Posts

Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures 2022-05-12T12:15:13.603Z
The universal Anthropocene or things we can learn from exo-civilisations, even if we never meet any 2022-04-26T12:06:25.091Z
Will the next global conflict be more like World War I? 2022-03-26T14:57:13.337Z
Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research 2021-08-02T12:18:22.464Z
Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time 2021-04-07T07:49:29.359Z
FJehn's Shortform 2021-04-07T07:23:14.502Z
Making a collection of freely available mental health resources 2021-03-03T13:34:43.074Z
In diversity lies epistemic strength 2021-02-06T15:54:11.853Z
Lotteries for everything? 2020-11-27T09:40:06.326Z
The end of the Bronze Age as an example of a sudden collapse of civilization 2020-10-28T12:55:51.262Z
Which properties does the EA movement share with deep-time organisations? 2020-08-26T10:59:18.354Z
EA in Germany: Insights about local groups 2020-08-01T10:34:43.912Z
Keeping everyone motivated: a case for effective careers outside of the highest impact EA organizations 2019-08-22T06:43:06.142Z

Comments

Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-24T13:03:20.503Z · EA · GW

Good idea. I'll look into this when I find the time and report back here. 

Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-24T13:01:55.564Z · EA · GW

Our conversation kinda feels like to me that we are talking a bit past each other. As I understand your message you are saying that the shift in temperature focus is due to the Paris Agreement. This is also what we say in the paper. However, you disagree in the conclusions from that, by saying that this does not imply a focus shift. 

And this is the part I don't get. If the IPCC focuses on different things due to the Paris Agreement, how is this not a shift in research focus? Especially after you said in your post before that your statement is based on a strong increase in the mentions of RCP8.5, which I showed to not have happened. 

Concerning your statement: "I especially don't think it is true to say that the climate science literature is ignoring impacts of more than 3 degree". The paper does not claim that we ignore impacts of more than 3 degrees,  merely that our focus has shifted away from that. 

 

Could it be that our crux is that my model is something like:

  • Temperatures are more important to look at, because they are what ultimately decides the impact of climate change. Therefore,  a shift in them is really concerning.

While your model seems to me: 

  • Only RCPs are important and it does not really matter which temperatures they ultimately look at. As long as RCP8.5 is studied a lot, you cannot say that higher warming is underresearched. 
Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-24T12:54:18.883Z · EA · GW

Our conversation kinda feels like to me that we are talking a bit past each other. As I understand your message you are saying that the shift in temperature focus is due to the Paris Agreement. This is also what we say in the paper. However, you disagree in the conclusions from that, by saying that this does not imply a focus shift. 

And this is the part I don't get. If the IPCC focuses on different things due to the Paris Agreement, how is this not a shift in research focus? Especially after you said in your post before that your statement is based on a strong increase in the mentions of RCP8.5, which I showed to not have happened. 

Concerning your statement: "I especially don't think it is true to say that the climate science literature is ignoring impacts of more than 3 degree". The paper does not claim that we ignore impacts of more than 3 degrees,  merely that our focus has shifted away from that. 

Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-14T07:39:06.840Z · EA · GW

We also looked into the RCP mentions. Going from AR5 to AR6 RCP8.5 increases ~ 10 %. Same goes for RCP2.5. The change is mainly caused by RCP6.0 mentioned less. RCP4.5 roughly stays the same. 

As the RCPs weren't really used before AR5, we cannot compare it to anything before that. This is also one of the reason for using temperature, as we can look compare all reports and not only the last two. 

The shift in temperature mentions is way stronger than the shift in RCPs. Especially if you compare it to the reports before AR5. 

I think the shift in temperature focus is partly caused by a shift in RCPs, partly by more constrained values of equilibrium climate sensitivity and mainly by the focus on the Paris Agreement. 

I guess my main questions to you are: 

  • What do you think caused the shift in temperature focus?
  • What do you think this shift implies, if not a change in research focus?
Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-13T07:05:53.023Z · EA · GW

Alright, that's settled then. Also looking forward to resolution!

Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-12T17:38:00.652Z · EA · GW

I get your reasons and I hope I lose the 100 $. I also think the probable temperature for 2100 will continue to go down. However, we still have quite a long way to go to get to 2°C. 

