All moral decisions in life are on a heavy-tailed distribution 2022-07-04T17:09:23.308Z
How do we create a culture of ambition without deteriorating the community’s mental health? 2022-04-30T07:50:49.661Z
Has anything in the EA global health sphere changed since the critiques of "randomista development" 1-2 years ago? 2021-12-02T12:14:14.165Z
Meditations on Caring 2021-11-29T19:12:01.929Z
[Feedback Request] The compound interest of saving lives 2020-12-22T13:50:13.388Z
MaxG's Shortform 2020-12-04T11:02:37.091Z


Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on All moral decisions in life are on a heavy-tailed distribution · 2022-07-06T06:30:24.908Z · EA · GW

Thanks, I was only aware of two of these!

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Death to 1 on 1s · 2022-05-21T09:35:14.769Z · EA · GW

I strongly disagree with the sentiment that 1-1s are dehumanizing, as I have found that most of my 1-1s have been friendly, warm, and fun even though they were mostly confined to 30 min.

Something else I can recommend is taking a walk around the block with someone instead of sitting at a table facing each other. This makes it more casual and less formal.

Overall I understand your idea that 1-1s can seem too business-like but my impression is that there are a few tricks to approach them in a way that is more fun.

Regarding your example of meeting the best people in the strangest places, I also make sure to add randomness to my conferences:

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Have you ever made a valuable connection with someone via the Forum? · 2022-05-12T10:47:50.193Z · EA · GW

In two instances people DM'd me about things I posted on the forum which lead to meeting them in person at EAG. These connections probably wouldn't have happened without the prior conversation on the forum and I expect to reconnect with these people in the future. I would thus consider them quite valuable.

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on How do we create a culture of ambition without deteriorating the community’s mental health? · 2022-04-30T08:02:34.439Z · EA · GW

I think I read this somewhere, but can't remember who to attribute the idea to: Maybe we need something like an EA safety net, similar to an insurance. Knowing that you will have enough money to take care of your family even if you fail at your ambitious project would at least take away some of the anxiety of not succeeding. This would also be helpful in case you suffer burnout (which we should prevent in the first place!). 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition · 2022-03-02T09:33:58.172Z · EA · GW

DIY decentralized nucleic acid observatory

Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophes

As part of the larger effort of building an early detection center for novel pathogens, a smaller self-sustaining version is needed for remote locations. The ideal early-detection center would not only have surveillance stations in the largest hubs and airports of the world, but also in as many medium sized ones as possible. For this it is needed to provide a ready-made, small and transportable product which allows meta-genomic surveillance of wastewater or air ventilation. One solution would be designing a workflow utilizing the easily scalable and portable technology of nanopore sequencing and combining it with a workflow to extract nucleic acids from wastewater. The sharing of instructions on how to build and use this method could lead to a "do it yourself" (DIY) and decentralized version of a nucleic acid observatory. Instead of staffing a whole lab at a central location, it would be possible to only have one or two personnel in key locations who use this product to sequence samples directly and only transmit the data to the larger surveillance effort. 


Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Has anything in the EA global health sphere changed since the critiques of "randomista development" 1-2 years ago? · 2021-12-02T12:19:20.842Z · EA · GW

One thing that came to mind is that in the last year, it seems the EA community has payed more attention to the progress studies (PS) movement. They probably take an approach to global health and poverty which is more focused on economic growth. 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Meditations on Caring · 2021-11-30T08:03:52.142Z · EA · GW

Yes, I think it is very much worthwhile to experiment with your own phrasings and with different people. There are nuances and potentially you will find out which phrases work best for you.  

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Meditations on Caring · 2021-11-30T08:01:57.004Z · EA · GW

Cool! I remember doing tonglen a few years ago after I saw  a nice info-graphic about it. Wish I could find it again, but thanks for reminding me of its existence. 

