Frugal living without sacrifice 2014-12-11T00:55:19.138Z


Comment by yboris on How accurately does anyone know the global distribution of income? · 2019-09-24T03:02:31.432Z · EA · GW

An interactive chart comparing incomes between and within countries:

Comment by yboris on Accomplishments Open Thread - August 2016 · 2016-08-03T02:47:56.709Z · EA · GW

I've been primarily focused on improving my programming skills this month. Two small EA-related contributions are helping Intentional Insights (InIn) with creating designs for bumper stickers promoting charitable giving, and creating a website for Theron Pummer, a lecturer in philosophy at St Andrews University who promotes effective giving

Comment by yboris on Promoting Effective Giving at Conferences via Speed Giving Games · 2016-07-30T22:35:45.276Z · EA · GW

Thank you for being so transparent: writing up your thoughts, plans, costs, execution, and results. I suspect this article will help others think through and plan similar events.

At Rutgers University, our local Giving What We Can chapter has run the Giving Games several times during the annual Rutgers Day (sorry we never wrote about it). Our situation is slightly different: as a University club we get the table for free, and have dozens of people stop by (larger audience). Unfortunately, the crowd isn't as well-targeted as in your case; but as a plus-side, i's very local, and the table is run by members of the club which I think is generally rewarding for them (at least it was for me).

I hope more university clubs take advantage of this inviting and potentially very educational way of tabling!

Comment by yboris on Accomplishments Open Thread - March 2016 · 2016-03-07T02:11:11.715Z · EA · GW

Thank you Gleb for encouraging of sharing; I find it inspiring to read what others have done. It particularly helps as I'm no longer interacting with other effective altruists in person.

I don't have much to report other than my continued adherence to my 10% Giving What We Can pledge and my first step (of starting learning) last week towards becoming a programmer (to earn better income in the future and thus give more to cost-effective charities).

Comment by yboris on [deleted post] 2016-03-01T02:37:50.440Z

I don't know how much the following argument works, but it's possible that making people care about animals will increase their concern about the welfare of the world's poorest people. The specific study that makes me think this could be true is The Brain Functional Networks Associated to Human and Animal Suffering Differ among Omnivores, Vegetarians and Vegans (source).

Comment by yboris on Accomplishments Open Thread · 2016-02-22T15:28:46.353Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the kind words. I think I got lucky with being invited to give a talk at Rutgers - the professor contacted me (I'm not sure exactly why he reached out to me, though he was directly aware of the GWWC:Rutgers chapter and I was a president for two years).

Comment by yboris on Accomplishments Open Thread · 2016-01-13T16:03:05.403Z · EA · GW

Haven't done much, but here are a few highlights:

  • I gave a talk at Rutgers to an Introduction to Ethics course (50 students) about effective giving (sharing various moral arguments including ones from Peter Singer, Thomas Pogge, and Toby Ord).

  • Gave 10% of my income to AMF and towards the Giving What We Can operations fundraiser.

  • Continuously promoted EA stuff on Facebook through various pages (several GWWC & EA chapters) and personal posts.

Comment by yboris on The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread - 23 November 2015 Edition · 2015-11-26T15:13:42.783Z · EA · GW

Not sure if this is the proper place to post. This is one of the best philosophy papers I've read in my life:

"The Possibility of an Ongoing Moral Catastrophe" by Evan G. Williams.

Abstract: "This article gives two arguments for believing that our society is unknowingly guilty of serious, large-scale wrongdoing. First is an inductive argument: most other societies, in history and in the world today, have been unknowingly guilty of serious wrongdoing, so ours probably is too. Second is a disjunctive argument: there are a large number of distinct ways in which our practices could turn out to be horribly wrong, so even if no particular hypothesized moral mistake strikes us as very likely, the disjunction of all such mistakes should receive significant credence. The article then discusses what our society should do in light of the likelihood that we are doing something seriously wrong: we should regard intellectual progress, of the sort that will allow us to find and correct our moral mistakes as soon as possible, as an urgent moral priority rather than as a mere luxury; and we should also consider it important to save resources and cultivate flexibility, so that when the time comes to change our policies we will be able to do so quickly and smoothly."

Comment by yboris on TLYCS Pamphleting Pilot Program · 2015-01-06T21:27:54.653Z · EA · GW

There was an "Effective Altruism Brochure" thread on Facebook's Effective Altruists group. Might be a good starting template to use for a handout: see here

Comment by yboris on You have a set amount of "weirdness points". Spend them wisely. · 2014-12-16T20:08:03.213Z · EA · GW

I found the reference! It might originally have come from another excellent book: Change of Heart by Nick Cooney, in the early part of the book where he talks about self identity (no page reference because I'm looking at an eBook version). This is entirely unimportant, but in this book the words are:

"Are you willing to cut your hair and put on a suit for the environment?" :)

Comment by yboris on Christmas 2014 Open Thread (Open Thread 7) · 2014-12-15T18:55:23.433Z · EA · GW

Sorry if this is the wrong place to do this, but I'm trying to encourage more people to give to AMF this year, so I created a $1,000 matching drive. Only the first $50 of any donation are matched and it's meant to encourage people to give to AMF who otherwise wouldn't.

