Do countries comply with EU animal welfare laws? 2020-08-17T01:18:30.476Z
Ways EU law might matter for farmed animals 2020-08-17T01:16:34.454Z
EA Survey 2019 Series: Engagement Levels 2020-06-23T04:54:10.552Z
EA Survey 2019 Series: Donation Data 2020-02-13T21:58:02.469Z
EA Survey 2019 Series: Geographic Distribution of EAs 2020-01-22T14:44:58.546Z
EA Survey 2019 Series: Careers and Skills 2020-01-07T21:13:00.339Z
EA Survey 2019 Series: Cause Prioritization 2020-01-02T17:32:01.545Z
EA Survey 2019 Series: Community Demographics & Characteristics 2019-12-05T20:25:15.210Z
Rethink Priorities Impact Survey 2019-11-21T19:20:31.090Z
Local EA Group Organizers Survey 2019 2019-11-15T22:10:03.073Z
Deliberation May Improve Decision-Making 2019-11-05T00:34:09.331Z
Cost-Effectiveness of RC Forward 2019-05-20T17:06:53.950Z
EA Survey 2018 Series: How welcoming is EA? 2019-02-28T02:42:06.629Z
EA Survey 2018 Series: Geographic Differences in EA 2019-02-18T23:34:26.523Z


Comment by incogneilo18 on Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors · 2020-08-26T14:39:47.217Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this!
I see you referenced Matthews et al. (2018), which I haven't read, and wondered if you had also seen the Authoritarian Ruling Elites Database, compiled by  Matthews (2019): “a collection of biographical and professional information on the individuals who constitute the top elite of authoritarian regimes.” Each of the project’s 18 datasets focuses on a particular regime, such as the military dictatorship that ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990. The biographical data-points include gender, occupation, dates of birth and death, tenure among the elite, and more. (This came to me via the Data Is Plural mailing list fwiw). Apologies if you mentioned it and I missed it.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Forum update: New editor! (And more) · 2020-08-15T21:18:22.830Z · EA · GW

+1 that the footnotes issue is quite an inconvenience. 

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Engagement Levels · 2020-07-16T05:50:28.775Z · EA · GW

GWWC membership here refers to anyone who provided a year in response to the question in the EA Survey "If you have taken the Giving What We Can pledge, please note the year:"

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Community Demographics & Characteristics · 2020-03-05T22:14:43.212Z · EA · GW

Glad to hear that it is a useful resource!

I have updated the summary to include links to all the posts in the series so far (a pingbacks list will also appear at the bottom of the post if one opts into the experimental features on the Forum). The entire list of articles in the EA Survey 2019 Series (plus our other publications) can also be found on our website.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Geographic Distribution of EAs · 2020-01-24T12:36:30.463Z · EA · GW

Good point! Thanks. I have added FHI to the text.

Comment by incogneilo18 on Should EAs be more welcoming to thoughtful and aligned Republicans? · 2020-01-23T14:37:29.938Z · EA · GW

Since you mentioned it in your footnote, the EA Survey 2019 post on geographic distribution of EAs is out. We don't have information on party identification, but we can see that 2.23% of EAs living in the USA are politically affiliated with the Center Right and 1.19% with the Right (12.76% with Libertarianism & 76.56% with the Left or Center Left). Keeping in mind the caveat that our data only shows where an EA currently lives so an EA reporting both living in the USA and being on the Right-hand side of the political spectrum does not necessarily mean they are a registered Republican.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Cause Prioritization · 2020-01-03T17:39:54.874Z · EA · GW

Hi, thanks.

I agree that "If I have observed a p < .05, what is the probability that the null hypothesis is true?" is a different question than "If the null hypothesis is true, what is the probability of observing this (or more extreme) data”. Only the latter question is answered by a p-value (the former needing some bayesian-style subjective prior). I haven't yet seen a clear consensus on how to report this in a way that is easy for the lay reader.

