Comment by redmoonsoaring on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-16T17:37:53.436Z · EA · GW

That seems right, but I might be more inclined to push back against this kind of norm. I find on Reddit that I can be quite straightforward and brief, and people don't downvote based on their interpretation of the feelings of the commenter. I would like to encourage that sort of norm on the EAF, rather than the norms that (as I see! and I could be wrong) focus on excessive positivity towards established views of the community as it currently stands.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-13T16:43:34.642Z · EA · GW

That sounds right to me and seems consistent with my original comment.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-13T16:40:59.231Z · EA · GW

Thank you. I was just estimating PhDs based on their bios.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-13T16:40:35.301Z · EA · GW

Thank you. I was just estimating PhDs based on their bios.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-13T16:39:13.509Z · EA · GW

That sounds broadly correct, but just for clarification, my question was about capacity-building impact, not current spending and research output. For example, RP funding contributes to the research experience of their staff, and RP staff might be considerably less likely to stay in the animal welfare cause area than researchers at other animal charities. So there might be more spillover of this long-term impact than is reflected in the current budget breakdown.

This is especially likely if RP itself shifts its funding allocation in the future.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-12T17:00:31.751Z · EA · GW

RP seems to err more towards quantity of research over quality than other organizations. Is this your impression as well? Is this a conscious decision? Do you think other EA research organizations should also steer in that direction, or does it reflect RP's niche?

For example, Global Priorities Institute seems to prioritize high-quality research that will help garner momentum for longtermist work in academia, such as journal articles published by PhDs (compare to RP's large number of blog post research and having, I believe, only one PhD on staff (edit: according to MichaelStJules, there are 2 PhDs on staff)). Of course work in peer-reviewed journals with academic training might not necessarily reflect higher quality, so I know this hinges on one's view of the various metrics of "quality" we have available.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on We're Rethink Priorities. AMA. · 2019-12-12T16:55:19.382Z · EA · GW

How do you think about your role as a research organization working across different cause areas?

Personally, I have considered donating to Rethink Priorities. But I care a lot about capacity-building with organizations, so I tend to donate to the other animal welfare EA research organizations such as Animal Charity Evaluators and Sentience Institute. My impression is that while RP is currently focused on animal welfare, a substantial part of the impact of my donations might spillover too much into cause areas that are personally less of a priority to me, such as x-risk and global poverty.

Of course there may be benefits to working across different cause areas, such as the ability to learn methodologies and data from one issue that have relevance to another. So it's not at all clear how this shakes out, even for supporters who focus on one cause area. What do you think?

Comment by redmoonsoaring on An integrated model to evaluate the impact of animal products · 2019-01-10T17:35:46.124Z · EA · GW

>>There is also more optimism about farm animal lives coming from farmers, who are more familiar with them than anyone else.

I believe this familiarity is a much weaker factor than the bias farmers have to think of themselves as ethical and to justify the industry they work in.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Animal Welfare Fund AMA · 2019-01-10T17:32:57.190Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the comment. I didn't reply because I had hoped other Animal Welfare Fund representatives would respond to the substance of the concern (concentration of power). I don't think we need critics of ACE on the fund committee. I simply believe it would be beneficial to have less concentration of funding in the two entities of ACE and OpenPhil. I believe this is a concern even if one believes ACE and OpenPhil are competent.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Animal Welfare Fund AMA · 2018-12-19T19:04:02.121Z · EA · GW

Quite a few people in the animal welfare and EA spaces are concerned that the two parties ACE and OpenPhil, i.e., ACE staff and Lewis Bollard, control the vast majority of funding in the EAA space, and a very large portion of funding in the farm animal space as a whole.

I had hoped that expanding the Animal Welfare Fund to a committee would address this concern, but 3/4 members are with either ACE or OpenPhil. This seems especially disappointing given criticisms of ACE in the EAA community: 1 ,2 , and 3 .

Why were more non-ACE/non-OpenPhil members not added, and are there plans to diversify in the future?

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Problems with EA representativeness and how to solve it · 2018-08-10T15:23:29.937Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the explanation. I still believe the 2017 and 2018 animal welfare and global poverty line-ups left a lot to be desired, but those years might have been better than 2016 at least in the choice of keynote speaker.

