Nathan Young's Shortform

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Sam Harris takes Giving What We Can pledge for himself and for his meditation company "Waking Up"

Harris references MacAksill and Ord as having been central to his thinking and talks about Effective Altruism and exstential risk. He publicly pledges 10% of his own income and 10% of the profit from Waking Up. He also will create a series of lessons on his meditation and education app around altruism and effectiveness.

Harris has 1.4M twitter followers and is a famed Humanist and New Athiest. The Waking Up app has over 500k downloads on android, so I guess over 1 million overall.

I like letting personal thoughts be up or downvoted, so I've put them in the comments.

Harris is a marmite figure - in my experience people love him or hate him. 

It is good that he has done this. 

Newswise, it seems to me it is more likely to impact the behavior of his listeners, who are likely to be well-disposed to him. This is a significant but currently low-profile announcement. As will the courses be on his app. 

 I don't think I'd go spreading this around more generally, many don't like Harris and for those who don't like him, it could be easy to see EA as more of the same (callous superior progessivism).

In the low probability (5%?) event that EA gains traction in that space of the web (generally called the Intellectual Dark Web - don't blame me, I don't make the rules) I would urge caution for EA speakers who might pulled into polarising discussion which would leave some groups feeling EA ideas are "not for them".

Harris is a marmite figure - in my experience people love him or hate him.

My guess is people who like Sam Harris are disproportionately likely to be potentially interested in EA.

This seems quite likely given EA Survey data where, amongst people who indicated they first heard of EA from a Podcast and indicated which podcast, Sam Harris' strongly dominated all other podcasts.

More speculatively, we might try to compare these numbers to people hearing about EA from other categories. For example, by any measure, the number of people in the EA Survey who first heard about EA from Sam Harris' podcast specifically is several times the number who heard about EA from Vox's Future Perfect. As a lower bound, 4x more people specifically mentioned Sam Harris in their comment than selected Future Perfect, but this is probably dramatically undercounting Harris, since not everyone who selected Podcast wrote a comment that could be identified with a specific podcast. Unfortunately, I don't know the relative audience size of Future Perfect posts vs Sam Harris' EA podcasts specifically, but that could be used to give a rough sense of how well the different audiences respond.

Notably, Harris has interviewed several figures associated with EA; Ferriss only did MacAskill, while Harris has had MacAskill, Ord, Yudkowsky, and perhaps others.

This is true, although for whatever reason the responses to the podcast question seemed very heavily dominated by references to MacAskill. 

This is the graph from our original post, showing every commonly mentioned category, not just the host (categories are not mutually exclusive). I'm not sure what explains why MacAskill really heavily dominated the Podcast category, while Singer heavily dominated the TED Talk category.

The address (in the link) is humbling and shows someone making a positive change for good reasons. He is clear and coherent.

Good on him.

How are we going to deal emotionally with the first big newspaper attack against EA?

EA is pretty powerful in terms of impact and funding.

It seems only an amount of time before there is a really nasty article written about the community or a key figure.

Last year the NYT wrote a hit piece on Scott Alexander and while it was cool that he defended himself, I think he and the rationalist community overreacted and looked bad.

I would like us to avoid this.

If someone writes a hit piece about the community, Givewell, Will MacAskill etc, how are we going to avoid a kneejerk reaction that makes everything worse?

I suggest if and when this happens:

  1. individuals largely don't respond publicly unless they are very confident they can do so in a way that leads to deescalation.

  2. articles exist to get clicks. It's worth someone (not necessarily me or you) responding to an article in the NYT, but if, say a niche commentator goes after someone, fewer people will hear it if we let it go.

  3. let the comms professionals deal with it. All EA orgs and big players have comms professionals. They can defend themselves.

  4. if we must respond (we often needn't) we should adopt a stance of grace, curiosity and humility. Why do they think these things are true? What would convince us?

Personally I hate being attacked and am liable to feel defensive and respond badly. I assume you are no different. I'd like to think about this so that if and when it happens we can avoid embarrassing ourselves and the things we care about.