The phrases I employed (highlighted in your comment) were suggested in writing by Daniel Lakens, although I added a caveat about the null in the second quote which is perhaps incorrect. His defence of the phrase “we can act as if the null hypothesis is false, and we would not be wrong more than 5% of the time in the long run” is the specific use of the word ‘act’, "which does not imply anything about whether this specific hypothesis is true or false, but merely states that if we act as if the null-hypothesis is false any time we observe p < alpha, we will not make an error more than alpha percent of the time". I would be very interested if you have suggestions of a similar standard phrasing which captures both the probability of observing data (not a hypothesis) and is somewhat easy for a non-stats reader to grasp.

As an aside, what is your opinion on reporting p values greater than the relevant alpha level? I've read Daniel Lakens suggesting if you have p< .05 one could write something like "because given our sample size of 50 per group, and our alpha level of 0.05, only observed differences more extreme than 0.4 could be statistically significant, and our observed mean difference was 0.35, we could not reject the null hypothesis’." This seems a bit wordy for any lay reader but would it be worth even including in a footnote?

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Cause Prioritization · 2020-01-03T17:29:49.260Z · EA · GW


On your first point, yes you are correct. Among those who prioritized Global Poverty OR Animal Welfare AND changed causes, pluralities of them changed to AI.

On your second point, I've now added a column in the group membership and demographics tables that shows the average for the sample as a whole. I hope this helps.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Cause Prioritization · 2020-01-03T17:27:21.124Z · EA · GW

Hi, thanks! We will explore cause prioritization and the geographic distribution of EAs in a forthcoming post. We tried to keep a narrower focus in this post, on involvement in EA and just a few demographics, as we did in last year's post.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Community Demographics & Characteristics · 2019-12-30T16:44:43.307Z · EA · GW

Hi, Glad to hear you found it informative. Thanks! We have an entire post dedicated to the geographic distribution of EAs in this year's survey forthcoming, along the same lines as last year's:

Comment by incogneilo18 on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-14T00:12:22.377Z · EA · GW

Like Saulius, I am pretty sceptical about the narrative I have in my mind on this issue now. One day I would like to take time and re-read some old messages and emails to tease out what I was thinking, or at least what story I was telling myself, then.

For the moment, this is how I recall events and my thinking. I first heard of EA when a friend at Oxford gave me Doing Good Better as a gift. I recall reading it cover to cover during a trip the following week and being enthused by it to the extent of making detailed notes and re-gifting it back to my friend with my annotations. I considered it one of many interesting frameworks to guide one's life and took onboard some ideas I surmised from it like donating based on cost-effectiveness and thinking more deeply about the suffering of others. My engagement with EA remained quite flat for few years after that and I am not sure how “involved” I could consider myself. Later, I was accepted for intern positions with Animal Charity Evaluators and Charity Entrepreneurship. I’m unsure exactly how at the front of my mind EA was in this time. On the one hand I was applying for many positions that I thought were simply interesting, but not necessarily EA aligned. On the other hand, I attended my first EAG shortly after applying for/starting these positions and therefore must have applied to attend months before because it was happening in a city my then employer was based in. I think much of it came down to me having a lot of free time, the desire to find new interesting work and casting a very wide net, and to an extent being in the right place at the right time. In any case, meeting EAs in person, both at EAG and through Charity Entrepreneurship, and seeing the community behind the ideas was a revelation for me.

I keep working on it for a mix of selfish reasons like finding the work interesting and a sense of community, and to a lesser extent becoming more convinced of the impact of the movement and that my working on it is the best resource I can offer.

Comment by incogneilo18 on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-13T22:53:42.451Z · EA · GW

I agree with much of what the team has written.

Also, perhaps there is a stronger accountability mechanism from having a team and things like a Slack channel in comparison to a funded independent researcher-depending on how involved an EA Fund type organization are in checking in and if funds are recalled if a researcher "fails". I don't have a good sense of the independent researcher funding landscape though.

