 2017) Disability Weights. Disability weights are the changes of Health-related Quality of Life (HRQoL) due to a condition. I re-ran the calculations and found the cost-effectiveness of the mobile clinics project as 26.63 USD/QALY, with a low estimate of 184.14 USD/QALY and high estimate of 6.33 USD/QALY. I used the same data to estimate the cost-effectiveness of AMF and found 56.07 USD/QALY (low 112.14 and high 11.21). The Business Insider AMF number is about 49.76 USD/QALY. Thus, these updated calculations may be more accurate. Still, the calculations do not take into account the preventive care outcomes, deaths averted due to the Ebola outbreak response, and economic benefits (e. g. of deworming) that may lead to further health improvements, leave alone the positive long-term virtuous cycle of improved health and wealth - but that may apply to other health-related programs too.

Comment by brb243 on Data Analysis Involvement Opportunity (~10 hours) · 2020-09-30T20:36:25.725Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

OK. I can see it on and download it from Google Drive. Perhaps this link:


I can also send via e-mail, feel free to message.

Comment by brb243 on Guidelines on depicting poverty · 2020-09-21T17:13:59.682Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · EA · GW

When one is portraying reality accurately (people living on standards far below those of advanced economies), there may seem to be no problem (people living peacefully on the fields or in slums, disabled people asking for funds, sick persons resting at home). It is just the reality; these people are just a part of the picture. They are accepted by the society, although perhaps not as much catered to.

I am actually thinking that both portraying someone's negative emotional appeal (that does not allow the addressee to reject donating to the acceptance and end of relationship of the appealer) and portraying an opportunity to make a great impact put the intended beneficiaries into a subordinate position. The latter only necessitates different emotional work of the portrayed - exhibiting joy and proudly grateful performance as opposed to hatred and feeling of injustice. Since those in relative power may wish to feel that they are appreciated/loved by independent persons, the latter may be a better 'customer care' for the donors.

The best case would be perhaps sincere reality, with all its benefits (e. g. good relationships) and economic donation opportunities. No emotions directed to the audience. This would also enable donors to make independent decisions, doing good for absolutely nothing in return.

Now the question is how effective the portrayal of just people living somewhere be in soliciting donations. I hope that highly, because providing unconditional love is what makes people feel truly well.

Comment by brb243 on Denise_Melchin's Shortform · 2020-09-19T17:28:28.811Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think that thinking about longtermism enables people to feel empowered to solve problems somewhat beyond the reality, truly feeling the prestige/privilege/knowing-better of 'doing the most good'- also, this may be a viewpoint applicable for those who really do not have to worry about finances, but also that is relative. Which also links to my second point that some affluent persons enjoy speaking about innovative solutions, reflecting current power structures defined by high-technology, among others. It would be otherwise hard to make a community of people feeling the prestige of being paid a little to do good or donating to marginally improve some of the current global institutions, that cause the present problems. Or wouldit

Comment by brb243 on A counterfactual QALY for USD 2.60–28.94? · 2020-09-15T18:30:12.365Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hello. I apologize for the late reply. I was moving over the weekend. I am looking at the IHME DALY by cause data (my calculations here) but these do not seem to take into account the long-term effects of the diseases. For example, deworming and vitamin A supplementation may have positive long-term effects in terms of schooling and economic gains that may far outweigh the direct short-term QALY losses. From there the upper estimate of 5. Simple malaria I would presume one that does not require immediate medical attention but one that still may result in severe condition if untreated (CDC). For the life-threatening conditions, my rationale was also that children treated with severe acute malnutrition are younger than average-age patients and that persons who survive 5 years live on average longer than life expectancy.

Also, the QALY estimates are not taking into account the effects of preventive measures - e. g. almost 90,000 persons informed on STIs and the response to a cholera outbreak (training and material provided) - before the intervention, 5 persons died, after no other deaths occurred.

On that note, I would actually appreciate if anyone could provide more credible estimates, taking into account the effectiveness and long-term consequences of the treatment. I am sure that REO would welcome such cooperation, also for capacity building reasons.

Comment by brb243 on A counterfactual QALY for USD 2.60–28.94? · 2020-09-08T21:43:29.485Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The diagnosis numbers are data of the past ~5 months of the project scaled up to 6 months (×208/154 (clinic-weeks)). REO records data on all diagnoses (by week) and the provided are the sums.

