Posts

BBC News – Would you give 10% of your salary to charity? 2021-12-02T16:49:59.296Z
Bored at home? Contribute to the EA Wiki! 2020-05-01T10:58:43.130Z
UK donor-advised funds 2020-01-22T12:03:12.285Z
‘I give away half to three-quarters of my income every year’ [The Guardian] 2019-11-09T09:03:33.307Z
The climate change policy with the most potential is the most neglected 2019-07-12T17:19:53.552Z
Sentience Institute: US Factory Farming Estimates 2019-04-25T09:32:59.129Z
Awesome Effective Altruism - a curated list of EA resources 2018-08-24T21:04:28.709Z
Visualising animal agriculture 2018-06-16T01:05:31.582Z
How to improve EA Funds 2018-04-04T09:27:47.838Z
EA Funds hands out money very infrequently - should we be worried? 2018-01-31T08:10:24.954Z
Introducing EA Work Club – high-impact jobs and side projects for EAs 2017-12-08T11:37:56.149Z

Comments

Comment by HenryStanley on Effective altruism in the garden of ends · 2022-09-06T12:13:22.269Z · EA · GW

(The image at the bottom of the post is broken, btw)

Comment by HenryStanley on Effective altruism in the garden of ends · 2022-09-06T12:13:02.037Z · EA · GW

This is wonderful – thank you so much for writing it.

Mutual dedication to one another’s ends seems like a thing commonly present in religious and ethnic communities. But it seems quite uncommon to the demographic of secular idealists, like me. Such idealists tend to form and join single-focus communities like effective altruism, which serve only a subset of our eudaemonic needs.

Agree about secular, single-purpose communities – but I'm not sure EA is quite the same.

I've found my relationships with other EAs tend to blossom to be about more than just EA; those principles provide a good set of shared values from which to build other things, like a sense of community, shared houses, group meals, playing music together and just supporting each other generally. Then again, I don't consider EA to be the core of my identity, so YMMV.

Comment by HenryStanley on What We Owe The Future is out today · 2022-08-22T13:55:29.155Z · EA · GW

(I ask not just for selfish reasons as a fellow depressive, but also because making EAs happier probably has instrumental benefits)

Comment by HenryStanley on What We Owe The Future is out today · 2022-08-18T15:55:04.878Z · EA · GW

Huge congratulations on the book!

My question isn't really related – it was triggered by the New Yorker/Time pieces and hearing your interview with Rob on the 80,000 Hours podcast (which I thought was really charming; the chemistry between you two comes across clearly). Disregard if it's not relevant or too personal or if you've already answered elsewhere online.

How did you get so dang happy?

Like, in the podcast you mention being one of the happiest people you know. But you also talk about your struggles with depression and mental ill-health, so you've had some challenges to overcome.

Is the answer really as simple as making mental health your top priority, or is there more to it? Becoming 5–10x happier doesn't strike me as typical (or even feasible) for most depressives[1]; do you think you're a hyper-responder in some regard? Or is it just that people tend to underindex on how important mental health is and how much time they should spend working at it (e.g. finding meds that are kinda okay and then stopping the search there instead of persisting)?

  1. ^
Comment by HenryStanley on What We Owe The Future is out today · 2022-08-18T15:43:09.991Z · EA · GW

We should at least strive to get it above The Very Hungry Caterpillar (#21).

Comment by HenryStanley on New cause area: Violence against women and girls · 2022-06-10T13:09:14.940Z · EA · GW

FGM is distinguished (beyond the forms in which it occurs) in that there are no medical reasons for doing it, nor does it have any health benefits for women

A small aside on this, which I found interesting:

if anti-FGM campaigners and organizations such as the WHO continue to play the “no health benefits” card as a way of deflecting comparisons to male circumcision, it will not be long before medically-trained supporters of the practice in other countries begin to do the necessary research. ...

I suggest, therefore, that by repeating the mantra—in nearly every article focused on female genital cutting—that “FGM has no health benefits,” those who oppose such cutting are sending the wrong signal. The mantra implies that if FGM did have health benefits, it wouldn’t be so bad after all.

But that isn’t what opponents really think. Regardless of health consequences, they see nontherapeutic genital cutting of female minors as contrary to their best interests, propped up by questionable social norms that should themselves be challenged and changed.

 

Comment by HenryStanley on New cause area: Violence against women and girls · 2022-06-10T12:55:08.203Z · EA · GW

On a meta level, I'm surprised by how unpopular Sjlver and DukeGartzea's comments are in this discussion relative to others'.

