Posts

SoGive is hiring! Analysts wanted to lead evaluation of charities 2021-12-05T12:14:12.411Z
Matt_Sharp's Shortform 2021-05-22T23:50:08.501Z
UK government plan for animal welfare 2021-05-12T13:50:12.557Z
Meetup : Introduction to Effective Altruism 2014-10-02T23:37:37.669Z

Comments

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Why does AGI occur almost nowhere, not even just as a remark for economic/political models? · 2022-10-02T15:22:26.893Z · EA · GW

@1 seems unreasonable, because as soon as the first AI-economics people would come up with these arguments, if they were reasonable, they would become mainstream

1 seems the most plausible to me. Reasonable arguments might eventually become mainstream, but that doesn't mean they would do so immediately. 

In particular (a) there may not be many AI-economics people, so the signal could get lost in the noise and (b) economics journals may tend to favour research that focuses on established topics or that uses clever methodology, rather than topics that are important/valuable.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Concerns with Longtermism · 2022-09-16T23:07:06.682Z · EA · GW

This is similar to this post from just a couple of weeks ago - you may also be interested in the comments on that post.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on GiveWell and Similar Orgs Should *Really* Research Family Planning as a Potential Intervention · 2022-09-10T18:10:59.110Z · EA · GW

As well as their research, Charity Entrepreneurship have started a new family planning charity, Family Empowerment Media 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on How likely is it that malaria vaccines will soon become more effective than bednets? · 2022-09-09T11:10:45.424Z · EA · GW

I think an 80% effectiveness rate is a fair bit higher than you get from using bednets - if I recall correctly they tend to reduce malaria deaths (or perhaps cases) by 30-50%. 

The question is cost-effectiveness. If it's a few dollars for the whole set of vaccines ('three initial doses followed by a booster a year later'), and  this includes distribution costs, then this seems pretty clearly more cost-effective than bednets.  

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Developing Next Gen PPE to Reduce Biorisks · 2022-09-09T10:34:29.988Z · EA · GW

Sounds like valuable work - good luck! I spotted this recent news story that might be relevant. Any thoughts?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-62797775

Scientists have developed a virus-killing plastic that could make it harder for bugs, including Covid, to spread in hospitals and care homes.

The team at Queen's University Belfast say their plastic film is cheap and could be fashioned into protective gear such as aprons.

It works by reacting with light to release chemicals that break the virus....

....The material was tested in the laboratory against four types of virus - two influenzas, the Covid virus and a picornavirus, which has the traits that make a virus highly stable outside the body.

In controlled laboratory conditions, about one million virus particles were placed on the self-sterilising plastic. This is far beyond the amount of virus that would be needed to start an infection.

"It goes from one million viruses down to nothing, and we can see an effect in less than one hour and maximum death in two hours," said Dr Connor Bamford, from the school of medicine at Queen's.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on EAs should recommend cost-effective interventions in more cause areas (not just the most pressing ones) · 2022-09-01T18:53:49.696Z · EA · GW

This was intended to be part of SoGive's approach. Alongside ratings of how charities compared to top (~GiveWell) charities, we wanted to identify 'best in cause area' charities. Unfortunately no one wanted to pay us to do this, so we stopped.

One difficulty is the range of cost-effectiveness in many cause areas is likely to be much smaller than (e.g.) for global health. This could mean the best charity is only 2-3x as good as an average charity in that cause area. And unless there is a lot of high-quality evidence, you might expect there to be a big overlap in the confidence intervals for the expected cost-effectiveness of the best and average charities, such that it's not clear which is actually the best.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Longtermists Should Work on AI - There is No "AI Neutral" Scenario · 2022-08-08T12:27:06.060Z · EA · GW

It seems plausible that some people should be focused on areas other than AGI, even if only because these areas could ultimately influence AGI deployment.

You've already mentioned 'building influence in politics'. But this could include things like nuclear weapons policy. 

