What groups do know of that are similar to EA but wouldn't fit into the framework directly.

Might include:
- communities that think in an EA way about problems that EA's don't consider important (EG ones that aren't tractable for instance)
- people who use EA modes of thought but not on EA problems (people who like spaced repetition, spreadsheets etc)
- people who are moved by similar impulses but in a different direction (more general activist movements)

Answers will include:
- groups who EA ought to reach out to
- strange parallels that surprise us
- groups who find EA a bit icky and it's worth figuring out why

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A couple of historical predecessors:

The scientific charity movement starting in the 1870s: https://www.jefftk.com/p/scientific-charity-movement

And John Wesley advocating earning to give in the 1700s: https://www.jefftk.com/p/history-of-earning-to-give-iii-john-wesley

To me, The Uniting Church of Australia.

It's probably controversial to list a church, but I walked in to the church and got a bible study on how to effectively help people in global poverty, and absolutely loved it.

I definitely think that Churches are a good place to start for places similar to EA, simply because I find that communities around churches have a lot of what I call "intent to do good". Particularly, In my experience, they seem to be unusually disposed to help reduce global poverty. 

Further, when coming into Christianity, I found that there are concepts that are incredibly similar to Peter Singer's notion of strong obligation to help the poor. Examples include:

  • "If you wish to be perfect, sell all you own and give to the poor" (Luke 12:33)
  • "What you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me" (Matthew 25:40)

I'm so convinced of this, that even though I would call myself an atheist, I still heavily involve myself with my church community in order to try make a difference in the way that people view the church, and to direct the church in ways that we can help more people.

Strong endorse. Long before I came across EA as a movement I had adopted the philosophical foundations of it for religious reasons. Although the specific verses that struck me were not the ones about perfection, which sounds optional, but the greatest commandment, which sounds obligatory:

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:37-39. The first didn't really so... (read more)

For what it's worth, I don't think it's remotely controversial to list a church.

Thanks for writing :)

Also not necessarily not not EA: https://www.eaforchristians.org/ [https://www.eaforchristians.org/] :)

‘Nordic school metamodernism’ has been an interesting complement and contrast to EA in my experience.

They have an active forum of people who are passionate about things like cognitive complexity, political philosophy, and societal development beyond moral relativism. They have two provocative books (dense with interesting ideas imo), the first of which was just released on Audible. In general, I find them to be ambitious, secular, sane, and attempting to make things better for all sentient beings. (The style of the half-fictional author, the great philosopher Hanzi Freinacht, has its pros & cons, though, and may not be for everyone.)

Some takeaways for me (in contrast to EA) include:
- complementing the often hyper-individualizing focus of EA;
- highlighting a ton of (often-overlooked) factors that might be possible to develop in our personal, social, and institutional matters;
- generally combating passivist misanthropy by doing a detailed & insightful tour through what things suck, how exactly, and how they could suck less in the future if we manage to actively develop all of them (i.e. inspiring people into activism in all areas of life).

I’m not up to date on what concrete things that community has done, but to be fair, it does seem necessary to first spread awareness about all those problems before tackling them. They might also be quite constrained by lack of effective coordination around their aims, which may be a main reason why not so many people within the EA community are actively even aiming to go the same way. But I think many people would already benefit from the (imo worldview-enriching) concepts in those books, if they can stand the rhetorics.

(Twitter/Reddit) Neoliberalism

A political ideology focused on free markets, regulating market failures and LGBT+ rights. This isn't necessarily the same as "Neoliberalism" which is an older ideology. The name is confusing.

Twitter Neoliberals seem to me to find EA ideas compelling but want to be part of a political community. So key neoliberal figures tend to end up recommending GiveWell and occasionally repeating EA talking points. I guess neoliberals might wonder why no one wants an EA political party. Their marketing tends to be more combative than EA.

edit I edited this to make clearer that I was talking about neoliberals on twitter/reddit as opposed to the more general label.

[-][anonymous]9mo 2

I would contend that Neoliberalism is quite different from EA in that it is much less an open question of how to produce value, and much more a somewhat dogmatic set of theoretical ideas on how the economy produces the most value (the same could be said of its counterparts, Marxism/Socialism).

