Posts

Please Take the 2020 EA Survey 2020-11-11T16:05:51.462Z
US Non-Profit? Get Free* Money From the Gov on 3 Apr! 2020-04-01T18:07:54.351Z
Coronavirus Research Ideas for EAs 2020-03-27T21:01:48.181Z
We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. 2019-12-12T16:09:19.404Z
Rethink Priorities 2019 Impact and Strategy 2019-12-02T16:32:25.324Z
Please Take the 2019 EA Survey! 2019-09-23T17:36:35.084Z
GiveWell's Top Charities Are Increasingly Hard to Beat 2019-07-10T00:34:52.510Z
EA Survey 2018 Series: Do EA Survey Takers Keep Their GWWC Pledge? 2019-06-16T23:04:46.626Z
Is EA Growing? EA Growth Metrics for 2018 2019-06-02T04:08:30.726Z
EA Survey 2018 Series: How Long Do EAs Stay in EA? 2019-05-31T00:32:20.989Z
Rethink Priorities Plans for 2019 2018-12-18T00:18:31.987Z
Open Thread #40 2018-07-08T17:51:47.777Z
Animal Equality showed that advocating for diet change works. But is it cost-effective? 2018-06-07T04:06:02.831Z
Cost-Effectiveness of Vaccines: Appendices and Endnotes 2018-05-08T07:43:43.262Z
Cost-Effectiveness of Vaccines: Exploring Model Uncertainty and Takeaways 2018-05-08T07:42:53.369Z
What is the cost-effectiveness of researching vaccines? 2018-05-08T07:41:10.595Z
How much does it cost to roll-out a vaccine? 2018-02-26T15:33:03.710Z
How much does it cost to research and develop a vaccine? 2018-02-24T01:23:33.601Z
What is Animal Farming in Rural Zambia Like? A Site Visit 2018-02-19T20:49:45.024Z
Four Organizations EAs Should Fully Fund for 2018 2017-12-12T07:17:14.418Z
Is EA Growing? Some EA Growth Metrics for 2017 2017-09-05T23:36:39.591Z
How long does it take to research and develop a new vaccine? 2017-06-28T23:20:04.289Z
Can we apply start-up investing principles to non-profits? 2017-06-27T03:16:49.074Z
The 2017 Effective Altruism Survey - Please Take! 2017-04-24T21:01:26.039Z
How do EA Orgs Account for Uncertainty in their Analysis? 2017-04-05T16:48:45.220Z
How Should I Spend My Time? 2017-01-08T03:22:46.745Z
Effective Altruism is Not a Competition 2017-01-05T02:11:23.505Z
Semi-regular Open Thread #35 2016-12-30T22:28:48.381Z
Why I Took the Giving What We Can Pledge 2016-12-28T00:02:57.065Z
The Value of Time Spent Fundraising: Four Examples 2016-12-23T04:35:25.797Z
What is the expected value of creating a GiveWell top charity? 2016-12-18T02:02:16.774Z
How many hits does hits-based giving get? A concrete study idea to find out (and a $1500 offer for implementation) 2016-12-09T03:08:25.796Z
Thoughts on the Reducetarian Labs MTurk Study 2016-12-02T17:12:44.731Z
Using a Spreadsheet to Make Good Decisions: Five Examples 2016-11-26T02:21:29.740Z
Students for High Impact Charity: Review and $10K Grant 2016-09-27T21:05:44.340Z
A Method for Automatic Trustworthiness in Study Pre-Registration 2016-09-25T04:22:38.817Z
Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk for Animal Advocacy Studies: Opportunities and Challenges 2016-08-02T19:24:58.259Z
Five Ways to Handle Flow-Through Effects 2016-07-28T03:39:44.235Z
End-Relational Theory of Meta-ethics: A Dialogue 2016-06-28T20:11:52.534Z
How should we prioritize cause prioritization? 2016-06-13T17:03:45.558Z
A Case for Empirical Cause Prioritization 2016-06-06T17:32:43.818Z
Global poverty could be more cost-effective than animal advocacy (even for non-speciesists) 2016-05-31T15:02:32.339Z
More Thoughts (and Analysis) on the Mercy For Animals Online Ads Study 2016-05-27T03:00:29.228Z
.impact's pivot to focus projects 2016-04-29T19:59:47.775Z
Is EA growing? A concrete study idea to find out (and a $100 offer for implementation) 2016-02-21T21:42:28.036Z
Do EAs underestimate opportunities to create many small benefits? 2016-01-25T04:20:10.880Z
EA risks falling into a "meta trap". But we can avoid it. 2015-08-25T15:22:26.620Z
Peter Hurford thinks that a large proportion of people should earn to give long term 2015-08-17T15:42:07.612Z
Moral Economics in Practice: Musing on Acausal Payments through Donations 2015-08-12T17:41:12.855Z
Peter's 2015 Q2 Personal Review 2015-07-21T18:17:04.171Z