For the QALY estimates, I used my best judgment, also based on the potential decrease of the Health-related Quality of Life (HRQoL) multiplied by the years lived with the (consequences of the) condition (equivalent Years Lost due to Disability) and on the potential Years of Live Lost. For example, for the mild condition treatments, deworming or vitamin A supplementation can have great long-term quality of life effect. However, treating other minor conditions may have only relatively small short-term effects. Thus, the wide ranges in estimates.

In terms of the QALY improvement, this will depend on the facility of treatment of the condition. For example, treating severe malaria, severe acute malnutrition, averting maternal deaths due to antenatal care, or deworming may be relatively easier than treating cancer, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension. This should be already factored in the ranges - for example, for life-threatening conditions, the upper QALY estimate is that the clinics save all lives and the lower estimate is that perhaps only ~1/3 of lives is saved or that all interventions save a life but its quality is decreased by 67 percentage points, or a combination of the two that results in the same increase in overall quality×quantity of life.

Comment by brb243 on Should we create an EA index? · 2020-08-04T23:08:09.065Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Perhaps just randomly: the Trade for Sustainable Development scoring of the International Trade Centre includes a list of companies implementing 14 certifiable voluntary sustainability standards. According to some trade experts, the cost of certification is often the bigger hindrance the smaller the company is. Also, the profits of a sustainable enterprise may go to the middle-income managers as opposed to the low-skilled workers (one research).

Also, Resonance works on impact investing. I do not believe that they focus on reporting/scoring but could be a valuable resource to inquire about the landscape and perhaps criteria.

Do you know of the T100 project of the Toniic impact investing community and the IRIS+ metrics of the GIIN impact investing network?

Should social return on investment (increase in everyone's profits/investment) be considered (One Acre Fund, Babban Gona, ImpactMatters top list)? Should the idea that the value of life may be ~proportional to the GDP/capita of an area be considered?

Comment by brb243 on Informational Lobbying: Theory and Effectiveness · 2020-07-31T17:39:46.817Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hello. I studied lobbying in DC during my MA in International Trade and Economic Diplomacy. I also tried to estimate the cost-effectiveness of lobbying per QALY - and came up with $280 per quality life (or about $4.7/QALY) (p. 3) or the first draft on the EA Forum.

I think that EA Brazil and some others are working on starting an EA lobbying group. I dm'd you regarding this.

Comment by brb243 on Investing to Save Lives · 2020-07-31T16:58:54.477Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

(reference to a Nigerian social impact bond here) "Investors can opt to purchase Babban Gona’s Raise Out of Poverty bond (ROPO). ROPO is Nigeria’s first social impact bond that enables investors attain a reasonable return on their investment" I wonder if social impact bonds have been considered by EA - or, if these are not where EA has comparative advantage, at least static.

Perhaps social impact bonds create additional impact for every bond purchased - room for investment is limited only by the capacity of persons to increase their income. This contrasts with impact investment to specific companies (e. g. those that are competitive at gaining capital) where additional investment may displace someone else's investment - research by Founders Pledge.

Also, check out this comment.

Comment by brb243 on Sample size and clustering advice needed · 2020-07-30T19:10:03.048Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

OK, thank you.

Comment by brb243 on Sample size and clustering advice needed · 2020-07-30T19:09:07.996Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hello Sindy,

Thank you so much. This answers my question. Yes, there will be a before and after qualitative survey asking about own and others' behavior - which may need to be truncated to speak with more different groups. Then, the face covering data can be used to complement the survey information.

Comment by brb243 on Sample size and clustering advice needed · 2020-07-30T16:32:34.185Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you. I was not able to get (a pdf of) Field Experiments, but downloaded the "Field Experimental Designs for the Study of Media Effects," also co-authored by Green. They point out "robust cluster standard errors" to estimate "individual-level average treatment effect" (172).