I agree, feeling more compassion is what I was trying to achieve here.  Yet I didn't explicitly try to counteract scope neglect in that way. 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on You are probably underestimating how good self-love can be · 2021-11-21T10:14:46.361Z · EA · GW

I enjoyed this post and really appreciate all the great resources! Recently I have also been thinking about this and just posted a short article on how to make metta meditation a bit easier for people who struggle with it. Maybe it will be useful to some of you, I would love to hear your feedback.

Here is an excerpt:

Instead of beginning with yourself, you first picture someone with whom you have a really uncomplicated and positive relationship. Wishing them well is much easier. Not only does this help with getting into the groove of building up the feeling of metta, but a certain framing can help you transition the focus to yourself more easily. Personally, I find this works best with a pet.

For example, I may start with thinking of my dog and wishing him well using my preferred metta phrases. Then I try to imagine viewing myself through the eyes of my dog and also silently saying phrases like "May You be well." To me, it comes very natural to imagine that my dog loves me a lot and is really happy to see me. Because of that, it isn't hard to put myself into the position of my dog, imagining him e.g. being petted by me and wishing me all the best.

Now comes the interesting part. Mirghafori gives the instruction of "joining voices" with, in this case, my dog. That means switching the phrasing to "May I be well" instead of You. Instead of viewing myself from the outside perspective of a friend, I now try to have a loving awareness of the body and mind which I experience from the inside.

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Sleep: effective ways to improve it · 2021-11-16T13:09:05.791Z · EA · GW

About mindfulness: I have been meditating daily for a few years and have tried a bunch of different apps.

The one I can recommend the most and use personally is Waking Up ( Not only is it IMO the best app for mindfulness meditation, but they are also EA aligned. They signed the GWWC pledge and were among the first batch of companies to do so. If you can't afford the subscription, you can email them and get it for free.

Would be curious to hear what experiences others have had with meditation apps.

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Sleep: effective ways to improve it · 2021-11-16T10:58:45.140Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this up, this is a good list. I used to struggle with getting to sleep for years, taking 1-2 hours to fall asleep on most days. To everybody with sleep problems, I want to encourage you to experiment with some of the above mentioned interventions. It is possible to improve your sleep. I have tried most of the things on this list and have had great success. 

Just as an anecdotal data point: 

One of the problems I had specifically was just going to bed way too late because I didn't get tired earlier than midnight. Being a night-owl isn't a problem per se, but honestly the world is more tailored to benefit early-risers. It sucks to have to cut short on your sleep because you have a mandatory Uni course at 08:00. 

For a few months I have been taking this 300mcg melatonin every day exactly at 17:00 after reading this article. It reliably makes me tired at 22:00-23:00 and I fall asleep astoundingly quickly if I go to bed in that time range. Something interesting I noticed is that when I go to bed later than that time, e.g. at 02:00, my tiredness is gone again and I find it much harder to fall asleep. Not sure if this is just placebo. Keep in mind that this will vary from person to person and my experience is probably different from yours. Also I do at least 5 other things to sleep better so there are many confounders and I don't know how much to attribute to using melatonin. Just experiment and see what works for you.

(I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice)

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on "The Precipice" by Toby Ord flashcards now live :) · 2021-08-23T07:09:10.385Z · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing Alex.

I am also a big fan of Anki and SuperMemo and have spent hundreds of hours using both. Issa Rice already put up some great links to Master How To Learn and SuperMemo Guru under your previous post. I also wanted to point to the SuperMemo community wiki. Incremental reading in SuperMemo has been really useful to me and I think lots of people could benefit from it, but it is harder to get into. The community over there is really helpful. Also if anyone has questions about it, feel free to message me. I have also thought about writing up my thoughts regarding effective learning with those programs but haven't gotten around to doing so. Partly also because there are already some decent resources, although I would agree that none are close to optimum yet. 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on What are some key numbers that (almost) every EA should know? · 2021-06-24T13:11:15.590Z · EA · GW