Maybe to the extent one couples their work as a researcher with their identity, a clearer community might exist under an umbrella organization. Though I could imagine independent researchers all funded by the same organization could establish some sort of cohort mentality if communicative structures are available.

To add to the operations support benefit, I have in mind the evidence from the "disruptive research teams" literature review that suggested "researchers should be freed from trivial or bureaucratic tasks as much as possible", which seems to be less likely to be the case for an independent researcher.

Comment by incogneilo18 on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-13T22:39:40.328Z · EA · GW


You're correct that we have a remote team located in many countries.


Time zone challenges are definitely present with such a global team, especially for scheduling. There is also a barrier to having natural interactions in the way that would randomly happen in an office.

2)Frequent & Smooth communication

Slack is immensely useful for quick and easy communication. We have daily check-ins on Slack to let each other know what we are working on. We share what we are working on in Google Docs for others to comment and collaborate on. Some team members have frequent calls with managers or eachother. We have a randomized rotating system to pair people up for social calls. RP has monthly all-staff calls. We particiapte in the wider Rethink Charity "all-hands" calls.

Animal Charity Evaluator's roundtable discussions about remote teams have definitely informed my own personal view of what might work well and that the issues we encounter are pretty common for remote teams.

Comment by incogneilo18 on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-13T12:04:23.607Z · EA · GW

I think it's unlikely I'd be able to continue doing cross-cause area work, but unsure which specific cause area I would primarily be focusing on. 35% likely: EA aligned research in a non-EA organization. 15% likely: EA aligned work in a different EA organization. 15% likely: non-EA aligned work. 10% likely: Charity Entrepreneurship's incubation program. 25% likely: Unsure

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2019 Series: Community Demographics & Characteristics · 2019-12-13T11:51:33.518Z · EA · GW

Hi, The categories of moral views presented in the graph and table were a pre-set list of those 4 answer choices. We wouldn't want to speak to how survey respondents defined these for themselves when making a selection among these options. This EA concepts page might be a relevant source for further reading:

Comment by incogneilo18 on Local EA Group Organizers Survey 2019 · 2019-11-17T17:48:17.834Z · EA · GW

Thanks Risto_Uuk, The survey results only reflect people who answered the survey, and there was only 1 relevant entry for Estonia. The privacy policy covering the survey means we cannot share the names of which local groups responded.

Comment by incogneilo18 on Institutions for Future Generations · 2019-11-12T13:52:17.839Z · EA · GW

Not on voting directly but relatedly, asking a nationally representative sample about explicit future or present attitudes did not find evidence to support the claim that younger people consider future people as equally deserving of help, though we did find that older people prioritise present people more than younger people do.

Also, see Larks' quick literature review on psychology research, which suggested "that older people discount the future less than younger people, which might suggest giving their votes more weight."

Comment by incogneilo18 on Deliberation May Improve Decision-Making · 2019-11-07T04:29:17.503Z · EA · GW

I believe this point on social theory was discussed during Mahendra Prasad talk at 2019’s EA Global London (I didn't attend it but Mahendra sent me the slides). This hypothesis that deliberation could shift individual preferences toward single-peakedness appears to be lent support in deliberative poll experiments (e.g. Farrar et al. 2010). I did not see a neat way to explain this point in the essay, but have included a small mention of it instead. Thanks for offering this useful summary!

Comment by incogneilo18 on Deliberation May Improve Decision-Making · 2019-11-07T04:24:13.744Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the useful comments and the recommendation of the Jason Brennan book.

I’ve looked through the evidence on deliberation he cites as being more damning than people realize. He relies mostly on a review from 2002 (Mendelberg). There have been a number of reviews of evidence since then which this essay also draws upon. Brennan’s main issues also relate not to the main decision-making improvements of concern here (e.g. opinion change and knowledge gain) but mostly about who is included and whether this fosters an engaged civil society. He is also more warm towards Deliberative Polling specifically and acknowledges further research could win him over (page 66 of his book). Arguably we now have a lot more of such evidence.