To answer your points:

  • The smallest effect size you would hope to observe
    • 20%. From 5/10 to 6/10 or equivalent % increase
  • Your available resources
    • Researchers in all of the campaign clusters and some of the non-campaign ones. They can count whether e. g. few hundreds of individuals wear face covering
  • The population within each cluster
    • Different, average of 180,000/6 = 30,000.
  • The total population
    • Since we are just looking to estimate the impact of the 180,000-person campaign and not to generalize it, this should be 180,000x2 (180,000 participating and an equal number of non-participants who are the nearest geographically and in characteristics).
  • Your analysis methodology
    • Probit, logit or simple linear regression, but open to suggestions

I meant 6 groups in the intervention area, and some number of groups (e. g. 3 or 6) in the non-intervention area.

OK. So 3 intervention clusters and 3 non-intervention clusters are better than 6 intervention clusters and 3 non-intervention clusters but 6+6 may be necessary? Would the answer depend on the intra-cluster correlation coefficient (ρ)? Perhaps, the texts that generally talk about clustering assume relatively significant between cluster variability and low within cluster variability (so high ρ). However, in this study, how people respond to the messaging may not depend much on their 'cluster assignment,' but much more on their individual characteristics that, on average, may be comparable across the clusters and the studied population.

I should ask EA Cameroon about the possibility of different average responses in different villages.

Do you know of any online sample size calculator that includes clusters?

Comment by brb243 on Is region-level cause prioritization research valuable to spot promising long-term priority causes worldwide? · 2020-07-29T14:40:37.327Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

What about the Cameroonian Civil War that (or at least of which effects) can be mitigated by a combination of EA and local knowledge? This can be a potentially high-impact problem/intervention that has not been covered by other EA research, perhaps due to its localized nature.

Comment by brb243 on Is region-level cause prioritization research valuable to spot promising long-term priority causes worldwide? · 2020-07-25T18:13:42.061Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Research of the most cost-effective causes, interpreted as means to create additional impact can inform long-term priorities – in regions of any levels of development. E. g. in Lokoja in Northern Nigeria, that means may be very different from that in Bangkok or Washington, D. C. Maybe in Lokoja that is informing mothers on the available prenatal and early childhood healthcare incentives (that in the long term gives rise to institutions perpetuating increased wellbeing), in Bangkok supporting regional norms on migrant work, and in Washington, D. C. lobbying for trade policy favorable to LMICs.

Different locally-identified measures can be globally compared in their cost-effectiveness, complementarities potentially concluded, and individual EAs may decide, based on their expertise and the extent of the fulfillment of care of more inner moral circles, whether they wish to focus on a local or more distant measure, or even relocate.

For this global cost-effectiveness comparison and insights into complementarities, knowledge of the entire field of possible impact, as well as the global structure within which the intervention extends and cascades impact, is needed.

Research of the most cost-effective local causes, interpreted as means to help locals, may also inform long-term priorities – also in regions of any levels of development. First, comparison can show where a local should allocate their focus to help most effectively (e. g. a person in Washington, D. C. can conclude that supporting migrant laborers in Southeast Asia is more cost-effective than supporting local homeless persons). Second, complementarities can be also drawn - e. g. a DC-based person may be able to benefit from focusing on a positive measure (e. g. migrant labor laws in Southeast Asia) as opposed to negative-emotions based advertisement - and person in Bangkok can benefit from increased ability to institutionalize positive change. Third, the identification of cost-effective means to help locals enables persons to fulfill their need to care for more inner moral circles more cost-effectively, so that further funds are left for more outer moral circles.

Comment by brb243 on EA Cameroon - COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention in the Santa Division of Cameroon Project Proposal · 2020-07-23T17:38:15.564Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

OK, thank you. Added that better fitting masks made of denser material work better.

Comment by brb243 on EA Cameroon - COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention in the Santa Division of Cameroon Project Proposal · 2020-07-22T15:08:26.945Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Yes. In terms of percentage, how less effective are 4 layers of woven fabric in preventing the spread of coronavirus than 4 layers of knitted fabric? Than 2 layers of woven fabric? The idea is to have at least 4 layers of the sock (after folding) or at least 2 layers of other fabric. In preventing breathing in the virus?

Comment by brb243 on EA Cameroon - COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention in the Santa Division of Cameroon Project Proposal · 2020-07-21T18:06:13.804Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hello Ray,

That is a part of the team. Community leaders (not pictured) will be also engaged in recording the show in local languages and answering questions regarding details of any of the preventive measures in their local communities.