For me it was seeing arguments made from emotion ("It is very clear that violence against men is less of an issue than violence against women", no evidence provided) when responding to comments that contained data on men being the majority of victims of violence. When challenged they performed a bait-and-switch by offering stats for sexual assault (which is indeed more common in women, and a deeply serious issue, but is a subset of assault generally).

Agreed that FGM is horrifying beyond belief. But the flippancy from Sjilver around male circumcision and its purported sex benefits to men (which are not backed by the evidence), accompanied by a winky face, were enough to earn a downvote from me.

Comment by HenryStanley on New cause area: Violence against women and girls · 2022-06-10T12:45:28.945Z · EA · GW

[am stepping back from this thread now as it's getting a bit distant from the original post and I don't wish to derail it]

Quite horrifying, I agree. But scale is notable here: 6 times as many men are circumcised, so if the quality of life lost was 0.5% then the total lost utility is the same between the two groups.

And given that some number of circumcisions go wrong, leading to loss of sensation, pain during sex, rarely partial or total amputation and other forms of suffering ("the constant discomfort of a genital injury creates a covenant of pain," writes one individual with PTSD from the suffering from his botched circumcision), 0.5% overall seems really not hard to fathom. 

The benefits are minor (your comments elsewhere about better sexual performance are not supported by the literature), and not justified by the harms. This position has broad agreement from public health bodies. The UK's National Health Service, and many other like it, made the decision decades ago to stop funding neonatal circumcisions for this exact reason.

circumcision is probably legal nearly everywhere because these effects are small.

This just seems like post-hoc rationalisation ('it can't be bad because it's legal'). I could just as easily say that laws on circumcision are thirty years behind laws on FGM.

More likely is that the practice plays a prominent role in Abrahamic religions and attempts by countries to outlaw it (there have been a few) fall foul of laws around freedom of religion. Several such examples here, see e.g. Iceland and Denmark.

Comment by HenryStanley on New cause area: Violence against women and girls · 2022-06-09T09:33:59.200Z · EA · GW

I'm touching the third rail here, but I think there probably is a nuanced comparison to be made that considers the different forms of FGM (including the prevalence of the most minor forms – involving making small nicks or pricks in the skin – which are less invasive than male circumcision) along with its prevalence globally (30% of men are circumcised while 5% of women have been subjected to FGM).

There's also the legal/societal/neglectedness comparison: FGM is widely condemned and illegal in most countries, with prohibitions extending across jurisdictions (in some countries it's a criminal offence for citizens to have FGM done in another country). Compare male circumcision, which is legal nearly everywhere.

Comment by HenryStanley on New cause area: Violence against women and girls · 2022-06-09T09:03:34.811Z · EA · GW

... which arguably gives circumcised males the benefit of longer sex ;-)

I guess if FGM had some possible sexual benefits, that would make it acceptable?

Comment by HenryStanley on EA Projects I'd Like to See · 2022-03-16T11:45:13.279Z · EA · GW

On the topic of starting a publishing house/imprint - I recall seeing a suggestion from Ben Pace that an EA could buy Blackwell's in Oxford and steer it in an EA direction...

Comment by HenryStanley on I’m Offering Free Coaching for Software Developers in the EA community · 2022-03-12T12:39:49.900Z · EA · GW

My brief review: I've had a handful of sessions with Yonatan and they've been great. He's friendly and kind, and has a great way of getting you to think differently about problems you're facing at work and in your career.

I'm the CTO of an early-stage startup, and have found that (contrary to my expectations) it's the emotional/grit side of things that's the most tricky to navigate, rather than anything technical. So our conversations have focused on co-founder relationships, hiring and onboarding new employees, and general thoughts around startup life.

Comment by HenryStanley on The EA Animal Welfare Fund Has Significant Room For More Funding · 2021-12-02T11:59:30.539Z · EA · GW

To what extent does the Animal Welfare Fund take into account ACE's recommendations?

I'm beginning to view ACE's evaluation process as somewhat suspect after they delisted GFI seemingly over minor complaints about management, and would want to be confident that the Animal Welfare Fund is sufficiently independent.

Comment by HenryStanley on A case for the effectiveness of protest · 2021-12-01T10:57:02.773Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

(I spotted that YouGov graph yesterday; agree that it's pretty compelling evidence for XR increasing concern about the environment.)

