Evaluating a crowdfunding campaign to test an oral anthrax vaccine for wildlife 2020-10-12T05:06:42.252Z


Comment by cienna on Introducing a project on accountability in governance, plus a call for volunteers · 2021-01-10T12:53:11.194Z · EA · GW

Another type of related existing project is government-side community engagement tools, such as Their software makes it easier for city governments to ask questions and seek feedback from their residents. I know Jay started out with the goal of trying to get elected representatives in direct conversational contact with their constituents, and I think it'd be worth asking him why he went this direction instead. 

Comment by cienna on Idea: "Change the World University" · 2020-12-10T11:54:09.372Z · EA · GW

I think there’s another source of jadedness: things being made unnecessarily difficult. I was explicitly told in school by instructors, “we’re going to make this harder than it needs to be, in arbitrary ways, because real life is like that sometimes, and you need to figure out how to handle it psychologically. Better that you learn to deal with pointless assignments and needlessly difficult problems and petty teammates and vague instructions now than in a job.” Being forewarned made it bearable, I was even grateful for it. And then I forgot this when I changed schools, the new place provided the same kind of challenges but didn’t say so explicitly, and I got frustrated and hurt by the work being unnecessarily difficult.

I think some who aren’t warned correctly intuit that someone is deliberately making life harder than it needs to be, and conclude the deck is being stacked against them, instead of concluding this adversity is being created to give them opportunities to learn mental strategies for not getting jaded.

Comment by cienna on Idea: "Change the World University" · 2020-12-10T11:22:56.380Z · EA · GW

Hmm. I apologize, I don’t actually know whether idealists and virtue signalers differ in productivity. I think the motivation matters for what someone will put up with on the way to their goals; maybe some problems are easier for virtue signalers to solve.

Comment by cienna on Idea: "Change the World University" · 2020-12-08T21:03:32.684Z · EA · GW

How would you separate the genuine idealists from the virtue signalers?

Comment by cienna on Competitive Ethics · 2020-11-30T02:14:55.724Z · EA · GW

The call has now concluded. 8 participants, 2 hours, one great topic. Thank you again, mwcvitkovic

Comment by cienna on Opportunity to increase EA org funding by ~$200K/year if a couple hundred EAs take 1 minute on Giving Tuesday · 2020-11-29T19:18:29.605Z · EA · GW

I like it! Good job finding a small one-time change that would add up to a big difference over time.

Visa, PayPal, and some others already have discounted credit card processing rates for charities. How do you plan to respond to a boilerplate reply saying they’re already providing a discount for charities? I’m concerned that the existing nominal discount will “check the box” for some people that the credit card processing companies “care”.

Do you have a plan for negotiating if you get an interested response? In my limited experience with vendor pricing negotiations at work, counterparties are usually more amenable to a narrowly limited ask that demonstrates you understand the value they are providing. “Can I get a discount on the oversize box fee?” or “Can I get a discount on these 7 standard items?” are easier to say yes to than changing a whole category multiplier, where they would have to actually do the math.

This might look like asking for

  • transaction fees to be waived on only Giving Tuesday
  • a specific, deeper discount that still covers their expenses for providing the service
  • a fee rebate program that could be. implemented separately from their payment processing

Also, if you target multiple processors, you might be able to play them against each other.

Good luck!

Comment by cienna on Competitive Ethics · 2020-11-28T04:24:16.866Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the fascinating post! This inspired me to arrange a discussion with some philosophical Meetup friends who have had similar thoughts in this direction. Anyone interested is welcome to join the conversation! It will be Sunday, November 29th at 7 PM ET.

Call link:

Meetup description:

Comment by cienna on What quotes do you find most inspire you to use your resources (effectively) to help others? · 2020-11-18T12:18:38.483Z · EA · GW

Little Things by Julia A. F. Carney

Little drops of water, 
Little grains of sand, 
Make the mighty ocean 
And the pleasant land.

Thus the little minutes, 
Humble though they be, 
Make the mighty ages 
Of eternity.

Comment by cienna on Why those who care about catastrophic and existential risk should care about autonomous weapons · 2020-11-18T01:03:11.008Z · EA · GW

Thank you so much for writing this! What sources would you recommend for keeping up with further developments in this area? 

Comment by cienna on Evaluating a crowdfunding campaign to test an oral anthrax vaccine for wildlife · 2020-10-25T16:00:16.271Z · EA · GW

Update: I now think it's a problem with the first impression. A title with shorter words that stirred the imagination might perform better. I remember feeling the draw of effort to understand what the title meant. 

Compared with 
"Growing edible algae on the Moon"
- title was partly misleading
- raise was overfunded with plenty of time to spare  
- Might have been "Assessing fresh spirulina as a space food at HI-SEAS"

"What is the ethanol resistance of lignin biocoating?"
- accurate title
- raise failed at 1/3  
- Might have been "Can lignin keep cardboard from getting soggy when I soak it in beer?"

If too many syllables and not enough imagery in the first impression is why the raise failed to gather interest, then I made the same mistake when titling this post! Maybe it should have been "Why isn't this project to vaccinate deer against anthrax getting funded?" 

Comment by cienna on What is a book that genuinely changed your life for the better? · 2020-10-21T22:04:18.378Z · EA · GW

I love this question, and I'm looking forward to reading others' answers! Thanks for asking it! 

The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane by Matthew Hutson

I was wrestling with the inescapable thought "I don't want to live as a hypocrite" before I first read it in 2012. I hadn't known becoming more rational was a thing other people knew how to do. Somehow the book's cheerful, mostly forgiving take on how sometimes people are better off irrational gave me the grace I needed to both start seeking ways of mind I could respect in myself, and to appreciate my magical thinking. This book set me up with a growth mindset toward becoming a mind I enjoy. 

Biopunk by Marcus Wohlsen  
This really stretched my imagination about what a single competent person can do. I picked it up for the biology, and ended up thinking about agency, responsibility, risk, and the archetype of the maverick. 

I think I'd have learned this stuff another way if I hadn't read these books. However, these genuinely contributed to me growing in openness, agency, and self-respect.

Comment by cienna on Evaluating a crowdfunding campaign to test an oral anthrax vaccine for wildlife · 2020-10-13T01:59:01.164Z · EA · GW

Thank you!