Global basic education as a missing cause priority 2019-08-08T01:19:43.624Z · score: 0 (3 votes)
12 years of education as a missing cause priority 2019-08-07T02:49:59.160Z · score: 0 (6 votes)


Comment by lucy-ea8 on Global basic education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-23T01:15:06.204Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Education has instrumental value, it more importantly has intrinsic value.

From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article

One of the most comprehensive lists of intrinsic goods that anyone has suggested is that given by William Frankena ....consciousness,.... truth; knowledge and true opinions of various kinds, understanding, wisdom;

All of which in various forms are based on the foundation of basic education. I have consciousness of the world and universe because of my education, without which I would have less consciousness.

intrinsic value has been characterized above in terms of the value that something has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.”

For me education is valuable “in itself”, “for its own sake”, “as such”, “in its own right.”

I notice that I used the language of intrinsic value, the question uses "for its own sake" before I was aware of the SEP article.

Also "development" has no intrinsic value, why is it headlining EA efforts? I would prefer EA to emphasize "Global Education and Health" over "Global Health and Development"

Comment by lucy-ea8 on List of ways in which cost-effectiveness estimates can be misleading · 2019-08-21T05:14:59.701Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Fairness and health equity. Cost-effectiveness estimates typically treat all health gains as equal. However, many think that priority should be given to those with severe health conditions and in disadvantaged communities, even if it leads to less overall decline in suffering or illness (Nord, 2005, Cookson et al. (2017), Kamm (2015)).

One other example is rural vs urban, it might be more cost-effective to solve a problem (say school attendance) in cities but costlier in rural settings. Just focusing on urban setting is wrong in this context. It seems discriminatory.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Global basic education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-19T04:49:44.848Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Education has intrinsic value.

It changes outlook towards life, how people participate in everyday society, what hopes and dreams they have. What choices they make in their lives.

Illiterate women in agricultural societies gain autonomy via education. It allows them to (partially) resist patriarchy, to choose to have small families, any yes to participate in public discourse, and industrial economy.

Women's suffragette movement picked steam after women became literate/educated

Civil rights movement happened after African American's became literate/educated

All the independence leaders of colonial countries were literate/educated.

Every single society that became rich, first became literate / educated. And countries that did not educate themselves stayed agricultural/poor. Argentina is a good example of this, a hundred years ago it was on par with UK in terms of money, but was behind in terms of education. It consistently did not prioritize education and can now be compared to china instead of UK.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on How do you, personally, experience "EA motivation"? · 2019-08-18T10:10:23.633Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

A search for root causes, and putting myself in other peoples shoes led me to EA. I did not accept poverty and death in the world as a given, and asking questions about root causes led me down a path of reading and questioning. It helped that I now try to put myself in others people shoes. Trying to read about what people say in their own words. e.g.

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla

Eyes off the Prize by Carol Anderson

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Global basic education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-18T07:37:22.336Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I heard the podcast before, but it helped to go through it again. I learnt about LAYS (Learning Adjusted Years of Schooling) and went through the links for articles, interesting stuff. Thanks.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Global basic education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-12T06:36:25.687Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Here is an example where straight relationship between money and health does not hold

Country---> Philippines South Africa
Gross National Income per capita (ppp) $ 4,002 $9,812
Life expectancy (years) 72.3 52
Mean years of schooling 8.7 8.2

Source Sen’s Capability Approach

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Global basic education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-11T08:13:54.241Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks saulius. Another way of thinking about oxygen is that is fundamentally important for our life. Likewise I see basic education as necessary to participate in daily life in this global world. Caring about global development is one thing, but EA community gives it headline space in one of its 3 main causes/focus areas (Global health and development, X-risk, Animal welfare). I believe education should be added for its intrinsic value.

If we care about Global development for its consequences, I feel that it is getting too much headline space.Education allows individuals to avoid preventable diseases, hunger (via better participation in the industrial economy). Therefore "Global Health, Education and Development" makes sense and dropping it seems to be a mistake.