Comment by HenryStanley on A case for the effectiveness of protest · 2021-11-30T18:22:07.563Z · EA · GW

Thanks for putting this together. I haven't had a chance to go through your cost-effectiveness estimate in detail, but I do plan to. However:

I would attribute XR 10-50% of the credit for shifting the previously agreed net-zero date from 2050 to 2030, due to their Overton Window-shifting demand of net-zero by 2025 and huge popularity in the UK

YouGov compiles a list of famous UK charities and their popularity; XR is the second-most disliked charity on the list (38% of people surveyed saying they dislike). The only more-disliked charity is the far-right English Defence League.  The majority of Britons are against XR's protests. If your estimate of 10–50% is based partly on them being popular, I would view that as suspect.

(As an aside, I think there could have been reputational risks to EA if we had publicly endorsed XR at the height of their power. Partly this is down to XR's unpopularity and the divisiveness of their protest tactics, but also because their poor epistemic practices could have reasonably led others to question our own.)

Comment by HenryStanley on Announcing our 2021 charity recommendations · 2021-11-24T16:29:46.043Z · EA · GW

Of note: "ACE is not able to share any additional information about any of the anonymous allegations", and yet ACE turned down GFI's offer to investigate the complaints further:

GFI would be happy to participate fully in an investigation of the complaints to better understand and address them, and we offered to hire an external investigator. ACE declined

Which makes is sound as though GFI were willing to make efforts to resolve/investigate these anonymous complaints but ACE were not willing to pursue this.

As Pablo noted, concerns over the uncertain impact of cell-cultured products aren't new, so it would be surprising if that was the real reason GFI was stripped of their title. Feels like ACE is burying the lede here.

Comment by HenryStanley on Donating crypto on EA Funds: more coins, low fees · 2021-11-24T13:58:07.068Z · EA · GW

Fantastic work!

Comment by HenryStanley on An evaluation of Mind Ease, an anti-anxiety app · 2021-08-09T23:03:01.004Z · EA · GW

I could believe that mHealth/iCBT/online therapy is very cost-effective, but the claims here seem to be about Mind Ease in particular. As such the meat of the report is likely to be found in chapter 4, the actual evaluation of Mind Ease – but this section is inaccessible.

Is there a reason this was omitted from the public report?

Comment by HenryStanley on The EA Forum Editing Festival has begun! · 2021-04-10T15:08:22.222Z · EA · GW

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like the wiki isn't labelled as such - as in, there isn't a part of the site called the 'wiki'. There's also the 'tags portal' which refers to the 'EA Forum Wiki', but as I understand it that page essentially is the wiki. The language is confusing.

Should there be a section of the site called the 'wiki' that lists all these pages? Or maybe even consider renaming tags to wiki - where posts on the forum can be 'tagged' with a wiki article.

(The URLs for tags should probably more conventionally be in the format /tags/<tagname>, not /tag/<tagname>. Going to /tag gives a 404.)

Comment by HenryStanley on 10 Habits I recommend (2020) · 2021-01-04T15:15:25.202Z · EA · GW

Seconding the Replacing Guilt series (and podcast); it’s fantastic.

Comment by HenryStanley on Bored at home? Contribute to the EA Wiki! · 2020-12-15T23:35:18.496Z · EA · GW

Thanks for flagging - that's now approved. Still need to do some fiddling with the MediaWiki setup I think, both to ward off spam and to get email alerts for pending approvals.

Comment by HenryStanley on Slate Star Codex, EA, and self-reflection · 2020-07-06T20:04:22.706Z · EA · GW

My response to (b): the word is probably beyond rehabilitation now, but I also think that people ought to be able to have discussions about bioethics without having to clarify their terms every ten seconds. I actually think it is unreasonable of someone to skim someone’s post on something, see a word that looks objectionable, and cast aspersions over their whole worldview as a result.

Reminds me of when I saw a recipe which called for palm sugar. The comments were full of people who were outraged at the inclusion of such an exploitative, unsustainable ingredient. Of course, they were actually thinking of palm oil (palm sugar production is largely sustainable) but had just pattern-matched ‘palm’ as ‘that bad food thing’.

Comment by HenryStanley on Slate Star Codex, EA, and self-reflection · 2020-07-06T09:42:35.053Z · EA · GW

Much of this argument could be short-circuited by pulling apart what Scott means by 'eugenics' - it's clear from the context (missing from the OP's post) that he's referring to liberal eugenics, which argues that parents should have the right to have some sort of genetic choice over their offspring (and has almost nothing in common with the coercive "eugenics" to which the OP refers).