Maybe there could be more transparency in regards to the advisory board, because without knowing those details, I don't know how to evaluate the situation. I do feel concern from CEA's history that the advisory board may favor people with close ties to CEA rather than actual meaningful representation from those fields. But I can't be confident in that without knowing the details.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Fish used as live bait by recreational fishermen · 2018-08-10T12:01:32.395Z · EA · GW

This EA Forum post might be a really good example of how EAs interested in blogging and research can support Open Philanthropy Project. If you have any other ideas for topics like this, Lewis, sharing them could help other EAs help you in other ways.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Problems with EA representativeness and how to solve it · 2018-08-08T02:37:50.360Z · EA · GW

On the topic of Effective Altruism Global, I'm not just concerned about the lower representation of non-x-risk cause areas, but also the speaker selection for those cause areas. In 2016 as an example, the main animal welfare speaker was a parrot intelligence researcher who seemed, I'm sorry to say this, uninformed about animal welfare, even of birds. I think the animal welfare speakers over the years have been more selected for looking cool to the organizers (who didn't know much about animal welfare) and/or increasing speaker demographic diversity (Not that this is a bad thing, but it's unhelpful to just get diversity in one cause area.), instead of actually having the leading experts on EA and animal welfare.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA · 2017-10-27T13:39:43.701Z · EA · GW

I think thoughtful, rationality-focused people (not just EA, but even, say, young software engineers) can often outperform the average 'expert,' with expertise measured by traditional credentials like having a PhD. There are many biases that pervade academia and other fields (e.g. publication bias, status quo bias, publish or perish incentives), and thoughtful people have often done a lot more than traditional experts to understand and overcome these biases. They also get the benefit of going into a field without as many preconceptions and personal investments, allowing them to better synthesize the literature in a less-biased way.

I don't have many examples on hand (and would really like if someone else can provide them), but I feel there's a solid track record of a thoughtful, rationality-focused person disagreeing strongly with traditional experts. Only two are coming to mind right now:

One is Eliezer Yudkowsky, a self-educated blogger, advocating for a focus on safety in the AI community that most traditional AI experts thought was crazy, but now the traditional AI community has shifted heavily towards Yudkowsky.

Another one is the Superforecasters discussed by Phil Tetlock doing very well at predicting future events (e.g. whether there will be a civil war in a certain country), despite traditional experts doing little better than chance.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Hard-to-reverse decisions destroy option value · 2017-03-27T17:48:25.350Z · EA · GW

For what it's worth, I do agree that's where most of the value comes from, though I think the value is much lower than the value of similar empirical/bold writing, at least for this example.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Hard-to-reverse decisions destroy option value · 2017-03-18T17:38:04.677Z · EA · GW

While I see some value in detailing commonly-held positions like this post does, and I think this post is well-written, I want to flag my concern that it seems like a great example of a lot of effort going into creating content that nobody really disagrees with. This sort of armchair qualified writing doesn't seem to me like a very cost-effective use of EA resources, and I worry we do a lot of it, partly because it's easy to do and gets a lot of positive social reinforcement, to a much greater degree than empirical bold writing tends to get.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on The 2015 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis · 2016-07-31T17:26:15.993Z · EA · GW

I agree with the caveat that the $333 figure is much less worrisome if it's due to a high number of student or people working for nonprofits.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Being a tobacco CEO is not quite as bad as it might seem · 2016-06-05T11:20:59.955Z · EA · GW


Comment by redmoonsoaring on MFA Ad Study Targeting Former Vegetarians · 2016-05-10T03:35:48.806Z · EA · GW

I think the difference in cost per pledge could also be from a large number of existing vegetarians who just wanted the additional information. Also the former vegetarians probably consumed fewer animal foods, which would make converting one to vegetarianism less impactful.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Being a tobacco CEO is not quite as bad as it might seem · 2016-01-31T02:52:47.430Z · EA · GW

The lives saved by [sic] AMD occur early in life, so AMF saves about 60 QALYs per life.

I'm not sure why people use this estimate, given that the effect of anti-malarial nets is primarily on avoiding the disease itself, the grief of family members, economic costs, and other downsides of having malaria, rather than on creating more years of happy life. This is because population tends to adjust for the death rate, i.e. "I think the best interpretation of the available evidence is that the impact of life-saving interventions on fertility and population growth varies by context, above all with total fertility, and is rarely greater than 1:1."

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Notice what arguments aren't made (but don't necessarily go and make them) · 2016-01-25T18:46:58.774Z · EA · GW

I'd say it belongs in the former because it strongly "flatters a large share of readers." Namely, by saying they are better than most other people =P Of course, that's a controversial form of flattering, which is why the 79% upvote makes sense.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Effective Altruism Outreach winter fundraiser · 2015-12-11T21:04:00.500Z · EA · GW

Another reason this claim could be false (which seems more worrisome to me):

Most of the effective altruism movement's success to date has involved helping people already inspired to do good effectively to do it somewhat better, especially by providing a community for them. On Facebook, polls have shown most current EAs immediately latched onto the idea, sought it out on their own, and/or were already working to do the most good.

We have a fairly limited track record of convincing people to do EA things when they weren't otherwise going to do anything close. It's possible that EA just is a very hard thing to get many more people involved with beyond the low-hanging fruit we've already captured or would capture without additional resources put into outreach.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on How important is marginal earning to give? · 2015-05-20T01:04:06.611Z · EA · GW

It's pretty hard to get funding for a new organization, e.g. Spencer and I put a lot of effort into it without much success. The general problem I see is a lack of "angel investing" or its equivalent–the idea of putting money into small, experimental organizations and funding them further as they grow.