Yeah, I think the community response to the NYT piece was counterproductive, and I've also been dismayed at how much people in the community feel the need to respond to smaller hit pieces, effectively signal boosting them, instead of just ignoring them. I generally think people shouldn't engage with public attacks unless they have training in comms (and even then, sometimes the best response is just ignoring).

Dear reader,

You are an EA, if you want to be. Reading this forum is enough. Giving a little of your salary effectively is enough. Trying to get an impactful job is enough. If you are trying even with a fraction of your resources to make the world better and chatting with other EAs about it, you are one too.

I strongly dislike the following sentence on

"Rather than just doing what feels right, we use evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on."

It reads to me as arrogant, and epitomises the worst caracatures my friends do of EAs. Read it in a snarky voice (such as one might if they struggled with the movement and were looking to do research) "Rather that just doing what feels right..."

I suggest it gets changed to one of the following:

  • "We use evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on."
  • "It's great when anyone does a kind action no matter how small or effective. We have found value in using evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on."

I am genuinely sure whoever wrote it meant well, so thank you for your hard work.

Are the two bullet points two alternative suggestions? If so, I prefer the first one.

I also thought this when I first read that sentence on the site, but I find it difficult (as I'm sure its original author does) to communicate its meaning in a subtler way. I like your proposed changes, but to me the contrast presented in that sentence is the most salient part of EA. To me, the thought is something like this:

"Doing good feels good, and for that reason, when we think about doing charity, we tend to use good feeling as a guide for judging how good our act is. That's pretty normal, but have you considered that we can use evidence and analysis to make judgments about charity?"

The problem IMHO is that without the contrast, the sentiment doesn't land. No one, in general, disagrees in principle with the use of evidence and careful analysis: it's only in contrast with the way things are typically done that the EA argument is convincing.

I would choose your statement over the current one.

I think the sentiment lands pretty well even with a very toned down statement. The movement is called "effective altruism". I think often in groups are worried that outgroups will not get their core differences when generally that's all outgroups know about them.

I don't think that anyone who visits that website won't think that effectiveness isn't a core feature. And I don't think we need to be patronising (as EAs are charactured as being in conversations I have) in order to make known something that everyone already knows.

EAs please post your job posting to twitter

Please post your jobs to Twitter and reply with @effective_jobs. Takes 5 minutes. and the jobs I've posted and then tweeted have got 1000s of impressions. 

Or just DM me on twitter (@nathanpmyoung) and I'll do it. I think it's a really cheap way of getting EAs to look at your jobs. This applies to impactful roles in and outside EA.

Here is an example of some text:

-tweet 1

Founder's Pledge Growth Director

@FoundersPledge are looking for someone to lead their efforts in growing the amount that tech entrepreneurs give to effective charities when they IPO. 

Salary: $135 - $150k 
Location: San Francisco

-tweet 2, in reply



I suggest it should be automated but that's for a different post.

A friend asked about effective places to give. He wanted to donate through his payroll in the UK. He was enthusiastic about it, but that process was not easy.

  1.  It wasn't particularly clear whether GiveWell or EA Development Fund was better and each seemed to direct to the other in a way that felt at times sketchy.
  2. It wasn't clear if payroll giving was an option
  3. He found it hard to find GiveWell's spreadsheet of effectiveness

Feels like making donations easy should be a core concern of both GiveWell and EA Funds and my experience made me a little embarrassed to be honest.

EA short story competition?

Has anyone ever run a competition for EA related short stories?

Why would this be a good idea?
* Narratives resonate with people and have been used to convey ideas for 1000s of years
* It would be low cost and fun
* Using voting on this forum there is the same risk of "bad posts" as for any other post

How could it work?
* Stories submitted under a tag on the EA forum.
* Rated by upvotes
* Max 5000 words (I made this up, dispute it in the comments)
* If someone wants to give a reward, then there could be a prize for the highest rated
* If there is a lot of interest/quality they could be collated and even published
* Since it would be measured by upvotes it seems unlikely a destructive story would be highly rated (or as likely as any other destructive post on the forum)

Upvote if you think it's a good idea. If it gets more than 40 karma I'll write one. 

I dislike the framing of "considerable" and "high engagement" on the EA survey.