The idea is to collect baseline data on following the preventive measures (and case incidence, if possible) in a town within the radio and newspaper reach and in a comparable town outside of the reach of the two. After one month, the results will be evaluated and further steps taken accordingly.

The spending will be accounted and tracked by EA Cameroon. It may be a great idea to post updates on spending.

Comment by brb243 on EA Cameroon - COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention in the Santa Division of Cameroon Project Proposal · 2020-07-21T17:55:09.123Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi John,

This is so cool! Actually EA Cameroon has done this research and they recommended using socks. However, all the resources will specify that any fabric works, as long as it covers mouth and nose.

And yes, I should write an update. The mask-making will be explained via radio and also taught to community leaders who will then be able to run the workshops. It is actually a great idea to schedule these workshops. Everyone will be encouraged to share the general information regarding preventive measures.

Comment by brb243 on EA Cameroon - COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention in the Santa Division of Cameroon Project Proposal · 2020-07-21T17:39:55.371Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Added the [July 21, 2020 edit] to the Our Track Record section that talks about the team.

Comment by brb243 on EA Cameroon - COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention in the Santa Division of Cameroon Project Proposal · 2020-07-10T16:19:51.856Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Sure! I am currently connecting with EAs in sub-Saharan Africa with the intention of building the EA community there. During these conversations, I identified a project that the EA community may be interested in and offered to edit the writing of EA Cameroon.

Comment by brb243 on EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020) · 2020-06-16T18:29:48.432Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

WORKSHOP: Global development negotiation

~~ Learn global development negotiation techniques from a trained negotiator. ~~

My background:

  • MA in Economic Diplomacy, international development focus
  • Negotiating for cost-effective environmental actions with the UN


Why to negotiate for global development? (0-1 min)

Negotiation techniques (with examples) (1-5 min)

  • Ask for more, insist & refine
  • Repetition & Memos
  • Respond, then advocate
  • Personal example
  • Respect decisions
  • Focus on outcome, not power dynamics

Q&A (5-13 min)

Role-playing workshop on the Icebreaker platform (13-21 min)

1. Customer representative lobbies their CFO

2. College student lobbies a local celebrity

3. Mid-level manager lobbies their CEO

4. Yacht owner lobbies their friend

Reflection and further steps (21-30 min)

(Strong preference for the late session.)

Comment by brb243 on Thoughts on improving governance in developing countries · 2020-05-20T13:05:42.156Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Also, this link may have some further resources:

Comment by brb243 on Thoughts on improving governance in developing countries · 2020-05-17T11:49:37.681Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi. I actually anecdotally admire the Indian government for upgrading itself toward greater national welfare efficiently. The reason is sound leadership (exemplification of great standards and willingness to advance solutions beneficial to the public). For example, India's higher government officials were making long-hours group phone calls with their subordinates, respectfully publicly shaming them for not inputting (correct) data (C. K. Prahalad, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, p. 93), thus making sure the local officials uphold standards. Nandan Nilekani gave every resident a unique ID (not collecting data on caste, etc.) within years, more efficiently than leading private tech giants. This greatly facilitated cash transfers and internal work migration. Anecdotally, I also know that an emerging country's government may be about the size of large economy's communication department with that region.. I heard a developing country pride itself in finishing work five years ago that a UN intern could have easily kept up to date with little effort. Another country suggested their residents could truly benefit from a website an intern could have built. I recommended that an easy-share platform between countries and UN ESCAP departments is built, so that interns can stop doing busy/no work and help. That is not possible. A person in emerging economy's government must escalate their request in their national government; this national representative must send the request to a high UN representative; and the high UN representative must let the request progress down the UN hierarchy. So, no website is built.

The solution may be funding competent people to do work for emerging economies' governments, setting high standards and sharing relevant skills. Since officially, this may be a problem, finding and financing skilled and honest friends/helpers to developing countries' officials may work. The higher the officials the larger the sound-standard-setting effect. Showing the public that efficiency and wellbeing increases would increase trust and strengthen the sound governance standards.

In terms of the resources, I recommend Customs modernization initiatives: case studies. Especially, read the Outcomes and Lessons Learned (pp. 28-31) for Ghana. Making a government more efficient may also come with relevant knowledge and competence brought from outside.

