How do EAs deal with having a "weird" appearance? 2021-11-07T00:49:24.700Z
AMA: We organize EA Anywhere. Ask Us Anything! 2021-08-08T23:30:39.116Z
EA Anywhere: A Year in Review 2021-08-08T23:30:20.140Z
Animal product alternatives for-profit roles spot-check 2020-11-19T07:31:35.113Z
SamiM's Shortform 2020-09-28T16:40:19.059Z
Announcing: Progress Studies Reading Group 2020-08-30T10:14:41.915Z
Twenty Year Economic Impacts of Deworming 2020-08-22T00:40:00.135Z
Announcing the EA Virtual Group* 2020-06-25T22:02:16.516Z


Comment by SamiM on The FDA demanded my employer bury inconvenient clinical trial data. What should I do? · 2022-04-17T20:08:27.333Z · EA · GW

I'm guessing this was downvoted due to unclarity, maybe expand on what you mean?

Comment by SamiM on [Creative Writing Contest][Referral][Mostly Fiction] - The Parable of the Heartstone · 2021-09-17T19:30:12.186Z · EA · GW

I thought the parable was fine, but I greatly enjoyed the rest of the FAQ. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by SamiM on First vs. last name policies? · 2021-09-11T12:28:21.859Z · EA · GW

Just a note, Michelle has a Ph.D. so in the formal message, "Dr." would be more appropriate than "Ms." People usually have their credentials on Linkedin, so that information might be easy to find.

Comment by SamiM on AMA: We organize EA Anywhere. Ask Us Anything! · 2021-08-09T19:20:24.238Z · EA · GW

I guess it depends on the reason they’re isolated. And the more “expensive” interventions in terms of inconvenience to regulars should be weighted by the excepted gain. A proxy for that might be the number of isolated EAs.
Examples of interventions would be diversifying meetup times/locations if it’s due to time/location conflicts. It might be easier to test this by adding online events and comparing the number of new attendees.

Marisa mentioned that 1-1’s (with the organizers or other members) would also be beneficial and would reduce the awkwardness of joining a meetup where everyone but you knows each other.

Another idea might be to sponsor local groups by providing support or training, like how (I imagine) EA Philippines does to their local chapters. But seems easier for a country group to do this to a city/uni group, rather than a city group “sponsoring” another city.

Comment by SamiM on Is effective altruism growing? An update on the stock of funding vs. people · 2021-08-06T12:45:57.100Z · EA · GW

I think you're right. I guess I took Gwen's comment at face value and tried to figure out how development aid will look different due to the "huge implications", which was hard.

Comment by SamiM on Is effective altruism growing? An update on the stock of funding vs. people · 2021-08-05T16:04:10.210Z · EA · GW

Hey, I thought this discussion could use some data. I also added some personal impressions.

These are the results of the 2020 SSC survey.

For the question "How would you describe your opinion of the [sic] the idea of "human biodiversity", eg the belief that races differ genetically in socially relevant ways?"

20.8% answered 4 and 8.7% answered 5.

Where 1 is Very unfavorable and 5 is Very favorable

The answers look similar for 2019

Taking that at face value, 30% of Scott’s readers think favorably of “HBD”.

(I guess you could look at it as "80% of SSC readers fail to condemn scientific racism". But that doesn't strike me as charitable.)

 From the same survey, 13.6% identified as EAs, and 33.4% answered sorta EA.

I should mention that the survey has some nonsensical answers (IQs of 186, verbal SATs of 30). And it appears that many answers lean liberal (Identifying as liberals, thinking favorably of feminism, and more open borders, while thinking unfavorably of Trump.)

A while ago, Gwern wrote

“... If HBD is true, then all the existing correlational and longitudinal evidence immediately implies that group differences are the major reason why per capita income in the USA are 3-190x per capita income in Africa, that group differences are a major driver of history and the future, that intelligence has enormous spillovers totally ignored in all current analyses. This has huge implications for historical research, immigration policy (regression to the mean), dysgenics discussions (minor to irrelevant from just the individual differences perspective but long-term existential threat from HBD), development aid, welfare programs, education, and pretty much every single topic in the culture wars touching on 'sexism' or 'racism' where the supposedly iron-clad evidence is confounded or based on rational priors.”

I’m trying to imagine what global development charities EAs who believe HBD donate to, and I’m having a hard time.
Assuming this implies that some EAs (1-5%?) believe in this, I would reckon they're more focused on X-risks or animal welfare. (I don't think this is true anymore, see comment below) It would be helpful to see how the people who identify as EAs answered this question.