This copied from the survey:

  • No engagement: I’ve heard of effective altruism, but do not engage with effective altruism content or ideas at all
  • Mild engagement: I’ve engaged with a few articles, videos, podcasts, discussions, events on effective altruism (e.g. reading Doing Good Better or spending ~5 hours on the website of 80,000 Hours)
  • Moderate engagement: I’ve engaged with multiple articles, videos, podcasts, discussions, or events on effective altruism (e.g. subscribing to the 80,000 Hours podcast or attending regular events at a local group). I sometimes consider the principles of effective altruism when I make decisions about my career or charitable donations.
  • Considerable engagement: I’ve engaged extensively with effective altruism content (e.g. attending an EA Global conference, applying for career coaching, or organizing an EA meetup). I often consider the principles of effective altruism when I make decisions about my career or charitable donations.
  • High engagement: I am heavily involved in the effective altruism community, perhaps helping to lead an EA group or working at an EA-aligned organization. I make heavy use of the principles of effective altruism when I make decisions about my career or charitable donations.

To me "considerably engaged" EA people are doing a lot. Their median donation is $1000. They have "engaged extensively" and "often consider the principles of effective altruism" To me, they seem "highly engaged" in EA. 

I've met people who are giving quite a lot of money, who have perhaps tried applied to EA jobs and not succeeded. And yet they are not allowed to consider themselves "highly engaged". I guess this leads to them feeling disillusioned. It risks creating a privileged class of those who can get jobs at EA orgs and those who can't.  What about those who think they are doing an EA job but it's not at an EA-aligned organisation? It seems wrong to me that they can't consider themselves highly engaged.

I would prefer:

  • "Considerable engagement" -> "high engagement"
  • "High engagement" -> "maximum engagement" 

And I would prefer the text read as follows:

  • High (previously considerable) engagement: I’ve engaged extensively with effective altruism content (e.g. attending an EA Global conference, applying for career coaching, or organizing an EA meetup). I often consider the principles of effective altruism when I make decisions about my career or charitable donations, but they are not the biggest factor to me.
  • Maximum (previously high) engagement I am deeply involved in the effective altruism community. Perhaps I have chosen my career using the principles of effective altruism. I might earn to give or helping to lead an EA group or working at an EA-aligned organization. Maybe I tried for several years to gain such a career but have since moved to a plan B or Z. Regardless, I make my career or resource decisions on a primarily effective altruist basis.

It's a bit rough, but I think it allows for people who are earning to give or deeply involved with the community to say they are maximally engaged and that those who are highly engaged to put a 4 without shame. Feel free to put your own drafts in the comments.

Currently, the idea that someone could be earning to give, donating $10,000s per year and perhaps still not consider themself highly engaged in EA seems like a flaw. 

I think this is part of a more general problem that people say things like "I'm not totally EA" when they donate 1%+ of their income and are trying hard. Why create a club where so many are insecure about their membership.

I can't speak for everyone, but if you donate even 1% of your income to charities which you think are effective, you're EA in my book. 

It is one of my deepest hopes, and one of my goals for my own work at CEA, that people who try hard and donate feel like they are certainly, absolutely a part of the movement. I think this is determined by lots of things, including:

  1. The existence of good public conversations about donations, cause prioritization, etc., where anyone can contribute
  2. The frequency of interesting news and stories about EA-related initiatives that make people feel happy about the progress their "team" is making

I hope that the EA Survey's categories are a tiny speck compared to these.

Thanks for providing a detailed suggestion to go with this critique! 

While I'm part of the team that puts together the EA Survey, I'm only answering for myself here.

I've met people who are giving quite a lot of money, who have perhaps tried applied to EA jobs and not succeeded. And yet they are not allowed to consider themselves "highly engaged". I guess this leads to them feeling disillusioned.

  1. People can consider themselves anything they want! It's okay! You're allowed!  I hope that a single question on the survey isn't causing major changes to how people self-identify. If this is happening, it implies a side-effect the Survey wasn't meant to have.
  2. Have you met people who specifically cited the survey (or some other place the question has showed up — I think CEA might have used it before?) as a source of disillusionment?