For example, if a nuclear-armed state believes a rival state is close to deploying AGI, they may decide they have no option but to attack with nukes first (or at least threaten to attack) in order to try to prevent this. 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on 30 second action you could take · 2022-08-02T21:26:40.527Z · EA · GW

It was a tough decision, but it turns out I do care more about helping sentient beings in the long term than I do about Wordle and Derry Girls

Comment by Matt_Sharp on EA's Culture and Thinking are Severely Limiting its Impact · 2022-07-26T12:17:16.782Z · EA · GW

This looks like it might be a valuable post. However, it has an estimated reading time of 30 mins. Can I encourage you to add an executive summary? This may encourage greater engagement with your claims.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Why EA could do more good as a Political International rather than a Philanthropic Nonprofit · 2022-07-22T19:23:11.742Z · EA · GW

I didn't downvote it, but the premises don't imply the conclusion. 

This is because:

 (a) it doesn't consider the potential downsides of running for office

(b) there are ways to influence government spending other than directly running for office. Running for office is one option, but there are other options that could be more successful. 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on EA Shouldn't Try to Exercise Direct Political Power · 2022-07-21T18:13:18.910Z · EA · GW

This is a useful post in terms of US politics.

But to state the obvious: there are other countries, and in some of these countries there may be a much stronger case for EAs to attempt to exercise direct political power.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Against Longtermism: I welcome our robot overlords, and you should too! · 2022-07-02T10:11:39.677Z · EA · GW

I understand expected values, but think about what these longtermist calculations say: a tiny chance of lowering existential risk (a vanishingly small probability of improving the likelihood that quadzillions of happy robots will take over the universe) is more important than, say, stopping something like the Holocaust. Seriously.  If a longtermist was alive in 1938 and knew what was going on in Nazi Germany, they would turn down the opportunity to influence public opinion and policy: “An asteroid might hit Earth someday. The numbers prove we must focus on that.”


I think a longtermist in 1938 may well have come to the conclusion that failing to oppose the Holocaust (and Nazism more broadly) would also be bad from a longtermist perspective. This is because it would increase the likelihood of a long-term totalitarian state that isn't interested in improving the overall welfare of sentient beings. 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on The Role of Individual Consumption Decisions in Animal Welfare and Climate are Analogous · 2022-06-10T15:35:05.094Z · EA · GW

We put more effort into reducing harms from dietary animal product consumption than can be justified on a consequentialist basis relative to how little we emphasize individual actions on climate change and policy/technological interventions for animal welfare

Based solely on Gabriel's essay, how do we know this? There are some thoughtful qualitative suggestions why this may be the case, but I would find it more convincing if there were quantitative estimates which backed up these suggestions.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on The Role of Individual Consumption Decisions in Animal Welfare and Climate are Analogous · 2022-06-10T11:46:59.511Z · EA · GW

I think I broadly agree with the premise. However, whether this means EAs are not allocating their resources appropriately requires consideration of the marginal cost-effectiveness of:

  1. Policy/tech/campaigning related to climate
  2. Policy/tech/campaigning related to animals
  3. Individual consumption related to climate
  4. Individual consumption related to animals
  5. Everything else

Without discussing or knowing these, I don't think we can make good suggestions about how people should change their behaviour. 

It would be very surprising if any of 1-5 were equally cost-effective as another, so in practice we should expect to move resources from 4 of them towards the most cost-effective one.

You state:

"Should EAs reduce their emphasis on personal meat/dairy/egg consumption? Should they increase their emphasis on their personal carbon footprint? 

I think the answer is probably a bit of both"

You've given some tentative and considered qualitative reasons for this, but not really justified it based on data. It could be the case that both our personal animal consumption and personal carbon footprint matters even less than EAs currently think, or that both matter more, or one matters more and the other less. 

Given this, I think we absolutely do need to "quibble with the precise numbers".  If what Robi Rahman has written is even roughly accurate, then that implies the current emphasis on personal animal consumption  rather than carbon footprint is justified:

2. From Robi Rahman: “A person choosing to eat 1kg less chicken results in 0.6 kg less expected chicken produced in the long run, which averts 20 days of chicken suffering. A comparable sacrifice would be to turn off your air conditioning for 3 days, which in expectation reduces future global warming by 10^(-14) °C and reduces suffering by zero.”

