Posts

The climate change policy with the most potential is the most neglected 2019-07-12T17:19:53.552Z · score: 16 (5 votes)
Sentience Institute: US Factory Farming Estimates 2019-04-25T09:32:59.129Z · score: 28 (10 votes)
Awesome Effective Altruism - a curated list of EA resources 2018-08-24T21:04:28.709Z · score: 12 (13 votes)
Visualising animal agriculture 2018-06-16T01:05:31.582Z · score: 17 (14 votes)
How to improve EA Funds 2018-04-04T09:27:47.838Z · score: 42 (39 votes)
EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? 2018-01-31T08:10:24.954Z · score: 35 (32 votes)
Introducing EA Work Club – high-impact jobs and side projects for EAs 2017-12-08T11:37:56.149Z · score: 17 (12 votes)

Comments

Comment by henry_stanley on Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free Necklace · 2019-07-16T18:01:58.363Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · EA · GW

While unpleasant, I don't think being punched in the face is comparable to having kidney stones (a pain so excruciating that often morphine can't touch it). It seems totally believable to me that such an experience might rank as among the worst in one's life.

There are probably also two systems at play here: the experience itself and the lingering memory of it. It's conceivable you might not remember some extremely painful experience as 'bad' (through post-hoc rationalisation, or the peak-end effect or similar); I'm not sure how to weight that against the actual raw badness of the experience itself.

Comment by henry_stanley on "Why Nations Fail" and the long-termist view of global poverty · 2019-07-16T17:28:54.286Z · score: 22 (5 votes) · EA · GW

You might be aware of this, but Lant Pritchett largely agrees with your criticisms at the end of the piece - that the focus on RCTs isn't likely to be helpful in finding interventions that accelerate economic development.

Comment by henry_stanley on Applications for EA Global: London 2019 are now open · 2019-07-11T17:12:47.853Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Yeah, I'm also wondering about the price. Is this just because costs have gone up, or is the higher price going towards bigger discounts for those less able to pay the full cost?

Comment by henry_stanley on You Should Write a Forum Bio · 2019-05-07T12:20:54.059Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Done. Can we get Markdown support for bios please?

Comment by henry_stanley on [Link] "A Psychedelic Renaissance" (Chronicle of Philanthropy) · 2019-05-07T06:51:52.607Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I've seen a few folks talk about psychedelics research as a potential "cause X"; given the decades of work already done and the many millions of dollars spent on research, is it likely to be a neglected cause area?

(Really enjoyed the article though. Also, Tim Ferriss has an interesting discussion on psychedelics with Peter Atilla in this podcast episode)

Comment by henry_stanley on Salary Negotiation for Earning to Give · 2019-04-05T11:14:47.606Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Great idea. When getting a new tech job, Haseem's article was really the only useful resource out there for salary negotiations.

Comment by henry_stanley on Which piece got you more involved in EA? · 2018-09-07T12:23:39.152Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

For me, the very first 'EA' thing I came across was from before EA was a thing: Eliezer Yudkowsky's post on money as the unit of caring. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZpDnRCeef2CLEFeKM/money-the-unit-of-caring

It genuinely was a lightbulb moment - the idea that doing the most good might mean making a bunch of money and giving it to someone who can do the good thing better than you can.

And, maybe most importantly, it turned me on to 'doing good' in general. If I'm honest, I hadn't really considered it as a priority before then. A couple years later I took an 80K career consultation, went into software engineering, pledged to give away 10%+ and am now in the early stages of starting an EA org!

Comment by henry_stanley on Awesome Effective Altruism - a curated list of EA resources · 2018-08-25T13:12:46.771Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm also interested in any slightly unorthodox resources - like, someone coming to the movement for the first time might also want to see criticisms, unusual points of view within the movement (e.g. negative utilitarianism), etc.

Comment by henry_stanley on Awesome Effective Altruism - a curated list of EA resources · 2018-08-25T13:11:06.473Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, have added 'em.

Comment by henry_stanley on Awesome Effective Altruism - a curated list of EA resources · 2018-08-25T12:25:44.737Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, that's been added.

Comment by henry_stanley on Accountability buddies: a proposed system · 2018-07-15T23:17:53.837Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · EA · GW

I like this a lot.

Random plug: I know a lot of EAs (including myself) use goal-and-task-tracking tool Complice; you can assign an accountability partner who sees your progress (and you see theirs). You can also share a link like this that lets anyone get updates on your public goals, which could potentially be quite motivating.

Comment by henry_stanley on Impact Investing - A Viable Option for EAs? · 2018-07-14T17:18:13.982Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I do want to share a cautionary tale about such investing: in the UK, there are tax-efficient investment vehicles called EISes and VCTs, which are designed to encourage investors to put money into somewhat risky early-stage UK businesses (and give big tax breaks as a result).