I'm not sure I understand why people would so strongly prefer being in a "highly engaged" category vs. a "considerably engaged" category if those categories occupy the same relative position on a list. Especially since people don't use that language to describe themselves, in my experience. But I could easily be missing something.

I want someone who earns-to-give (at any salary) to feel comfortable saying "EA is a big part of my life, and I'm closely involved in the community". But I don't think this should determine how the EA Survey splits up its categories on this question, and vice-versa.


One change I'd happily make would be changing "EA-aligned organization" to "impact-focused career" or something like that. But I do think it's reasonable for the survey to be able to analyze the small group of people whose professional lives are closely tied to the movement, and who spend thousands of hours per year on EA-related work rather than hundreds.

(Similarly, in a survey about the climate movement, it would seem reasonable to have one answer aimed at full-time paid employees and one answer aimed at extremely active volunteers/donors. Both of those groups are obviously critical to the movement, but their answers have different implications.)

Earning-to-give is a tricky category. I think it's a matter of degree, like the difference between "involved volunteer/group member" and "full-time employee/group organizer". Someone who spends ~50 hours/year trying to allocate $10,000 is doing something extraordinary with their life, and EA having a big community of people like this is excellent, but I'd still like to be able to separate "active members of Giving What We Can" from "the few dozen people who do something like full-time grantmaking or employ people to do this for them".


Put another way: Before I joined CEA, I was an active GWWC member, read a lot of EA-related articles, did some contract work for MIRI/CFAR, and went to my local EA meetups. I'd been rejected from multiple EA roles and decided to pursue another path (I didn't think it was likely I'd get an EA job until months later). 

I was pretty engaged at this point, but the nature of my engagement now that I work for CEA is qualitatively different. The opinions of Aaron!2018 should mean something different to community leaders than the opinions of Aaron!2021 — they aren't necessarily "less important" (I think Aaron!2018 would have a better perspective on certain issues than I do now, blinded as I am by constant exposure to everything), but they are "different".


All that said, maybe the right answer is to do away with this question and create clusters of respondents who fit certain criteria, after the fact, rather than having people self-define. e.g. "if two of A, B, or C are true, choose category X".

It's possible that this question is mean to measure something about non-monetary contribution size, not engagement. In which case, say that. 

Call it, "non-financial contribution" and put 4 as " I volunteer more than X hours" and 5 as "I work on a cause area directly or have taken a lower than salary rate jobs".

Factional infighting

[epistemic status - low, probably some element are wrong]

- communities have a range of dispute resolution mechanisms, whether voting to public conflict to some kind of civil war
- some of these are much better than others
- EA has disputes and resources and it seems likely that there will be a high profile conflict at some point
- What mechanisms could we put in place to handle that conflict constructively and in a positive sum way?

When a community grows as powerful as EA is, there can be disagreements about resource allocation.  In EA these are likely to be significant.

There are EAs who think that the most effective cause area is AI safety. There are EAs who think it's global dev. These people do not agree, though there can be ways to coordinate between them.

The spat between GiveWell and GiveDirectly is the beginning of this. Once there are disagreements on the scale of $10millions then some of that is gonna be sorted out over twitter. People may badmouth each other and damage the reputation of EA as a whole.

The way around this is to make solving problems easier than creating them. As in a political coalition, people need to have more benefits being inside the movement than outside it.

The EA forum already does good work here, allowing everyone to upvote posts they like. 

Here are some other power sharing mechanisms:
- a fund where people can either vote on cause areas, expected value, or moral weights, so that it moves based on the community's values as a whole
- a focus on "we disagree, but we respect" looking at how different parts of the community disagree but respect the effort of others
- a clear mechanism of bargains, where animal EAs donate to longtermist charities in exchange for longtermists to go vegan and vice versa
- some videos from key figures from different parts discussing their disagreements in a kind and human way
- "I would change if" a series of posts from people saying what would make them work on different cause areas. How cheap would chicken welfare have to be before Yudkowsky moved to work on it? How cheap would AI safety had to be before it became Singer's key talking point

Call me a pessimist, but I can't see how a community managing $50Bn across deeply dividided prioritites will stay chummy without proper dispute resolution systems. And I suggest we should start building them now.