The IPCC does not really attach probabilities to temperatures. Therefore, it is not really possible to directly go for the IPCC reports as resolution. One possibility would be the Internationale Energy Agency. They regularly publish estimates of likely temperature trajectories. Their current estimate is that with currently (in 2021) stated policies we'll get 2.6°C in 2100. We could use the median estimate for stated policies in their report for 2032.  

As they have been around since 1974, it seems likely they will continue to exist in until 2032. However, they might chance the way they do their reporting, so I am not sure if this is a great way to resolve this.

Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-12T13:02:21.957Z · EA · GW

I don't see how this contradicts with the paper above. It does not say we should focus on RCP8.5 or a warming of 4.3°C. The main takeaway is the IPCC reports now focus on lower temperatures as they did before. I think this implies a shift in research. If you have another explanation for this I'd be happy to hear it. 

Comment by FJehn on Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures · 2022-05-12T12:53:36.494Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your comment. Unsurprisingly, I am less optimistic. While I also think that climate news gotten better over the last years, I still think there is a big chance we end up at over 2°C. The Twitter thread you linked to says "It finds that, if all the countries of the world fulfilled their climate commitments, the world would most likely limit climate change to just under 2 degrees C." That's quite a big if. 

The post by John and Johannes mainly argues that extreme warming is not likely, which I also agree with. However, I see the research gap more in the range 2°-3.5°C. 

Finally, even if our median trajectory would aim below 2 °C, we still should do more research above 2°C . Climate damage does increase considerably for higher temperatures and due to uncertainties in the climate sensitivity we still could end up there. 

I'm happy to take on your second bet. Let me know how you want to implement that. 

I'd also consider the first one depending on the implementation. However, betting is easier if you have lots of money, which I don't. 

Comment by FJehn on Potatoes: A Critical Review · 2022-05-11T15:14:34.800Z · EA · GW

Thank you. I'll probably won't have the time to make a full post out of this, but this was strongly inspired by the series about 1848 in the Revolutions Podcast and especially this episode:  https://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/revolutions_podcast/2017/08/707-the-hungry-forties-.html

So, if you are looking for additional information, you'll likely find it there. 

Comment by FJehn on Potatoes: A Critical Review · 2022-05-11T06:33:25.470Z · EA · GW

I'll use this post to add some other potato related thoughts I had some time ago, as this chance might never come up again in the EA Forum: 

 

Are the potato famine and the revolutions of 1848 an example for the fragility of the modern world?

Recently I came across the potato famine and how it contributed or even caused the revolutions of 1848. I wondered if this is an good example to show how cascading failures lead from an natural event to an agricultural crisis, to an economic crisis, to an financial crisis and finally resulting in a political crisis.

 So what happened?

In the 19th century potatoes became a staple crop in Europe, because they were easy to plant and harvest, cheap and filled you up quite nicely. However, there were very few varieties at that time and this made them vulnerable to disease. In 1845 a new potato disease spread all over Europe and destroyed much of the yearly harvest. This was especially a problem in Ireland (because they almost exclusively used potatoes), but most parts of Central Europe were at least a bit affected. This basically left Europe without potatoes until new varieties could be developed.

In 1846 bad weather also affected the wheat and rye harvest. This lead to rising prices all over Central Europe, as now all major food crops had considerably lower yields. These food shortages forced people to kill most of their livestock, as they did not have any feed for it. But as many people slaughtered their animals at the same time, prices for meat plummeted (though they were still way to high for poor people).

This agricultural crisis lead to an economic crisis, as everybody had to use most of their money for food. Therefore, there wasn't anything left to buy other consumer goods. This in turn increased unemployment considerably, as many people in the consumer goods industry lost their jobs. Especially in cities this was a problem, as many people had moved their in the last decades and could not find any jobs to sustain themselves.

So, after the agricultural crisis in 1845 and 1846 were followed with an economic crisis in 1846 and 1847, next came an financial crisis in 1847. The financial crisis was mainly driven by the bursting of a bubble around building railroads. In the 1830s and  1840s many railroad projects were started, but most were crap. The bubble burst in 1847 after states started to rise interest rates to consolidate their finances in the economic crisis. In addition, the food crisis diverted funds away from the railroads and this showed that most of the projects could only continue if they got more money continuously. When this did not happen they crashed and with them everyone who had invested their money. This again led to more unemployment as all the railroad companies closed and due to a lack of available loans many smaller businesses went bankrupt, making even more people lose their job.