At one point, there were renewable energy EIS/VCT funds which seemed to give excellent returns – but only because the companies involved were claiming substantial, risk-free government subsidies for renewables schemes ("feed-in tariffs"). Eventually these schemes were scrapped, as were feed-in tariffs.

So an unwise impact investor might have put money into such a scheme, made a nice profit, and thought they were doing social good. In reality, the profits were just money taken from taxpayers (FITs were funded by making energy more expensive for all households), and impact (building inefficient, small-scale solar in a country where solar energy doesn't make much sense[1]) probably pretty minimal.

[1] - Peak energy demand in the UK is in the winter when it's coldest and darkest, so solar is basically useless here. Compare that to California, where peak demand is when people switch on their A/C during the sunniest part of the day.

Comment by henry_stanley on Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations · 2018-07-13T18:00:15.967Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Just a note on the EA Wiki (and on project abandonment in general): lots of projects seem to be really badly run. The EA Wiki was offline for months because of server issues, and until recently you couldn't even register as a new user.

I'm not sure EAs have a shorter attention span than anyone else – I imagine most would maybe try a couple of times to get onto the wiki and then just give up. That's part of the reason I'm not worried about project duplication: so many efforts are half-baked that we shouldn't allow one party to have a monopoly on a particular idea.

Comment by henry_stanley on Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations · 2018-07-13T17:57:21.812Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

EA Hotel (writing this comment from the hotel dining room)

Exciting stuff!

Comment by henry_stanley on Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations · 2018-07-12T01:50:51.448Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Would be good to know who these people are to better co-ordinate the community's efforts (and indeed to see if they're serious endeavours -- I get the feeling a lot of EA projects end up being started and then abandoned, so the fact that someone is already working on it shouldn't necessarily stop others from doing so).

Comment by henry_stanley on Visualising animal agriculture · 2018-06-16T22:54:07.420Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

That's strange; what are you using to view the page?

Comment by henry_stanley on Ineffective entrepreneurship: post-mortem of Hippo, the happiness app that never quite was · 2018-06-06T21:46:43.436Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

You'd make a repository on e.g. GitHub and upload the code there. Then other people can see it and suggest changes, or can fork (make a copy of) the repository and start their own thing based off it.

Comment by henry_stanley on Please Take the 2018 Effective Altruism Survey! · 2018-04-25T20:33:17.084Z · score: 17 (12 votes) · EA · GW

Probably too late to change it, but for the question "how did you hear about this survey?", the EA Forum isn't mentioned :P

Comment by henry_stanley on Announcing the new EA Wiki! · 2018-04-17T20:13:34.211Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

You want to be going here: https://wiki.eahub.org/wiki/Effective_Altruism_Wiki

Comment by henry_stanley on Announcing the new EA Wiki! · 2018-04-17T20:13:17.342Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

The wiki is now at https://wiki.eahub.org/wiki/Effective_Altruism_Wiki.

Comment by henry_stanley on UK Income Tax & Donations · 2018-04-09T10:35:25.267Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

This is awesome - thanks for writing it up. I'm hoping it gets sidebarred or otherwise kept somewhere for future reference, and for future years!

On the subject of doing a tax return: I've been using TaxCalc for the last few years. It's about £30 for a licence but covers all sorts of complex scenarios and is super straightforward - I'd recommend it.

Comment by henry_stanley on How to improve EA Funds · 2018-04-06T22:15:44.067Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If each fund manager's time is valued at millions or tens of millions of dollars a year, the discount rate on the donations held in a fund isn't an overwhelming consideration. But that raises the question, why create the funds in the first place?

Quite so. They seem to be stuck in a place where there's enough money there for it to be wasteful to let it just sit around, but not enough for it to be worthwhile for the fund managers to make regular disbursements.

Comment by henry_stanley on How to improve EA Funds · 2018-04-06T22:14:38.218Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

US Treasury bonds yield 1.7% a year. That's $18,700 a year in foregone revenue

That's the annualized return on 3-month bonds, a short-term, zero-risk investment. Setting up such an investment would be trivial (and could surely be outsourced).

At the other extreme, you have the Wellcome Trust which holds Henry Wellcome's endowment; their investments have yielded an average of 14% per year since 1986. And those returns compound, too. As a result, they've been able to give away much larger disbursements than if they'd simply held the money in cash.

Comment by henry_stanley on How to improve EA Funds · 2018-04-05T12:19:55.413Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I don't think the funds are trying to be anything like GiveWell

I disagree – the funds are definitely positioned as more risky than e.g. GiveWell, but nothing like as risky as you're making out. Take the Global Health and Development Fund:

Why might you choose not to donate to this fund?

Donors with a very low risk tolerance may choose to avoid this fund because the fund is empowered to take risks at the organizational level by funding unproven, but promising new charities.