With further regard to a fairer hearing/study selection I have made a direct reply on Matt_Lerner's comment/ updated the text to include more counter arguments.

Thanks for that Dal Bó et al. paper recommendation. It doesn't seem to me to follow that even if politicians are "smarter and better leaders" it should make them better deliberators also. Even if this is true that politicians are likely to be "better" than citizens in this regard, I think the reasons mentioned to be sceptical of proposals for deliberative reforms of existing bodies make this seem somewhat less attractive than citizen bodies that might still be good deliberators.

Comment by incogneilo18 on Deliberation May Improve Decision-Making · 2019-11-07T04:22:16.192Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your thoughts!

  1. Cross-country comparisons & reverse causation: I agree that the cross country comparisons do not offer much causal inference and as noted in the piece would be an interesting area to find more or do more research in.

  2. The file-drawer effect: With regard to your and other commenters points on study selection and giving the other side a fair hearing, I have made some updates throughout the text, but especially in the “Impact of deliberation” preamble to emphasise some counterpoints or mixed findings in the literature, in addition to the already existing section on "Reasons to doubt deliberative mini publics". Even after clarifying some uncertainty around the effects of deliberation and underscoring the need for more high-quality research in this area, we think the existing evidence base for deliberative reforms compares favourably with other interventions of this sort. For me, a greater concern is around institutionalising deliberation so that the effects have direct impact.

  3. Enacting deliberative democracy on a large scale: I am very hesitant to make a proposal for "enacting deliberative democracy on a large scale somewhere besides China" because as noted in the piece deliberative democracy is a much larger concept of a macro-political system consisting of various sites of deliberation compared to more limited democratic (or undemocratic) acts of deliberation . To me, the former is not obviously the best or most tractable proposal since it could involve changing the entire political system and ecosystem of institutions. There are possibilities for small scale deliberation to inform the larger system (without having to have mass deliberation) e.g. small scale deliberative councils or polling across a polity can offer advice as in the case of AmericaSpeaks, or inform the wider electorate as in the case of Citizens Initiative Reviews, and of course one could consider variants on Rupert Read's Guardians of the future scheme, where a small number deliberate and then either advise or have an array of different powers to influence the legislature (or to influence the wider public through their oversight). These do not seem to be any harder to implement than other proposals such as approval voting or age-weighted voting, and have the pro of having already been adopted in a number of polities.

Again thanks!

Comment by incogneilo18 on Older people may place less moral value on the far future · 2019-10-23T21:06:43.276Z · EA · GW

In addition to the analyses SoGive conducted that Sanjay has listed, Rethink Priorities conducted some tests which provide further evidence for the claims made, and speak to the question Will MacAskill raised “Do younger people actually have more future-oriented views?” The samples do appear to be more presentdayist than longtermist, especially so for older respondents.

Explicit questions suggest more presentdayist preferences

In both samples we find evidence in support of the hypothesis that there is a preference for prioritising helping people now rather than considering people in the future as of equal priority. 47-61% of respondents place a greater importance on prioritising present people than they did on treating future people as equal, while 18-34% preferred treating future people as equal more than they preferred prioritising present people. The rest placed the same importance on both.

Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test & Sign test of matched pairs find data in both samples that would be surprising given a null of no difference in the distributions or between the medians of Prioritise Present and Future Equal. Therefore, it seems pretty safe to reject the null with a 5% long run error rate, and be able to reliably detect a small effect size 80% of the time if it exists in reality. One-sided tests suggest we can reject the null hypotheses that there is no difference and that Future Equal has a larger proportion than Prioritise Present. But we cannot reject that Prioritise Present has a larger proportion than Future Equal.