So in 1848 you had a crashed economy, a debt crisis, still some famine and massive unemployment. Many people all over Europe faces several years of fear, hardship and poverty. They looked for someone to blame. This brought many people to politics. And finally in 1848 we can see revolutions in most states of Central Europe. Some being successful (France), while others failed (Germany). Still, it seems like an new potato disease basically started a chain of events that led to a drastic change of the political landscape in Central Europe.

Comment by FJehn on FJehn's Shortform · 2022-04-24T17:56:13.198Z · EA · GW

Is it an important research topic to explore the availability of flammable materials in major NATO cities to assess the effects of nuclear war?

Today I read "Examining the Climate Effects of a Regional Nuclear Weapons Exchange Using a Multiscale Atmospheric Modeling Approach". It models the effect of a regional nuclear war between Pakistan and India. One quote stood out to me:

"The assumed 16 g cm−2 fuel loading and 100% burn rate for the fire is actually uncertain, and in fact, Reisner et al. (2018) assume only ∼1 g cm−2 fuel loading. Reisner et al. (2018) points out that Indian and Pakistani cities are built of concrete, and there fore, firestorms that erupted in fuel-rich Hiroshima and Hamburg would not occur. Our simulations, using 1 g cm−2, cause no global radiative forcing, because the BC emitted into the lower and middle troposphere is quickly removed by EAM."

This means the effects of a nuclear war are mainly determined by how bad the firestorms will become and this in turn is determined by how much flammable material is available in the bombed cities. However, the possible range for this parameter seems to be from "there is too little fuel to cause a nuclear winter" to "nuclear winter is basically certain". This seems like a pretty big research gap to me. 

Comment by FJehn on Impactful Forecasting Prize Results and Reflections · 2022-03-29T17:57:42.329Z · EA · GW

Oh wow, did not really enter to win anything. I just participated because I thought the idea is really cool and it gave me a good opportunity diving into a variety of topics. A pleasant surprise :)

I am a bit surprised by how few people participated. If I remember correctly, 4/13 submissions were by me.  I talked about this prize with several people and all seemed eager to participate, but apparently they didn't.  So, I am not sure if the lack of forecasters is due to too little promotion (though more would probably helped as well). Seems like there is a large gap between "I like the idea of this" and really sit down and participating. 

However, I hope you do something like this again, as it helped me a lot to have a selection of meaningful questions to do forecasts on.  Just opening Metaculus can be a bit overwhelming. 

If this happens again, I'll try to hold the people that like the idea accountable, so that they do a forecast and not only think about it. 

Comment by FJehn on Will the next global conflict be more like World War I? · 2022-03-26T16:06:31.250Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the answer. I thought this might be a topic discussing in the forum, as the shape of future wars seems like a thing that could influence the long term future by a lot. 

 I don't think that tanks shifted WWI on their own, but more in a combination of changed strategies and tactics.  I fear more that a future war would grind to a kind of stalemate quickly, as modern weapons are so lethal (as you described) and favor the defender. Nuclear weapons would be a way to break such a stalemate. Therefore, I fear that this change in war might make the use of nuclear weapons more likely.  

Comment by FJehn on What are some examples of EA <-> Academia collaborations? · 2022-02-23T21:31:39.391Z · EA · GW

Not sure if this is a direct answer of your question, but what worked good for me was using my position on my university to allow students to work on ALLFED topics as their master thesis. This resulted in one very good master thesis on loss of industry scenarios. 

Maybe you could reach out to academics with a bunch of possible thesis topics that they could do in cooperation with EA orgs. If they are a good fit for the researcher you reached out to, this might be an interesting offer for them.

Comment by FJehn on Some reflections on testing fit for research · 2022-02-21T12:50:35.955Z · EA · GW

Thank you for writing this. I think this contains lots of good information for the people you are aiming at.

An interesting read might be this paper here: https://journals.biologists.com/jcs/article/121/11/1771/30038/The-importance-of-stupidity-in-scientific-research I think some of the struggles you ran into are just a part of doing research and do not make your fit for research smaller.

Comment by FJehn on FJehn's Shortform · 2021-12-16T12:04:08.665Z · EA · GW

This comment was mainly inspired by the revolutions podcast: https://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/revolutions_podcast/2017/08/707-the-hungry-forties-.html

Comment by FJehn on FJehn's Shortform · 2021-12-16T11:45:35.714Z · EA · GW

Are the potato famine and the revolutions of 1848 an example for the fragility of the modern world?