If you know people who you'd like to encourage to give to AMF, please share this link: $1,000 Matching Challenge: December 2014. Please share widely :)

Comment by yboris on Frugal living without sacrifice · 2014-12-15T00:41:33.237Z · EA · GW

I think you're exactly right that having a set altruistic and personal budget is the best strategy for EAs. I compiled the above list at a workshop we held at Giving What We Can: Rutgers some years back; I think this particular suggestion is a helpful reminder for students (with little spending money) that they are able to make a difference in the world with their donations.

One possible time this technique can be helpful is if you feel you're being suckered into a purchase you really don't want to make; you can just commit to giving the price you would have paid to charity.

I find frugality to be a habit - you discover some principles that work, you tinker with them, but after a while they are on auto-pilot.

Comment by yboris on Spitballing EA career ideas · 2014-12-10T15:58:12.448Z · EA · GW

There are many things to say about it. Pyramid schemes are illegal in the US. And it all depends on the business plan (compensation plan) the company offers. Some companies will allow you to earn a decent income if you just get people to buy products. If the products are good, I see no harm.

There is a harm if you lie and promise people riches (that seems unethical); there is harm if you let people believe they will become rich (lie by omission is still a lie in my 'book'). There is harm if you lie about the products. The last harm seem identical to one present if you just become a car salesman (or any kind of salesman).

Comment by yboris on Why is effective altruism new and obvious? · 2014-12-10T02:50:53.705Z · EA · GW

Small spelling correction: "Carol Dweck" (not Dweick).

ps - her research on Growth Mindset is, I think, the most cost-effective educational intervention out there at the moment.

Comment by yboris on One month in - it's time for more introductions · 2014-12-10T01:24:07.271Z · EA · GW

Hello, Boris Yakubchik here. 29 year old, residing in New Jersey

Finished Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA) with a BA in Mathematics, MA in Education. Started a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. Joined Giving What We Can a few months after it started. Quit my Ph.D. program 2 years aiming to devote more time to EA stuff (I wrote about it here). Worked as a math teacher in high school, first year giving 50%. Subsequent years worked only part-time so went back to giving at least 10%. Currently a full-time math tutor, still aiming to follow the Earning to Give (E2G) strategy.

I helped run the Rutgers chapter of GWWC; few days ago we celebrated our 4th anniversary. I made a 5-minute video about members of GWWC. I gave a TEDxRutgers talk last year. I was interviewed by Peter Hurford, read here. I've read extensively and would love to give my recommendations.

Feel free to contact me, I'd love to help out a good project if I have the skills and can find the time :)

Comment by yboris on Productivity 101 For Beginners · 2014-12-10T00:53:46.523Z · EA · GW

Re: Step Two: Track Your Time!

If you spend a lot of time on the computer, the best software I have found is ManicTime which automatically tracks all your tasks, allows you to tag the time you've spent, and shows you fine statistics about what you spent your time on (which pages, which document, how long/each, per day, per any time period).

Comment by yboris on Open thread 5 · 2014-12-10T00:32:38.899Z · EA · GW

There is a brochure created by Fox Moldrich that I edited (he shared the Adobe Illustrator file with me). Here is a PDF of it: Trifold

Please contact me for the *.AI file and/or directly contact Fox.

Comment by yboris on Open thread 5 · 2014-12-10T00:15:53.968Z · EA · GW

I thought that the voting system is beneficial primarily because it allows others to "upvote" something as important. When I glance at comments, I am unlikely to read dozens of comments (limited time), but the upvotes are a simple way for me to tell which comments are more likely to provide something of value.

Upvotes are not a true demonstration of value, but they help. Consider if a comment gets 100 upvotes - that suggests there is something there that others like and I would do well to at least glance at it.

The points you raise are worth considering, though I think the benefits outweigh the concerns you have. Do you think otherwise?

Comment by yboris on Spitballing EA career ideas · 2014-12-09T23:33:52.041Z · EA · GW

I've been meaning to contact 80,000 Hours with a suggestion they look at (and hopefully write something about) Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) as a viable career option. I have first-hand experience and can thus share a bit from my point of view.

Basics. MLM is a different way for companies to sell their product: rather than having stores display their products on their shelves, they ship directly to customers. Customers who tell others about the product can receive money from the company as a "thank you" for word-of-mouth advertising.