Liberal eugenics is already widespread, in a sense. Take embryo selection, where parents choose which embryo to bring to term depending on its genetic qualities. We've had chorionic villus sampling to check an embryo for Down syndrome for decades; it's commonplace.

Just dropping the word "eugenics" again and again with no clarification or context is very misleading.

Comment by HenryStanley on Investing to Give Beginner Advice? · 2020-06-20T19:01:38.026Z · EA · GW

Leveraged ETFs are meant for short-term investing I believe - they're rebalanced daily which reduces their value over time.

Comment by HenryStanley on [deleted post] 2020-06-20T17:33:03.949Z

I could be wrong but aren't leveraged ETFs intended to be held only for short periods of time (because the ETF is reindexed daily)?

Comment by HenryStanley on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-05-24T18:21:59.383Z · EA · GW

Though I'm not entirely sure the comparison is fair. The kind of global poverty interventions that EAs favour (for better or for worse) tend to be near-term, low-risk, with a quick payoff. Climate change interventions are much less certain, higher-variance, and with a long payoff.

Comment by HenryStanley on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-05-24T17:58:12.251Z · EA · GW

A huge amount is already spent on global health and development, and yet the EA community is clearly happy to try and find particularly effective global health and development interventions. There are definitely areas within the hugely broad field of climate change action which are genuinely neglected.

This is true. To steelman your point (and do some shameless self-promotion) - at Let's Fund we think funding advocacy for clean energy R&D funding is one such intervention, so they do exist.

Comment by HenryStanley on Climate Change Is Neglected By EA · 2020-05-23T20:31:31.778Z · EA · GW

Thoughtful post!

I don't agree with your analysis in (3) - neglectedness to me is asking not 'is enough being done' but 'is this the thing that can generate the most benefit on the margin'.

For climate change it seems most likely not; hundreds of billions of dollars (and likely millions of work-years) are already spent every year on climate change mitigation (research, advocacy, or energy subsidies). The whole EA movement might move, what, a few hundred million dollars per year? Given the relatively scarce resources we have, both in time and money, it seems like there are places where we could do more good (the whole of the AI safety field has only a couple hundred people IIRC).

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-05T08:27:22.456Z · EA · GW

Gotcha. I actually meant to reply to Hauke (who thought the poster was talking about diversity of any kind, rather than racial diversity).

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-03T13:40:55.552Z · EA · GW

Agreed - though many of the more successful diversity efforts are really just efforts to make companies nicer and more collaborative places to work (e.g. cross-functional teams, mentoring). My personal preference is to focus on making companies welcoming to all rather than specifically targeting racial minorities.

I'm also a little sceptical of the huge gains the HBR article suggests - do diversity task forces really increase the number of Asian men in management by a third? It suggests looking at Google as an example of "a company that's made big bets on [diversity] accountability... We should know in a few years if that moves the needle for them" - it didn't.

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-02T17:28:16.657Z · EA · GW

How do you think cohorts like the self-identified conservatives in western democracies or the US intelligence community would view ideas coming from that hypothetical think tank?

I suggest this is a bad example; I imagine they'd be sceptical but more because of the involvement of a Chinese state actor (see e.g. concerns over Chinese government influence over Huawei) than because of their race.

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-02T17:15:41.495Z · EA · GW

Promote formal diversity and inclusion programs

I’m sceptical; diversity programs often don't work (Google spent $300m+ on diversity programs and didn't move the needle) and in many cases reduce diversity.

Comment by HenryStanley on Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations · 2020-05-02T17:06:56.851Z · EA · GW

Larks’ view that they “do not place any value on diversity.”

I assume Larks means 'racial diversity' in the context of this thread (and based on their comment, which talks about increasing diverse viewpoints through other means).

Comment by HenryStanley on Bored at home? Contribute to the EA Wiki! · 2020-05-01T14:25:45.331Z · EA · GW

I've not attempted to consolidate other wikis - I think the LessWrong and Cause Prioritisation wikis are best kept separate. Concepts also hasn't been touched in a long time as far as I can see. My hope is that simply by not going offline or being unavailable this wiki will be the default Schelling point!

I also think the fact that this is run on MediaWiki (the same platform as Wikipedia) makes it more familiar/easier to get started, but I could be wrong.

Your point about reputation is very right - need to think more about ways I can surface people's contributions.

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-12T13:10:23.662Z · EA · GW

Interesting - I would definitely not pick the 50 months as a pig on a factory farm.