Also Human Development Index consists of three parts "life expectancy, education, and per capita income" if the most widely used index for thinking about human welfare uses education as one of its three components, why does EA retain two of them and drop education without a solid explanation?

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Global basic education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-10T02:01:43.932Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I see education as oxygen or water, those are not mentioned in the list either. That is a very western, developed world list. In the poor parts of the world I assume they might say lack of hunger, malaria, ill-treatment etc..

Are you sure that you value education intrinsically?

I see basic education (high school equivalent) as an intrinsic value. (I watched the video)

It is also interesting that the video says that money does not have intrinsic value, but Global (economic) development is a headline priority for EA.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Global basic education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-09T01:46:22.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hello, thanks for the links, I read through them. Giving What We Can depends strongly on Give Well. Both of them conclude or assume that education has no intrinsic value Give Well says "We do not place much intrinsic value on increasing time in school" and Giving What We Can says "...suggests that years in education does not itself increase happiness"

This is really puzzling since EA community is highly educated (from elite universities?) Education is what I value most in my life.

Why does the EA community think "Global health and (economic?) development" is more important that Global Education or atleast equal in importance?

Also see

Comment by lucy-ea8 on 12 years of education as a missing cause priority · 2019-08-08T19:15:59.349Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW
  1. EA priorities in expectation maximise some objective function.

My question is why is global education not an objective function that we are seeking to maximise?

This question is slightly misstated by me, the question I intended to ask is here

Edit: Secondly even if no interventions can be found for say global health, it would remain as a goal, value, objective function.

I find the absence of education at the top to be puzzling. Why is the objective function "Global health and development" and not "Global Education, Health and Development"? Even if one cant find interventions the goals are statements of what we find valuable.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Why has poverty worldwide fallen so little in recent decades outside China? · 2019-08-08T07:31:50.617Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Much of the progress will be driven by economic growth in Asia, and India in particular. The number of people in extreme poverty in Africa is expected to stagnate

Education in India is behind China by about 30 years, and economic growth also is behind. Africa will do better than expected, partly the estimates are based on UN population projections which are too pessimistic for Africa.

Africa is behind India in terms of education and it will take them time to pick up in terms of economic growth.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Why has poverty worldwide fallen so little in recent decades outside China? · 2019-08-08T07:27:08.651Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Instead of money a better way to measure well being is per capita consumption of energy, and levels of education.

Energy consumption is unequal because we live in unequal societies and have lived in these societies since Agricultural revolution 10000 years ago. This is by necessity a finite sum game, and people who grabbed a big share are unaware of the big share that they have taken let alone sharing it equitably.

In terms of education, India and other countries that have done worse than China, have done worse in terms of education, which means more population growth than China and lower standard of living. Education (lack of it) can be easily solved but I have not seen political will on a global scale. As far as I can tell even EA community neglects basic education (12 years/high school equivalent in USA)

The following article is good reading for importance of energy Supplemental energy puts humans in charge

Comment by lucy-ea8 on "Why Nations Fail" and the long-termist view of global poverty · 2019-08-06T05:07:16.692Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This is a great book explaining why England industrialized first and why institutions matter. However subsequent transitions from agricultural economies to industrial does not need to follow same paths. They can get the benefits by copying all the knowledge of industrialization and improve well being (without becoming rich)

I am not convinced that USSR collapse was inevitable or that China will collapse. China seems to have deeply studied USSR collapse and tries to its lessons. Will it succeed? Not sure.

Being productive in the industrial age means using energy and know how to churn out products for world or local markets.

Agricultural economies on the other hand were always extractive and poor, because they relied on dilute power from sun. And education was of not much help in those societies.

Not discussing energy or education is a problem of the book.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across? · 2019-08-05T15:57:44.674Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I recommend the book Hunger and Public Action. It has one of the best explanations on how nations change and improve the quality of life of their citizens. It discusses famine, and deaths in the statistical sense (not graphical), so please read it before giving it to kids. It also discusses how countries have done better or worse and hence has lessons on what policies are good or bad. One of the most important books to read for EA (if not kids).