I would also definitely use it, just one suggestion: It would be cool if you include a field with the source link for the number so it is easy to go back and take a look. I know it will be quite some work so thanks a ton! 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-13T18:54:57.002Z · EA · GW

What is especially neglected but promising within psychedelic science? 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-13T18:49:36.619Z · EA · GW

How could psychedelics-assisted therapy be scaled up? Isn't this super hard because you need at least two trained professionals on multiple lengthy occasions? Where will those people come from? 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-13T18:45:51.158Z · EA · GW

How do you feel about people flying to e.g. Jamaica and going on psilocybin retreats? Is this a net positive or could it be a problem for changing the image of psychedelics towards a legal medicine? 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-13T18:38:58.794Z · EA · GW

What is the best case against psychedelics being an important area? 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-13T18:37:19.744Z · EA · GW

How much evidence is there for microdosing having an effect significantly larger than placebo? From this conversation with James Fadiman I got the impression that it is more underwhelming than I thought. 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-13T18:33:29.055Z · EA · GW

Hi! Thanks for doing this. I read How To Change Your Mind a few years ago and quite enjoyed it, which lead me to following this space since then. A few questions come to mind right now but I'll post them separately. Feel free to answer what is interesting and ignore what seems less important. 

First off: How do you see the regulatory environment around psychedelics changing in the next decade? IIRC from this podcast with Rick Doblin, it looks like MDMA could be decriminalized in the US in the next years and psilocybin might follow a few years after that. Is this correct? 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Quadratic Payments: A Primer (Vitalik Buterin, 2019) · 2021-04-10T09:11:04.580Z · EA · GW

Cool! This website looks good as well but I haven't tried it yet:

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on Quadratic Payments: A Primer (Vitalik Buterin, 2019) · 2021-04-10T06:51:18.226Z · EA · GW

Hi! I really liked this post and think there should be more discussions about these algorithms on here. I just wanted to point out what he writes in the penultimate paragraph:

One particular cause dear to me personally is what I call "entrepreneurial public goods": public goods that in the present only a few people believe are important but in the future many more people will value. In the 19th century, contributing to abolition of slavery may have been one example; in the 21st century I can't give examples that will satisfy every reader because it's the nature of these goods that their importance will only become common knowledge later down the road, but I would point to life extension and AI risk research as two possible examples.

What he says here is almost the same as what we mean when we talk about the search for "Cause X". In this lingo, cause X is a public good which is currently underfunded.

Maybe a mechanism like quadratic funding could even help us with allocating funds to researchers working on niche topics? An example could be insect suffering: Suppose that many people think that there is some chance that insect suffering might be a big deal, but very few people care deeply about it (I guess insects are hard to relate to because they are so different from us). 

It would cost very little to all those people who think there is a small chance of importance, because initially the funding is cheap. Yet due to the nature of the algorithm, research into insect suffering would receive a strong subsidy.

Am I getting this right?

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on MaxG's Shortform · 2021-04-02T10:14:46.705Z · EA · GW

Cool! I knew gwern but wasn't aware of his experiments, thank you.

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on MaxG's Shortform · 2021-03-29T12:58:29.136Z · EA · GW

Does anybody have examples of pre-registered self experiments or thoughts about the usefulness of self experiments?

I am only aware of Alexey Guzey's experiment on sleep

Recently I have become quite interested in improving my running with heart rate training and read a lot about the related physiology. I would like to try out Zone 2 Training by using heart rate as a proxy and experiment with this in a structured way. 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on MaxG's Shortform · 2021-03-27T11:59:32.525Z · EA · GW

An idea about AI in medicine:

Fecal microbiota transplants have been gaining prominence as we discover that many diseases seem to have a relation with the gut microbiome. There seems to be therapeutic potential for certain gut infections, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and functional gastrointestinal disorders.

What if you could use new high-throughput sequencing techniques like Nanopore to figure out what kinds of bacteria constitute the microbiome of tens of thousands of people?

