Open Thread #42

by Milan_Griffes17th Oct 201821 comments


Open Thread

Use this thread to post things that are awesome, but not awesome enough to be full posts. This is also a great place to post if you don't have enough karma to post on the main forum.

Consider giving your post a brief title to improve readability.

19 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:26 AM
New Comment

Could unsuccessful EA grants applications be made public?

Could CEA ask unsuccessful applicants for EA grants whether they would be willing for those applications to be made public? If they agree, it would mean that funders have the ability to access potentially exciting new funding opportunities.

(It would be even better if CEA could also give some indication of their opinion on the quality of the application, to help us find out whether the application was good, but they just didn't have enough money to fund it, or whether they thought it wasn't worth funding. However I suspect they might not have enough resource for that, so I don't want to be too demanding.

Indeed. It would be interesting. As an earn to give EA, it´s pretty difficult to find good projects, and I´d certainly be interested in having access to a list of semi-curated initiatives looking for funding. Hope they consider it for the next future.

I have info on a couple projects that you might find interesting, depending on your worldview.

Shoot me an email at the address on this page if you want to learn more:

This is a good idea; I'd love to see the grant apps that weren't funded by CEA.

Would you like to see an write-up on a failed digital marketing campaign to create high-impact donors?

This was work conducted by my organisation SoGive which aims to support donors towards high-impact charitable giving.

If enough people express an interest, I may write this up.

Edit: sorry, should have said this earlier, but it would be useful if interested people could clarify whether they are saying: "I would like this to exist, but I can't definitely commit to reading what's written" or whether they are saying: "I would like this to exist, and I commit to actually reading the post, and demonstrating that I have read it by other commenting on the post or mentioning it to Sanjay in a direct message"

Apologies to Peter H and Milan who gave their responses before I made this edit

Hi all, I've been engaged with the local EA community for some time now and I think it's time I can start contributing. I did some personal research for my donation allocation with focus on mental health and summed it up in a post I shared with the local community.

I intended the post about mental health to be practical, from a small donor's perspective, and I think it can be valuable for the broader EA community as well. I don't have enough Karma for full post, therefore I link it from here: Mental Health From the Perspective of a Small Donor in 2018

What do you think about it? Is it the kind of material you would find useful here on EA forum and would you like more posts like these?

Here's an executive summary of the post:

Mental health is an important cause area that very well passes all the importance, neglectedness, and tractability criteria. It has been argued that we should focus on it even more than on some currently popular EA topics, especially if our goal is increasing “happiness” or life satisfaction.

Mental health is the biggest predictor of “misery”, or the bottom 10% in terms of life satisfaction, more than poverty or physical illness. Depression alone affects around 10% of the population globally. Depression and anxiety account for 2.9% of the global DALY burden (malaria accounts for 2.7% and DALYs probably underestimate mental health). It is neglected both by the international donor community and in national health budgets, especially in developing countries.

Solutions to the problem and topics for further research are known. From the perspective of a small donor, the most effective known recipient is StrongMinds. It offers group psychotherapy treatments to women in Africa, its model scales well, and Founders Pledge estimates its effectiveness at $220/DALY.

After the investigation of the cause area, I personally decided to donate some of my resources to StrongMinds this season.

Hi mifeet, welcome to the Forum!

It's hard to tell from your summary whether your post would be a good fit for the forum. It would be easier if you said what kind of methods you used to investigate the mental health cause area. For example, did you read several EA documents and summarize them? Did you read the websites of several charities? Something else?

I'm glad you're going to be getting involved online!

Hi Khorton, yes, it is a summary from several EA sources (more details are in the linked article).

The main value of the article is in compiling them to be actionable for a small donor: It argues the cause passes the importance/neglectedness/tractability criteria, compares impact and cost-effectiveness with malaria treatment, and suggests a donation recipient (StrongMinds) with discussion of other options.

I know I've seen arguments for mental health as a cause area on the Forum before, using the INT framework. You might want to do a quick search to confirm whether your key arguments have been well-represented on here.

A Website about Wild Animal (Insect) Suffering.

Hi! I created a website/blog regarding wild animal (insect) suffering, which i think is an EA related issue.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

My thoughts on the world

Hello, I found this forum today which seems in line with my own quest to make the world a better place, and I would like to share with you my thoughts on the world, to provoke some discussion and maybe open you to new lines of thought and potential solutions.

There are contradictions in the ways we act and behave with each other to get what we want, and in the ways we practice science, psychiatry, justice, and education. To me these contradictions are an immense source of suffering in the world today, and we could prevent a lot of suffering by seeing them and how they cause suffering.