Comment by brb243 on EA Forum Prize: Winners for March 2020 · 2020-05-16T10:22:51.726Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

OK, that makes sense, thank you.

Comment by brb243 on EA lessons from my father · 2020-05-13T12:13:39.586Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Very clear argument, thank you. While I do not believe that I can change your mind, judging from your tone, I also think that I do not need to: happier and more relaxed people may truly be in a better position to share their privileges with others, who then will be also happier and more relaxed. Then, I hope you will succeed in your research, while reminding your peers about the cost-effective, EA ways to share happiness with persons in the world.

Comment by brb243 on We asked mid to senior career women and non-binary people what resources they would recommend. Here’s what they said. · 2020-05-13T11:57:44.896Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

OK, that is great, thanks! I cannot see the Rosie Campbell talk on the EA international events calendar. Could you please add these talks there? (e. g. for FB non-users).

Comment by brb243 on EA Forum Prize: Winners for March 2020 · 2020-05-13T11:33:41.452Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

From what I read regarding the committee's rationale for selecting "Effective altruism and free riding," I infer that good posts:

1) are visually concise (e. g. use tables, highlights, heading structures, infographics)

2) build on/respond to existing EA work when possible

3) recommend actionable items that EAs may follow

4) incorporate external perspectives when possible

Am I right? Should this be formalized and perhaps an example created, in order to facilitate information exchange and to promote meaningful actions?

Comment by brb243 on EA lessons from my father · 2020-05-11T15:27:22.861Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for this. Assuming that your kind heart, contemplative insight, and outstanding dedication make you someone who contributes greatly to any area they focus on, please just do not forget to focus on causes that are neglected by the for-profit sector (e. g. researching cost-effective prevention/cures to any of the 19/20 neglected tropical diseases not yet covered by EA charities, as opposed to researching something like baldness (that takes more funds than malaria research), or cancer, or Alzheimer's disease that burdens predominantly rich people who live long lives and thus has perhaps 1000x more funding/focus). It is a structural issue that those who are privileged and kind focus on helping their communities (that are similarly privileged), in consequence hurting others who these kind people counterfactually neglect.

Please do not research Alzheimer's disease to make your father proud (unless there is a sound case that it is better for the world than researching some of the NTDs), continue his work by researching a neglected cause that makes the world a better place truly-counterfactually and cost-effectively.

Comment by brb243 on What are some historical examples of people and organizations who've influenced people to do more good? · 2020-05-11T15:04:35.585Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Also, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who mobilized (arguably, not counterfactually) the billionaire community to pledge >$500b to charitable giving - after a dinner (cost of $5,000/person, at most?). That is $100,000,000 donated per $1 invested - a great deal. Should inspire other altruists to motivate others to pledge, perhaps by leading by personal example--

Comment by brb243 on We asked mid to senior career women and non-binary people what resources they would recommend. Here’s what they said. · 2020-05-11T14:33:51.944Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for sharing this. As a non-binary person (this clause is excessive yet I wish to include), I can second Rowan_Stanley's viewpoint that I too am familiar with most of the resources. Yet, there are some that I did not know before. Specifically, that is EA Work Club - and, the linked ImpactMatters website that rates charities based on the cost per unit output in several cause areas. Co-founded by Dean Karlan, the co-founder of IPA, this site has the potential to outcompete GiveWell. Apparently, they are looking for support/interns ;)

Comment by brb243 on Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors · 2020-05-01T20:16:35.423Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you. I see. Then, I wish you the very best of luck in making an effective impact with your actions. I hope that you will succeed in preventing many decision-makers from promoting malevolent leaders.

Comment by brb243 on Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors · 2020-04-29T12:49:13.762Z · score: 1 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you very much for the breathtaking analysis. I think that malevolent humans will best be prevented from gaining influence if benevolent humans outcompete them at influential posts.

Comment by brb243 on COVID-19 in developing countries · 2020-04-24T16:57:24.696Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

That is good to hear. I just hope that this is the general opinion of the public in advanced economies: that they can sacrifice some of their socio-economic status to benefit those much less privileged. But then, it may actually be that developing countries with limited budgets cognize that if they do not economically advance, they will continue to be trapped in poverty - so, they spend their budgets wisely (where it advances human capital the most). Thus, I hope that EAs take care of the international wealth redistribution so that all can advance.

