Has this EA critique article been discussed/responded to? 2022-05-01T15:44:35.226Z
Noah_il_Matto's Shortform 2022-04-19T01:38:50.252Z
"Teaching to Give" Idea 2021-04-22T01:51:04.234Z


Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Noah_il_Matto's Shortform · 2022-07-30T22:01:40.635Z · EA · GW

SOP for EAG Conferences

1 - clarify your goals

2- clarify types of people you’d like to have 1-1s with to meet these goals

3- pick workshops you want to go to

4- in Swapcard app, delete the 1-1 time slots that are during workshops

5- search Swapcard attendee list for relevant keywords for 1-1s

6- make 1-1s, scheduled in location where it will be easier to find ppl (ie not main networking area) — ask organizers if unsure of what this will be in advance


-don’t worry about talks since they’re recorded

-actually use 1-1 time slot feature on Swapcard (by removing times you’re not available)

—-this removes rescheduling scramble via message that otherwise occurs

-make all 1-1s in same place for your convenience

-if there’s a workshop you want to go to that’s full, try going anyway

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Noah_il_Matto's Shortform · 2022-07-30T06:32:14.680Z · EA · GW

Just looked this up- very interesting. I agree that’s along the lines of what I was thinking , with the added attempt to vaguely begin to quantify . And yeah mutual aid efforts could be another type of action to include in a map/model like this.

Re how much exists - I hope it’s a lot. But I fear there may be not that much based on personal experience. Also sometimes in activist & social justice circles there can be a resistance to quantifying a bottom line.

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Noah_il_Matto's Shortform · 2022-07-28T12:21:40.769Z · EA · GW

Quantifying Impact of Allyship



  • Should ally be the one to write this given the many potential blind spots
  • Is it correct for an investigation of this type to be allied-centered (from the perspective of those in identity locations of societal privilege)
  • Problem of disempowering societally marginalized & of painting a one-directional picture
  • Reinventing the wheel / being dismissive of well established experts, particularly those who are members of societally marginalized groups)
  • Other blind spots related to social justice nuance


  • Create new allies that would not otherwise be motivated (without this style of analysis)
  • Motivate existing allies to take more action (by demonstrating incremental return on investment)
  • Everyone should just automatically do this (to the degree that they occupy privileged identity locations) as part of basic civics in US society & probably in global society as well
    • These practices may relate to other cause areas like longtermism (i.e. by avoiding lock-in of bad values), animal welfare & global health/development (i.e. by expanding circle of compassion starting with local people)

Why (Big/Solvable/Neglected)

  • Solvable
    • The positive impact of each new ally is complete marginal gain/100% counterfactual since each new ally will encounter a unique set of people & situations in their lives.
      • In other words, the counter argument that social justice advocacy is a crowded cause area does not necessarily hold here.
    • The need for domain-specific expertise is low since all of us are experts on our personal experience, which is in turn suffused with systemic privilege & injustice.
  • Big
    • Social injustice in the US is the cause of a lot of suffering [PLUG IN METRICS HERE]
      • Objective - economic; professional; healthcare; education
      • Subjective - well being scales/surveys; mental health metrics
    • Social injustice in the US tends to spread throughout the world [PLUG IN METRICS HERE]
      • Roe v wade recent case study (news articles on potential impact on other countries policies)
  • Neglected
    • Social justice gets a lot of air time as a whole cause area, but specific interventions may be much more significant
    • A larger body of EA-style analysis of social justice intervention that are not holistically dismissive could help us “strike gold”

The Model

Categories of Ally Action

  • Unplanned intervention
    • I.e. speaking up about an observed injustice
  • Planned intervention
    • I.e. scheduled discussion with another privileged individual
  • Protest
    • I.e. attending a protest
  • Institutional lobbying
    • I.e. advocating for Juneteenth as a work holiday
  • Automated action
    • I.e. leading with gender pronouns

Impact of 1 unit of action for each (weight #1)

  • Number of people impacted
  • Depth of impact
    • I.e. changes those people make

Degree of uncertainty of 1 unit of action for each (weight #2)

  • Variable which downweights according to degree of uncertainty

Negative impact/threat

  • Number of people alienated
  • Degree of alienation 

Initial Reactions

  • This seems disappointing, if it’s true
  • Potential impact could be in prioritization of actions for allies & training better allies
  • Suggests that an active ally could counterfactually impact in the range of less than 1000 people in their lifetime
    • Even without the weights it’s less than 4000
  • Using the gut estimates of a mean includes gut estimate of range as well
  • Allyship is a lot of work & requires a lot of time & energy to change 1 person to become an effective ally
  • Allyship also has a lot of risks related to alienation & polarization
    • This is part of the reason why my gut move was to down weight so much


The factors that make a good ally

  • Seeking opportunities to speak up
    • Knowing when to
    • Judgment/accuracy - is there actual systemic injustice being expressed here?
  • Willingness to speak up
    • Motivation
    • Resilience to risk
      • Social risk
        • Temporary awkwardness
        • Lasting relationship change
      • Professional risk
  • Speaking up tactfully
    • Timing
    • Duration
    • Tone
      • Selective ferocity
      • “We” frame
    • Body language
    • Word choice
    • Managing stress
  • Nonviolence/de-escalation
  • Positive affirmation where appropriate
  • Destressing afterwards
    • Forgetting about incident

How to Train Good Allies

  • White Awake - online class series on race-class organizing & other topics
  • Panchamama Alliance - online class series on spiritual-eco organizing & systemic injustice
  • Bystander Intervention training - i.e. Hollaback!
  • Proposal - An Ally academy
    • Follow up with graduates & ongoing mentorship
Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Buddhism and Utilitarianism; EA vs EB · 2022-06-25T00:33:50.919Z · EA · GW

Really appreciate that notion.  It is something I've thought a lot about myself.  I also tend to find that my personal spiritual practice benefits from a mix of many short meditation retreats, daily formal meditation sessions & ongoing altruistic efforts in daily life.  I don't feel that I would make a good teacher of meditation if I did that full time or that my practice would reach greater depth faster if I quit my job & practiced full time.  