In expectation the reduced suffering from climate change due to this change in behaviour would not be zero, but if it  was still extremely close to zero, then Robi's point holds. 

Of course, that doesn't address how both of these personal consumption decisions compare to supporting either of the policy/tech/campaigning options. For that we'd need further data.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on New cause area: Violence against women and girls · 2022-06-08T11:39:16.528Z · EA · GW

While I expect you are correct that violence against women is a much bigger issue than violence against men overall, I would be more convinced if you were able to share some comparative data. The one comparative datapoint we have here, provided by Question Mark, is that men are more likely to be homicide victims. 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Just Say No to Utilitarianism · 2022-06-04T21:17:40.533Z · EA · GW

The use of DALYs and QALYs  is not specifically utilitarian. They can be used in other frameworks. The difference is how they are weighted. For example, a utilitarian may only care about the net gain across the whole population, whereas someone motivated by (say) a Rawlsian perspective would place more moral weight on achieving gains to the worst off.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on When did the EA Forum get so good?! · 2022-05-06T12:42:53.308Z · EA · GW

Thanks! I wasn't aware of the bookmarks feature

Comment by Matt_Sharp on How do we create a culture of ambition without deteriorating the community’s mental health? · 2022-04-30T13:56:10.545Z · EA · GW

A meta-level issue is ensuring consistency in this "high risk, high reward" approach. 

For example, some grantmakers in EA indicate they take this approach and will support relevant projects. Which is great! 

But if they then decide against funding a project merely because they think it's unlikely to succeed, this implies they actually aren't taking such an approach. Ideally they would provide feedback such as "well you think this project has a 10% chance of succeeding, but we think it's actually more like 1% because you haven't considered X, Y, Z, and this now means the expected value is below other projects we have chosen to fund instead". 

If grantmakers fail to do this, they are failing to even give people the chance to fail. This obviously doesn't have the same consequences as a project failing, but does require coping with rejection that is perceived to be unjustified and inconsistent with the purported approach, and could discourage ambition.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on EA needs money more than ever · 2022-04-25T18:14:27.047Z · EA · GW

Yeah, and one thing that often gets lost in the 'EA now has loads of money' claim is the fact that it only has a relatively  large amount of money compared to a few years. 

Compared to total global resources, this new money going to EA causes is really rather tiny. There is huge scope to grow and improve allocation of resources. 

We should be encouraging projects that could bring even more money into the influence of EA thinking.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Why aren't EA funders funding the NTI? · 2022-02-28T15:52:46.235Z · EA · GW

At SoGive we've just recently started looking at anti-nuclear weapon orgs to try to determine whether it makes sense to recommend any of them to donors we work with, precisely because of the MacArthur Foundation's withdrawal.

The MacArthur Foundation has been funding a large number of orgs in the anti-nuclear space. While NTI have a good reputation and are known in the EA community, I don't think it is obvious that it is they who should receive funding rather than other organisations. 

And these orgs aren't necessarily interchangeable. Based on a couple of expert interviews, there doesn't seem to be one widely accepted theory of change as to how to best approach reducing risks, and some approaches appear contradictory. My guess is that some of the big EA funders are also trying to do some research in this area before making any donations?

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 3 · 2022-01-14T18:56:25.108Z · EA · GW

I'm not sure I follow your point about volumes. The cost-effectiveness model is for those who receive the net. There's no need to dilute the impact on these people merely because other people don't experience the same impact. You just say 'this is the benefit to these people, achieved at this cost'. 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 3 · 2022-01-12T15:06:50.880Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your response - and more generally, thanks for putting time and effort into scrutinising GiveWell's analysis, and sharing your views here.

 Net distributions cover the whole community, they are not targetted at just under-5s.  Using GiveWell's figures, 16% of the population is under 5.  Scaled up 1.8 people per net this suggests coverage for 1.4m * 16% * 1.8 = 0.4m young children. 

You're of course right. I originally wrote 'people' rather than 'children',  but changed it because the discussion was focused on under 5 mortality. 

That's not going to materially change the mortality rate in a country with c.12m under 5s.  

Sure - but the question is whether it changes the mortality rate of those receiving the bednets.

