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Comment by masonhartman on You Can Now Make Any Event a Fundraiser for Effective Charities · 2015-09-14T19:21:05.116Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

I think this is awesome. However...

There does seem to be a lack of transparency re: pricing/fees. I got all the way through sign-up without any mention of fees, and had to click the itty-bitty "Support Center" link in the footer to find any information on pricing.

There I found the Pricing & Plans FAQ, which only mentions the 2.5% transaction fee and a monthly fee incurred after $5000 is raised. I still don't know much that fee is.

Comment by masonhartman on Spitballing EA career ideas · 2014-12-02T04:55:14.377Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I think it's worth considering avoiding jobs/careers that are somewhat likely to be automated in the near future. Pharmacy and accounting seem like they probably fall into this category. Most jobs in transportation will probably be gone in the next two decades.

Comment by masonhartman on When should an Effective Altruist be vegetarian? · 2014-11-26T09:37:55.415Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I think one of the major problems with this proposal is that nobody actually does it. 0% of the people I've heard propose it (three, if I haven't forgotten any) actually donate (or make any measurable changes to their behavior at all) based on their animal product consumption.

I've seen a few folks argue that by eating animal products they're making gains in somewhat-hard-to-measure areas like mood or productivity, and by making those gains they're either more effective in their EA jobs or end up earning more to give. I don't know of anyone who has actually tested this at all. I wouldn't be horribly surprised if some of them did notice some deleterious effects from switching to veganism. I would be very surprised if they actually became less effective as EAs by going the reducetarian route and purposefully cutting out one meat meal per day or 1-2 full days of meat meals per week.

Comment by masonhartman on When should an Effective Altruist be vegetarian? · 2014-11-26T05:08:17.135Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

The point Jacy was contesting was about the happiness of free-range chickens whose eggs could feasibly be subsidized. He didn't pull that quote out of thin air; he was responding to a specific proposal about commercially-raised chickens. Pet chickens are not in any way relevant to the question of whether commercially-raised "free-range" chickens live neutral, positive, or negative lives.

I hope this was an oversight rather than a purposeful red herring.

Comment by masonhartman on When should an Effective Altruist be vegetarian? · 2014-11-26T00:51:23.074Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I can say with ~95% certainty that those hens are pets or are living on a "hobby farm." I've kept chickens in similar conditions; there's just no way it could be profitable as a commercial project. There are a handful of independent farmers using "chicken tractors" to raise their hens on pasture (e.g. Grazin' Angus), but their eggs are extremely difficult to find and run up to $10/dozen.

If you want to understand how commercial animal products are actually produced, Googling "happy chickens" is not going to be helpful.

Comment by masonhartman on Open Thread 3 · 2014-10-15T20:56:16.645Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Request: Quotes and/or brief statements that convey EA ideas in an interesting and accurate manner. Looking for the sort of thing I can mix into an image meme and use to start conversations on Facebook/Reddit.

Comment by masonhartman on The Economist on "extreme altruism" · 2014-09-19T17:04:36.674Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

That's a good point. I don't just think in terms of money when I talk about "donations" and "resources," but there's not really a very concise or clear way to talk about the very broad array of actions people can take that are consistent with EA goals.

Comment by masonhartman on Open Thread · 2014-09-19T09:07:31.432Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

X-risk and animal welfare are still pretty marginalized across the entire population, not just among the religious - and Christians have a very convenient existing infrastructure for collecting money. It might be that there are other reasons not to worry too much about them (e.g. an unmovable hierarchy that controls where the money goes), but their lack of concern for some (or even most) EA target causes doesn't seem like it should bear much weight.

Comment by masonhartman on The Economist on "extreme altruism" · 2014-09-19T08:55:19.992Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I worry a bit that the way EAs communicate/market their ideas might be putting off a much larger segment of the population that relies largely on what Singer calls "emotional empathy" when making altruistic decisions.

I think it would be worthwhile to:

(1) look very carefully at the anti-EA hit pieces that occasionally pop up and try to understand the motivations/concerns behind the (usually not very well-argued) criticisms of EA;

(2) experiment with pitches similar to those employed by very popular and well-funded mainstream charities.

Speaking very broadly, EAs seem to have two main goals: getting more people to redirect their donations to more effective charities, and getting more people to donate more of their resources to charity. I think pushing both goals simultaneously is likely making EA unpalatable to most typical people, who might be receptive to moving their $20-50/month elsewhere but don't want to be measured against someone who's donating 10% of their earnings.

Meanwhile, we should be able to appeal to the high-empathy people who are probably feeling fairly lonely in their conviction. When I've mentioned my intention to go forward with a non-directed kidney donation, more people have questioned my sanity than have reacted positively.

Comment by masonhartman on Open Thread · 2014-09-17T18:03:31.015Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I'm looking for more concrete suggestions that orgs could (and would hopefully be willing to) A/B test. Most of the charities EAs are encouraged to support do help sick/suffering children/animals, but I don't think they're taking advantage of it in the same ways the mainstream orgs are (nor are the meta-charities/evaluators that are pitching them).

About five years ago, a family member donated to SmileTrain on my behalf. I received a sheet of before-and-after photos of a child who'd had the cleft palate surgery with his first name and the date of his surgery written underneath. I had an extremely positive emotional response to this and ended up pinning it to my fridge, where roommates and house guests saw it on a daily basis. I still have more visceral happy-feels for SmileTrain than for most of the charities I support now.

I'd love to see EA groups running experiments on that sort of thing.

Comment by masonhartman on Open Thread · 2014-09-15T23:06:38.565Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'd like to see more work done on "warm fuzzies," e.g.: How can our charitable organizations be competitive with non-EA charities in producing positive feelings in donors? How can our message be framed such that they don't lead to feelings of guilt or a sense of being overwhelmed by the scope of the problems we're trying to tackle?

Comment by masonhartman on Disability Weights · 2014-09-12T18:32:08.415Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm extremely pleased to see mental illness and addiction considered.

Comment by masonhartman on Cosmopolitanism · 2014-09-11T22:45:06.085Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA · GW

So far, I’ve just been trying to argue that effective altruists take cosmopolitanism too much for granted, and should more see cosmopolitanism as something distinctive about themselves.

True. I recall somewhat recently being surprised to find that a somewhat influential friend of mine believed strongly in a purely local approach. To paraphrase him at a recent event: "We're helping people right now, right here - not halfway around the world." The audience responded with massive waves of applause.

I worry a bit that "cosmopolitan" is a term that has "elitist" connotations.