Comments

Comment by Peter_Hurford on CEA update: Q1 2021 · 2021-04-22T07:01:50.319Z · EA · GW

This is really cool to see! Thanks for sharing this level of detail and transparency from one of the most important EA organizations!

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction' · 2021-04-21T20:40:51.108Z · EA · GW

Other good people to consider: Neil Buddy Shah (GiveWell), James Snowden (GiveWell), Alexander Berger (Open Phil), Zach Robinson (Open Phil), Peter Favorolo (Open Phil), Joey Savoie (Charity Entrepreneurship), Karolina Sarek (Charity Entrepreneurship)

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction' · 2021-04-21T20:38:20.495Z · EA · GW

I'd be happy to make the case for why Rethink Priorities spends a lot of time researching neartermist topics.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on [deleted post] 2021-04-08T15:36:09.444Z

Apparently you can just edit the tag, so I did!

Comment by Peter_Hurford on [deleted post] 2021-04-08T15:35:28.433Z

"Scalably involving people" might be better

Comment by Peter_Hurford on AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. · 2021-04-03T15:58:37.399Z · EA · GW

Worth flagging that we at Rethink Priorities have had no trouble finding many well-qualified candidates when we do our operations hiring.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on New Top EA Causes for 2021? · 2021-04-01T15:21:16.176Z · EA · GW

Strong Middletermism as an EA Priority

Strong middletermism suggests that the best actions are exclusively contained within the set of actions that aim to influence how the next 137 years go (and not a year longer!)

We know that compromising between smart people is a good decision procedure (see "Aumann's agreement theorem" also see how ensemble models generally outperform any individual models). Given that many smart people support near-term causes and many smart people support longtermist causes, I suggest that the highest impact causes will be found in what I call middletermism.

Another important issue is that our predictive track record gets worse as a function of time - increasing time means increasing error. Insofar as we are trying to balance expected impact and robustness of impact calculations, this suggests a time at which error will balance out impact. In my calculations, this occurs exactly 137 years from now. Thus middletermism only focuses on these 137 years.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Some quick notes on "effective altruism" · 2021-03-25T13:27:37.754Z · EA · GW

Rethink Priorities is pretty close to this! We've done message testing now for many orgs across cause areas... Centre for Effective Altruism, Will MacAskill, Open Phil, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Humane Society for the United States, The Humane League, Mercy for Animals, and various EA-aligned lobbyists. We have a lot of skills and resources to do this well and already have a well-built pipeline for producing this kind of work.

We'd be happy to consider doing more work for other people in EA and the EA movement as a whole!

Comment by Peter_Hurford on EA Funds has appointed new fund managers · 2021-03-23T21:15:33.347Z · EA · GW

Is the Global Health and Development Fund still going to be just Elie for the foreseeable future? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Comment by Peter_Hurford on EA Funds has appointed new fund managers · 2021-03-23T19:19:48.923Z · EA · GW

Why the secrecy around the identity of the guest managers?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on AMA: Tom Chivers, science writer, science editor at UnHerd · 2021-03-19T02:32:27.603Z · EA · GW

I doubt it will ever be a standard procedure in every opinion piece.