I can confirm that the 7.7 mortality rate is an unadjusted country-wide mortality rate and 11.9 is the rate GiveWell estimates would occur with no distributions from AMF.

I think you may be right, and it seems like GiveWell may have made a mistake here. But that doesn't mean the mortality rate would be unchanged for those who receive (or would receive) bed nets. Rather, as I suggested before:

  • mortality for those who do have bednets might be lower than the country-wide mortality rate. e.g. if bednets reduce mortality by 17%, then we might assume the mortality rate with bednets goes from 7.7 to ~6.4.
  • then, if the AMF bednets are stopped, we might expect an increase in mortality back up to around the country average (which we presume indicates the mortality rate of those without bednets). So the increase would be 6.4 back to 7.7.
Comment by Matt_Sharp on Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 3 · 2022-01-11T18:40:34.418Z · EA · GW

When considering the impact of a donation to AMF, we should compare the expected mortality benefit if AMF distributes bednets compared to if they do not.  According to their website, AMF did not make any significant bednet distributions before 2019, with just 1.4m nets across 2014-2016 for a population of around 75m. This means the counterfactual for AMF not making distributions in future is the same as the past, and that the current mortality rate of 7.7 per 1,000 child years is maintained.  There is no reason to consider an increase to 11.9 or any other number if there are no future AMF distributions since there have been almost no past AMF distributions in this country

 

 If AMF distributed 1.4m nets across 2014-16, then that's a lot of children with nets. Say 2.8m, if it's 2 children per net. If nets work, then these children will be protected to some extent,  and have reduced mortality from malaria. An absence of future AMF bednet distributions (and an absence of an alternative) would result in increased mortality for these children.

Now, there's the question of whether Givewell are right to indicate mortality would increase from 7.7 to 11.9. If these are country-level figures, in a country which mostly doesn't have bednets, then plausibly mortality for those who do have bednets is actually lower than the country-level average of 7.7. Then, if the AMF bednets are stopped, we might expect an increase in mortality back up to the country average of 7.7. However, it may be that Givewell have already adjusted for this (I haven't looked into it), and actually the 11.9 is indeed the country-level figure that the mortality rate would be expected to increase back up to.

(a minor point - it would be helpful if you edited this to indicate you're discussing the Democratic Republic of Congo; I initially thought you were making claims about AMF's total distributions)

Comment by Matt_Sharp on [deleted post] 2022-01-07T20:19:08.930Z

"The one you should use depends on context. It should depend on how much you care about false positives vs false negatives in that particular case"

Yep, exactly! Assume you're a doctor, have a bunch of patients with a disease that is definitely going to kill them tomorrow, and there is a new, very low-cost, possible cure. Even if there's only one study of this possible cure showing a p-value of 0.2, you really should still recommend it! 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on doing more good vs. doing the most good possible · 2022-01-02T20:57:57.636Z · EA · GW

To some extent SoGive will be implementing what you're suggesting. As well as the overall top, EA-recommended charities, we are also looking to identify the best charities within other cause areas (e.g. poverty/homelessness in the UK, developed world health, tree-planting charities). Ideally we want to nudge people to switch to the overall top charities regardless of cause area, but we know that a lot of people are very committed to a particular cause, so it could be quite valuable to help them at least identify the top charities within that cause.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on SoGive is hiring! Analysts wanted to lead evaluation of charities · 2021-12-05T19:25:29.147Z · EA · GW

Fair question!

GiveWell and Founder's Pledge both do excellent work, so I don't think it would be right to suggest SoGive's approach is fundamentally better - indeed we often build on the work of these two organisations. However, as you say, there is some value in having multiple independent perspectives on a topic. 

We are aiming to fill a neglected niche, namely the application of an EA/cost-effectiveness approach to a much broader set of charities than those of most other EA organisations. Think Charity Navigator, but with a focus on impact rather than mostly-irrelevant financial metrics.  We think there is scope to nudge a large number of people (most who otherwise won't be aware of EA) to support higher impact charities within and across cause areas, by including a comparison with many of the well-known charities in the UK. 

Relatedly, there are also particular topics/cause areas where there is a lot of public interest, but that existing EA orgs have concluded probably aren't going to include the very best charities. 