Finally, from Scott's email (which I think sharing is a horrible violation of privacy), the last sentence is emblematic of the attitude of lots of people in the community (including myself). My Goodreads contains lots of books I expect to disagree with or be offended by (Gyn/Ecology, The Bell Curve), but I still think it's important to look into them.

Valuing new insights sometimes means looking into things no one else would, and that has been very useful for the community (fish/insect welfare, longtermism). But unfortunately, one risk is that at least some people will come out believing (outrageously) wrong things. I think that is worth it.

On a personal note, I’m black, and a community organizer, and I haven't encountered anything but respect and love from the EA community.


Comment by SamiM on Jumping in Front of Bullets vs. Organ Donation · 2021-07-11T12:29:21.657Z · EA · GW

Edited for clarity

I can imagine such a low number if we're talking about posthumous donations. According to this, only 3/1000 people die in such a way that their organs are useful. When you add that to the fact that deceased organs are less good than living ones,  you can get something as low as this.

For example, this says that the QALY's from a deceased kidney is 4.31. If only 3/1000 donors have such kidneys, you get 0.013 QALY's. It will probably get higher when you account for all other organs. I should also mention that it's not clear if all organs are damaged equally, so a less naive estimate would be useful.

Comment by SamiM on Using Subjective Well-Being to Estimate the Moral Weights of Averting Deaths and Reducing Poverty · 2021-05-23T19:32:34.871Z · EA · GW

“Clark notes that while the evidence indicates there is, in general, a relative income effect, it's unclear how large it is and whether it functions differently for those in poverty, a topic which has not received much study.”


Hi Micheal, great post!
A tangential point I’m confused about.

I’m not sure if we should even account for negative community spillovers, especially if for example we had a taxonomy of different emotions that influence well-being, we wouldn’t count all those as part of our felicifc calculus if they are motivated by e.g. Jealousy. They would be “ill-grounded” An example would be whether or not to account for beliefs about women's inferiority in calculating the benefits (and costs) of suffrage, or disgust with blacks sharing pools when we’re deciding on desegregation. In those cases, I’m okay with ignoring ill-being based on these emotions. But I’m not sure how to deal with edge cases like this.

One way to go about it would be to hold a view where we judge emotions on the correctness of the beliefs they are based on. So in the misogyny and racism cases, the beliefs would be something like women being not smart enough to decide their leaders or that blacks are inherently dirty. And in the GiveDirectly case, we would be okay with the emotions if it’s based on the belief that higher wages for others in the community affect your own purchasing power. (I’m assuming this is true, but I’m not sure). But if the reduced SWB is caused by a false belief (e.g. their neighbors are unworthy), then I don't think we should count them. 
Note, that I'm mostly confused about the income spillover effects, the other ones you mention here (e.g. trust) strike me as less problematic.  I can also see how only counting "good" emotions and ignoring less positive ones, even if people spend equal amounts thinking them through, would lead to biased results.

Comment by SamiM on What are things everyone here should (maybe) read? · 2021-05-18T19:22:53.501Z · EA · GW

I might want to add Martha Nussbaum to this list. She is quite systemic and analytical while also engaging with a wide variety of philosophers (e.g. Aristotle, Marx, Mackinnon). Maybe Sex and Social Justice or Frontiers of Justice. (although I  haven't read the latter yet).

Comment by SamiM on What are things everyone here should (maybe) read? · 2021-05-18T19:13:56.406Z · EA · GW

Hey Max, there is no link to the McCloskey paper.

Comment by SamiM on [deleted post] 2021-04-21T23:02:46.388Z

Maybe merge (do we have merging?) with Open Borders.

EDIT: Although, I can see how they would be different in their fully fleshed-out forms.

Comment by SamiM on Open and Welcome Thread: March 2021 · 2021-04-04T20:57:02.355Z · EA · GW

Re #4, I found this, but I'm not sure if they're still active. If this doesn't work, you very welcome to join us at EA Anywhere.

Comment by SamiM on A brief look at reducing the efficiency of genocides · 2020-12-02T11:56:02.389Z · EA · GW

Hi, Nice post. I found this article and it had some criticism of the effect of the radio broadcasts.

It will be interesting to estimate the effect of genocide on future outcomes, like economic growth or political stability. For example, Somaliland, where the Isaaqs were killed, is currently more stable than other parts of Somalia, but that could be due to factors completely orthogonal to the genocide.