 

Meaning you think there is a 95% chance that within five years, it won't be the case that The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post will include a quantitative, testable forecast in at least one fifth of their collective articles? 

...Just kidding. Thanks for the well-written and illuminating answer.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on AMA: Tom Chivers, science writer, science editor at UnHerd · 2021-03-12T21:03:49.961Z · EA · GW

Why don't more journalists make concrete, verifiable, quantitative forecasts and then retrospectively assess their own accuracy, like you did here (also see more examples)? Is there anything that could be done to encourage you and other journalists to do more of that?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Don't Be Bycatch · 2021-03-12T20:57:33.360Z · EA · GW

Similar to "Effective Altruism is Not a Competition"

Comment by Peter_Hurford on How to make people appreciate asynchronous written communication more? · 2021-03-11T16:37:13.254Z · EA · GW

What is wrong with recording the audio?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on EA Funds is more flexible than you might think · 2021-03-11T04:00:08.647Z · EA · GW

That's great to hear - I did not know that

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Total Funding by Cause Area · 2021-03-10T01:57:25.348Z · EA · GW

Do you feel that the numbers I'm using are misrepresentative? I will do my best to address limitations below.


You might be able to use donation data from the EA Survey, to better capture individual EA giving.

One issue is that a lot of these areas have very large individual donors that aren't captured by these statistics or even in the EA Survey - for example, there is an individual donor who gives about the same annual amount to animal welfare as all of OpenPhil. (But then of course, there is also the question of who counts as "EA".)

~

Do you disagree in general with the strategy of allocating my personal donations on the basis of where I expect to differ the most from the community regarding #1?

I imagine your personal views about the difference in the value of cause areas will dominate this, given that causes might be 10x different whereas these gaps are only 5x at most.

Also I think the choice of what you are funding within each cause also matters a lot.

I think this approach makes sense from a neglectedness standpoint, though I am worried that it wouldn't account for neglectedness outside of EA and neglectedness within cause. I'm not sure if this makes sense from a donor collaboration/coordination/cooperation standpoint, given that it seems like you are deliberately offsetting other people's donations.

"Cause area" is also a pretty weird/arbitrary unit of analysis if you think about it.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on How many hits do the hits of different EA sites get each year? · 2021-03-09T08:25:09.260Z · EA · GW

"Is EA Growing? EA Growth Metrics for 2018" has some data on this, and I look forward to doing it again for 2019-2020

Comment by Peter_Hurford on EA Funds is more flexible than you might think · 2021-03-05T21:32:38.626Z · EA · GW

How do you feel about there being very few large institutional donors in effective altruism? This seems like it could be a good thing as it allows specialization and coordination, but also could be bad because it means if a particular person doesn't like you, you may just be straight up dead for funding. It also may be bad for organizations to have >80% of their funding come from one or two sources.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Retention in EA - Part III: Retention Comparisons · 2021-02-07T04:32:29.478Z · EA · GW

Don't forget the 2018 EA Survey analysis  that suggests a ~40%  EA drop out rate after 4-5 years.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Money Can't (Easily) Buy Talent · 2021-01-25T17:07:07.839Z · EA · GW

I do not yet know of any research that is the result of your recent hiring that actually seems useful to me (which is not very surprising, it's not been very long!). 


Yes, naturally that would take more than two months to produce!

~

I also think Rethink Priorities is tapping into a talent funnel that was built by other people, and is very much not buying talent "on the open market" so to speak.

I'd dispute that on two counts:

1.) I do think we have been able to acquire talent that would not have been otherwise counterfactually acquired by other organizations. For the clearest example, Luisa Rodriguez applied to a fair number of EA organizations and was turned down - she was then hired by us, and now has gone on to work with Will Macaskill and will soon be working for 80,000 Hours. Other examples are also available though I'd avoid going into too much detail publicly to respect the privacy of my employees. We also are continuing to invest on further developing talent pipelines across cause areas and think our upcoming internship program will be a big push in this direction.