As an example, we are currently undertaking a review of tree-planting charities. It seems unlikely that the best tree-planting charity will be as cost-effective as (e.g.) the Clean Air Task Force when it comes to averting/reducing CO2eq. But there is a lot of interest in tree-planting, both from individuals and corporations. We hope that by having tree-planting charities alongside the likes of CATF, at least some people who are interested in tree-planting will switch donations to CATF (because they actually care about CO2eq), whereas others who (for whatever reason) really really  only want to plant trees, will at least switch to the best tree-planting charity.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on EA Should Spend Its “Funding Overhang” on Curing Infectious Diseases · 2021-11-17T22:52:17.440Z · EA · GW

I'm definitely in favour of further consideration of this. However, I'd like to see the case for curing infectious diseases considered alongside the case for researching anti-ageing interventions.

It seems plausible that developing a successful anti-ageing intervention (a) would have an impact larger in scale than one for infectious disease (because it would be cross-cutting against the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia, worsening mobility etc) (b) is more neglected (unlike research into treatments for specific diseases of ageing) (c) would also reduce deaths from some infectious diseases (e.g. influenza, Covid) (d) is much more risky/uncertain in terms of tractability

Comment by Matt_Sharp on [Linkpost] GiveWell money moved in 2020 - up by 60%! · 2021-11-13T19:24:05.711Z · EA · GW

On LinkedIn Ben Todd repeated his claim about room for more funding  up until the end of 2023, based on this GiveWell spreadsheet

I'll repeat my reply here:

I'd really like to hear from someone at GiveWell (or the specific charities) to verify that this is the right interpretation of the funding gaps. For example, presumably this considers the funding gaps for specific programmes/countries that the likes of AMF are currently focusing on. But once that funding gap is filled, it seems plausible that there are other countries they could work on.

As an example, AMF currently state they have a funding gap of $53m (vs less than $1m according to that GiveWell spreadsheet). They state that "Agreements are being finalised with each country's Ministry of Health. This process is far advanced for the above programmes and we do not anticipate any issues. We do not publicly identify countries involved until an Agreement is signed". It seems plausible that these countries are not included in GiveWell's figures.

Another possibility is that the funding gap on AMF's website is for programmes that will be implemented after 2023

Comment by Matt_Sharp on saulius's Shortform · 2021-10-20T12:25:25.630Z · EA · GW

Hi Saulius, I've done 3 very basic estimates here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1C6lU4klgisqG150-yR_jZjt253sVrgp2umIbgkUbKbU/edit#gid=0

To get e.g. more than 20% probability, it seems like you'd have to make some very bad assumptions (weirdly high base rates of Covid amongst presumptive attendees, combined with incompetence or malice when it comes to testing). Seems more like 1-5% risk.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Concerns about AMF from GiveWell reading - Part 1 · 2021-10-17T21:13:59.939Z · EA · GW

Have you read this GiveWell page on bed nets? They state:

There is strong evidence that when large numbers of people use LLINs to protect themselves while sleeping, the burden of malaria can be reduced, resulting in a reduction in child mortality among other benefits.

Or this Cochrane review? 

Insecticide‐treated nets reduce child mortality from all causes by 17% compared to no nets (rate ratio 0.83, 95% CI 0.77 to 0.89; 5 trials, 200,833 participants, high‐certainty evidence). This corresponds to a saving of 5.6 lives (95% CI 3.6 to 7.6) each year for every 1000 children protected with ITNs. Insecticide‐treated nets also reduce the incidence of uncomplicated episodes of Plasmodium falciparum malaria by almost a half (rate ratio 0.55, 95% CI 0.48 to 0.64; 5 trials, 35,551 participants, high‐certainty evidence) and probably reduce the incidence of uncomplicated episodes of Plasmodium vivax malaria (risk ratio (RR) 0.61, 95% CI 0.48 to 0.77; 2 trials, 10,967 participants, moderate‐certainty evidence).

If the nation-level data isn't supportive of this, then perhaps this is worthy of further investigation to understand why it may be different from the trials. 