By and large I think this aspect is going surprisingly well, largely because people have adopted a "disagree but respect" ethos.

I'm a bit unsure of such a fund - I guess that would pit different cause areas against each other more directly, which could be a conflict framing. 

Regarding the mechanism of bargains, it's a bit unclear to me what problem that solves.

There is no EA "scene" on twitter.

For good or ill, while there are posters on twitter who talk about EA, there isn't a "scene" (a space where people use loads of EA jargon and assume everyone is EA) or at least not that I've seen.

This surprised me.

EA infrastructure idea: Best Public Forecaster Award

  1. Gather all public forecasting track records
  2.  Present them in an easily navigable form
  3.  Award prizes one for best brier score of forecasts resolving in the last year

If this gets more than 20 karma, I'll write a full post on it. This is rough.

Questions that come to mind

Where would we find these forecasts

To begin with I would look at those with public records:

Beyond these, one could build a community around finding forecasts of public figures. Alternatively, I guess GPT-3 has a good shot of being able to turn verbal forecasts into data which could then be checked.

What's the impact

I'm only gonna sketch my argument here. As above, if this gets 20 karma I'll write a full post (but only upvote if it's good, let's not waste any of our time).

  • We seem to think forecasting improves the accuracy of commentator
  •  If we could build a high-status award for forecasting, more commentators would hear about it and it would serve as a nudge for others to make their forecasts more visible
  • I am confident this would lead to better commentary (this seems arrogant, but honestly the people I know who forecast more are more epistemically humble - I think celebrities could really benefit from more humility about their predictions)
  • Better commentary leads to better outcomes. Effective Altruism implicitly holds that many have priority orderings that don't match reality. The world at large underrates the best charities, the chance of biorisk, etc. Journalism which was more accurate would be more accurate about these things too which would be a massive win

Wouldn't the winners just be superforecasters

Not currently. I don't think it's too hard to make pretty robust boundaries on what a public figure is. Most superforecasters are not well enough known (and sorry to the 5 EAs I can count in metaculus' top 50). But Yglesias is well known enough. Scott Alexander, I'm less sure but I think we could come up with some minimum amount of hits, followers, etc for someone to be eligible. 

How much resource would this take

Depends on a couple of things (I have pulled these numbers out of thin air) please criticise them:

  •  Who is giving this award its prestige? If it's a lot of money, fine. If it's an existing org, then it's cheaper ( 0 - $50k)
  • How deeply are we looking. I think you could pay someone $50k to find say 100 public sets of forecasts and maybe another $10k to make a nice website. If you want to scrape twitter using GPT3 or crowdsource that's maybe another $50-100k
  • Is there an award ceremony? If so I imagine that costs as much as a wedding so maybe $10k

That looks like $60 - $220k

If this failed, why did it fail?

  • It got embroiled in controversy over who was included 
  • It was attached to some existing EA org and looked badly for them
  • It became a niche award that no one changed their behaviour based on

Is there a way to sort shortform posts?

EA Book discount codes.

tl;dr EA  books have a positive externality. The response should be to subsidise them

If EA thinks that certain books (doing good better, the precipice) have greater benefits than they seem, they could subsidise them.

There could be an EA website which has amazon coupons for EA books so that you can get them more cheaply if buying for a friend, or advertise said coupon to your friends to encourage them to buy the book.

From 5 mins of research the current best way would be for a group to buys EA books and sell them at the list price but provide coupons as here -

Alternatively, you could just sell them at the coupon price.

I think people have been taking up the model of open sourcing books (well, making them free). This has been done for [The Life You can Save]( and [Moral Uncertainty]( 

I think this could cost $50,000 to $300,000 or so depending on when this is done and how popular it is expected to be, but I expect it to be often worth it.

Seems that the Ebook/audiobook is free. Is that correct?

I imagine being able to give a free physcial copy would have more impact.