Comment by brb243 on COVID-19 in developing countries · 2020-04-23T14:10:12.658Z · score: -16 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Generally, spending on improving the health of poor people in developing countries (who tend to be low skilled subsistence farmers) is not 'practical' from the economic perspective, as these persons do not contribute to the economy very much - only produce the subsistence they need. So, if a person in Malawi contributes only additional $3/year to the economy (Woods et al.), then why saving their life for $3,500 (Weller and US GDP deflator)?

Comment by brb243 on What are some historical examples of people and organizations who've influenced people to do more good? · 2020-04-12T08:17:46.764Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

1) Maybe Nelson Mandela and the ANC? (Long Walk to Freedom) - he influenced a lot of people to do significantly more good.

Counterfactually, he was inspired and supported by the changing international norms, so it is difficult to say whether someone else would have not done the same life-long struggle a few years later.

Still, perhaps if Mandela was born into a post-Apartheid South Africa, he could have solved even more issues (perhaps those that his successors were not able to). This naively assumes Mandela's impact on racial equity in South Africa as a constant that can be added to any baseline.

Then, if everyone waits for someone else to counterfactually struggle for an objective that is important to the waiting one, nothing happens. So, unless one has an excuse of doing something more impactful, they should pursue the goal they consider important (of course, pivoting often, asking for a plenty of constructive criticism on one's impact).

2) Or, are you more looking at examples of those in power advocating for others who are disadvantaged? I see large EA donors, such as Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna.

I am not sure how much credit I would give to these donors' influencers, who advanced the alternative norm of success as effective global care as opposed to as achievement within traditional status structures. There could have been one memorable speech or one memorable experience.

3) The EAF Zurich Ballot initiative is an example of a handful of people (without institutional power themselves) inducing a lot of taxpayers to do slightly more good.

One can argue that counterfactually, not seeing this change elsewhere (in 'comparable' places) and assuming the Zurich's foreign aid situation to remain comparable to other Swiss cities where the aid budget is not chaning, this change would have not happened without the EAF's advocacy.

4) I always admire Banerjee and Duflo and their teams who work to make it prestigious to give money to the poor through research recognizable and recognized by economic elites.

They too contribute to the spread of the EA norm, motivating the likes of Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna to focus on effective care of the world as opposed to exhibiting status by consumption of status products so defined by these products' industries.

Comment by brb243 on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-04-09T14:02:38.752Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Sorry for the late reply.

1. I was only comparing the situation of food aid sent from abroad (an advanced economy) and food aid purchased by that advanced economy locally, in the area that the aid was supposed to help. Then, if the food aid is purchased locally, farmers earn income AND everyone gains access to food aid, increasing their wealth they can spend on non-food.

2. Of course, emergencies need to be addressed and prevented within the current system and at the same time, institutions need to improve to enable development of emerging countries.

3. Perhaps farmers can specialize in adding value to their products. Investing into agriculture has been quite effective with OneAcreFund (reported also by Roger Thurow) - and researched by RCTs.

That makes sense. Thank you. I hope that the EA candidates win.

Comment by brb243 on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-03-29T09:42:25.226Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

1) Both farmers and consumers (who may overlap) could benefit if food aid of advanced economies was purchased locally.

2) Vulnerability to price spikes could be addressed by improved resilience of local crops to weather and by better local storage practices.

3) A developing country with majority subsistence population should invest into rural development so that farmers can first feed themselves securely and second engage in trade of their surpluses as well as diversify their production from just agriculture.

Comment by brb243 on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-03-28T13:21:49.526Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

More replies, thanks! I like the emboldened sentences.

Comment by brb243 on A Local Community Course That Raises Mental Wellbeing and Pro-Sociality · 2020-03-25T14:57:07.627Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I am just thinking if this course does not perpetuate the problem of those from advanced economies taking care of their close ones while leaving those in developing economies further behind, unattended to.

Then, students of this course would feel great about making differences that are net-negative, considering the opportunity cost of not aiding more distant people much more cost-effectively (viz the amount it takes (few hundred USD) to change one's life through GD).