I agree with this. Moreover, I think there's a serious lack of funding in the 'fringe' areas of EA like biosecurity, systemic change in global poverty, rationality training, animal rights, or personal development. These areas arguably have the greatest impact, but it's difficult to attract the major funders.

For example, I think the Swiss EA groups are quite funding-constrained, but they aren't well-known to the major funders and movement-building lacks robust evidence.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on How valuable is movement growth? · 2015-05-17T18:25:06.291Z · EA · GW

Just to be clear, my comment was disagreeing with this claim:

In addition, veg*nism is associated with strong negative judgements of people.

But to your questions, there's not very robust evidence in either direction that I know of. And I think there's an important distinction between defensiveness and negativity. An example to illustrate this is military service. Most people think highly of military people, but would react with great defensiveness if you suggested they had a moral obligation to join the military. If veganism is similar, then we might expect that people would be excited about a high number of military people in EA but would only become defensive if you brought it up as a moral obligation.

More importantly, however, EA brings up a lot of moral obligations. I mean, donating 10% of your income is pretty widespread, as is being willing to reject your current altruistic endeavors if they're ineffective. I rarely see anyone in EA bring up concerns about these things being offputting, but it comes up almost every time veg*nism is discussed. I think this is an example of motivated reasoning.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on How valuable is movement growth? · 2015-05-17T18:16:02.940Z · EA · GW

It doesn't seem to me that the proportion of vegans with that approach is higher in communities around EA than in other communities. They don't seem particularly vocal either. I could be wrong.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on How valuable is movement growth? · 2015-05-17T05:39:34.791Z · EA · GW

In addition, veg*nism is associated with strong negative judgements of people. It prompts massive defensiveness and rationalisation on the part of meat eaters for this reason. To the extent that EA is associated with veg*nism, that'll bleed over.

Actually, data suggests most people have positive associations of veg*nism. EA actually seems to have some of the most negativity towards veg*nism that I've seen.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on You are a Lottery Ticket · 2015-05-13T14:11:42.827Z · EA · GW

Since so much luck is involved in start-up success, does that mean we might be too focused on creating better EAs when we should be focused more on just creating more EAs? This could apply more broadly than just start-ups, to things like politics, academia, or other forms of influence. Maybe we just need a shotgun approach.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on How to save more lives today than in a year of earn-to-give · 2015-05-13T06:51:33.371Z · EA · GW

Thus, I propose we build an epic list of every relevant group at every top university and in the world in general.

This seems like it could be automated. I think I recall Students for Education Reform doing this via mass scraping of emails off websites to create chapters at many universities. I also think I recall THINK (The High Impact Network) did this as well.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis · 2015-03-18T01:06:58.987Z · EA · GW

It's worth noting there was also significant domain expertise on the survey team.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis · 2015-03-17T20:01:08.448Z · EA · GW

we know it included people who said they not heard of the term.

People will say anything on surveys. Many respondents go through clicking randomly. You can write a question that says, "Please answer C," and >10% of respondents will still click something other than C.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on $10k of Experimental EA Funding · 2015-02-25T21:56:46.014Z · EA · GW

The example projects link is not working. Thanks!

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Animal Charity Evaluators is hiring · 2015-02-16T18:13:11.556Z · EA · GW

I think they would do this if they had more funding. Not sure if they have enough this year, but maybe next year.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on Supportive scepticism in practice · 2015-01-16T02:48:52.091Z · EA · GW

Great comment! Coming from a background of more mainstream altruistic circles, I've found appearing confident and avoiding hedging is an important aspect of leadership and inspiring others to join me in my goals.

I think one resolution for this trade-off is to adjust based on the subject matter. When making certain basic claims (e.g. the importance of the far future, giving a public speech about effective altruism), we might want to err on the side of confidence, but when making more tenuous claims (e.g. regarding the effectiveness of Against Malaria Foundation versus the effectiveness of GiveDirectly), we might want to err on the side of hedging.

Another resolution is to try to come off as both confident and hedging. This is easier in person when we can communicate confidence with our tone and body language, but hedge with our language. It seems difficult to pull off online.

I'd be interested in hearing other ways to best handle this tradeoff.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on The Privilege of Earning To Give · 2015-01-16T02:38:07.209Z · EA · GW

Additionally, we live in a time when we have particularly great influence over the long-term direction of humanity, which is another aspect of this important privilege.

Comment by redmoonsoaring on The Privilege of Earning To Give · 2015-01-15T17:07:04.803Z · EA · GW

Good to hear this sort of discussion in the effective altruism community. One important privilege/unearned advantage that often goes unrecognized is time. We live in a time of where massive suffering from global poverty and factory farming is coupled with also massive stockpiles of resources, which allows us to be particularly helpful by commandeering these resources for ethical purposes through earning to give, accumulating power and influence, or other means. I greatly admire all who recognize this privilege and take it upon themselves to make use of it.