Recently I came across the potato famine and how it contributed or even caused the revolutions of 1848. I wondered if this is an good example to show how cascading failures lead from an natural event to an agricultural crisis, to an economic crisis, to an financial crisis and finally resulting in a political crisis.

 So what happened?

In the 19th century potatoes became a staple crop in Europe, because they were easy to plant and harvest, cheap and filled you up quite nicely. However, there were very few varieties at that time and this made them vulnerable to disease. In 1845 a new potato disease spread all over Europe and destroyed much of the yearly harvest. This was especially a problem in Ireland (because they almost exclusively used potatoes), but most parts of Central Europe were at least a bit affected. This basically left Europe without potatoes until new varieties could be developed.

In 1846 bad weather also affected the wheat and rye harvest. This lead to rising prices all over Central Europe, as now all major food crops had considerably lower yields. These food shortages forced people to kill most of their livestock, as they did not have any feed for it. But as many people slaughtered their animals at the same time, prices for meat plummeted (though they were still way to high for poor people).

This agricultural crisis lead to an economic crisis, as everybody had to use most of their money for food. Therefore, there wasn't anything left to buy other consumer goods. This in turn increased unemployment considerably, as many people in the consumer goods industry lost their jobs. Especially in cities this was a problem, as many people had moved their in the last decades and could not find any jobs to sustain themselves.

So, after the agricultural crisis in 1845 and 1846 were followed with an economic crisis in 1846 and 1847, next came an financial crisis in 1847. The financial crisis was mainly driven by the bursting of a bubble around building railroads. In the 1830s and  1840s many railroad projects were started, but most were crap. The bubble burst in 1847 after states started to rise interest rates to consolidate their finances in the economic crisis. In addition, the food crisis diverted funds away from the railroads and this showed that most of the projects could only continue if they got more money continuously. When this did not happen they crashed and with them everyone who had invested their money. This again led to more unemployment as all the railroad companies closed and due to a lack of available loans many smaller businesses went bankrupt, making even more people lose their job.

So in 1848 you had a crashed economy, a debt crisis, still some famine and massive unemployment. Many people all over Europe faces several years of fear, hardship and poverty. They looked for someone to blame. This brought many people to politics. And finally in 1848 we can see revolutions in most states of Central Europe. Some being successful (France), while others failed (Germany). Still, it seems like an new potato disease basically started a chain of events that led to a drastic change of the political landscape in Central Europe.

Comment by FJehn on [deleted post] 2021-12-15T18:49:49.590Z

This is a bit harder, as awards are usually given for a specific piece of research and as long as you haven't produced anything, you cannot get an award. However, there are some opportunities. For example, on conferences there are often things like poster awards for work in progress research you can participate in. 

Comment by FJehn on [deleted post] 2021-12-15T16:36:21.078Z

Even if it is less random than I think, I'd still argue that people should be more proactive when it comes to applying to awards. 

Comment by FJehn on Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research · 2021-12-06T10:28:39.633Z · EA · GW
  1. That's what I meant, sorry if I phrased this incorrectly.
  2. I did not mean to say that they did not look at specific temperatures at all. I meant that they did not look at it in the amount the probability of the specific warming would make sensible.

Is your critique that we used "severly neglected", but you would have been ok with "neglected"? Or is your model that the scientific community does the right amount of research for different temperatures,  given the likelyhood of reaching these temperatures?

Comment by FJehn on Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research · 2021-12-03T11:28:30.008Z · EA · GW

The Sherwood reference was only included during the review process, as it was not yet published when we originally came up with the analysis.  As you probably know, going from an idea to a published paper can take quite some time and you cannot read and update on all the papers that are published during that time. 

I would agree that today the picture looks better as in comparison when we started working on that paper. However, predicted temperatures and mentions in the IPCC still don't overlap and therefore we still have a research gap, albeit a smaller one. 

I don't see how this makes the paper wrong. 1) You are only referring to impact literature. It's great if we know what impact climate change will have, but we still have a problem if we do not know how to mitigate it at higher temperatures. 2) Comparing emission scenarios is good, but every  scenario has a wide range of possible temperatures. Therefore, it is also important to look at specific temperatures. 