I like this idea and think it's worth you taking further. My initial reactions are:

  • Getting more EA books into peoples hands seems great and worth much more per book than the cost of a book.
  • I don't know how much of a bottleneck the price of a book is to buying them for friends/club members. I know EA Oxford has given away many books, I've also bought several for friends (and one famous person I contacted on instagram as a long shot who actually replied.
  • I'd therefore be interested in something which aimed to establish whether making books cheaper was a better or worse idea than just encouraging people to gift them.
  • John Behar/TLYCS probably have good thoughts on this.

Do you have any thoughts as to what the next step would be. It's not obvious to me what you'd do to research the impact of this.

Perhaps have a questionnaire asking people how many people they'd give books to at different prices. Do we know the likelihood of people reading a book they are given?

Question answers

When answering questions, I recommend people put each separate point as a separate answer. The karma ranking system is useful to see what people like/don't like and having a whole load of answers together muddies the water. 

EA global

1) Why is EA global space constrained? Why not just have a larger venue?

I assume there is a good reason for this which I don't know.

2) It's hard to invite friends to EA global. Is this deliberate?

I have a close friend who finds EA quite compelling. I figured I'd invite them to EA global. They were dissuaded by the fact they had to apply and that it would cost $400.

I know that's not the actual price, but they didn't know that. I reckon they might have turned up for a couple of talks. Now they probably won't apply. 

Is there no way that this event could be more welcoming or is that not the point?

Re 1) Is there a strong reason to believe that EA Global is constrained by physical space? My impression is that they try to optimize pretty hard to have a good crowd and for there to be a high density of high-quality connections to be formed there.

Re 2) I don't think EA Global is the best way for newcomers to EA to learn about EA. 

EDIT: To be clear, neither 1) nor 2) are necessarily endorsements of the choice to structure EA Global in this way, just an explanation of what I think CEA is optimizing for.

EDIT 2 2021/10/11: This explanation may be wrong, see Amy Labenz's comment here.

Personal anecdote possibly relevant for 2): EA Global 2016 was my first EA event. Before going, I had lukewarm-ish feelings towards EA, due mostly to a combination of negative misconceptions and positive true-conceptions; I decided to go anyway somewhat on a whim, since it was right next to my hometown, and I noticed that Robin Hanson and Ed Boyden were speaking there (and I liked their academic work). The event was a huge positive update for me towards the movement, and I quickly became involved – and now I do direct EA work.

I'm not sure that a different introduction would have led to a similar outcome. The conversations and talks at EAG are just (as a general rule) much better than at local events, and reading books or online material also doesn't strike me as naturally leading to being part of a community in the same way.

It's possible my situation doesn't generalizes to others (perhaps I'm unusual in some way, or perhaps 2021 is different from 2016 in a crucial way such that the "EAG-first" strategy used to make sense but doesn't anymore), and there may be other costs with having more newcomers at EAG (eg diluting the population of people more familiar with EA concepts), but I also think it's possible my situation does generalize and that we'd be better off nudging more newcomers to come to EAG.

Hi Nathan, 

Thank you for bringing this up! 

1) We’d like to have a larger capacity at EA Global, and we’ve been trying to increase the number of people who can attend. Unfortunately, this year it’s been particularly difficult; we had to roll over our contract with the venue from 2020 and we are unable to use the full capacity of the venue to reduce the risk from COVID. We’re really excited that we just managed to add 300 spots (increasing capacity to 800 people), and we’re hoping to have more capacity in 2022. 

There will also be an opportunity for people around the world to participate in the event online. Virtual attendees will be able to enjoy live streamed content as well as networking opportunities with other virtual attendees. More details will be published on the EA Global website the week of October 11.

2) We try to have different events that are welcoming to people who are at different points in their EA engagement. For someone earlier in their exploration of EA, the EAGx conferences are going to be a better fit. From the EA Global website:

Effective altruism conferences are a good fit for anyone who is putting EA principles into action through their donations, volunteering, or career plans. All community members, new or experienced, are welcome to apply.

EA Global: London will be selecting for highly-engaged members of the community.

EAGxPrague (3-5 December) will be more suitable for those who have less experience with effective altruism.