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Aid Scepticism and Effective Altruism · 2019-08-02T00:37:19.467Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I can easily ruin systems with a poorly spent $10m regardless of how hard it is to fix them.

I understand, Give Well recommendations are not going down a path of destruction. So I am not worried. I would be really worried when they try to influence policies.

Also in the big picture I think AID helps if directed well, but it is a small part of the budgets of poor countries and can only be expected (in the big scheme of things) to have small effects. Most of the improvement has come from people/national governments improving their countries.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Aid Scepticism and Effective Altruism · 2019-07-30T06:37:01.413Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm arguing that this isn't "small amounts of money,"

I am not convinced. In proportion to the needs, the amount seems small, also the money is spent in several countries and hence per capita spending is low (I doubt it goes above $10 per person per year in any of the health interventions SMC is at $7).

undermines the need for local governments to take responsibility, etc.

local governments do take responsibility, what they can achieve in their circumstances is limited though. hence the need for money and outside support.

it is well into the amounts where international funding displaces building local expertise

I am not sure I understand why international funding should displace local expertise, why are the international funders, not funding local organizations? and building local leadership? taking help from local expertise? I think local partners and leaders should take front seat

makes it harder to focus on building health systems generally instead of focusing narrowly

This part I agree, but if overall funding is limited then it makes sense for individuals to look for narrow effects. Give Well is good at this for EA movement, since EA is small compared to the needs. By the same token Give Well type analysis makes less sense at a government to government level when entire health departments are supported. The building of those health institutions takes a long time, the results come slowly with a time lag of 10+ years. Even then they have interactions with the rest of societal institutions like education, economy.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Making discussions in EA groups inclusive · 2019-07-29T05:34:23.670Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the post, I found this post and the following post Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA to be very useful.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Aid Scepticism and Effective Altruism · 2019-07-18T07:40:15.981Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that small amounts of money could in theory have systemic side effects, but that is only if the money is spent on effecting something critical (say influencing the outcome of election etc..). Most of Give Well money is spent on health interventions which are far less likely to have critical systemic side effects.

The worst I could think of them is that they are insensitive/disrespectful to the local populations and have no health effect. Neither of these possible outcomes are critically negative in the systemic sense.

Two international health interventions are running into local resistance 1) Polio Vaccination in Pakistan 2) Ebola treatment in Democratic Republic of Congo neither of the efforts seem bad in my opinion.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Aid Scepticism and Effective Altruism · 2019-07-11T04:05:21.053Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks. Give Well is big, and is about 100 million dollars a year. And about 50 million from individual donors (less than 1 million a year). This is not much money in the overall scheme of things. Even if Malaria and schistosomiasis are fulled funded by that 50 million, there are many more things to do.

There 5 million kids dying every year 1 2, lets say 4 million are preventable, give well cost per life saved estimate is lets say $1000 of lower end.

The required funding to solve child deaths is 4 billion a year, just for this alone.

We have to think about unintended effects, but there are likely to be marginal and small.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Charity Vouchers [public policy idea] · 2019-07-11T03:46:29.805Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I expect most of the money to be given to local charities and not to government or to charities like give well. UBC (Universal Basic Charity) will quickly turn into UBI. That not a bad thing either.

Overall I expect it to have the same effects as UBI.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Corporate Global Catastrophic Risks (C-GCRs) · 2019-07-09T09:01:54.261Z · score: -2 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I wholeheartedly agree that non-capitalist system are strictly worse than capitalist ones and have cited evidence that corporations do a huge amount of good in the world. I'm not denying that reducing ill-effects from socialist systems (see Venezuela) still deserve a lot of attention.

Let me start by agreeing that the people of Venezuela are in deep distress, and ill served by the ruling government.

