Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Should Chronic Pain be a cause area? · 2021-05-18T20:58:22.643Z · EA · GW

One concrete example of what pain treatments were neglegted a decade ago is the article Ramachandran's Mirror about  treating phantom limb pain with mirror therapy:

Ramachandran's mirror technique is medical school stuff.  Everyone knows it.  Everyone.  


Of course I knew the significance of the mirror.  Of course I knew how to do it.  I just never did.  It never even occurred to me to do it.


Sure, it worked, sure, she feels better, sure, she thinks I'm awesome.  Why did it take me three years to try something I had known about for ten years with her?


I can't understate this: I was thinking about the mirror in her presence, but never thinking about using the mirror.  I wasn't asleep, I wasn't drunk, I wasn't inattentive, I wasn't bored.  I was just too much in my world.

So I ask you: did I help her?  Or did I make her suffer needlessly for three years?

Without ducking responsibility, what's wrong with medicine today is that it is predicated on providing treatment, not on reducing suffering.  Not on solving problems.

The reason it never occurred to me to use the mirror is because the mirror is not something doctors do.  Never mind it is fairly safe.  What we do is offer treatments.  Medications.  Procedures.  Not maneuvers.

That's the kind of thing you are looking for if you want to solve a portion of the chronic pain out there with neglegted methods. 

The amazing thing about this story is that it's about a neglegted treatment for chronic that takes no skill and that students are taught about in medical school.

Once you understand that our medical system is so disfunctional that it doesn't manage to provide a chronic pain treatment like that to every patient that would benefit from it, it becomes easier to accept that it's quite plausible that high skill interventions like hypnosis against which there's a lot of prejudice have no way to be scalled up to reach the patients that would stop being in chronic pain if they would get the treatment. 

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Should aid organizations accept ETH donations? · 2021-05-18T16:42:39.308Z · EA · GW

While Ethereum currently uses proof-of-work they are working on transitioning to proof-of-stake, so I would book the electricity it currently uses as growing pains of a new technology. 

So far, the only real "application" of Ethereum is perhaps speculation.

Ethereum currently has real world usages such as that does neutral conflict arbitration. 

While Ethereum's current prediction markets aren't very good at providing probability for events they will mature and provide information about events that's valuable.

Once Ethereum switches to proof-of-stake the transaction costs will also go down and projects that currently aren't viable will become viable. 

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Should aid organizations accept ETH donations? · 2021-05-18T16:20:50.365Z · EA · GW

Given that we are talking about Ethereum, Bitcoin's energy usage is completely irrelevant to this discussion expect for Ethereum having the best chance to stop Bitcoin from wasting so much energy. 

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Should Chronic Pain be a cause area? · 2021-05-18T16:05:30.091Z · EA · GW

The lack of big leaps in treatment technology is therefore probably caused by factors other than market incentives. 

 This is only true to the extend that the treatment technology can be patented. Interventions for treating pain with hypnosis for example can't be patented and thus while individual hypnotists might be able to effectively treat certain forms of pain (especially pain for which the initial cause isn't there anymore) there's no mechanism to scale that up. 

The same goes for various body-work approaches. 

I find it also plausible that research into biomarkers is neglegted. Biomakers would be very valuable because it allows patients who are currently told by their doctor that they are only imagining their pain to demonstrate to the system that they are suffering. 

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-18T15:47:35.492Z · EA · GW

What changes would need to happen to interest for-profit entities to invest in this field?

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-18T15:45:10.298Z · EA · GW

If you could get a influential US senator to introduce a bill targeted at changing the legal landscape within which psychedelics use happens, how would such a bill look like?

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on No More Pandemics: a lobbying group? · 2020-12-30T15:28:04.090Z · EA · GW

Whether or not the Wuhan Institute of Virology really was the cause of the  COVID-19 outbreak, it's a possible scenario that a lab that's focused on researching potential future pandemics has a security breach and accdiently starts a pandemic. 

When doing outreach it's worth to keep those risks in mind and hopefully focus on interventions that don't increase accidental risk. 

There are technologies such as CISPER that both make it easier to delibrately start pandemics and that also give us tools for fighting future pandemics. 

Asking experts that did research into what policy might be effective is likely import to get good results. 