Reading that, I would come away thinking that donations from that fund ought to be rigorous in a (mostly) publicly-verifiable way (more than just a conversation someone had with someone).

Comment by henry_stanley on How to improve EA Funds · 2018-04-04T21:47:41.248Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Awesome. Looking forward to seeing where EA Funds ends up!

Comment by henry_stanley on Job opportunity at the Future of Humanity Institute and Global Priorities Institute · 2018-04-01T16:19:18.380Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · EA · GW

How about a shameless plug for EA Work Club? 😇

This role is also listed there – http://www.eawork.club/jobs/87

Comment by henry_stanley on EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? · 2018-03-31T15:39:26.980Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I would have thought so. Putting them into government and corporate bonds is very safe, and would at least prevent the value in the funds from being eroded by inflation.

Comment by henry_stanley on An easy way for charities to increase revenue: Add Apple Pay and Google Pay to donation checkout · 2018-03-30T10:20:07.212Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think not - but you still have to pay the actual payment processor. The easiest ones to use are Stripe and Braintree, and they aren't cheap (around 2.9% + 30¢ or so), which might put charities off using them.

That said, it may be worth the expense if it means people donate who would otherwise get lost at the 'checkout' process.

Comment by henry_stanley on Open Thread #39 · 2018-03-30T10:17:31.290Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Oops, just saw that there's a post on exactly this.

Comment by henry_stanley on Open Thread #39 · 2018-03-30T10:15:15.067Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Are you looking for more mods? I'd be happy to help out.

Comment by henry_stanley on EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? · 2018-02-09T00:18:43.778Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Can confirm that the funds are held as cash, not invested.

Comment by henry_stanley on EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? · 2018-02-01T20:34:01.632Z · score: 15 (10 votes) · EA · GW

One issue is that the longer the fund holds on to donations, the more likely it is for the donor's intention and the fund's direction to diverge.

I might donate to the Animal Welfare fund expecting the money will be handed out to vegan advocacy and clean meat charities (and trust the fund manager to pick the best ones amongst these), but if the money isn't disbursed for two years, well, maybe wild animal suffering research will be the new hotness by then, and that's where my donation will end up going.

If I just want my donation to go to the expert's choice, then that might be fine. But if I had something more specific in mind (and in line with what the fund had recently donated to), this might not be ideal.

Comment by henry_stanley on EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? · 2018-02-01T20:27:17.501Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I think this definitely makes sense – though I wonder to what extent the fund manager has the discretion to appoint other fund managers?

(Okay, it's a rhetorical question – they most likely have full discretion to do so – but it would be good if this was more clearly set out in the terms of the fund.)

Comment by henry_stanley on EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? · 2018-01-31T21:35:02.893Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I'll ask; will reply here when I get an answer.

Comment by henry_stanley on Open Thread #39 · 2018-01-30T15:53:58.380Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Figures comparing direct suffering caused by various animal foods (h/t Brian Tomasik)

This was the thing that made me go vegetarian.

Comment by henry_stanley on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential · 2017-12-15T00:04:17.747Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Nothing in that article suggests that the data was low quality

I think the fact that Lisak literally cannot remember where his data comes from should be concerning.

That's irrelevant here, because the number here is being used as a representation of men in EA, not men on college campuses.

Good point - I'll instead say then that these numbers are likely specific to the particular population of that college and are even less likely to be useful for making inferences about the EA community as a whole. Lisak himself says of the study:

"Because of the nonrandom nature of the sampling procedures, the reported data cannot be interpreted as estimates of the prevalence of sexual or other acts of violence."

Comment by henry_stanley on Introducing EA Work Club – high-impact jobs and side projects for EAs · 2017-12-14T23:50:05.612Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

genuflects

Yes, that's the idea. Have chatted to Richard at 80K; we'll see what happens in terms of "official" adoption. But with a bit of automated scraping (and manual work) I don't see why this shouldn't end up being a superset of the 80K jobs board listings and those in the Facebook group.

Comment by henry_stanley on Introducing EA Work Club – high-impact jobs and side projects for EAs · 2017-12-14T23:47:56.792Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Heh yes, was intended as a way for people to gauge how much interest there is in a given project. Will try and make the UI clearer. If you click the star you can upvote.

Comment by henry_stanley on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Quantitative Findings · 2017-12-09T15:57:31.897Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for putting this together!

Given that most EA groups don't have websites, and that only 6 out of 10 of those that do said that the website was 'significantly useful', should we just get rid of websites altogether? Having a domain name that forwards to a Facebook group might be enough, and (beyond renewing the domain name) has basically no overhead at all.

Comment by henry_stanley on Introducing EA Work Club – high-impact jobs and side projects for EAs · 2017-12-08T16:41:02.035Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yes – that's top of my list!