Combine this with tons of computational power and the latest machine learning algorithms to find relationships between certain illnesses and symptoms and those people's microbiome. Maybe this would allow finding the perfect fecal transplant donor to reverse the relevant symptoms.

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on [Feedback Request] The compound interest of saving lives · 2020-12-22T20:56:03.056Z · EA · GW

I like the framing of "optimum population trajectory",  that's an idea I haven't encountered before. Thanks! 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on [Feedback Request] The compound interest of saving lives · 2020-12-22T20:50:09.604Z · EA · GW

Hey Max, thank you for the links! I guess now I have some quality reading material over the holidays :) 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on The Next Pandemic Could Be Worse, What Can We Do? (A Happier World video) · 2020-12-22T13:27:54.920Z · EA · GW

Good thinking! Attention spans are short enough these days so 15min seems plenty :) 

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on The Next Pandemic Could Be Worse, What Can We Do? (A Happier World video) · 2020-12-22T10:37:15.578Z · EA · GW

Hi! Just watched the video and I think it's super well produced, good job.

I was surprised how you managed to summarise a lot of the knowledge I already had on this topic in under 15 minutes.

Furthermore, I have talked to lots of people who mentioned that EA seems underrepresented in video format. YouTube seems like a good opportunity here that could be used more. Regarding this, I think this is valuable work. Also I like that you didn't give it the Effective Altruism "stamp". There should be more discussion on when it's appropriate to publicly advertise EA as a concept and when it's better to just introduce a topic we're concerned about without explicitely relating it to EA. This is related to the idea of external movement building:

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on MaxG's Shortform · 2020-12-14T10:39:53.886Z · EA · GW

Hi Aaron, great question.
Let's get the obvious out of the way: For people who are still in university, in study-intensive subjects, it's a great advantage to use a Spaced Repetition System like SuperMemo. To me it feels empowering not to have to worry about forgetting. It's a common experience to feel very frustrated to study so much for an exam, only to forget most of it afterwards. This doesn't happen to me anymore, because I just know the algorithm will take care and as long as I do my daily repitions, my knowledge will get transfered into long-term memory. 

Another obvious use case is learning languages. An SRS can greatly help you to learn a language much faster and this seems to be the most common usage. 

One not so obvious advantage is about creativity/innovation. In my understanding, creativity has a lot to do with connecting ideas from different fields, ones you wouldn't initially notice as being related to each other. Imagine you study two different domains, e.g. Biology and Economics. Actively remembering important information from both of those might result in two at first glance disparate ideas appearing in your mind in close succession. This is what leads to creativity, you making the connection between those. This is less likely to happen if you store your information mostly externally, e.g. in Evernote. 

To answer your question more straightforward: So far, I have found it most useful for studying medicine in University and learning French/Spanish.

Comment by Max Görlitz (MaxG) on MaxG's Shortform · 2020-12-04T10:54:31.658Z · EA · GW

Hey there, I was just wondering if there are any fellow EAs who are using SuperMemo?

Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS) have generally become more popular over the last years. As a medical student, I have personally read tons of stuff about effective learning and how to win the fight against forgetting. I have probably spent hundreds of hours with Anki, which might be more familiar to people.

For a few months now, I've been trying out SuperMemo ( Especially with the feature of Incremental Reading, I feel like many people in the EA community could benefit from using it.

Main features:

  • allows you to remember facts with the best Spaced Repetition Algorithm I know of
  • read hundreds of articles/papers "at the same time" by making incremental progress on each one
  • have all your reading sorted by priority and connected in a knowledge tree structure

Furthermore it can potentially be used for things like boosting creativity and incremental writing

The biggest hurdle to overcome when starting SuperMemo is the learning curve. For a beginner, it can be a bit unintuitive and many people initially dislike the UI.

Luckily, the community seems to be growing pretty well right now and there is more and more high quality information online (see There are even people who can help you get started and offer 1on1 teaching.

I'm just wondering if any of you have heard about SuperMemo or maybe have personal experience?