EDIT: I tried to find studies on the effects of genocide on the economy and a brief glance makes it seem that it's very bad. I also found an interesting report on Somaliland. It looks like the situation in Somalia was worse than in Somaliland, which might explain their differences, but I'm very uncertain and I haven't finished reading the report.

Comment by SamiM on Introducing High Impact Athletes · 2020-11-30T20:06:54.719Z · EA · GW

Hey Marcus, good job on taking the initiative!

I think we should keep in mind that if someone (an athlete in this example) was donating 5% to an average charity, and then was prompted by the pledge to merely give  2%, the difference in impact between charities might be enough to offset that.
Edit: I also endorse the option of giving more than 10%, it doesn't seem to have many downsides, and the benefits were highlighted by Benjamin.

Comment by SamiM on What music do you find most inspires you to use your resources (effectively) to help others? · 2020-11-22T12:17:53.390Z · EA · GW

I came across this playlist about the end of the world, might be of interest.

Comment by SamiM on What music do you find most inspires you to use your resources (effectively) to help others? · 2020-11-21T19:19:32.275Z · EA · GW

I don't think music affects my behavior a lot, but I really like this song.

Comment by SamiM on Things I Learned at the EA Student Summit · 2020-11-03T13:55:14.943Z · EA · GW

Hi Akash, great post. 
The link to the Nanda post isn't working. (It links back to your post)

for more about the benefits of blogging, see this post by Neel Nanda


Comment by SamiM on Nathan Young's Shortform · 2020-10-12T17:06:44.887Z · EA · GW

Yes, it's free.

Comment by SamiM on Prabhat Soni's Shortform · 2020-10-12T17:04:56.838Z · EA · GW

I just googled your question.

Here are the top 3 links.

Comment by SamiM on SamiM's Shortform · 2020-09-28T16:40:19.613Z · EA · GW

In Debiasing Decisions: Improved Decision Making With A Single Training Intervention they found that a 30-minute video reduced confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, and bias blind spot, by 19%.
The video is super cheesy, and that makes me suspicious.
It should be noted that playing a 60-minute "debiasing" game debiased people more than the video. 

The rest of this short form is random thoughts about debiasing.


I tried finding tests for these biases so that I can do it myself, but I didn't find any. This made me worry that we don't have standardized tests for biases, which strikes me as bad. Although I didn't spend too much time looking into it. (More on this here)

I don't think training people to reduce 3 biases a time is a good way to go, since we have 100s of biases. If we use a taxonomy of biases like Arkes (1991) (strategy-based, association-based, and psychophysical errors). maybe we could have three interventions for each type of bias? But it's not clear how you would teach people to avoid say association-based biases by lecturing about it.
You could nudge them in small ways. From Arkes (1991)

For example, subjects in their third study were presented with the story of David, a high school senior who had to choose between a small liberal arts college and an Ivy League university. Several of David's friends who were attending one of the two schools provided information that seemed to favor quite strongly the liberal arts college. However, a visit by David to each school provided him with contrary information. Should David rely on the advice of his many friends (a large sample) or on his own 1-day impressions of each school (a very small sample)? Other subjects were given the same scenario with the addition of a paragraph that made them "explicitly aware of the role of chance in determining the impression one may get from a small sample" (Nisbett et al., 1983, p. 353). Namely, David drew up a list for each school of the classes and activities that might interest him during his visit there, and then he blindly dropped a pencil on the list, choosing to do those things on the list where the pencil point landed. These authors found that if the chance factors that influenced David's personal evidence base were made salient in this way, subjects would be more likely to answer questions about the scenario in a probabilistic manner (i.e, rely on the large sample provided by many friends) than if the chance factors were not made salient. Such hints, rather than blatant instruction, can provide routes to a debiasing behavior in some problems

In Sedlmeier & Gigerenzer they taught people Bayes by using frequencies rather than probabilities. E,g. Instead of saying (1% of people use drugs and they test positive 80% of the time while non-users 5% of the time), you say From 1000 people, 10 use drugs, 8 drug users test positive, while 50 non-users test positive). 
It seems to work.

