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Hi all

I was wondering which writings had the most impact on your decisions, in the sense that they e.g. caused you to take the GWWC pledge, or change your career, or else engage more with EA as a movement.

These could be books, blogs, newspaper articles, journal articles - any kind of writing.

This isn't just a 'best EA books list' – I'm specifically interested in what writings influenced your thinking or prompted some mental paradigm shift or actual decision.




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Singer's 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality'. (But I joined GWWC back in 2010, so there wasn't much other EA writing around yet!)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It got me into rationality/less wrong and set me down the path.

Strangely it was Superforecasting by Phil Tetlock, which made me start forecasting on Good Judgment Open. I started interacting with forecasters there, and a load of those guys were into EA, and that's how I got into it. I think a decent number of people have gone from EA (or rationalism) into forecasting but for me it was the other way around. 

Reading papers by Nick Bostrom. And watching his 2005 TED Talk. I can't remember in which order. But I do remember thinking Bostrom's delivery in the TED Talk was clear and deliberate comic genius.

I heard about EA from a public debate that Will MacAskill did back in 2015, and I read Doing Good Better and thought it was basically sensible. But I didn't feel any compelling connection to EA until I read Small and Vulnerable.

Basically three numbers: $2 prevents malaria at a rate of 600 nets per 1 life or 750 cases of malaria. I recall comparing it with the cost of saving a life in an American hospital. All the links I find on The Life you Can Save, Giving What we Can, and GiveWell are all way too detailed so it might have been the Against Malaria Foundation description itself.

Givewell's charity analysis. Thorough, including counter arguments, focus on net effectiveness, and such a variety of philanthropic choices I had not heard of before. It allowed me to trust that donating would actually be worthwhile, and actually feel okay asking other people to donate too.

CFAR handbook has improved my ability to be intentional and choose things that are effective in my daily life and for the world. I know how to break procrastination and make good tradeoffs with my resources.

Open Philanthropy: Cause Area Exploration and Future of Life Institute: Worldbuilding Contest were both invitations to submit my own writing which got me to analyze and apply EA, plus has gotten me more deeply involved with teams in EA, and now I spend a ton more time working on EA projects which I don't see stopping any time soon... 

Oh the other big ones were: The Moral Animal and Nonzero, bit by Robert Wright.

A few years after Bostrom it was early 80,000 Hours, then called High Impact Careers. It struck me as a thing that really ought to exist and was partly responsible for me deciding not to do an MA in Philosophy.

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