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on No More Pandemics: a lobbying group? · 2020-12-30T14:58:04.595Z · EA · GW

Pushing policies that are popular is presumably much more tractable than pushing those that are not

If you push a huge bill for increased biosafety it's okay when there are policies included that don't poll well but for which you can convince legislators with good arguments. Especially when there's no lobby against the policy and it's unlikely that the issue will become the subject of public debate. 

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Could we solve this email mess if we all moved to paid emails? · 2019-08-12T16:15:26.461Z · EA · GW

How would this be an "internal practice"? The only way this would work would be to have people publically post their earn addresses.

I think you underrate the cost of weirdness.

Let's say there's a journalist who wants to write a story where he might ask a high-status EA to comment because it falls into their domain expertise.

Then the journalist searches for ways to contact the EA and finds that the EA prefers to get cold approaches via this system. The journalist might think: "This is bad, I don't have a budget for this, paying sources is what evil people do". Even when the journalist then finds that there's a free way to contact the EA, they have their first contact with negative emotional attachment.

While the kind of his status EA that might be contacted this way might get more emails then they prefer, it's important for them to be easily contacted by outsiders because that allows for valuable interactions to happen.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2019-04-06T12:44:26.370Z · EA · GW

It's general easy for an IT organization to fix a bug once the bug is disclosed. It's not easy to close are vulnerabilities of physical security that might be discovered.

Closing what was revealed on would be very expensive in contrast to the work required to come up with the ideas.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on On funding medical research · 2018-02-27T21:35:39.232Z · EA · GW

After different forms of resting Low-Dose Naltrexone seems to be the treatment that was reported as most beneficial on CureTogether for CFS. Fortunately there’s an ongoing clinical trial to test this treatment.

I think the fact that there are some pearls in alternative medicine but there no efficient way to find them is a more fundamental problem that is it’s own cause worth looking at. Our at LessWrong I wrote proposed Prediction-based Medicine. It would be possible to create a startup that puts Prediction-based Medicine to work and afterwards it would be possible for patients to go to alternative medicine providers who can reliably predict the treatment success they have for the patients.

The startup would need a good team and some funding but Musk-level funding wouldn’t be required to put the idea effectively to work.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on On funding medical research · 2018-02-27T21:30:35.273Z · EA · GW

Your article doesn’t mention Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). It’s the new name the Institute of Medicine (IOM) gave the disease. Given that we are on the internet it’s helpful to work all relevant keywords into an article like this even if you don’t like the new name.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on On funding medical research · 2018-02-27T21:29:49.021Z · EA · GW

Mind-Body dualism isn’t a productive framework. For many diseases you have a mix of “physical” and “psychological” effects.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Open Thread #38 · 2017-08-29T12:11:30.023Z · EA · GW

I don't think the recent rise of polarization in the US over the last decade is driven by a rise in racism or sexism. Activism to reduce either of them might be valuable, but I don't think it solves the issue of polarization.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on High Time For Drug Policy Reform. Part 4/4: Estimating Cost-Effectiveness vs Other Causes; What EA Should Do Next · 2017-08-29T10:07:29.846Z · EA · GW

I don't think the average nootropics user would appear to have a goal of getting a legal high in a television broadcast.

It's more interesting for a journalist to tell a story about a computer programmer who takes LSD to help him with a difficult programming problem on which he worked for months without a satisfying answer than to tell a story about the computer programmer wanting to get high with LSD.

The story about how nerds in Silicon Valley do everything to enchance their performance is more interesting than the story about a random person taking drugs.

More generally EA is also full of weird causes as Scott Alexander describes very well in his blog post about EA Global.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on High Time For Drug Policy Reform. Part 4/4: Estimating Cost-Effectiveness vs Other Causes; What EA Should Do Next · 2017-08-29T09:53:04.381Z · EA · GW :

Donate to Make MDMA a Legal Medicine

Research is showing that MDMA combined with psychotherapy can be an effective option for people who haven't been helped by other treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be caused by trauma from war, sexual assault, violence, accidents, natural disasters, and other stressful events.

You can help make MDMA a legal medicine and heal people suffering from trauma by making a tax-deductible gift to fund Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.


