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Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Yglesias on EA and politics · 2022-05-23T19:23:27.150Z · EA · GW

This is also just an example of how growing and diversifying the EA funding base can be useful even if EA is not on the whole funding constrained ... a longtermist superpac that raised $1 million each from 12 different rich guys who got rich in different ways would arguably be more credible than one with a single donor. 

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Yglesias on EA and politics · 2022-05-23T19:21:16.504Z · EA · GW

Feel free to cross-post! 

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on How many people have heard of effective altruism? · 2022-05-21T10:12:19.312Z · EA · GW

Similarly, I’d heard of Peter Singer as a result of campus controversies over his (alleged) views on disability long before I heard anything else about him. But it was actually learning about that controversy that prompted me to go see him speak some time in 2001 or so and I was surprised by what I heard.

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Should U.S. donors give to an EA-focused PAC like Guarding Against Pandemics instead of individual campaigns? · 2022-05-21T02:18:14.457Z · EA · GW

Candidates for office, by law, get a more favorable rate on TV ads than superpacs do.

So up to the legal limit, a direct donation to a candidate is more valuable.

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Most students who would agree with EA ideas haven't heard of EA yet (results of a large-scale survey) · 2022-05-20T12:45:46.002Z · EA · GW

That’s because there haven’t been enough articles!

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Most students who would agree with EA ideas haven't heard of EA yet (results of a large-scale survey) · 2022-05-20T02:32:31.474Z · EA · GW

The first obvious answer is that most students simply haven’t been reached yet. If true, we may need to massively boost (high-quality) student outreach, making sure that every student who could be sympathetic towards EA ideas finds out about EA.


This is my bias as a media guy, but to me this survey actually suggests the opposite of the need to "massively boost (high-quality) student outreach" — if there is a large bloc of students who are sympathetic to EA but have never heard of it, what's needed is really just greater prominence in mass media. If you just randomly come across the term "effective altruism" enough times, you'll get curious what it means and if you go Google and find out it turns out to be ideas that you are sympathetic to. 

I think the Carrick Flynn congressional race just generating some articles that say "here's this thing called Effective Altruism and they got this guy running for congress" is constructive in that same way. The survey indicates that EA is currently very far from tapped out in terms of the potential upside to extremely shallow outreach. 

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Some potential lessons from Carrick’s Congressional bid · 2022-05-20T02:23:55.337Z · EA · GW

This is an excellent post, one slightly subtle point about the political dynamics that I think it misses is the circumstances around BoldPAC's investment in Salinas. 

BoldPAC is the superpac for Hispanic House Democrats. It happens to be the case that in the 2022 election cycle there is a Hispanic state legislator (Andrea Salinas) living in a blue-leaning open US House of Representatives  seat. It also happens to be the case that given the ups and downs of the political cycle, this is the only viable opportunity to add a Hispanic Democrat to the caucus this year. So just as it's basically happenstance the the EA community got involved in the Oregon 6th as opposed to some other district, it's also happenstance that BoldPAC was deeply invested in this race. It's not a heavily Hispanic area or anything, Salinas just happens to be Latina. 

If it was an Anglo state legislator holding down the seat, the "flood the zone with unanswered money" strategy might have worked. And if there were four other promising Hispanic prospects in the 2022 cycle, it also might have worked because BoldPAC might have been persuaded that it wasn't worth going toe-to-toe with Protect Our Future. Now what's true is POF was able to massively outspend BoldPAC but that became a diminishing marginal returns dynamic. Salinas had enough money to make it a competitive race not because there is some deep-pocked anti-EA lobby that was out to get Carrick Flynn, his aspirations just collided with another agenda by coincidence. 

So even though Salinas won by a pretty hefty margin, I think the counterfactual in which he wins does not require particularly large changes. 

Now of course weird shit is going to potentially stand in your way in any race you try to run in. But I think it underscores the fact that if EA wants to play in electoral politics it will ultimately be important to have more candidates running in more races, even if that means less superpac spending per candidate.   

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Sort forum posts by: Occlumency (Old & Upvoted) · 2022-05-15T14:01:05.062Z · EA · GW

I share this "outdated, rather than foundational" concern. I think it is possible that what is really called for here is human editorial attention rather than algorithms and sorting tools. Someone or someones to read through tons of old stuff and make some Best Of collections. 

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on The biggest risk of free-spending EA is not optics or motivated cognition, but grift · 2022-05-14T03:08:00.081Z · EA · GW

The flip side is that grift can be an opportunity. Suppose a bunch of members of congress decide EA donors are easy marks and they can get a bunch of money in exchange for backing some weird pandemic prevention bill they don’t even slightly care about or believe in. Well then the bill passes and that’s a good outcome.

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on If you had an hour with a political leader, what would you focus on? · 2022-05-10T01:49:15.913Z · EA · GW

Agree that the Guarding Against Pandemics prevention policies are probably the most constructive thing to push. If you're talking to a Republican who's disinclined to spend money, tell them they should pay for it by clawing-back unspent state Covid relief funds. 

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Why Helping the Flynn Campaign is especially useful right now · 2022-05-10T00:45:35.376Z · EA · GW

I would just add to this that it’s worth taking a few minutes to really think if there is anyone you might possibly know who lives in the district — or even a second-degree connection like a friend’s sister who you’ve never met. “Relational” communications are much more high-impact than calling strangers if it’s at all possible to find someone you have any connection with.

Comment by Matthew Yglesias on Why Helping the Flynn Campaign is especially useful right now · 2022-05-10T00:43:32.972Z · EA · GW

These days campaigns can use late money thanks to digital ad opportunities