You seem to acknowledge this by saying 'Maybe the RCT evidence is so convincing that the noise of country-level data doesn’t matter' - but if your claim is that there is 'no evidence of impact' specifically at the country-level, then I'd encourage you to be clear about this with your heading. The statement that 'when you try to measure outputs there is no evidence of impact'  doesn't seem true.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on [Creative writing contest] Blue bird and black bird · 2021-09-18T10:14:24.486Z · EA · GW

Yeah, and I don't think the example of the sprout maps particularly well to catastrophic risks in itself. 

If the sprout grows into a giant oak tree that is literally right next to their current tree, it seems like they could easily just move to the giant oak tree. It sounds like the 'giant oak' would eventually be bigger than their current tree, meaning more space per bird, allowing for more birds. Oh and some birds eat acorns!

In this case I think black bird could be making things worse for future birds.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Concern about the EA London COVID protocol · 2021-09-06T23:01:00.826Z · EA · GW

Worth noting that this evening (6th September) there are reports that a COVID 'firebreak' could be imposed around the time of EA Global London, which could either force the event to be cancelled entirely, or lead to other restrictions being mandated (masks, social distancing, travel). Only tentative rumours so far, but it seems plausible.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Moral dilemma · 2021-09-04T22:27:39.401Z · EA · GW

Re your 3rd question, this may be a relevant starting point (and see the bibliography and related entries):

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/moral-uncertainty

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Gifted $1 million. What to do? (Not hypothetical) · 2021-08-30T16:00:15.958Z · EA · GW

Hi Ben. I'm the Principal Analyst at SoGive. As well as offering advice, we may be willing to undertake bespoke analysis and research on specific charities or cause areas, depending on what questions you have. If this may be of value to you, please contact Sanjay 

I'd also endorse the other responses to your question. If you follow-up on all the suggested articles, and do some thinking about the various questions, then you will be better placed to understand whether you actually want or need SoGive's input.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Most research/advocacy charities are not scalable · 2021-08-08T17:04:33.771Z · EA · GW

Yeah, in the same thread Ben tweets:

4) There is plenty of funding, a fair number of interested junior employees, and also some ideas for megaprojects. The biggest bottleneck seems like leadership. Second would be more and better ideas.

But the EA Infrastructure Fund currently only has ~$65k available

If there is plenty of funding, is it just in the wrong place? Given Ben's latest post should we be encouraging donations to the EA Infrastructure Fund (and Long-Term Future Fund) rather than the Global Health and Development Fund, which currently has over $7m available?

Comment by Matt_Sharp on EA Superpower?! 😋 · 2021-07-16T20:00:31.476Z · EA · GW

https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-07-13

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Climate change questions for Johannes Ackva and John Halstead · 2021-06-07T15:59:29.907Z · EA · GW

Thank you! This is helpful - I'm currently looking at CATF as part of my work with SoGive. The case CATF makes seems sensible and evidence-based, but given my relative lack of expertise in this area it's hard to know how they selective they are being in terms of the evidence they present. So it's useful to have an outside view.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Climate change questions for Johannes Ackva and John Halstead · 2021-06-04T11:40:04.327Z · EA · GW

Clean Air Task Force appear to take the position that, while renewables can dominate the production of electricity over the coming decades, we need some 'firm' clean energy to fill-in during weeks/months of low sun and wind. If we don't do this, they argue that we will need vastly more renewables, which will increase the cost and lead to issues around land use, and ultimately put at risk achieving zero carbon.

  1. What do Johannes and John think are the strongest arguments against this line of reasoning? Or put differently, what do they think are the strongest arguments that we could indeed rely on renewables?
  2. What are their thoughts on (yet-to-be-developed) long-duration storage technologies? How much do they think they can contribute?
  3. If we accept CATF's line of reasoning, which firm clean energy approaches seem best? i.e. considering technical challenges around development as well as broader risks (political, local opposition, safety and health issues), should we prioritise new nuclear, gas with carbon capture and storage...or something else?
Comment by Matt_Sharp on Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples · 2021-05-28T19:46:24.307Z · EA · GW