We’ll have lots more EAGx events in 2022, including Boston, Oxford, Singapore, and Australia, as well as EA Globals in San Francisco and London as usual. We may add additional events to this plan. The dates for those events and any additional events will go up on when they’re confirmed.

In the meantime, if your friend is interested in seeing some talks, they can check out hundreds of past EA Global talks on the CEA YouTube channel.

Thanks for taking the time to answer. That all makes sense.

UK government will pay for organisations to hire 18-24 year olds who are currently unemployed, for 6 months. This includes minimum wage and national insurance.


I imagine many EA orgs are people constrained rather than funding constrained but it might be worth it. 

And here is a data science org which will train them as well


Note: applications have to be for 30 jobs, but you can apply over a number of organisations or alongside a local authority etc.

This perception gap site would be a good form for learning and could be used in altruism. It reframes correcting biases as a fun prediction game.

It's a site which gets you to guess what other political groups (republicans and democrats) think about issues.

Why is it good:

1) It gets  people thinking and predicting. They are asked a clear question about other groups and have to answer it.
2) It updates views in a non-patronising way - it turns out dems and repubs are much less polarised than most people think (the stat they give is that people predict 50% of repubs hold extreme views, when actually it's 30).  But rather than yelling this, or an annoying listicle, it gets people's consent and teachest something.
3) It builds consensus. If we are actually closer to those we disagree with than we think, perhaps we could work with them.
4) It gives quick feedback. People learn best when given feedback which is close to the action. In this case, people are rapidly rewarded for thoughts like "probably most of X group" are more similar to me that I first think.


What percentage of neocons want insitutional reform?
What % of libertarians want an end to factory farming?
What % of socialists want an increase in foreign direct aid?


If you want to change people's minds, don't tell them stuff, get them to guess trustworthy values as a cutesy game.

EA criticism

[Epistemic Status: low, I think this is probably wrong, but I would like to debug it publicly]

If I have a criticism of EA along Institutional Decision Making lines, it is this:

For a movement that wants to change how decisions get made, we should make those changes in our own organisations first.

Examples of good progress:
-  prizes - EA orgs have offered prizes for innovation
- voting systems - it's good that the forum is run on upvotes and that often I think EA uses the right tool for the job in terms of voting

Things I would like to see more of:
- an organisation listening to prediction markets/polls. If we believe nations should listen to  forecasting can we make clearer which markets our orgs are looking and and listening to?
- an organisation run by prediction markets. The above but taking it further
- removing siloes in EA. If you have confidence to email random people it's relatively easy to get stuff done, but can we lower the friction to allow good ideas to spread further?
- etc

It's fine if we think these things will never work, but it seems weird to me that we think improvements would work elsewhere but that we don't want them in our orgs. That's like being NIMBY about our own suggested improvements.

- these aren't solutions people are actually arguing for. Yeah this is an okay point. But I think the seeds of them exist.

- prediction markets work in big orgs not small ones. Maybe, but isn't it worth running one small inefficient organisation to try and learn the failure modes before we suggest this for nation states

EA twitter bots

 A set of EA jobs twitter bots which each retweet a specific set of hashtags eg #AISafety #EAJob, #AnimalSuffering #EAJob, etc etc.  Please don't get hung up on these, we'd actually need to brainstorm the right hashtags.

You follow the bots and hear about the jobs.

Rather than using Facebook as a way to collect EA jobs we should use an airtable form

1) Individuals finding jobs could put all the details in, saving time for whoever would have to do this process at 80k time.

2) Airtable can post directly to facebook, so everyone would still see it

3) Some people would find it quicker. Personally, I'd prefer an airtable form to inputting it to facebook manually every time. 

Ideally we should find websites which often publish useful jobs and then scrape them regularly. 

It would be good to easily be able to export jobs from the EA job board.

I suggest at some stage having up and downvoting of jobs would be useful.

Does anyone know people working on reforming the academic publishing process?

Coronavirus has caused journalists to look for scientific sources. There are no journal articles because of the lag time. So they have gone to preprint servers like bioRxiv (pronounced bio-archive). These servers are not peer reviewed so some articles are of low quality. So people have gone to twitter asking for experts to review the papers.