In Neoliberalist thought, government regulation is largely about ensuring competitive markets by avoiding monopolies. Other than that, government should interfere as little as possible with markets. As an example, 'market failure' isn't mentioned a single time in the ... (read more)

3Nathan Young9mo
I suggest that I'm taking about a specific group of Neoliberals. I don't think they are the same group the Wikipedia page represents.
Looking at the Reddit forum you linked to, it seems very much to be the same ideology that I am talking about. From "About Us" in the sidebar: "With collectivism on the rise, a group of liberal philosophers, economists, and journalists met in Paris at the Walter Lippmann Colloquium in 1938 to discuss the future prospects of liberalism. While the participants could not agree on a comprehensive programme, there was universal agreement that a new liberal (neoliberal) project, able to resist the tendency towards ever more state control without falling back into the dogma of complete laissez-faire, was necessary." and "The state serves an important role in establishing conditions favorable to competition through preventing monopoly, providing a stable monetary framework, and relieving acute misery and distress." The only surprise I find among the "Policies we support include" is carbon taxes. It seems that these neoliberals have been less dogmatic regarding market failures than is my general impression of prominent thinkers in the ideology. EDIT: Reading up on the views of Milton Friedman (one of the 2-3 most famous and influential Neoliberal thinkers) on negative externalities, it seems that he may well have been in favour of solving those problems through the specific mechanism of taxing the use. So it seems even the carbon tax policy is very much "classical" Neoliberalism, where markets solve humanity's problems through price mechanisms (not that I don't personally agree with this to an extent).
4Nathan Young9mo
Sure, which suggests that either in this specific case or in general your contention that "Other than that, government should interfere as little as possible with markets" doesn't hold.
FWIW, I do think Reddit neoliberalism has important differences to EA (mainly that it has a strong preference for free markets and deregulation), but I think this is still compatible with considering Reddit neoliberalism to be “close to EA but not EA”.
On another note, I find it a bit misleading that you edited your original answer to the question after my reply, without indicating you made an edit, and then added this reply to make it look like you were suggesting this the whole time.
4Nathan Young9mo
Sorry, I didn't give it much thought. Happy to change. I felt a bit accused by your comment. In particular the assumption that I was deliberately trying to mislead others "added this reply to make it look like you were suggesting this the whole time". Was that what you intended me to feel? Hope you're well.
3Philip Porter9mo
I didn't mean that it was your intention to make it look like you were suggesting this the whole time, but that is the effect of it. It makes it look like I didn't read your original answer properly before responding. (Thanks for changing it now btw) I don't know what your intentions were, but your replies, including singling out the part of my previous reply that concedes that Neoliberals do use a limited set of tools to address certain types of market failures, in order to show me that I was wrong, don't seem to take seriously what I was writing or aim to "approach disagreements with curiousity". Maybe this has something to do with the style of my replies? If so, please let me know. EDIT: To make it completely clear, I am the anonymous poster from above BTW. My username was cleared due to some forum adjustments.

It feels like we got off on the wrong foot. I'm sorry that we didn't communicate better.

Let's leave this for a bit. I how you're well and I'm sure we'd get on in person.

The vegan community. Both are ultimately about reducing suffering, and of course, EA is also very involved in animal welfare.

The main difference is that EA seems primarily interested in outcomes, and veganism is also interested in self-sacrifice and symbolism. You don't avoid eating animal products because you think it will make a huge difference, but simply because it's the right thing to do.  As Loki said in "American Gods", "The symbol is the thing". 

 Maybe the vegan community would find EA a bit icky just because it feels like EA consists of rich people sacrificing very little of their personal lifestyle but making the "right" donations to absolve themselves. 

I'm not sure I'd say the vegan community is ultimately about reducing suffering, although that's the motivation for many. Many are primarily concerned with animal exploitation and killing, so more focused on animal rights, and many even oppose animal welfare reforms. Some are primarily concerned with the environment or health, but I think the animal-focused ones are the most active.

Maybe the vegan community would find EA a bit icky just because it feels like EA consists of rich people sacrificing very little of their personal lifestyle but making the "righ

... (read more)
1Marjolein Oostrom9mo
Absolutely, thanks for the great points. I think you are correct that the issue would be more the utilitarianism than sacrifice. I was not aware of that survey. I’d be interested in how many vegans were involved in EA
1Marjolein Oostrom9mo
Also thanks for the reminder on the distinction between animal welfare and rights. It’s a useful way to think about difference between group philosophies

Systems thinking shares the question: where and how can one intervene to achieve large improvement for small investment, minimize off-target effects, and have the improvement actually stick instead of revert?

Where would I find systems thinkers? Do they have a forum or whatever?

I haven’t found a communication nexus, but I’d love to hear about it if there is one! Looks like there are some Facebook groups and a LinkedIn group, but I don’t know how active they are. Most of the activity I’ve seen is in a closed Keybase group. I’ve run into at least half a dozen other systems mindset folks who have heard a little about EA and want to know more. We tried to set up a learning discussion during Complexity Weekend but got stuck on scheduling conflicts. Cross-pollinating might look like someone who practices both presenting at a Heartbeat event, or for an EA group organizer to volunteer as a Complexity Weekend organizer.
@rory_greig, do you know where systems thinkers converse?
Two Systems/Complexity communities I'm involved with: https://www.complexityweekend.com/ [https://www.complexityweekend.com/] https://www.systemsinnovation.network/ [https://www.systemsinnovation.network/]

I'm glad you mentioned this - I was just in conversation with another EA/systems thinking advocate and we saw some valuable potential to cross pollinate. Where are you based? We may scheme a bit on how to create intersection points if you'd be interested.