Comment by henry_stanley on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential · 2017-12-07T18:30:10.186Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Agreed that Denise's comment didn't equate enthusiasm and consent, but in UK law at least:

> the legal test has long been whether it was reasonable for a defendant to think she consented at the time

So someone's enthusiasm during sex can legitimately portray consent – insofar as it would make it reasonable to believe they were consenting.

Comment by henry_stanley on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential · 2017-12-07T17:57:31.850Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Consensual sex with individuals under the age of consent is not rape - it's consensual sex with individuals under the age of consent.

Wait, hang on—

consensual sex with individuals under the age of consent

You can see that this is an oxymoron, surely? That people under the age of consent cannot give their consent (hence the name "age of consent")?

Comment by henry_stanley on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential · 2017-12-07T11:36:50.764Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Researching treatments for sexual offending has a chance to be the most cost effective option

I'm not convinced.

The Cochrane review on psychological treatments for sex offenders mentions a number of studies, each including hundreds of participants, that still weren't sufficiently well-designed to tease out a signal from the noise. Suffice it to say that this doesn't seem like a neglected area. It's not clear what low-hanging fruit there are re. psychological treatments; I doubt that the EA community is going to be able to run randomised controlled trials on hundreds of people at a cost of tens of millions of dollars given that many other scientists have failed to do so.

The other Cochrane review, on drug treatments for sex offenders, which shows that there's basically no evidence that e.g. testosterone-reducing drugs are useful and that there haven't been any RCTs published in two decades. So the fruit there are lower-hanging, but again, studies are going to be very costly.

As a meta-level aside, I'm also a bit worried about being too blasé about suggesting very radical interventions. From the Cochrane review:

It is a concern that, despite treatment being mandated in many jurisdictions, evidence for the effectiveness of pharmacological interventions is so sparse and that no RCTs appear to have been published in two decades.

So basically a bunch of places inject people with powerful hormonal drugs, against their will, with no evidence this will treat their problem. This is a clear human rights violation, and likely a violation of medical ethics too[1].

Given that we don't have any good evidence that testosterone-reducing drugs help sex offenders, I think it's a huge leap to then suggest investigating "testosterone reduction surgery" – by which I presume you mean castration. (You also say that sex offenders are likely to be willing to pay for their own treatment; something tells me most men aren't going to be willing to pay to be castrated.)

On an object level, this seems like a suggestion not worth taking seriously (there are a whole bunch of studies on testosterone-reducing drugs we'd need to do first before advocating sex offenders get castrated). And on a meta-level, I think outsiders with even the remotest sense of the unfairness of the criminal justice system would think us incredibly naïve to see us seriously suggesting performing surgery on sex offenders.


[1] http://jaapl.org/content/31/4/502.long - "When the promise of freedom is predicated on mandated treatment, the clinician must carefully assess the validity of informed consent."

Comment by henry_stanley on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential · 2017-12-06T23:45:55.499Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · EA · GW

If the data for these surveys didn't come from Lisak ... then it's just nonsensical to presume that the data is skewed because it's feminist

Agreed - but I still think we should be concerned about the quality of the data. The linked article suggests that Lisak's study was assembled from other studies which he's apparently unable to cite, which weren't especially careful about the data they collected, and which probably aren't representative of most college campuses.

Comment by henry_stanley on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential · 2017-12-06T23:16:28.032Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I personally don't really think the EA community should be seen as a place for dating/relationships--the same way workplaces are not seen this way.

15% of Americans met their partner/spouse at work, so I'm not sure your claim about workplaces is correct.

I'm also not sure the comparison is fair. Workplaces have specific regulations about how people can interact; an EA meetup is not your workplace and attendees probably shouldn't be held to the same standard of conduct.

I also know of a number of happy EA relationships. I think it would be a shame if we decreed that they were off-limits.

Comment by henry_stanley on EA Survey 2017 Series: Cause Area Preferences · 2017-11-15T23:06:44.963Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · EA · GW

A small nitpick – putting tables in as images makes the post harder to read on mobile devices, and impossible for blind/visually impaired people to consume with a screen reader.

I think this forum supports HTML in posts, so it shouldn't be hard to put HTML figures in instead. Thanks! :)

Comment by henry_stanley on Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA · 2017-11-15T19:08:50.650Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

So I think that if you identify with or against some group (e.g. 'anti-SJWs'), then anything that people say that pattern matches to something that this group would say triggers a reflexive negative reaction

Agreed. I'm not sure how we escape from that trap, except by avoiding loaded terms, even at the expense of brevity.

Comment by henry_stanley on Open Thread #39 · 2017-11-05T20:44:34.102Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I've written up some notes from EA Global London – anyone who attended (or indeed spoke at) the conference should feel free to add/edit!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v5DDS90tCFe6EbxEzR7G6CCkDjcHoYXzcXuaVtGNdcQ/edit?usp=sharing