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This is a Draft Amnesty Week draft. It may not be polished, up to my usual standards, fully thought through, or fully fact-checked. 
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This is a Forum post that I wouldn't have posted without the nudge of Draft Amnesty Week. Fire away! (I will only delete obvious spam and trolling)

Context : I've been attending sessions at a local EA group since April 2023. At some point, I started thinking I should read the EA Handbook one day or another. It stayed in the background as one of the things I should do someday until at some point I gave myself a deadline, incentives, and read through the whole content. I also took notes, which is something I usually don't do.

There are way more linkposts than I thought there were. Somehow, I wouldn't have been surprised if there were no external link at all. Maybe that expectation was due to me having seen a "homemade" printed version of the Handbook at an EA-related event. The Handbook itself was definitely a useful reading  for me. I discovered a bunch of things I didn't know, and refined my knowledge on some key concepts - sometimes even learning that a definition wasn't what I thought it was. But I think the most value I got from reading it actually comes from further reading recommendations provided in the Handbook. Although I didn't deep dive into it yet, there's a whole load of references I saved for later that are fitted to what I find interesting or what I may find useful that I expect to take more marginal time to read but also yield more additional insight that what I've already read. So I think I would recommend some parts of the Handbook to people who may already be familiar with its content as some sort of portal leading to way deeper explorations.

That handbook is thick. Or maybe it's not ?

For me, the indicated reading times were not matching the time it actually took me to read the content. For lots of articles, I didn't measure anything, but felt like it took longer than expected. Then I did make measurements for Chapter 2 of The Precipice. The estimated reading time was 42 minutes, and it took me about 90 minutes to get through it. This is to be taken with a pinch of salt, as I am not a native English speaker - although I think my English level is above my fellow citizens' average. Moreover, I was taking notes, and for this particular piece of content I entirely read all the footnotes. I also heard about people reading parts of the Handbook faster than the estimates, so I don't really know what the lesson is here.

Effective Altruism is not a monolith

Although this looks really cool, I don't think that's a good representation of EA.[1]

I had heard beforehand that EA wasn't monolithic. But reading this struck me on another level. It just shows way more diversity than I imagined. One internal representation that I have for EA as a movement is a beam of vectors in a cone. Sure, there are differences between projects, between what people are precisely doing, between people's ideas and belief, but there is some common direction. That big list of cause candidates, in some sense, told me the cone was wider in angle than I thought.

This may in some sense represent EA as a movement. Looked cooler in my mind.[2]


Special thanks to @Saul Munn for holding me accountable along the way and suggesting me to write this type of post.


  1. ^

    Photo under licence. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. Amandine Brige, Hadrien Вarral, Michele Orrù, Selene Forget.

  2. ^





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Ah, I didn't know about the EA handbook and would not have found out if not for this post, thanks! It looks pretty good and along with the CFAR handbook, I wish I had known about it many years ago.

Thank you for your comment ! I'm glad this post turned out to be useful :)

I'm a bit surprised, since the Handbook appears on top when Igo to the "Best of the Forum section".

If you're interested there is an introductory EA program based on the Handbook. This might be interesting. (I personally didn't take part in the program, as I already attend sessions at a local group where a significant part of its content is covered and didn't want to book additional timeslots spread through eight weeks.)

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