Thanks! Sent you a direct message.

RadicalxChange (RxC)

Pushing systemic change via new mechanisms and general activism. Quadratic Voting, "radical antitrust" (don't know what that means)

To me RxC looks like people who want to help but don't find the EA approach compelling. Some comments (epistemic status: 75%):
- They want systemic change and clearly care
- They are about bold moves and testing new ideas without the level of due diligence that EA usually requires
- They reach artists and activists (if you want an analogy, look at their stylish/garish website which is way more "out there" than any EA website I've ever seen in terms of design)
- They seem embedded in the crypto community


RxC also has some useful tools such as Quadratic Voting (QV): https://quadraticvote.radicalxchange.org/ we can use within EA. 

For example, I used https://pol.is/home and QV for my In-Depth EA Program group to collectively decide on weekly topics for the program

Maybe the John A Hartford Foundation.

Various utilitarianism- and Peter Singer-motivated efforts in global poverty and animal welfare, decades before the modern effective altruism community emerged.


Empirical development economics and GBD-prioritized global health interventions.

Of course, the "rationalist" and "transhumanist" communities have strong similarities, and large chunks of them have essentially merged with EA.

There are various efforts aimed at more widespread use of cost-benefit analysis, e.g. see Sunstein's book.

Some of the charter cities movements have a similar philosophy to EA, but with more of a focus on improving governance.

In particular, I'd guess GameB is the closest to EA since it acknowledges a lot of the same X risks EA is focused on. https://www.gameb.wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

The Seasteading Institute https://www.seasteading.org/, which promotes floating cities is also similar. It used to run Ephemerisle https://ephemerisle.github.io/, which was apparently sort of a Burning Man on water.

EA seems to interact most with the charter city community through the Charter Cities Institute https://www.chartercitiesinstitute.org/. Their founder has posted on the forum before. 

Besides improving governance, their messaging seems to focus on widely known causes such as climate change and poverty on their site so I'm not sure how close their philosophy is to those in the EA movement.

If you're interested in charter cities I'd also check out 2 new one's in Honduras: 

  1. Mariposa https://mariposa.hn/
    1. Scott Alexander writes about it here: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/model-city-monday-8221 
  2. Prospera https://prospera.hn/ 
    1. Scott Alexander writes about it here: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/prospectus-on-prospera 

I like the answers so far. I'll add a few more:

My impression is these groups (and systems/complexity groups) find EA thinking "icky" because it is overly:

  • linear
  • mechanistic 
  • reductionist
  • deterministic 
5 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:44 PM

Progress studies, rationalists, non-EA utilitarians, Tetlock-style forecasters, transhumanists, consequentialist libertarians/liberals/socialists, the evidence-based medicine/policy movement (some of these overlap partly with EA).

Edit: Also sceptics, humanists. Ryan listed still more groups in this comment in a thread that's related to this one.

2 questions re non-EA utilitarians:

1. Is there an active non-EA utilitarian community?

2. If so, are they at all online or is this a mostly offline community?

I ask because my impression was that all the early online utilitarian forums got swallowed by EA (eg Felicifia, see also this poll of the main utilitarianism FB group) 

I don't know too well. I guess there are professional philosophers who are utilitarians but not particularly EA.

This seems pretty likely to be true to me, too.

Based on the PhilPapers Surveys, about a quarter of philosophers accept or lean towards consequentialism, and we certainly don't have a quarter of philosophers in EA.

We could also find a bunch of authors broadly sympathetic to similar views writing for Utilitas and who aren't very engaged with EA.


There's also the International Society for Utilitarian Studies (Facebook), and they run conferences (2020 cancelled, 2018, 2000).

At the 2018 conference

The keynote speakers will be Julia Driver, William MacAskill and Anders Sandberg. Dieter Birnbacher will deliver a public lecture on July 23 (in German, English text will be provided).

There's a German Society for Utilitarian Studies.

I also imagine many people who follow Sam Harris (and Richard Dawkins and maybe others) are utilitarian or close to it, but not particularly engaged with EA. Sam is fairly engaged now, but wasn't for a long time, I think.

I wouldn't be surprised if economists were disproportionately likely to be consequentialists, too.

And there are probably many people who, if you explained utilitarianism (and alternatives) to them, would tell you they're utilitarian or similar, but haven't thought about it much. I'd expect > 1% of the world population is utilitarian or similar by this standard, although they might reject the demandingness of consequentialism and are likely not thinking systematically about doing good.

Nice, and thanks for writing this as a comment rather than an answer. I think others can then take the comment and it into several answers.