Comment by FJehn on Common Points of Advice for Students and Early-Career Professionals Interested in Global Catastrophic Risk · 2021-11-30T14:13:57.282Z · EA · GW

Thank you this post! This kind of collection was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

Comment by FJehn on Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research · 2021-11-25T09:01:54.681Z · EA · GW

Thank you for your feedback!

It is true that our phrasing around Sherwood et al (2020) can sound a bit misleading. However, this was not in bad faith. We did not intentionally leave out the decreased tail risks. 

Overall, your criticism mainly seems to be the fact that current estimates of climate sensitivity have a smaller range that the one we used. This is true. It does not change the point of our paper though. While the range decreased, the mean basically stayed the same and if you look at our figures, this still means that there is likely to few research for the higher temperatures. 

To your last point, I wasn't aware that the impact literature mainly compares those two scenarios. However, as we look at all parts of the IPCC reports this seems to get drowned out by the other parts of the reports. We are currently doing some new analyses that try to look into this in a bit more depth. 

Comment by FJehn on How to best address Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)? · 2021-08-31T10:24:48.224Z · EA · GW

One thing I find very useful but I haven't seen recommended anywhere is simply adding a second mouse to your computer. It allows you to easily switch between both hands. This gives your main hand some rest, but doesn't overuse the other one.

Comment by FJehn on Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research · 2021-08-05T06:35:38.764Z · EA · GW

Unfortunately, I cannot really provide conclusive answers here, as our paper only looked into the amount of research overall, but not into specific topics. Getting an overview of this is basically a major research project itself. However, a student of mine looked into this a bit and her preliminary results seem like it is more of a general problem and not specific to certain fields of research.

Comment by FJehn on Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research · 2021-08-03T07:34:30.004Z · EA · GW
  1. We settled on Wagner and Weitzman because it is well known and also because they were kind enough to provide us with their data and code. It is indeed true that other probability curves might paint a more optimistic picture. However, the differences are so large that I would be surprised if it would change the conclusion of our paper.
  2. We looked at the complete IPCC reports, because we wanted to understand the overall focus of policy relevant research. But it is indeed true that the research gap differs between the working groups and the research gap is larger when it comes to the impact focused reports.
Comment by FJehn on Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research · 2021-08-03T07:24:08.606Z · EA · GW

I would say that there are several promising research directions when it comes to higher end warming:

  1. Exploring in detail what the effects of higher end warming even are. E.g. what are the possible effects on crops, livestock, habitable zones for humans, but also the economy?
  2. How could we cope with such possibly massive changes? Are there precedents in history where we had to undergo such massive changes and did it work?
  3. Taking a deeper look into geo-engineering, especially the potentially very effective, but more out there approaches like e.g. Project Vesta

And those are just a few suggestions from the top of my head. Basically, it boils down to finding out what the effects might really be and how we could cope.

Comment by FJehn on FJehn's Shortform · 2021-07-11T10:04:59.995Z · EA · GW

Knowledge is fractal. Every time I wander into a new field of knowledge I am fascinated that it has its own tales, language, heroes, secrets and traditions. However, it does not stop at this scale. Every field had its own subfields and again we find exactly the same thing. You could spend your whole life trying to understand a field and you would still be completely surprised by what you might find in its subfields if you venture out. And again you would just find more subfields of the subfield you started exploring. It seemingly never ends. I like this personally as it means I will never run out of fascinating thing to find, but I wonder how long humanity can continue to amass knowledge until we get lost in the depth of our own fractal. Or will we just find new ways to cope with that?

Comment by FJehn on Linch's Shortform · 2021-05-11T09:08:04.756Z · EA · GW

This resonated with me a lot. Unfortunately, I do not have a quick fix. However, what seems to help at least a bit for me is seperating planning for a day and doing the work. Every workday the last thing I do (or try to do) is look at my calendar and to do lists and figure out what I should be doing the next day. By doing this I think I am better at assessing at what is important, as I do not have to do it at that moment. I only have to think of what my future self will be capable of doing. When the next day comes and future self turns into present self I find it really helpful to already having the work for the day planned for me. I do not have to think about what is important, I just do what past me decided. 

Not sure if this is just an obvious way to do this, but I thought it does not hurt to write it down. 