We estimate that it will take $870,000 to complete our Phase 2 studies, and roughly $25 million to complete Phase 3 and establish MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a legally available treatment.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on High Time For Drug Policy Reform. Part 3/4: Policy Suggestions, Tractability and Neglectedess · 2017-08-23T07:10:45.483Z · EA · GW

We could talk to campaigners, both those campaigning directly for drug reform in particular, as well as for other issues (outsiders might engage less in wishful thinking) and ask them how much money they think they would need to be 10%, 50% and 100% confident they could organise enough people to change policy.

I'm not sure that's are particularly meaningful question. Drug-policy changes regularly.

Germany ended up with 1P-LSD being legal which is an LSD analoge that's believed to have the same effects as LSD without anybody passing a law. It's legality also rests on it being a substance that doesn't have medical applications.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on High Time For Drug Policy Reform. Part 3/4: Policy Suggestions, Tractability and Neglectedess · 2017-08-23T06:50:43.711Z · EA · GW

The reason no (serious) politician will endorse DPR is because the public are against it.

How do you know? Why should your audience believe that you understand the motivations of the relevant politicians?

In the UK a plurality even supports decriminalization of cannabis.

Certainly, I think the argument we should make it easier to for doctors to do research into drugs just to see if they can help miserable people, but we that shouldn’t change the law and make it any easier for the public to gain access to drugs, seems pretty hard to object to. That’s seems the least controversial, but not the most impactful, line to take.

It seems to me that you ignore the politics of the situation. Mental health policy is largely driven by Big Pharma and their agenda. You want to change the policies for mental health drugs in a way that leads to the perscription of unpatented drugs in cases where Big Pharma currently makes money with their patented drugs.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Medical research: cancer is hugely overfunded; here's what to choose instead · 2017-08-10T13:32:52.164Z · EA · GW

Almost all diseases fundamentally occur at the nanoscale.

What exactly does that mean? What kind of nanotech are you thinking about?

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on [deleted post] 2017-08-10T13:22:42.577Z

In Europe the European Court of Human right ruled in 2014 that substances that are used recreationally aren't drugs and thus not forbidden under drug regulation.

As a result, there's currently 1P LSD which is legal in Germany and does roughly the same thing as LSD.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Medical research: cancer is hugely overfunded; here's what to choose instead · 2017-08-09T21:38:00.840Z · EA · GW

Cancer Research UK talk about the current cancer survival rate having reached 50%, and their aim to reach 75% by 2034; my reading of their language is that they are optimistic that cancer (an area which already has a track record of progress) is a good tractable area to fund.

That goal can be easily reached. You just need to double the people that you diagnose with cancer.

In practice, it's possible to increase the number of people that get diagnosed with cancer by increasing the amount of screening that's done.

The US does more screening than Europe and has as a result a higher cancer survival rate. In recent years the US government came to the conclusion that the US does overtesting that doesn't provide clinical benefits and pushed back breast cancer screening to a higher age.

The goal of cancer research should be about lowering the number of cancer death per year. If there's the argument that curing other illnesses increases the cancer death rate, then an alternative goal might to reduce the amount of people who die to cancer under the age of 80 years.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Medical research: cancer is hugely overfunded; here's what to choose instead · 2017-08-09T15:39:20.243Z · EA · GW

Many attempts to do anti-aging treatment and attempts to cure diseases with gene therapy lead to increased cancer rates. If we would succeed in solving cancer we could use more aggressive treatment for other diseases.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on [deleted post] 2017-05-24T08:21:28.467Z

tactics such as the aforementioned spaced repetition [freeware]

Why do you link to instead of the standard solution of Anki?

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on [deleted post] 2017-05-24T08:16:30.578Z

For instance: access to child pornography reduces the rate of child sexual abuse and

Many people in EA are statistically literate. Saying because in an n=1 (or maybe n=3) experiment a → b, proves that a → b in general either suggest statistical incompetence, inability to use statistical thinking because the subject is political or an attempt to mislead.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on [deleted post] 2017-05-23T20:24:58.694Z

As far as the pickup-up theme goes, it's worth noting that the whole article doesn't say anything about vulnerability and the value of opening up to the person with whom you want to start or keep a relationship.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on A mental health resource for EA community · 2017-05-19T13:39:31.361Z · EA · GW

Most people don’t get help soon enough. Someone who experiences psychosis usually doesn’t get treatment until more than a year later. Someone with bipolar typically isn’t diagnosed until more than three years after their first mood episode.