2.) Even if we concede that we are using a talent funnel created by other people, I don't think it is a bad thing. There still is a massive oversupply of junior researchers who could potentially do good work, and a massive undersupply of open roles with available mentorship and management. I think anything Rethink Priorities could be doing to open more slots for researchers is a huge benefit to the talent pipeline even if we aren't developing the earlier part of the recruitment funnel from scratch (though I do think we are working on that to some extent).

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Money Can't (Easily) Buy Talent · 2021-01-24T19:24:07.484Z · EA · GW

I think Rethink Priorities is a very clear counterexample.

We were able to spend money to "buy" many longtermist researchers, some of which would not have counterfactually worked in the area. Plus our hiring round data indicates that there are many more such people out there that we could hire, if only we weren't funding constrained.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-17T07:06:47.899Z · EA · GW

Yes, I think all the things you mentioned are projects that are "within the scope" of RP (not that we would necessarily do them). We see our scope as being very broad so that we can always do the highest impact projects.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-17T03:27:53.043Z · EA · GW

Yeah, our broader theory of change is mostly (but not entirely) based on improving the output of the EA movement, and having the EA movement push out from there.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-16T23:12:50.588Z · EA · GW

Just want to say that Rethink Priorities is committed to being able to successfully integrate remote Australians and we'd be excited to have more APAC applicants in our future hiring rounds!

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-16T21:36:02.479Z · EA · GW

Hey EdoArad, it looks like you posted a lot of these questions twice and the questions have been answered elsewhere.Here are some answers to the questions I don't think were posted twice:

~

These categories seem to have some overlapping but different research methodologies and needed skillsets in use. Say, work that more estimation based on gathering quantitative evidence, philosophical work that draws from academic moral philosophy or building world-models from pieces of qualitative evidence. Do you have a model for a categorization for different types of research?

We do not currently have a model for that.

~

How do you expect work on "Big considerations" to propagate? e.g, in the case of invertebrate sentience, did you have an explicit audience in mind and a resulting ToC?

In the case of invertebrate sentience, our audience would be the existing EA-aligned animal welfare movement and big funders, such as Open Philanthropy and the EA Animal Welfare Fund. I hope that if we can demonstrate the cause area is viable and tractable, we might be able to find new funding opportunities and start moving money to them. The EA Animal Welfare Fund has already started giving money to some invertebrate welfare projects this year and I think our research was a part of those decisions.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-16T21:35:34.000Z · EA · GW

I'm not sure what other groups you have in mind, but I'll answer this with regard to longtermism-oriented EA-affiliated research groups.

We've collaborated a lot with the Future of Humanity Institute and the Forethought Foundation and have even shared staff and research projects with them on occasion. We have also talked some with people at Global Priorities Institute and other organizations.

I'd guess right now the biggest bottleneck is just finding ways to get more researchers working on these most important questions. There's a lot more talent out there than there are spots open. More funding would help, but we also need more management and mentorship capacity.

I'm optimistic that our internship program will be a help for this, but it is still funding constrained.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-16T21:34:37.534Z · EA · GW

I'm not really sure what is included in the scope of "prioritization research". One thing we definitely do not do and very likely will never do, and that I am glad others do is technical AI safety research.

Other than that, I think pretty much anything in longtermism could be fair game for Rethink Priorities at some point.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-15T19:52:42.429Z · EA · GW

I think it would always be good to have more senior researchers, but they seem rather hard to find. Right now, my personal view is that the best way to build senior researchers is to hire and train mid-level or junior-level researchers. We hope to keep doing this with our past hires, existing hires, and our upcoming intern program.

If you're interested in funding researcher talent development, I think funding our intern program is a very competitive opportunity.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-15T19:43:24.690Z · EA · GW

This is not a satisfying answer but right now I think the longtermist effort with the highest expected value is spending time trying to figure out what longtermist efforts we should prioritize.

I also think we should spend a lot more resources on figuring out if and how much we can expect to reliably influence the long-term future, as this could have a lot of impact on our strategy (such as becoming less longtermist or more focused on broad longtermism or more focused on patient longtermism, etc.).