I am not a fan of -isms and labels. Is public education socialist? how about public universal healthcare (like in Europe or Japan)? North Korea calls itself DPRK (Democratic.. Republic) I laugh at it and don't take it seriously, why should we take it seriously when Venezuela claims that it is socialist? Anyway what do broad terms like socialism and capitalism mean? When did USA become capitalist? How about Britain? India? China? South Africa? Guatemala? Socialist/communist/capitalist institutions are steeply hierarchical and with few exceptions have male leaders, likewise kingdoms before that were male led and steeply hierarchical. I see more similarities between the various -isms than differences.

I think the world we see today is an effect of industrialization, and the political systems today are reflections of that, on an evolutionary substrate of human behavior that is atleast a million years in the making.

==== added later ====

sigh the questions are serious ones, if downvoting please tell me why either via private message or as a reply


Comment by lucy-ea8 on Advice for an Undergrad · 2019-07-09T07:51:14.849Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Don't put your hopes on working at any EA organization. Dream careers in any field are really hard to come by. Focus on finding meaningful work could be in industry or non profit. In terms of studying I like AI/statistics/CS. Evolution is much better than Economics, you can gain a lot by watching Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA)

Most importantly try to shed your deep rooted conditioning / biases. Humanity's worst trait is ingroup thinking Overcoming it is a challenge, but the rewards are great.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-09T07:12:41.754Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think you may find pro-free-trade people in favor of IP reform, these are rather separate issues.

Intellectual Monopolies are restrictions on Trade, when trade hurts profitability of the powers that be, they see are happy to support monopoly and see no contradiction.

When human rights are affected negatively by trade (slave trade, colonialism/capitalism, opium war), trade takes first place if necessary by force.

the countries are still willingly taking these deals so they are better than nothing.

Kings lasted thousands of years, Communism lasted for 50+ years (depending on region), colonialism lasted 400+ years. Slavery is thousands of years old. Just because something exists does not mean it is good for humanity. Nor does it mean consent. People try to survive as best as they can given their circumstances.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-09T06:24:01.306Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks much, that was good reading. Education is not like Childbirth or Breast Cancer (99% female) which are women specific. It makes sense that Girls learning outcomes can be improved without specifically targeting them. However access to school should be done specifically by targeting them.

Hypothetically if only 50% of kids can be educated, having them be all boys is much worse than if 50% of all genders make it to school. Thankfully we don't need to make such a choice there is enough money to educate everyone to 12 years of education regardless of gender. Whats lacking is political will.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-07T03:24:58.033Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing your story. I am short of time and keeping this brief.

And I don't support free trade because I think it worked with slaves or opium, I support it because I think it works now, according to the best economic evidence that we have.

Thats an understandable position. I am skeptical of Free Trade because it was used to justify Slave trade and opium trade. Why should I assume that this time is different?

To take a more contemporary example: "IP" is a restriction on Trade, yet the same people who are for "Free Trade" are for "IP" more correctly called "Intellectual Monopolies". Read Against Intellectual Monopoly

Wikipedia, Linux are perfect examples of lack of monopolies in knowledge. And can be traded freely, the positive welfare effects are enormous.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-07T03:09:55.746Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Many of the judgments we have moved away from since the earlier days of EA seem to be cases where we did the sort of things "altruism" is evocative of, and increasingly we find ourselves doing the "justice" things.

Thanks for writing this. I am relatively new to EA it helps to understand history.

I think about justice without judging people, I hope that avoids hostility.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-07T03:04:54.377Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

You may be interested in Founders' Pledge report: Women's Empowerment

Thanks for this.

But maybe the best interventions aren't easy or efficient to target towards women only

There has been very little effort to find and prove this. I have seen very little research from give well or else where on women's issues.

Give Directly could easily run a pilot and test giving to women only. I cant imagine why this would be inefficient.

When there is actual discrimination e.g. missing women It means that women's lives are less happier. A track of "saving lives" would not care about this difference. (As the list of top charities of Give Well show). A justice oriented thinking would adjust for this and spend more money of women's empowerment.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-07T02:40:26.175Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I am just trying to paint the bigger picture. Whatever the politics in USA are, emigration from around the world will decrease going forward. As countries start to have better human development people will decide to stay home more. Which is why the example of mexico is important, going further back South Koreans, Japanese used to move not anymore, going even further back Italians, Swedish etc moved to USA.