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Buddhism and Utilitarianism; EA vs EB · 2022-06-23T23:29:05.142Z · EA · GW

Interesting essay, thanks for sharing.  Buddhist practice is the central focus of my life & is how I became interested in EA.  I see the two as fairly compatible.  I'm assuming the essay's focus is on Buddhists that have a primarily physicalist ontology (that subjective experience is an epiphenomena of brain chemistry).  If that is the case, then I think engaged Buddhism, when taken to the highest degree of intensity, converges fairly well with EA.  

Things become arguably more interesting if we adopt the traditional Buddhist ontology which includes multiple realms of existence, karma & rebirth.  For instance, the population ethics does change in this case.  In the traditional Buddhist worldview, there are a finite set of sentient beings being reborn in the universe.  The total population of sentient beings can decrease (because sentient beings reach liberation & stop being reborn) but not increase (since Buddhist logic negates a first cause).  

The main thrust of population ethics in this case is to increase the proportion of sentient beings reborn into "fortunate human births" (a traditional Buddhist phrase) which thus allows them the greatest opportunity to generate positive momentum (i.e. by being effective altruists) to eventually reach liberation.  Ordinary sentient beings are not really able to effect this; at most they can encourage other humans to maximize their altruistic efforts & thus build that positive momentum.  To me, this is how traditional Buddhadharma could align with EA.

Where they don't align is around doing more than just practicing altruism.  The traditional Buddhist worldview suggests that some of the most possible good someone can do is to strive to become a Buddha through training in meditative concentration & insight into the nature of reality.  Through this training, it is possible to progress through degrees of liberation which put one in a position to do the most possible good for others from a multi-lifetime perspective.  This would include occupying altruistic worldly functions such as those encouraged by EA, but also encouraging others to spend a large portion of their lives meditating.  In other words, spending a large portion of life meditating is highly recommended by traditional Buddhism but only makes sense from a utilitarian perspective if one takes a multi-lifetime view.

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Noah_il_Matto's Shortform · 2022-06-22T05:03:02.811Z · EA · GW

Survey Studies on Perception of EA Ideas

Has anyone looked into the possibility of doing survey studies on the perception of EA ideas?  I'm thinking of surveys that might include questions that prompt the participant to choice between 2 statements.  Each statement might contain an EA idea, but phrased in a different way.   The goal would be to determine which verbiage is more palatable.   Another type of question might measure which statement is more likely to convince the participant of a given view, or to take a certain action.  The audience would be those who were not already EAs.  Ideally the result would be a set of word & phrase choices that were statistically proven to be more palatable & also better at convincing people of changing their views or taking action.  This set of language could then be scaled as a best practice across a wide variety of community building & fund raising efforts.

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on New forum feature: Map of Community Members · 2022-05-05T03:19:35.543Z · EA · GW

Copy that, thanks. I primarily access the forum on mobile. Not sure if that’s the overall trend though.

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on New forum feature: Map of Community Members · 2022-05-05T00:31:53.121Z · EA · GW

I’m on mobile & don’t see the add me button available.

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Has this EA critique article been discussed/responded to? · 2022-05-03T01:48:37.358Z · EA · GW

Thank you, I did see that in going down the EA critiques rabbit hole. That thread was very helpful .

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Has this EA critique article been discussed/responded to? · 2022-05-02T00:38:58.859Z · EA · GW

Thanks. I’ll do a search for “common objections” articles.

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on Noah_il_Matto's Shortform · 2022-04-19T01:38:50.349Z · EA · GW

Using Civil Lawsuits to Accomplish Good?

Has anyone thought, read or written about the possibility of using civil lawsuits to accomplish good?   The basic idea being that people/organizations in positions of power generally don't change things for the better until it gets too uncomfortable not to.  One way to accomplish this is by applying pressure through the legal system.

Based on my understanding of the legal system in the US, there are 2 types of lawsuit: criminal and civil.  It's much harder to win the former (burden of proof) and the results are binary (innocent or guilty).  The latter is easier to win and has more of a spectrum of potential outcomes, including financial payment but also demands of organizational change.  I've heard that in some arenas, people tend to default to criminal suits and not think of pursuing civil, even though they  may be more likely to result in desired outcomes.

I guess the question would be if there were scenarios where it would make sense to put money into "pressuring" leaders/organizations into ethical actions through the use of civil lawsuit (vs putting money into other levers).   This idea can get questionable pretty fast, but I think there is no limit to the number of suits that can be brought against someone by multiple people and for different reasons.  Thus there are multiple "strategies" that can be employed.

Comment by Noah Starbuck (Noah_il_Matto) on "Teaching to Give" Idea · 2021-04-28T17:26:21.910Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the feedback, Harrison!  Good things to think about.  I think it would be best if I could do a proof of concept first to clarify the exact nature of my suggestions.