This is effectively a new academic publishing paradigm. If there were support for good papers (somehow) you would have the key elements of a new, perhaps better system.

Some thoughts here too:

With Coronavirus providing a lot of impetus for change, those working in this area could find this an important time to increase visibility of their work.

HaukeHillebrandt has recommended supporting Prof Chris Chambers to do this:

There were too few parties on the last night of EA global in london which led to overcrowding, stressed party hosts and wasting a load of people's time.

I suggest in future that there should be at least n/200 parties where n is the number of people attending the conference. 

I don't think CEA should legislate parties, but I would like to surface in people's minds that if there are fewer than n/200 parties, then you should call up your friend with most amenable housemates and tell them to organise!

EA podcasts and videos

Each EA org should pay $10 bounty to the best twitter thread talking about any episode. If you could generate 100 quality twitter threads on 80,000 hours episodes that for $1000 that would be really cheap. People would quote tweet and discuss and it would make the whole set of knowledge much more legible.

Cool idea, I'll have a think about doing this for Hear This Idea. I expect writing the threads ourselves could take less time than setting up a bounty, finding the threads, paying out etc. But a norm of trying to summarise (e.g. 80K) episodes in 10 or so tweets sounds hugely valuable. Maybe they could all use a similar hashtag to find them — something like #EAPodcastRecap or #EAPodcastSummary

I recommend a thread of them. I rarely see poeple using hashtags currently.

And I probably agree you could/should write them yourselves but:
- other people might think different things are interesting than you do

Thanks! Sounds right on both fronts.

I edited the of wikipedia on Doing Good Better to try and make it more reflective of the book and Will's current views. Let me know how you think I did.

Has rethink priorities ever thought of doing a survey of non-EAs? Perhaps paying for a poll? I'd be interested in questions like "What do you think of Effective Altruism? What do you think of Effective Altruists?"

Only asking questions of those who are currently here is survivorship bias. Likewise we could try and find people who left and ask why.

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

Plant-based meat. Fun video from a youtuber which makes a strong case. Very sharable.

EA Wiki

I've decided I'm going to just edit the wiki to be like the wiki I want.

Currently the wiki feels meticulously referenced but lacking in detail. I'd much prefer it to have more synthesised content which is occasionally just someone's opinion. If you dislike this approach, let me know.

I do think that many of the entries are rather superficial, because so far we've been prioritizing breadth over depth. You are welcome to try to make some of these entries more substantive. I can't tell, in the abstract, if I agree with your approach to resolving the tradeoff between having more content and having a greater fraction of content reflect just someone's opinion. Maybe you can try editing a few articles and see if it attracts any feedback, via comments or karma?

Why do posts get more upvotes than questions with the same info?

I wrote this question:

Some others wrote this post summarising it:

Why do you think the summary got more upvotes. I'm not upset, I like a summary too, but in my mind, a question that anyone can submit answers to or upvote current answers is much more useful. So I am confused. Can any suggest why?


Anyone can comment on a post and upvote comments so I don't see why a question would be better in that regard.

Also the post contained a lot of information on potential megaprojects which is not only quite interesting and educational but also prompts discussion.

At what size of the EA movement should there be an independent EA whistleblowing organisation, which investigates allegations of corruption?

Can you think of any examples of other movements which have this? I have not heard of such for e.g. the environmentalist or libertarian movements. Large companies might have whistleblowing policies, but I've not heard of any which make use of an independent organization for complaint processing.

The UK police does.

It seems to me if you wanted to avoid a huge scandal you'd want to empower and incentivise an organisation to find small ones.

Clubhouse Invite Thread

1) Clubhouse is a new social media platform, but you need an invite to join
2) It allows chat in rooms, and networking
3) Seems some people could deliver sooner value by having a clubhouse invite
4) People who are on clubhouse have invites to give
5) If you think an invite would be valuable or heck you'd just like one, comment below and then if anyone has invites to give they can see EAs who want them.
6) I have some invites to give away.

Mailing list for the new UK Conservative Party group on China.

Will probably be worth signing up to if that's your area of interest.

Please comment any other places people could find mailing lists or good content for EA related areas.