Older people more presentdayist

We do not find evidence to support the claim that younger people consider future people as equally deserving of help, though we do find that older respondents prioritise present people more than younger respondents do. Older people are more likely to always prioritise present people than choose any number of future people to help, though younger people only seem willing to choose future people when there are more people in the future than the present to be helped.

We did not find any significant correlation between age and the explicit question of treating future people as equal. We found a small positive correlation (Spearman, Šidák-adjusted, r=0.17, p<0.01) between age and the explicit prioritise present question, and a regression including Future Equal, Left-Right, Age, and Mean Charity Likeliness suggests older respondents were more likely than younger respondents to Agree/Strongly Agree to prioritising helping people now, though as likely as younger respondents to Slightly Disagree/Disagree/Strongly Disagree.

Of those who gave an integer in response to the tradeoff question asking respondents to offer a number of future lives to improve instead of 1000 present lives, there were very few young respondents who gave a value of less than 1001. Very few (~7%) respondents under the age of 35 gave an answer less than 1001, while ~26% of 35s and over gave an answer less than 1001. None of the under 35s gave a response lower than one hundred, while 44% of the 35 and overs did - with 14% giving a value of 1. It is hard to know if these respondents really preferred improving the life of 1 person 500 years from now rather than 1000 people now or if they answered incorrectly.

Finally, a multinomial logistic regression (of Always Present as base, plus Always Future, 1001 or more, & Less than 1001) suggests that increases in age are negatively associated (-0.03, p<0.0001) with choosing an integer rather than Always Present i.e. older people are more likely to choose always improving lives of present people no matter the number of future lives improved than to offer any number of future people it would be better to improve.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2018 Series: How welcoming is EA? · 2019-03-01T23:20:17.951Z · EA · GW

Thank you Gregory for the very constructive criticism, it strikes me as one of the most useful types of comments a post can receive, and is good for me personally as a researcher.

"Misuse of Chi^2"

That is a very fair critique of the use of Chi^2 here. I have replaced the Chi^2 tests with K-W tests where appropriate and made a comment in the “updates and corrections” section noting this. Replacing the Chi^2 tests as K-Ws did not change any of our results in any of the sections except politics (which became non-significant). Looking into the change in the politics finding would require more work at this stage to drill down into more detail, and the regression results presented later suggest doing this might not be of much added value.


My intention in each sub-section was to report whether there was any significant relationship (using the inappropriate Chi^2 test) or use inferential style language in the cases where I used t-tests. In cases where I had not found a relationship (e.g., First Heard of EA). I used language to that effect "These differences are neither significant nor very substantial". In the specific case of age that you mention I mistakenly diverged from this intended style by not using either a reference to a significance test or language to that effect. I have added the K-W test to this section. Certainly, more can be done to ensure the style is more consistent and does not mislead the reader.

"The ordered regression"

You're right that the discussion of the regression was insufficient. I wanted to include the regression in the post because, as you mentioned, regression analysis can do a lot to clarify these relationships. But I decided to keep the discussion short because the regression seemed to offer very limited practical significance (as you pointed out). Had I decided to give it more weight in my analysis then it certainly would be appropriate to offer a fuller explanation. Nonetheless, I should have been clearer about the limited usefulness of the regression, and noted it as the reason for the short discussion.

Regardless, here's a more detailed explanation:

Variables in the model (and piece in general) were chosen based on cleavages in EA we have found in previous posts to explore how they might differ in terms of welcomeness. "Top Priority" was a separate model because so many respondents either did not give a top priority or gave many and thus were excluded. It was disappointing that the factors in the survey data explained so little of the variation.Nevertheless, I thought it would still be of interest to see that the major themes we have been discussing in the survey series so far don't seem to be very important on this measure.

The line regarding political spectrum does indeed appear to be a mistake so I have removed it and stated something to this effect in the “updates and corrections” section.