If it's really hard, we should target really bad, really harmful biases. 
From here

...many of the known predictors of conspiracy belief are alterable. One of these predictors is the tendency to make errors in logical and probabilistic reasoning (Brotherton & French, 2014), and another is the tendency toward magical thinking (e.g., Darwin et al., 2011; Newheiser et al., 2011; Stieger et al., 2013; Swami et al., 2011). It is not clear whether these tendencies can be corrected (Eckblad & Chapman, 1983; Peltzer, 2003), but evidence suggests that they can be reduced by training in logic and in probability specifically (e.g., Agnoli & Krantz, 1989; Sedlmeier & Gigerenzer, 2001). The current findings suggest that interventions targeting the automatic attribution of intentionality may be effective in reducing the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories.

Perhaps finding out which are the worst biases, and what are the best interventions for them are would be useful. But increasing the effectiveness of changing beliefs is potentially dangerous, so maybe not.

Comment by SamiM on Estimation of probabilities to get tenure track in academia: baseline and publications during the PhD. · 2020-09-21T19:49:54.746Z · EA · GW

This is helpful, thanks.

The information is probably here somewhere, but is that the probability of getting tenure given you finish your Ph.D.? I.e. Does this account for dropping out?

Somewhat tangential, but I think accounting for the chance of working on AI safety (or something comparably effective) outside of academia will help. I think this is more common in Economics (e.g. World Bank). But I guess OpenAI or similar institutions hire CS PhDs and working there possibly has a similar impact to working in academia.

Comment by SamiM on Tax Havens and the case for Tax Justice · 2020-09-18T20:39:41.750Z · EA · GW

Hey Alex, excellent post.

Two caveats:

(1) You said

Tax Justice Network is a highly effective charity: consider donating.

And then

Tax Justice Network is laying the foundation for developing countries to become self-sufficient. Based on their work on tax havens alone, TJN is a highly-effective charity. Once we consider their role in curbing illicit financial flows, we may see TJN rise to a top charity for poverty alleviation and governance.

I think there is a part missing in the middle, because I couldn't find an argument why TJN is a good place to donate except this part,

Tax Justice Network has started changing the narrative on tax havens. For example, in 2007, with help from TJN, The Guardian published the first major story on multinational tax avoidance

which doesn't strike me as a strong reason. Maybe I missed something?

(2) Did you make the table that ranks the interventions. (AEOI, UBO, CbCR)? If yes, can you provide details on the methodology?

Comment by SamiM on Is there a subfield of economics devoted to "fragility vs resilience"? · 2020-08-23T15:15:05.910Z · EA · GW

Oh, thanks, fixed it. Good catch. :)

Comment by SamiM on Is there a subfield of economics devoted to "fragility vs resilience"? · 2020-07-21T16:19:05.437Z · EA · GW

By the way, there also the Adam Rose definition of economic resilience:


In general, static economic resilience refers to the ability or capacity of a system to absorb or cushion against damage or loss... A more general definition that incorporates dynamic considerations, including stability, is the ability of a system to recover from a severe shock. We distinguish two types of resilience:
(1) inherent – ability under normal circumstances (e.g. the ability to substitute other inputs for those curtailed by an external shock, or the ability of markets to reallocate resources in response to price signals); and
 (2) adaptive – ability in crisis situations due to ingenuity or extra effort (e.g. increasing input substitution possibilities in individual business operations, or strengthening the market by providing information to match suppliers without customers to customers without suppliers).

There is some research on state fragility. When the government can’t monopolize violence, provide public goods, or tax its inhabitants, the country becomes vulnerable to all sorts of things from increased conflict to food shortages. The best resource I found on this is the "new climate for peace" website. Which has a suggested reading based on theme. There are four themes all related to climate change and conflict. [Natural] disasters, Urban risks, Migration, and Food security.

All of this ties back to the fact that the poor are more vulnerable to Climate change. And the multiple correlations between it and conflict, urbanization, etc.

More on this:

These videos by MiguelBlattmanCSISWBBrookings were useful.

Hsiang and Miguel have excellent papers on the topic.

Here are the abstracts some interesting papers.

Social and economic impacts of climate pdf

For centuries, thinkers have considered whether and how climatic conditions—such as temperature, rainfall, and violent storms—influence the nature of societies and the performance of economies. A multidisciplinary renaissance of quantitative empirical research is illuminating important linkages in the coupled climate-human system. We highlight key methodological innovations and results describing effects of climate on health, economics, conflict, migration, and demographics. Because of persistent “adaptation gaps,”current climate conditions continue to play a substantial role in shaping modern society, and future climate changes will likely have additional impact. For example, we compute that temperature depresses current U.S. maize yields by ~48%, warming since 1980 elevated conflict risk in Africa by ~11%, and future warming may slow global economic growth rates by ~0.28 percentage points per year. In general, we estimate that the economic and social burden of current climates tends to be comparable in magnitude to the additional projected impact caused by future anthropogenic climate changes. Overall, findings from this literature point to climate as an important influence on the historical evolution of the global economy, they should inform how we respond to modern climatic conditions, and they can guide how we predict the consequences of future climate changes.