I acknowledge that helping the world is briefly mentioned at the end, but overall, this course much more advocates for local involvement. Thus, unless this course is run in 'globally diverse' groups, it may not improve the world structures toward greater inclusion and generosity very effectively. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Comment by brb243 on Coronavirus: how much is a life worth? · 2020-03-25T14:26:24.429Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hm. It may be both - the opportunity cost (if one loses one QALY, they lose some percentage of annual income) and the value it costs to extend life for one QALY (e. g. through vaccine or micronutrient supplementation).

I actually dread it is the opportunity cost only, to which healthcare intervention costs are compared. For example, if an additional farmer contributes only $3 per year, because their work can be done by family members, then a global health organization will not support that farmer's health if it costs more than $3 per QALY.

Comment by brb243 on Lant Pritchett's "smell test": is your impact evaluation asking questions that matter? · 2020-03-24T19:54:30.433Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I guess that for the last column, this cannot be proven - too many variables can influence economic development so that one cannot be isolated controlling for all others.

For column 1, I guess scholarships, contract teachers, irrigation, performance pay, if any.

For column 2, perhaps similar to guess in column 1, plus why would we test these areas in developed, as opposed to developing, economies? Findings from developed economies may not be generalizable to developing countries.

For column 3, I guess the finance- and tech-related areas.

Plus, the working link is here.

Findings on page 27 are shocking, speak for bed nets (they help with malaria), conditional and unconditional cash transfers (help with schooling), micronutrients should help with diarrhea and anemia. Otherwise not much impact can be proven. I guess an argument for AMF and GD.

Comment by brb243 on Coronavirus: how much is a life worth? · 2020-03-24T19:34:29.949Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW


Yeah, the value of QALY is about 100% of GDP per capita in an advanced economy (Huang et al.) and 1%-59% in developing countries (Woods et al.).

Woods thus implies one can purchase quality lives in some of the poorest economies for as little as $3 per QALY * 60 years of life = $180.

Valuing all persons equally, this is such a great deal?

Comment by brb243 on An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance) · 2020-03-24T19:25:21.020Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! This is interesting. I studied lobbying in my MA program in Washington, DC.

1. Could you please embolden (make bold) parts (in every paragraph or once in few paragraphs) that you find particularly important? This would help readers to orient themselves in the text better and skim more easily.

2. I submitted some comments - can you see them? Please let me know what you think about them.

Comment by brb243 on Effective Altruism and International Trade · 2019-11-09T01:24:58.491Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Maybe, more than education by itself, you then value empowerment, equality, dignity, respect, lack of abuse, one's ability to have a perspective which is valued, one's ability to be considered as opposed to used, one's ability to live for oneself as opposed to be forced to live for others, and an environment which is cooperative as opposed to abusive alongside the lines of characteristics assigned to an individual by society (at birth). Education is just means for achieving these goals.

Comment by brb243 on Effective Altruism and International Trade · 2019-11-09T01:14:30.939Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the article!!

I think that everyone will be right if LAYS (the unit of quality education provided) is linked to QALYs (the unit of quality life years provided).

Please submit a request to the World Bank (which developed LAYS) and the UK Medical Research Council (which aims to improve the QALY measure).

Comment by brb243 on Effective Altruism and International Trade · 2019-11-07T23:38:41.358Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I think what would really resolve your debate would be associating a quality of life measure to education outcomes as well as to time spent in school. See Whitehead and Ali on assigning health-related quality of life (HRQoL) value to different health outcomes.

Comment by brb243 on Effective Altruism and International Trade · 2019-11-07T23:22:43.392Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It seems that the fundamental disagreement between you and some others is that you associate intrinsic value to time spent in school, while others believe that being in school is worthy only if it brings students positive health and income outcomes.

For example, you may believe that if a third grade student who fell behind in their first grade due to post-colonial education and is not learning anything anymore should be kept in school, e.g. where teachers beat children and fail the exams of grades below those which they teach, for another eight years, because school is good on its own.

Others may believe that a third-grade student who fell behind in their first grade does not need to attend the school where the only thing they learn is that they cannot do what is required from them, teachers cannot help them, and they receive beating for this situation. Instead, the finances which would be otherwise spent on keeping this student in school should be spent on, e.g. deworming, because this will enable the student to be healthy, energetic, and free, helping their family business.