In 20 years net immigration per year into USA will start to fall with no end in sight.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-07T01:51:06.422Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

An "altruistic" position might be to pass a quick bill, no political strings attached, giving funding to CBP to just improve the conditions at the camps and expedite processing, leaving bigger decisions for later. The "justice" position could be to fight tooth and nail to abolish CBP/ICE instead.

Thinking and talking about justice does not mean lack of pragmatics politics. One could point out the injustice of immigration law and still compromise.

Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice?

Since EA is not an electoral political movement, thinking in terms of justice makes more sense. This allows space to carefully think the world. Electoral politics are not good analogies for what EA should do.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-05T07:56:38.588Z · score: 1 (4 votes) · EA · GW

We're equipped to make right decisions regardless of these subtle things.

None of give well top charities focus on women or girls, given that women and girls are valued less in poor countries, from a strictly utilitarian perspective, this is a miss for the EA movement

Malala Fund has a report that claims girls education is the world best investment I dont see serious research from EA community on this front either.

Atleast the CEA has a good page on gender and inclusion. Its not actual recommendations of any charity, but its a start.

Justice (goals) must inform institutions and policy.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-05T07:17:50.786Z · score: -2 (3 votes) · EA · GW

but often includes a hardline commitment to open borders or at least opposition to effective security measures against illegal immigrants.

This statement is flat out wrong. There is no commitment to open borders. It was well known in 2015 that illegal immigration was going down.

Obama was known as deporter in chief Overall illegal immigration is down and has gone negative from Mexico

Immigration from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala will continue for another 10 years and taper off as the fertility rates fall

As of today I see the "left" position or justice position is to treat asylum seekers and illegal immigrants humanely.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-05T04:42:31.038Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I did not downvote (or upvote). Thinking about effectiveness is very useful, however I am not sold on the idea of Altruism, I think in terms of justice. I have unjust power how can I give it up for the greater good?

Not asking how and why we have so much power is a blindness that I see in the EA movement. This also leads to assumptions that "Free Trade" is good. Were the Opium wars "free trade"? Was the trans atlantic slave trade "Free Trade"?

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Aid Scepticism and Effective Altruism · 2019-07-05T01:34:46.640Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The core of Singer’s argument is the principle that, if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do so. We can. So we should.

This is solid. I fully agree. Individuals in th EA movement can avoid the pitfalls that might come from large scale initiatives. For EA's until their individual donations collectively become large the unintended systemic effects can be ignored.

Comment by lucy-ea8 on Overview of Capitalism and Socialism for Effective Altruism · 2019-06-16T06:31:24.480Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Its not very interesting to think about Capitalism and Socialism because the terms are too broad. I see Chomsky mentioned in other posts. He is an Anarchist

Also it is not clear to me how countries should be classified, and also how they changed over time. E.g. which year UK become capitalist? how about USA? How should Nigeria, India, China be described today? Also how should one describe Nigeria, India, China pre independence?

We can try to look at it public policy. Are free public schools socialist or capitalist? How about free public healthcare? How about social security or Medicare?

Comment by lucy-ea8 on There's Lots More To Do · 2019-06-14T23:59:27.037Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

The reasons/politics for why good ventures or gates foundation does not try to spend their money for effective causes is not important. If we go down that path we can also ask why don't rich countries plug gaps for basic health, basic education, or even ubi programs like that of give directly.

Whatever their reasons, we as individuals can have relatively big impacts, and as long as the cheaper interventions are not funded, we can help.

Health interventions work and child mortality dropped dramatically

Comment by lucy-ea8 on What books or bodies of work, not about EA or EA cause areas, might be beneficial to EAs? · 2019-06-14T15:13:25.245Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Hunger and Public Action by Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze\

Demographic and human capital scenarios for the 21st century