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-12T13:09:38.124Z · EA · GW

.

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-10T22:29:01.103Z · EA · GW

Your claim that 1 year of human life is equivalent to 1,000 years of factory farming for chickens (or 100,000 years for fish) seems extraordinary. You don't provide a justification for this in the piece, despite the whole argument hinging on this number - do you have one?

(I also downvoted the post - I think it's lazily argued and doesn't add much to the debate. As abrahamrowe says, you could assign an arbitrary weight to anything, like a year of life for a person in the developing world being 'worth' 1/100th of a year of life for a Westerner, and call it done.)

Comment by HenryStanley on Why I'm Not Vegan · 2020-04-10T22:15:13.576Z · EA · GW

I included the "I think there's a very large chance they don't matter at all, and that there's just no one inside to suffer" out of transparency. The post doesn't depend on it at all

I don't see how that can be true. Surely the weightings you give would be radically different if you thought there was "someone inside to suffer"?

Comment by HenryStanley on The case for building more and better epistemic institutions in the effective altruism community · 2020-03-30T08:59:01.547Z · EA · GW

Hello! I started eawiki.org just a few weeks ago to try to reinvigorate the concept - will do a proper launch sometime soon.

Comment by HenryStanley on Against anti-natalism; or: why climate change should not be a significant factor in your decision to have children · 2020-02-27T12:50:19.832Z · EA · GW

.

Comment by HenryStanley on [Link] EA is featured in a mini documentary by The Economist · 2020-01-30T17:05:29.576Z · EA · GW

Working link for the Economist article: https://www.economist.com/international/2018/06/02/can-effective-altruism-maximise-the-bang-for-each-charitable-buck

Comment by HenryStanley on How we promoted EA at a large tech company · 2020-01-29T17:09:09.725Z · EA · GW

This is fantastic - great to see someone do this, and the branding you came up with is super nice (especially around "do orders of magnitude more good"). In my experience people tend to keep quiet about EA while at work; good to see that trend being bucked as this seems like an obviously underutilised way to get folks interested the movement.

Comment by HenryStanley on Doing good is as good as it ever was · 2020-01-24T12:49:09.250Z · EA · GW

This is wonderful. Thanks for writing it!

Comment by HenryStanley on Doing good is as good as it ever was · 2020-01-24T12:48:49.873Z · EA · GW

While I have heard about people believing ii) and iii), I haven't seen either argument carefully written up anywhere. I'd assume this is true for lots of people.

Agreed - would love to see this written up by someone.

Comment by HenryStanley on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-23T11:17:25.722Z · EA · GW

Will have a look at those links.

But my point was that your blanket statement about there being no countries which implemented widespread K-12 education and didn't have huge welfare gains (whether as wealth or e.g. HDI) is wrong on its face. e.g. South Africa and Switzerland since 1990 increased mean years of schooling by 50% (from 8y to 12y); South Africa saw its HDI increase by 0.04 but Switzerland saw it increase by 0.11 over the same period. OTOH, there are countries with very little increase in time spent in school which have seen huge increases in HDI.

Comment by HenryStanley on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-23T10:54:46.214Z · EA · GW

This seems fair - though I would hope there would be significant overlap between 'I agree with this' and 'this is a good argument'.

Comment by HenryStanley on UK donor-advised funds · 2020-01-22T14:45:51.211Z · EA · GW

Hm, the fees on the CAF account look pretty steep - seems like it eats 4% of everything you put in there up to £22k, and 1% thereafter.

Comment by HenryStanley on UK donor-advised funds · 2020-01-22T14:43:35.492Z · EA · GW

Gotcha. Thanks for the answer - I guess UK DAFs will only ever allow you to donate to UK charities, so maybe the lack of flexibility isn't worth it.

Comment by HenryStanley on UK donor-advised funds · 2020-01-22T14:38:51.749Z · EA · GW

You don't get Gift Aid until you actually make the donation

If you don't donate in a given tax year you won't get the Gift Aid for that tax year at all, if I understand right - the tax relief is lost.

The appeal of a DAF is you can claim the Gift Aid/tax deduction immediately but defer donating. I think you can also put securities in the DAF, so growth on it would be tax-free presumably.

Comment by HenryStanley on Growth and the case against randomista development · 2020-01-22T13:52:47.820Z · EA · GW

Getting downvoted isn't 'abuse' - it's just a signal that people disagree with you. :) I'm not convinced of the case you're making for education, for example.