I thought it was a joke at first, too! Maybe they will inadvertently do some good in the world if their example helps recruit future EAs

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples · 2021-05-28T19:43:57.096Z · EA · GW

Agree that it seems unlikely to replicate. It would be interesting to see if e.g. hospitals are now funding Make a Wish on the grounds of it saving them future costs

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples · 2021-05-28T13:35:29.050Z · EA · GW

Homeopaths Without Borders

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Matt_Sharp's Shortform · 2021-05-23T09:04:54.192Z · EA · GW

Yeah, he's not supposed to be a pleasant character, and is typically satirising some of the nastiness of the British press (both then, but still relevant even now). In another episode his interviewing technique caused Australia and Hong Kong to declare war on each other:

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Matt_Sharp's Shortform · 2021-05-22T23:50:08.669Z · EA · GW

Saturday night fun: ineffective fundraising

I've been rewatching an old 90s British satirical news programme, and came across this brutally brilliant sketch. It's almost proto-EA 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-30T22:02:47.603Z · EA · GW

"Please stop cheery picking one or two points which are tangential to the actual argument"

Your argument is only based on anecdotal evidence. I'm happy to address many of your points, but if you're not actually willing to accept a significant amount of evidence as to the health benefits, I don't see why you expect us to accept your anecdotal evidence concerning jobs.

I'm happy to discuss the question of choice, though you seem to also oppose Give Directly, which precisely provides people with more choice.

I expect you to write an unnecessarily long response to this.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-30T12:41:04.887Z · EA · GW

"But we don't have good evidence that bednets are in fact being used in these communities and are actually actively reducing malaria rates"

Yes we do. For example, this systematic review considers 22 randomised controlled trials which look at morbidity and mortality from malaria: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106149

Note the difference in outcomes between insecticide-treated nets and untreated nets. Locally-produced nets are likely to be untreated, which aren't very effective.

This study finds that the impact of scaling-up supply of bednets across several countries is consistent with the findings of previous trials: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21909249

Are you happy to accept this evidence?

"Are some families using them, possibly. Is it significantly fewer than what AMF claims, I would argue yes."

What claims do AMF make about use?

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-30T01:26:44.462Z · EA · GW

"It is a good question, why, if the data is flawed or dubious, should you believe that there is economic harm taking place? I would return to the point of choice. If foreigners do not have sufficient data to determine that a particular intervention would do more good than harm, I see no reason that they should have the right to override the will of the community."

We have good evidence and reason to believe that bednets reduce the incidence and burden of malaria. The big question is over the economic impact, not so much the health impact.

So it seems we can be confident we're improving health, but less confident of the impact on jobs. We have two scenarios:

(a)Without bednets/AMF: people will die and suffer from malaria and there is an uncertain impact on jobs.

(b)With bednets/AMF: fewer people will die and suffer from malaria and there is an uncertain impact on jobs.

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest reducing malaria can boost economic growth and productivity: http://effective-altruism.com/ea/pd/longterms_effects_of_malaria_on_labour/

But ok: let's consider your anecdotal evidence. Based on this, how many jobs do you think have been displaced by the existence of AMF within a given country? How many people do you realistically think need to be employed to produce the bednets needed by a country? Do you have any figures, estimates, or even guesses for the number of people employed as bednet manufacturers in any country?

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-27T23:48:24.620Z · EA · GW

If there is an absence of accurate data, why should we believe that supporting AMF destroys more jobs than it creates?

It sounds like it is (anecdotally) easy to point to some people who have been hurt by distribution of free bed nets (local producers), but if there are economic benefits from reducing malaria, then any job gains will likely be spread amongst many sectors. You won't be able to identify such job gains through anecdotal evidence.

On a side-note, there is a blog post on the AMF website from 5 years ago discussing this issue of where they buy their nets. It would be interesting to hear if anything has changed since then.

https://www.againstmalaria.com/Newsitem.aspx?newsitem=Where-do-we-buy-our-nets-from

It's worth noting that AMF supplies long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets, which appear to be the most-effective type. If local producers are not producing this type, then the absence of AMF et al may lead to greater local jobs, but only in the production of bednets that aren't as good at reducing malaria.