I don't have a third thing yet, but both of these projects we are aiming to do within Rethink Priorities.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-15T19:41:26.062Z · EA · GW

Hi Jonas,

Since we last posted our longtermism budget, we've raised ~$89,500 restricted to longtermism for 2021 (with the largest being the grant recommendation from the Survival and Flourishing Fund). This means we will enter 2021 with ~$121K restricted to longtermism not yet spent. Overall, we'd like to raise an additional $403K-$414K for longtermist work by early 2021.

For full transparency - note that, if necessary, we may also choose to use unrestricted funds on longtermism and that this is not factored into these numbers. We currently have ~$273K in unrestricted funds, though we will likely have non-longtermism things we will need to spend this money on.

Given that we are currently just raising money to cover the salaries of our existing longtermist staff (including operations support) as well as start an longtermism intern program, we expect we will be able to deploy longtermist money quickly. We also have a large talent pool of longtermist researchers we likely could hire this year if we ended up with even more longtermism money.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-15T19:30:50.219Z · EA · GW

Hi Vaidehi,

What kind of research do you plan on doing to answer these questions?

I will be working on both of these projects with David Moss. Our plan is to run surveys of the general public that describe EA (or longtermism) and ask questions to gauge how people view the message. We'd then experimentally change the message to explore how different framings change support, with the idea that messages that engender more support on the survey are likely to be more successful overall. For EA messaging, we'd furthermore look at support broken down by different demographics to see if there are more inclusive messages out there. We did a similar project we did for animal welfare messaging on live shackle slaughter, which you can look at to get a sense of what we do. We also have a lot of unpublished animal welfare messaging work we're eager to get out there as soon as we can.

~

Did you consider other areas of EA movement building apart from messaging before choosing this one, and if so how did you narrow down your options?

As you know, we do run the EA Survey and Local Groups Survey. Right now, our main goal is to stay within analysis of EA movement building rather than work to directly build the movement like other groups (e.g., CEA, 80K, GWWC, TLYCS) already do. We see these messaging studies as a good next step. However, we have not systematically compared opportunities yet as we don't have the staff or funding right now to do such a search.

~

Do you see general EA messaging as part of your longtermist focus, or is this a separate category?

We see these as separate projects in separate cause areas, though there will definitely be a lot of cross-cause learning. Note that we also do this for farmed animal welfare as well and may also do so in wild animal welfare in the near future. It is a very useful thing to do for all sorts of causes!

~

Either ways, how do you figure out how to allocate resources to this movement building-related efforts? 

Right now we just have allocated funding from restricted funding and a portion of our unrestricted funding. We will also likely fundraise for this work specifically from interested donors.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-15T19:17:03.864Z · EA · GW

I also think having a co-Executive Director is great. As Marcus said, we complement each other very well -- Marcus is more meticulous and detail-oriented than me, whereas I tend to be more "visionary". I definitely think we need both.

We also share responsibilities and handle disagreements very well, and we have a trusted tie-breaking system. We've thought a few times about whether this merits splitting into CEO / COO or something similar and it hasn't ever made as much sense as our current system.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-15T19:09:52.668Z · EA · GW

Hi Neel,

We'd obviously be very excited to take 10x our budget if you're offering ;)

Right now, 10x our budget would be ~$14M, which would still be 8x smaller than large think tanks like the Brookings Institution. I think if we had 10x the budget, the main thing we would do is expand our research staff as rapidly as non-financial constraints (e.g., management, operations, and team culture) allow.

There are definitely many more areas of research we could be working in, both within our existing cause areas (currently farmed animal welfare, wild animal welfare, invertebrate welfare, longtermism, and EA movement building) and other cause areas we aren't working in yet. We'd also need more operations staff and management to facilitate this.

As for specific research questions, I think we have a much clearer vision of what we would do with 2x the money than 10x the money. I personally (speaking for myself not the rest of the org) would love to see us hire staff to work more directly on farmed animal welfare policy and to investigate meat alternatives, do much more to understand EA community health and movement building, do more fundamental research (e.g., like our work on moral weight and investigating well-being metrics), and potentially investigate new charities that could be launched (similar to CE's work). But that is just a wishlist and it would change as I talk to more people.