For simplicity, Country and Top Priority Cause were each presented as a variable where the most popular response was compared to all the others combined. These were the USA and Global Poverty, though the table and discussion should have been more explicit about this, and has been updated accordingly. Country was categorised into the top countries by number of responses; USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, and “other”. The initial significance we noted in both of these categories was in comparison only to the most popular response; those prioritising AI Risk and Meta Charities appeared significantly more likely to view EA as more welcoming compared to Global Poverty, and those EAs from Australia and Canada appeared significantly more likely to view EA as more welcoming compared to American EAs. However, it would have been more appropriate to model each country as a dummy variable also, which has been done in the regression table linked to here. Due to how our previous phrasing of this result could be misinterpreted, we have decided to to de-emphasise this conclusion.

"Selection bias"

As you point out, measuring the EA-related sentiment among potential EAs and/or people who left EA was unfortunately impossible with the main survey and would require actively reaching out to these highly dispersed groups. There was no intention in this post to argue how good the movement is at welcoming people into EA overall, although some may attempt to do so based on the results presented here and so it is wise to add caveats about the limits to doing so. I think your suggestion of focusing more on population sizes relative to a baseline (where possible to establish) is a great idea as a first step in moving in that direction. If this were the aim of the post then certainly the results presented here do little to accomplish that goal. Instead, we could only look at how welcoming people already in EA think it is, the results of which I don't think are "all but uninterpretable".There do seem to be meaningful differences in welcomeness perceptions within our sample that still seem worth talking about, even if we can't see the differences outside our sample. If we think the differences in perceived welcomeness are predictors of dropping out of EA, then these findings might hint at factors that influence retention. Again, our data do not allow us to make these inferences about retention but could be useful signposts for further analyses to explore how community perceptions of welcomeness may affect EA retention.

In fact, we debated internally whether to publish this piece at all due to concerns of selection bias and we were unsure what conclusions we could actually draw. We ultimately went ahead with publishing it, though with the decision to not make any specific recommendations. Even still, I can see how we ended up overstating what can be concluded from this data. I certainly share your concern that any "policy" devised simply by looking at the results presented here would almost certainly miss the mark. It was not the intention here to make policy suggestions on how to make EA more welcoming (though there is a sentence in the Local Groups section that does slide in that direction), as clearly a lot more information is needed from former or potential-but-non-EAs.

Once again, many thanks for your thoughtful comments and suggestions.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2018 Series: How welcoming is EA? · 2019-02-28T21:49:46.650Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post.

That data certainly does exist as we discuss in a previous post:

The low N in many of the categories of those characteristics makes any inference difficult, though there are no apparent differences in welcomeness along lines of race, education, or religion.

There was no specific question in this year's survey following up on reasons for welcomeness ratings.

Comment by incogneilo18 on EA Survey 2018 Series: Geographic Differences in EA · 2019-02-19T21:01:56.631Z · EA · GW

Glad you enjoyed the post, we have a few more supplementary posts coming out.

In the North America-only map there is a large circle over a wide "Bay area" (approx. Redding in the top & Santa Maria in the bottom of the circle), with a small point on San Francisco itself near the centre. In the World Map there is a small point on San Francisco itself, and medium circles over LA/Southern California which are all encompassed within a larger "West Coast" circle.

Comment by incogneilo18 on How to have cost-effective fun · 2018-08-02T01:19:56.462Z · EA · GW

Great framework!

I was wondering how people calculated "expected fun-hours". I was considering an alternative approach such as considering how many hours of sleep would I trade for one more hour of this activity (of course there may be some point at which hours of sleep given away impedes your ability to do the activity!), or maybe how many more hours of your least favourite activity would you do to gain one extra hour of this "fun" activity.

And as an another example, similar to sharing steam or Netflix accounts I think sharing/borrowing physical items from friends/colleagues is also useful. I've borrowed a friend's mountain bike & surfboard and have lent him my road bike. This may mean that one values the activity without the friend more than some other activity with the friend at a time when they are free.