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I really really (and I cannot emphasize this enough) really dislike writing applications. It gives me a feeling of despair and inadequacy about my career and life choices. Due to this I write much fewer applications than I should be, and spend too much time and energy on the few I do send.

I generally feel confident about myself but writing applications for some reason really messes me up.

Has anyone here dealt with anxiety when writing applications? If so, how did you overcome it?

I think a lot of people feel this way, and it's something I've experienced. I don't have any great solutions but I generally do two things:

  1. Set reasonable expectations. The application process has a lot of randomness, and almost all applications will get ignored even if they're good, so I should expect any particular application to have a very low chance of getting a response.
  2. Spend less time on individual applications; apply to a lot of things; use commonalities across applications to copy/paste things I wrote on previous applications.

Does anyone have advice on getting rid of material desire?

Unlike many I admire I seem to have a much larger desire to buy stuff I don't need. For example I currently feel an overpowering urge to spend $100 on a go board, despite the fact that I little need for one.

I'm not arguing that I have some duty to live frugally due to EA, I just would prefer to be a version of myself that doesn't feel the need to spend money on as much stupid stuff.

If spending a bit of money is ok, you can implement the policy of throwing away things you don't need. Then after a few cycles of buy thing -> receive thing -> throw away thing you'll be deconditioned from buying useless things.

Most purchases I on reflection would prefer not to make are purchases where what I would receive would be worth much more than nothing but still less than the asking price, so I would never actually be compelled to throw out the superfluous stuff I buy.

Many times the purchase would even be worth more than the asking price, but I would like for my preferences to change such that it no longer would be the case.

If a bhikkhu monk can be content owning next to nothing, surely I can be happy owning less than I currently do. The question is how I change my preferences to become more like that of the monk.

The underlying desire of most addictive tendencies in our production/consumption culture is the desire to feel more connected with a tribe (Maslow’s love and belonging). We are—at our core—social creatures. Our ancestors reinforced connections with tribe mates every day, and they clearly knew the values they shared with the tribe. They were living life within the parameters in which we evolved to thrive.

In our society the tribes have been disbanded in favor of a more interconnected world, and likewise values have become diffuse and harder for individuals to know what they truly believe in. Just like throwing 20k chickens into a barn causes them to go crazy and peck one another to death because their brains can’t handle a pecking order that big, so too is it with humans who are not able to instinctively operate in such a vastly more complex and relationally fluid world where the environment has changed so radically from tribal days.

Invest in a few (3-5) deeply intimate relationships where you know you are equals and can be there unconditionally and without judgment for each other. As Robin Dunbar says in his excellent book “Friends”:

It was the social measures that most influenced your chances of surviving… The best predictors were those that contrasted high versus low frequencies of social support and those that measured how well integrated you were into your social network and your local community. Scoring high on these increased your chances of surviving by as much as 50 per cent… it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that you can eat as much as you like, drink as much alcohol as you want, slob about as much as you fancy, fail to do your exercises and live in as polluted an atmosphere as you can find, and you will barely notice the difference… You will certainly do yourself a favor by eating better, taking more exercise and popping the pills they give you, but you’ll do considerably better just by having some friends.

Also see Robert Waldinger’s TED talk on the Grant study.

I wrote down a list of all the things I could spend one hour every day doing. Among high scorers was teaching myself Mandarin.

Has anyone looked into the value of learning Mandarin, for the average person disinterested in China?

Some thoughts here on how quick it is to learn:

In there, I guess that 6-18 months of full-time study in the country is enough to get to conversational fluency.

I've seen other estimates that it takes a couple of thousand hours to get fluent e.g. here:

My guess is that it's more efficient to study full time while living in the country. I think living there increases motivation, means you learn what you actually need, means you learn a bunch 'passively', and lets you practice conversation a lot, which is better than most book learning, and you learn more of the culture. So, I'd guess someone would make more progress living there for a year compared to doing an hour a day for ~4 years, and enjoy it more.

That said, if you use the hour well, you could learn a lot of vocab and grammar. You could could then get a private tutor to practice conversation, or you could go to China (or Taiwan) later building on that base.

My guess is that it's more efficient to study full time while living in the country. I think living there increases motivation, means you learn what you actually need, means you learn a bunch 'passively', and lets you practice conversation a lot, which is better than most book learning, and you learn more of the culture.


Being there definitely increased my motivation to learn the language, even though I didn't know any Chinese beforehand and wasn't intending to learn any.

Why would you learn Mandarin if you're disinterested in China? What made it high scoring?

Triplebyte is a company that interviews and vets software developers, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. Triplebyte can cut down the time spent on draining interviews significantly. More importantly it makes it easy for firms to find candidates and vice-versa.

Would it be useful to have similar service for EA organisations?

It seems to me the skills EA organisations look for, seem harder to generalize than software development skills. This means centralized interviews are much less valuable.

What does seem useful is reducing the friction that arises from matching companies with candidates.

Less well known orgs could more easily find the labor they need and persons interested in direct work at EA orgs can devote their full focus on their current occupation knowing they will be visible to potential employers.

It seems the 80k job-board is already accomplishing much of this, does anyone reckon there would be demand for an expanded version of this?

At what point do feel with ~90% certainty you would have done more good by donating to animal charities than you've harmed by consuming a regular meat-filled diet?

It would be nice to know the numbers I have in my head somewhat conform to what smart people think.