In many venues, I think it's okay to tell people the official narrative for dealing with mental health without evidence, but in this space, I would like to see evidence for a claim like "Most people don’t get help soon enough". This means I would like a discussion of the likely impact of seeking professional care vs. not seeking it before making such a claim.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Update on Effective Altruism Funds · 2017-04-24T08:13:49.213Z · EA · GW

It's not clear that Juicero is actually a bad venture in the sense that doesn't return the money for it's investors.

Even if that would be the case, VC's make most of the money with a handful companies. A VC can have a good fund if 90% of their investments don't return their money.

I would guess that the same is true for high risk philanthropic investments. It's okay if some high risk investments don't provide value as long as you are betting on some investments that deliever.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Update on Effective Altruism Funds · 2017-04-24T07:46:39.648Z · EA · GW

I don't think the argument that there are a lot of VC firms that don't get good returns suggest that centralization into one VC firm would be good. There are different successful VC firms that have different preferences in how to invest.

Having one central hub of decision making is essentially the model used in the Soviet Union. I don't think that's a good model.

Decentral decision making usually beats central planning with one single decision making authority in domain with a lot of spread out information.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Update on Effective Altruism Funds · 2017-04-23T07:30:23.423Z · EA · GW

As the number of funders increases, it becomes increasingly easy for the bad projects to find someone who will fund them.

I'm not sure that's true. There are a lot of venture funds in the Valley but that doesn't mean it's easy to get any venture fund to give you money.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Update on Effective Altruism Funds · 2017-04-22T10:38:47.261Z · EA · GW

The donation amounts we’ve received so far are greater than we expected, especially given that donations typically decrease early in the year after ramping up towards the end of the year.

How much did you expect?

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on A Third Take on Trump · 2017-04-18T15:48:33.166Z · EA · GW

If you're passionate about politics and in America, than getting involved now seems like a potentially positive action but it wont be neglected if you align with Democrat positions (but potentially easier to get involved if you are Republican).

Why do you believe it's easier to get involved as Republican?

There are a lot more ways to get involved in state politics than in national policy.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on President Trump as a Global Catastrophic Risk · 2016-11-22T20:50:59.122Z · EA · GW

First, the spread of mini-Trumps across the West would multiply his risks.

I'm not sure what's meant with mini-Trump here. It seems like it you aren't talking about Trump, the human being but about Trump, the symbol.

When thinking about effective actions it's important to be precise.

The fact that Trump seems to have a short attention span for complex arguments doesn't mean that's true for right-wing politicians in Europe. There are shared problem but if we treat everything the same way we loss precision in understanding the problems.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Why don't many effective altruists work on natural resource scarcity? · 2016-02-24T15:06:03.841Z · EA · GW

Peter Thiel is widely regarded as a businessman, not an economist or IR theorist.

Why do you think an economist understands more about the world than a businessman that makes his fortune based on predictions about how things evolve? He might not do IR theory but he's a member of the steering committee of Bilderberg which makes him actively involved in interantional relations.

As far as Peter Thiel being just a businessman I think it would be likely that this forum wouldn't exist the way it does if it Peter Thiel hadn't donated money for causes he considers good for society.

Lastly the list of people isn't random. If you show any person in this community the list of those names and ask what they have in common the likely answer wouldn't be that they are all invested into energy.

It might be that they are all smart enough to be public about treating AI risk at a big danger. They are all people who rationally thought about how to do good in the world.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Why don't many effective altruists work on natural resource scarcity? · 2016-02-20T22:59:19.653Z · EA · GW

That sounds plausible, but what's the evidence that it's true? Determining cause and effect in a system like that seems quite tricky.

I think there are multiple arguments why we can believe that to be true. Very corrupt political systems like Iran make the political decision to subvention food prices. Do they do it, because those governments want to be nice to their population? Maybe, maybe the also recognize that the government loses stability if it's population doesn't have enough to eat because food prices rise.

While citation by authority isn't prove it, Peter Thiel is well regarded: I think the Arab Spring, I think the fundamental driver for that was the food prices went up 50 percent and people were going to starve and I think it’s smug and complacent to pretend that it was anything other than that.