Comment by FJehn on What previous work has been done on factors that affect the pace of technological development? · 2021-04-28T10:18:28.648Z · EA · GW

The roots of progress blog by Jason Crawford might be worth a look. It often discusses topics like technological stagnation or how quick technologies grow

Comment by FJehn on Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time · 2021-04-25T14:51:44.603Z · EA · GW

Makes sense. Thanks for the detailed answer. 

Comment by FJehn on Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time · 2021-04-23T08:59:54.769Z · EA · GW

Just out of curiosity: Why is this admin-only?

Comment by FJehn on Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time · 2021-04-23T08:58:30.561Z · EA · GW

Neat, thank you!

Comment by FJehn on Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time · 2021-04-08T12:32:27.804Z · EA · GW

That's a valid point. Here's the controversy graph if you exclude all posts that don't have any downvotes:

Overall trend seems to be similar though. And it makes me even more interested what happened in 2018 that sparked so much controversy^^

Comment by FJehn on Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time · 2021-04-08T08:06:35.422Z · EA · GW

You can ask the API for "viewCount". However, it seems to always return "null". Not sure if this means that you aren't allowed to query for this or if the problem is just me not getting the queries right^^

Comment by FJehn on Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time · 2021-04-07T12:43:36.019Z · EA · GW

Great. Thanks :)

Comment by FJehn on Getting a feel for changes of karma and controversy in the EA Forum over time · 2021-04-07T12:39:50.131Z · EA · GW

That seems to have been the case. Sorry about that. Does it work now?

Comment by FJehn on FJehn's Shortform · 2021-04-07T07:23:16.103Z · EA · GW

Test predictions 

https://forecast.elicit.org/binary/questions/3LtxhQ5kZ

Comment by FJehn on Making a collection of freely available mental health resources · 2021-03-03T13:35:58.041Z · EA · GW
  • Name: Replacing Guilt Series
  • What is it? 
    • This is a collection of blog articles by Nate Soares that tackle the problem of using guilt as your main motivator. 
  • Why do you like it? 
    • Motivating yourself can be hard and the default motivator is often guilt and the feeling that you “should” be doing something. These posts try to show that guilt is not a good (and especially not a sustainable) way to motivate yourself and explore more long term approaches to keep your motivation running.  
  • Where to start? 
Comment by FJehn on Making a collection of freely available mental health resources · 2021-03-03T13:35:42.744Z · EA · GW
  • Name: Woebot
  • What is it? 
    • Woebot is a chatbot that does cognitive behavioural therapy with you. 
  • Why do you like it? 
    • While a chatbot is obviously not the same as having a therapist, it is easily available and for some cognitive behavioural therapy exercises you basically only need someone to talk you through it. Woebot is more on the cute side, which I guess could be annoying for some people, but I think it sets a friendly atmosphere. It also helps you to track your mood and has a vast collection of exercises to help with sleep problems, stress and other mental health problems. 
  • Where to start?  
    • You can just download the app (e.g. via Google Play) and start talking to it immediately. 
Comment by FJehn on Making a collection of freely available mental health resources · 2021-03-03T13:35:21.719Z · EA · GW
  • Name: The Happiness Lab 
  • What is it? 
    • The Happiness Lab is a podcast by Dr. Laurie Santos which discusses new scientific insights about happiness research.
  • Why do you like it? 
    • I enjoy listening to this podcast because it is basically a self-help guide, but deeply grounded in scientific research. Also, it has a cheerful tone to it, which makes me more likely to tune in. I think it has helped me to build a more optimistic view on life.
  • Where to start? 
    • In march 2020 The Happiness Lab started a mini series  to help with the mental problems that arose due to the global pandemic. For example, loneliness or struggling to keep relationships intact. As Coronavirus is still around those episodes might be a good starting point, but even after the pandemic they can provide valuable tips on how to cope with more extreme situations.
Comment by FJehn on In diversity lies epistemic strength · 2021-02-12T16:58:14.632Z · EA · GW

It seems like my post created more of a buzz than I anticipated. Many people seem to get the message from it: “we should only care about demographic diversity and nothing else”. I’m sorry that my wording was apparently so vague, as this is not really what I meant. 