We're already working a lot to prioritize what questions we want to tackle - our longtermist and wild animal departments, for example, just recently expanded beyond one person and we're in the process of making new research agendas, so it is hard to recommend ideas in those areas right now. 

One benefit of hiring more people, though, is we'd have more people to do the important work of figuring out what it is we should do!

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA) · 2020-12-15T19:01:17.160Z · EA · GW

Hi Arushi,

I am very hopeful the internship program will let us identify, take on, and train many more staff than we could otherwise and then either hire them directly or be able to recommend them to other organizations.

While I am wary of recommending unpaid labor (that's why our internship is paid), I otherwise think one of the best ways for a would-be researcher to distinguish themselves is writing a thoughtful and engaging EA Forum post. I've seen a lot of great hires distinguish themselves like this.

Other than open more researcher jobs and internships, I think other EA orgs could perhaps contribute by writing advice and guides about research processes or by offering more "behind the scenes" content on how different research is. done.

Lastly, in my personal opinion, I think we should also do more to create an EA culture where people don't feel like the only way they can contribute is as a researcher. I think the role gets a lot more glamor than it deserves and many people can contribute a lot from earning to give, working in academia, working in politics, working in a non-EA think tank, etc.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on "Patient vs urgent longtermism" has little direct bearing on giving now vs later · 2020-12-09T22:19:51.840Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing the post I wanted to have written

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Long-Term Future Fund: Ask Us Anything! · 2020-12-04T02:18:37.600Z · EA · GW

What crucial considerations and/or key uncertainties do you think the EA LTF fund operates under?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Long-Term Future Fund: Ask Us Anything! · 2020-12-04T02:18:08.087Z · EA · GW

What do you think has been the biggest mistake by the LTF fund (at least that you can say publicly)?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Long-Term Future Fund: Ask Us Anything! · 2020-12-04T02:17:39.378Z · EA · GW

What are you not excited to fund?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Long-Term Future Fund: Ask Us Anything! · 2020-12-04T02:17:23.771Z · EA · GW

What are you excited to fund?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on What is the impact of the Nuclear Ban Treaty? · 2020-12-02T15:36:20.740Z · EA · GW

You may be interested in "Will the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons affect nuclear deproliferation through legal channels?" by Luisa Rodriguez, then at Rethink Priorities.

Rethink Priorities recently hired a new researcher, Michael Aird, who will resume work on looking into this treaty.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Which EA organisations' research has been useful to you? · 2020-11-16T23:50:40.932Z · EA · GW

I'm optimistic that we at Rethink Priorities will be able to convince you that we have a "clear path from research to real world output" if you give us a chance over the next few weeks

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Nathan Young's Shortform · 2020-10-27T18:07:58.328Z · EA · GW

We are definitely planning on doing this kind of research, likely sometime in 2021.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections · 2020-10-26T14:26:06.724Z · EA · GW

 What I can say is that I'm confident that the suggestions we've offered a) will be helpful rather than harmful and b) are substantially better than just randomly signing up for a volunteer opportunity.

 

I agree that's totally fair! And I appreciate you doing that work.

As a side note, you seem to have a lot more faith in the efficient markets hypothesis as it applies to organizational behavior than I do! I don't think I have ever encountered an institutional ecosystem that was unburdened by poor strategic thinking, inefficient legacy practices, and failure to coordinate complementary or duplicative efforts. In that regard, I've actually been pleasantly surprised with how high-functioning the progressive organizing space seems to be on the whole.

I'm not sure this is a side note... this might be the main crux of our disagreement!

My prior is that a team of smart non-experts uncovering some large tactical error in large well-funded groups that are highly incentivized to not have errors of that type is certainly possible and actually quite achievable, but probably takes on the order of >4K hours of work. I also think it is easy to think you have found an error that is not in fact an error. I'm not sure how much time you've spent on this?