I point out some of these contradictions in a long introduction to my ideas I have posted online:

I would love to get feedback on it.

Cheers, Leo

Could you post a tl;dr?

Perhaps the 3-5 main claims of your position + any important differences from other thinkers in the EA space.

Sure, well, first of all to effectively determine what course of action to take to prevent the most suffering possible (or spread the most happiness) we need an accurate model of how suffering comes about. The whole text is aimed at showing how suffering comes about and how we can prevent it.

I argue that the idea (which permeates all our thoughts) that there is one absolute reality is not an accurate model of what is, and that we need instead to start thinking in terms of each being having one's own reality. To come to this conclusion I talk about how words are a limited tool to communicate, to show others what we experience and to experience what others experience, and how the absolute distinction between 'real' and 'imaginary' is not valid. I use this to show how the criteria we use in psychiatry to determine why many people suffer are flawed.

I then describe a world where we consider each of us to have our own reality, and show how the apparent lack of absolute standard does not entail meaninglessness or suffering or fear, on the contrary, that despite differences there is something that links us, the desire to live and the love we received without which we couldn't have survived, and that through love we can overcome fear and all the suffering that follows from it.

I mention how fighting fear with fear only adds more to it, and that justice is based on that idea, to prevent suffering by causing suffering, which can never prevent suffering, it can only make some people suffer more rather than some others. I disagree that some people are fundamentally 'bad' or 'insane', they appear to be because we do not understand their reality, their fears and how they came to be and how they came to cope with them. In the aim of preventing suffering caused by people onto others justice contradicts itself.

Then I talk about 'science', how it has become the top authority in our society replacing religion, seen as a bringer of 'what to believe in' and 'what we want'. I talk about what science fundamentally is and how what many so-called scientists do is not science, but rather pushing their own beliefs without realizing it, which causes enormous suffering. I give the example of their fundamental models of the 'one reality', be it general relativity, the standard model of particles physics, or string theory, which can provably never account for our experience of feeling, of feeling anything at all, yet from these models of the 'one reality' pushed onto them people come to believe that their feelings don't mean shit and that their life is meaningless, leading to depression and suicides.

Then I talk about how the way we educate our children through school contradicts what we want for them and the world we want, how we are sowing the seeds of war and suicide. But things don't have to be the way they are, and by seeing as individuals and as a society how suffering comes about we can much more effectively prevent it.

Many people with good intentions end up generating suffering because of their fears they aren't aware of and their false beliefs they haven't assessed. Fear works insidiously, people want power because they fear others, and they want to push their beliefs because they fear others. I don't want to be believed, I just hope you can see what I see, and if you don't I want to find what is it that makes you not see. I'm doing this because I feel it needs to be done, if I saw others on the same track then I wouldn't bother, but I don't see it. But the first step is having the desire to improve things, and believing that things can be improved, and I see that here.

Lant Pritchett's new paper as required EA reading

Has anyone read this?

I'd be very curious to see an EA response, especially from someone involved in the global poverty space.

[Adam and Tilda turn to leave the room]

  • HM: Adam. Listen to me. For the sake of my grandson, if not your own. There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well. This movement will never survive. If you join them, you and your entire family will be shunned. At best, you exist as pariah, to be spat on and beaten. At worst, lynched or crucified.

(At the same time in year 2144 we see Sonmi being led to her execution, watched by a crowd which includes Mephi, she smiles with a tear rolling down her face as the device that kills fabricants is placed to her head, the metal bolt released killing her instantly as it goes through her head)

  • HM: And for what? For what? No matter what you do, it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean.
  • Adam Ewing: What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?

[Adam and Tilda leave the room] ~ Cloud Atlas

"Virtually all poverty reduction comes from economic growth and migration–not [...] philanthropy."

Thousands of dollars to prevent one person from getting Malaria (due to an AMF bednet) is enough for me. Sure, it's a drop in the bucket—so what?

Most philanthropists aren’t asking themselves, what’s the absolute most effective anti-poverty force in the world? They’re thinking like economists, on the margin. What’s the greatest marginal benefit for the world that I can get in exchange for my donation? The fact that most poverty reduction is coming from economic growth and migration could indicate that other areas are being neglected, and thus offer more promising opportunities for an individual donor. Bednets for malaria prevention seem like a clear example of this.

Jason H

Should individuals be thought of as a macroeconomic force?

Should single charities?

(I am deleting this post)

It would be better if you started with, "Perhaps suffering matters more than [death]."

Also, see these:

Maybe it's just me, but when you say "my ideas" it sounds as though you're going to put forth some original idea/perspective. None of these ideas are remotely original. Additionally, why use a Google Doc? Is this for a class? Do you want suggestions?