To create a fruitful discussion you not only need diversity, but also at least some value alignment and some knowledge about the topic that is being discussed. Given that some value alignment and some knowledge about the topic are present, diversity of perspectives is a powerful way to make sure that the knowledge and insight gained from such a discussion increases. It allows the participants in the discussion to detect each other’s blind spots and challenge their assumptions. And this is where demographic diversity comes into play. I think that you cannot easily (or even at all) measure your subconscious assumptions and biases, but I think that those assumptions and biases originate from the experiences that you have in your life. Those experiences are strongly shaped by demographic markers like age, gender, race, etc.. Therefore, we should make sure to have enough people from different subgroups to not miss out on perspectives that would challenge erroneous assumptions in our thinking. 

Another post from the EA Forum which might have done a better job at highlighting a similar idea is “EA Diversity: Unpacking Pandora's Box”, as it unpacks the different facets of diversity explicitly. Unfortunately, I only came across it after I had published my post. 

Comment by FJehn on In diversity lies epistemic strength · 2021-02-08T07:46:24.644Z · EA · GW

You seem to assume that diversity of perspectives is easy to measure, because you only link it to the professional background of a person. However, I would argue that while profession is important, so is how I grew up and what experiences I had in my life due to sex, gender, race and other markers. Those things you cannot easily measure directly, but they improve discussions, as they lead to more assumptions being challenged. 

Comment by FJehn on In diversity lies epistemic strength · 2021-02-08T07:43:39.331Z · EA · GW

Simply asking someone about their beliefs works if you have something conrete to ask for and know that kind of perspective you want to include. However, how would you know which questions to ask for? Aren't the questions you are asking not based on your own perspectives? What this post aims for is highlighting the importance of perspectives you cannot easily predict. For example, if you would you are doing a Hamming Circle you might have a hunch beforehand which people you would like to include, but during the circle the best feedback and help comes from a person and perspective you never even would have considered to be important. 

And to your second point: Why not both? My post aims to highlight the importance of diverse perspectives. Therefore, I would assume that I would get the most valuable consensus from a group consisting of economist, a biologist, a nurse, a poet, a cop and a prostitute, which are also diverse on race, age and sex. 

Comment by FJehn on In diversity lies epistemic strength · 2021-02-07T11:17:24.978Z · EA · GW

That is true. To participate in any discussion you must know something about the topic at hand. Still, I don't think this is at odds with my post. To stay with your example in philosophy, my post does not intend to argue that basically everyone in the world should partake in philosophy discussions, but merely that the philosophy community should make sure that important perspectives are not overlooked, by a diverse set of people. Your idea of having to have a claim of expertise to meaningfully contribute to a discussion is also highlighted in "Why trust Science?" and I probably should have it highlighted more in my post. We should acknowledge that knowledge about a topic can also stem from lived experience. In addition, even if I have little knowledge about a topic I might be able to challenge an assumption that was overlooked by a homogenous group.

Comment by FJehn on In diversity lies epistemic strength · 2021-02-07T07:24:06.271Z · EA · GW

Thank you for your comment. Could you tell me which part of my post led you to the conclusion that we should leave out perspectives of privileged people? I saw my argument as "include as many perspectives as you can to challenge more assumptions". Or are you making a general comment on your view of feminism?

Comment by FJehn on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2021-01-12T21:00:45.847Z · EA · GW

Did you have time to look at the evidence? If so, what is your impression? 

Comment by FJehn on The funnel or the individual: Two approaches to understanding EA engagement · 2021-01-11T11:19:18.808Z · EA · GW

Thank you for this article. I really like the idea of your model and how you highlight how it compares to the funnel model. I think it is a good idea for the EA community to focus more on the "middle" and how to keep people motivated who are not the most highly engaged. This is especially important as it is unclear what causes might be the most important in the future. Right now highest engagement is only really possible for people who are working in the currently most valued causes areas. However, those might change in the future and we might need people with different skills and perspectives and retaining those people is only possible if we offer everyone ways of participation and growth. 

Comment by FJehn on What are some potential coordination failures in our community? · 2020-12-16T08:49:39.361Z · EA · GW

That is indeed a problem, I also saw signs of this several times. Thank you for that comment. At least for initial funding lotteries might be a good idea, as they would allow much quicker grant applications and would remove bias. I recently asked a questions about this here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/XtxnLERQfampY7dhh/lotteries-for-everything

While I do think that lotteries have some flaws, they still seem pretty good to me when it comes to initial funding. 

Comment by FJehn on Lotteries for everything? · 2020-12-06T21:37:21.465Z · EA · GW

That's a great resource. Thanks!