Climate and Conflict pdf

We review the emerging literature on climate and conflict. We consider multiple types of human conflict, including both interpersonal conflict, such as assault and murder, and intergroup conflict, including riots and civil war. We discuss key methodological issues in estimating causal relationships and largely focus on natural experiments that exploit variation in climate over time. Using a hierarchical meta-analysis that allows us to both estimate the mean effect and quantify the degree of variability across 55 studies, we find that deviations from moderate temperatures and precipitation patterns systematically increase conflict risk. Contemporaneous temperature has the largest average impact, with each 1σ increase in temperature increasing interpersonal conflict by 2.4% and intergroup conflict by 11.3%. We conclude by highlighting research priorities, including a better understanding of the mechanisms linking climate to conflict, societies’ ability to adapt to climatic changes, and the likely impacts of future global warming.


Using annual data from the thirteenth century to the present, we show that improved long run economic performance has occurred primarily through a decline in the rate and frequency of shrinking, rather than through an increase in the rate of growing. Indeed, as economic performance has improved over time, the short run rate of growing has typically declined rather than increased. Most analysis of the process of economic development has hitherto focused on increasing the rate of growing. Here, we focus on understanding the forces making for a reduction in the rate of shrinking, drawing a distinction between proximate and ultimate factors. The main proximate factors considered are (1) structural change (2) technological change (3) demographic change and (4) the changing incidence of warfare. We conclude with a consideration of institutional change as the key ultimate factor behind the reduction in shrinking. 

Temperature extremes, global warming, and armed conflict: new insights from high resolution data  source

This paper contributes to the debate whether climate change and global warming cause conflicts by providing novel evidence about the role of extreme temperature events for armed conflict based on high frequency high-resolution data for the entire continent of Africa. The analysis of monthly data for 4826 grid cells of 0.75 latitude longitude over the period 1997–2015 documents a positive effect of the occurrence of temperature extremes on conflict incidence. These effects are larger the more severe the extremes in terms of duration, and are larger in highly densely populated regions, in regions with lower agricultural productivity, and in regions with more pronounced land degradation. The results also point towards heterogeneity of the effect with respect to the type of violence and the crucial role of population dynamics. Considering the consequences of increases in the frequency of extreme events in a long-differences analysis delivers evidence for a positive effect on conflict.

Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production pdf

...We show that overall economic productivity is non-linear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13 °C and declining strongly at higher temperatures. The relationship is globally generalizable, unchanged since 1960, and apparent for agricultural and non-agricultural activity in both rich and poor countries. These results provide the first evidence that economic activity in all regions is coupled to the global climate and establish a new empirical foundation for modelling economic loss in response to climate change, with important implications. If future adaptation mimics past adaptation, unmitigated warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by 2100 and widening global income inequality, relative to scenarios without climate change. In contrast to prior estimates, expected global losses are approximately linear in global mean temperature, with median losses many times larger than leading models indicate. 

More resources here (beware duplicates, sorry)

Also, business continuity planning can be relevant if you change corporations to states, but I'm not familiar with the literature therefore less certain. From Wikipedia:

“[it] is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations before and during execution of disaster recovery
An organization's resistance to failure is "the ability ... to withstand changes in its environment and still function". Often called resilience, it is a capability that enables organizations to either endure environmental changes without having to permanently adapt, or the organization is forced to adapt a new way of working that better suits the new environmental conditions.”

I bet urban design and climate change adaptation literature have something valuable to say about the topic.

EDIT: I added this later

Comment by SamiM on Announcing the EA Virtual Group* · 2020-06-26T21:00:14.197Z · EA · GW

Hey Ozzie,

The name is perhaps sup-optimal in communicating the purpose of the group, but it was better than the alternatives we considered.

I made this because there wasn’t a space for EAs who don’t t have access to local groups, not for all EAs. And if it gets too large, we could have subgroups.

The attendees will not be homogeneous, but I don’t think we will experience problems re differences in opinions and/or knowledge by a much greater degree than a local group might.

Thank you for taking the time to write this, any other considerations welcome.