Income. My parents have been in an MLM company for about 8 years. They have reached an income of about $80,000/year. A person they directly know in the company has received over $500,000/year. Others within this company make several $million per year. While these results are not common, they are not impossible. This makes MLM potentially one of the highest-paid careers for those who want to Earn to Give (E2G).

Influence. A second component of an MLM career is that you end up talking to hundreds of people, many of whom regard you as someone who helps them with their business. Many of these people become close friends. This means that an MLM career could provide the ability to influence others. For example you could encourage everyone who also becomes financially successful thanks to your invitation and help, to give 10% of their income to charity.

Freedom. This type of work allows for a very flexible schedule and often a lot of free time. My parents have taken many month-long vacations with no drop in their monthly income. Residual income is one of the most alluring aspects of MLM.

Harm. On the harm side, not all MLM companies provide good products. If you are able to find a good company (I firmly believe my parents have), you could also be encouraging people to use products that are healthier for them, or provide benefits over the conventional ones. This would not be a misalignment with your values.

All these factors make me think MLM is a career path that should be at least considered within the EA community. I look forward to your replies.

Comment by yboris on You have a set amount of "weirdness points". Spend them wisely. · 2014-12-09T22:22:11.353Z · EA · GW

I heard this too. There is a similar thought expressed from p30-31 of The Animal Activists' Handbook by Matt Ball ( Quotes from the two pages:

"After re-evaluating his priorities and choosing a more mainstream appearance, he noticed that the quality of his conversations improved, and the respect of his listeners increased. Consequently, he became more effective an influencer of change" (p30).

"All of us who are working for things that might be seen as going against the status quo should make sure our appearance doesn't detract from our message. Our message is usually difficult enough for people to accept, without us putting up any additional barriers" (p31).

Comment by yboris on When should an Effective Altruist be vegetarian? · 2014-11-24T06:34:37.792Z · EA · GW

First off, you can view vegetarianism as a gradient and the goal is to decrease meat consumption, not “avoid it at all costs”. With this approach, you can, when significantly inconvenient otherwise, consume some meat. Problem solved – right? I hope you’re not fighting a straw-man of “you must be a strict vegetarian at all costs” because THAT is a very weak position to hold.

I feel a lot of what’s at stake pivots on just how inconvenient (empirically) decreasing meat consumption for yourself is. It can surely seem inconvenient to anyone who hasn’t chosen to start, but just like most habits, they are hardly noticeable once you’re done converting. In this case I suspect the “difficult” part will last less than 2 months. Again, it’s not about making a switch to a vegetables-only diet, but a simple habit of consuming less meat when the costs are small.

You seem to severely overestimate the difficulties of consuming less meat when say “vegetarianism means spending a bit more time searching for vegetarian alternatives, researching nutrition, buying supplements, writing emails back to people who invite you to dinner explaining your dietary restrictions, etc.” I suspect all people will spend at least SOME time researching which food is relatively healthy. I think it’s an inevitable part of growing up, that’s not a large cost – you do it once and you’re done. Vegetarianism, insofar as it’s different from the norm, might mean you have to put in extra research hours (it’s not many!), but you do it once and you’re done. The question is whether it’s worth putting in the hours –and because your decision affects a significant amount of suffering you will otherwise cause during your life– I’m confident it’s worth it. Sometimes it helps to hear how the complaint you make works in other scenarios: “being a good parent means a bit more time searching …” or “being a good EA means a bit more time searching …” It seems to me that when it’s an important enough issue, you grit your teeth (if you don’t like the process) and do the research. I’m sorry if I’m missing something about the argument.

Saying it is difficult to switch is downright baffling to me. When you’re in a restaurant, I can’t comprehend why it’s more difficult to choose a vegetarian option over a meat-based dish. And when shopping at a store, it’s just as easy to buy the meatless-patties or fake-chicken. Where is the extra willpower or attention cost you speak of? Perhaps you’re not defending making a meat-dish choice in these scenarios, but please let us know.

In your argument you mention that going vegetarian is like “donating to a random developing world charity because it relieves the suffering of an impoverished child more than foregoing $5 increases your suffering.” To make the analogy with vegetarianism more appropriate, you would also have to be the overwhelming cause of that child’s misery unless you gave the $5. For example, you’re already paying some people to keep some children in cages, and you could choose to spend $5 more, so one less child is kept in a cage.

With the significant health benefits of a vegetable-based diet (at least over a typical american diet), there are even selfish reasons to base your diet around vegetables. I am puzzled why you think the health benefits are minimal. Some research studies suggest vegetarians live significantly longer than non-vegetarians.

Finally, I won’t comment on your calculations, but I find them deeply problematic.