I do have massive uncertainty about how true the efficient market hypothesis is, for a variety of domains.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections · 2020-10-16T05:43:27.764Z · EA · GW

Perhaps you are right, but my outside view would suggest some skepticism that professional campaigns haven't identified these winning techniques that you have. Perhaps they have some reason for doubting them?

Relatedly, do you worry about optimizers curse when identifying top opportunities?

(FWIW my personal experience does suggest campaigns can be shortsighted at times... I recall volunteering for Hillary in 2016 and spending an unfortunate amount of volunteer time being directed to make calls in Iowa)

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections · 2020-10-16T05:42:15.186Z · EA · GW

I agree it is definitely not a neglected issue but [per this table](https://mediaproject.wesleyan.edu/releases-101520/#table5) there is still definitely room for Dems to increase their advantage... some races (e.g., GA, MI) aren't even 2-to-1 in favor of Dems yet.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections · 2020-10-16T02:40:49.293Z · EA · GW

The best volunteer opportunities we've seen in terms of cost-effectiveness cash out to the equivalent of about a $150-200/hr rate if you were going to donate that money to our top recommendations instead

I find that very surprising! Couldn't a campaign hire a person to do these top volunteering opportunities for ~$20/hr? Presumably that would cap the value of volunteering at ~$20/hr?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Getting money out of politics and into charity · 2020-10-16T01:49:37.709Z · EA · GW

matching a pair of opposing campaigns and sending the money to a less-controversial charity instead.

It does assume the two campaigns will use money equally effectively, which may well be false.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections · 2020-10-16T01:16:15.993Z · EA · GW

What do you see as the case for political volunteering, as opposed to trying to use time to earn/save money to donate more instead?

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections · 2020-10-16T01:14:27.173Z · EA · GW

Estimates suggest investing in these techniques will be roughly 8 to 10 times as cost-effective as donating to the Biden campaign, with the potential to net hundreds of thousands of votes across key states.

Can you offer more detail on this? I would probably consider donating to it if I understood it better.

Comment by Peter_Hurford on Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections · 2020-10-16T01:13:26.780Z · EA · GW

I'm pretty undecided on how to give to pro-Biden/Dem efforts (as well as undecided on how pro-Biden/Dem efforts compare to other opportunities), but I wanted to give a small amount (as I no longer earn-to-give), so here is my giving:

My top idea right now is this campaign, that put together by a strong EA-aligned progressive-aligned data scientist with strong expertise in helping Democrats win and seems like a better bet than solely focusing on Theresa Greenfield. I haven't vetted it but I put $250 for it based on my intuition. (EDIT: I notice you mentioned this in your post, so I guess we'd either have to agree to disagree or have a longer discussion. My guess is that your analysis may be missing marginal media market costs?)

Worth keeping in mind that (as you probably know) due to FCC rules, donating directly to candidates seems like a stronger bet than donating to any other PAC, because candidates (a) get guaranteed minimum advertising rates and (b) get direct access to the candidate (more persuasive).

An honorable mention is this ad campaign, which feels strong and is also backed by strong message testing by people with a good track record for this sort of thing. I donated $100 to it.

I also think state legislature races are important, so I donated $100 to this impact-focused list that was also put together by people with a strong track record of putting together this sort of thing.

I like the idea of flipping Texas, so I donated to the Swing Left campaign for it. I don't know how that compares to Lone Star Votes or the Princeton Election Consortium. I also don't know the track record of Swing Left. This is the idea I feel least confident about, so I only donated $50.

Of course I also donated $100 to Biden directly following the logic that due to campaign finance and FCC rules, it is good for small donor individuals to donate directly to candidates.

And I gave $10 to ActBlue for facilitating all of the above.

Ideally I would've liked to have done more research and focused more money on one campaign I feel best about (and to have donated more money overall), but I don't think I'll ever get to that point, thus this scattershot giving approach.

(Obvious disclaimer: These are purely personal opinions and doesn't reflect any policy or position of Rethink Priorities.)