I opened a question on Skeptics.Stackexchange that might produce further evidence.

As a species we already are working on resource production though - a lot.

Overall we are certainly spending resources on resource production. That however doesn't mean that there aren't areas in resource production that are underfunded.

Sam Altman decided two years ago that resource production is an important field. What did he do? He went out and talks to people in the field of nuclear energy. Helion became a YCombinator company and Peter Thiel's Mithril Capital fund funded Helion. Sam Altman then went on to be chairman of the board of Helion. Sam Altman did same thing with uPower.

Sam Altman isn't chairman of the board of any other YCombinator company. I'm not sure whether Sam Altman self-labels as EA but I think in practice he very much lives the EA values.

I think Sam Altman did make that decision because he rightly thought that the projects of Helion and uPower were otherwise neglegted.

Sam Altman argues in a post about Energy: I think a lot about how important cheap, safe, and abundant energy is to our future. A lot of problems—economic, environmental, war, poverty, food and water availability, bad side effects of globalization, etc.—are deeply related to the energy problem. I believe that if you could choose one single technological development to help the most people in the world, radically better energy generation is probably it. Throughout history, quality of life has gone up as the cost of energy has gone down. [...]

In addition to Peter Thiel and Sam Altman there's also Elon Musk. Both Solar City and Tesla are about creating a sustainable energy future.

SpaceX isn't directly about resource production but it's about spending a lot less resources for going to space. Indirectly it might further be about resource production via asteroid mining in the future.

Bill Gates considers nuclear energy also a valuable cause.

I wouldn't deny you can do good producing timber, food, etc. But what's the evidence that entrepreneurs working on commodities make more money than people contributing to other products?

I don't think that Peter Thiel, Sam Altman, Bill Gates or Elon Musk focus on producing commodities when they invest resources into the cause of energy scarcity.

If you look at more efficient food production I don't think RowBot's Kent Cavender-Bares focuses on commodity production either.

PS: (this forum uses markup. If you start a line with > it formats quotes nicely.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Why don't many effective altruists work on natural resource scarcity? · 2016-02-20T14:10:57.223Z · EA · GW

A lot of the conflict in the Arab spring was driven by increased food priceses. If we could find a way to produce food cheaper, the risk of conflicts like the Syrian conflict would be reduced. Food makes up a high percentage of the budget of poor people. If it's praise can be reduced that would have similar effects than GiveDirectly. Poor people would have more free money.

I don't think we need evidence of resources getting more scarce to justify working on resource production.

If Helion get's fusion to work, we will have cheaper electricity and that will decrease production costs for lot's of goods. That means it's cheaper to produce those goods for poor people. It's also cheaper to produce goods for rich people.

When it comes to metals like iron, astroid mining could drastically reduce costs and thereby create wealth.

The historical track record of people making fortunes in resources also indicates that it's a field where individuals can produce large amounts of value for society.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Guesstimate: An app for making decisions with confidence (intervals) · 2016-01-01T19:15:16.287Z · EA · GW

Does Guesstimate provide ways for the user to calibrate himself over time when he's overconfident when he starts using it?

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on February Open Thread · 2015-02-20T13:08:04.115Z · EA · GW

Running your computer at full power costs you electricity. That costs money that you could also donate directly to a cause.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on February Open Thread · 2015-02-20T13:05:24.190Z · EA · GW

Reddit made a decision to give away 10% of it's advertising revenue towards charity. The 10 charities with the most votes get the money. You can vote for multiple charities. If you have a reddit account go and vote:

GiveWell: (using it's official name "Clear Fund")
Against Malaria Foundation:

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-23T22:20:24.997Z · EA · GW

If you take the current GWWC pledge to literally require supporting interventions in developing countries, then that's not something that a cause-agnostic donor should be willing to agree to early in their life

I guess that in this community we have people who think that they will live a long time. They might think of "early in life" as 200 years.

Comment by ChristianKleineidam on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-23T22:08:43.455Z · EA · GW

It's interesting that a number of people have said they would take the alternative pledge with the implication they won't change their behaviour (ie they will take the enabled pledge if it reflects what they already do or plan to do).

A pledge is a commitment device. A person who is currently donating X to Xrisk might increase their chances of continuing to donate to Xrisk by taking the pledge.

I don't see how that's not behavior change.