Tell us about your recent EA activities

by Kaj_Sotala10th Oct 201414 comments

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We have plenty of effective altruists around the world, each doing something to make the world a better place. If we all work separately and don't report of our work, most of our efforts will go unnoticed by others in the community, who could otherwise provide encouragement or suggestions, or be inspired by our work.

If you've recently carried out some effective altruist activity, come here and let us know about it.

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Yesterday, me and two others ran the first bigger and more broadly marketed introductory EA event in Helsinki, Finland. We advertised it mainly on Facebook and on the mailing lists of a few student groups. Around 30 people showed up in total, many if not most of them new to EA.

The event consisted of two parts: an introductory lecture, where I compared PlayPumps with Deworm the World (borrowing the story from Will MacAskill's upcoming book) to help drive home the concept of EA and illustrate what the slogan "effective altruism combines the head and the heart" really means. Then I said a few words about different EA organizations, about how it's not just about charitable organizations but also things like 80,000 hours evaluating how to directly make the biggest impact on your life, and how I thought that EA is a really exciting idea.

The talk seemed to be well received and I got positive feedback of it later on. Then we ran a Giving Game, with my co-organizers having contributed 200 euros and The Life You Can Save sponsoring us by 5 euros per participant. I had picked Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, GiveDirectly, and Fistula Foundation as the three organizations to compare, on the basis of TLYCS having ready materials for them and them being sufficiently similar but also sufficiently different to make it meaningful and interesting to compare between them.

People seemed to find this an interesting question and quickly started talking about it. We used a format that had proven successful in our Less Wrong meetups, where we first told people to form groups of three or four, and then after some time asked them to new form new groups of a similar size to get new perspectives. In this case, it meant 15 minutes of discussion for the first groups, reform, and then another 15 minutes of discussion. After that we had people make their decisions and pick their favorite charity by filling an e-mail form on one of the two laptops brought by the organizers; they could optionally also give us their e-mail address if they wanted to stay in touch. People who were short on time could also leave earlier and make their decision as they left (we had placed one of the laptops by the door).

Another organizer has the exact figures, but as I recall, the results of the Giving Game had SCI as by far the most popular pick (around 80% support), with GiveDirectly the second (around 15%) and Fistula Foundation coming in third.

Altogether I'm quite happy with the event, and looking forward to organizing more local EA activities.

Hey Kaj, I just thought I'd let you know that you're not alone in Scandinavia! A few of us are starting an EA group in Uppsala, Sweden and Trondheim, Norway launched a couple of weeks ago. I know it's late notice, but we're having a Google Hangout this evening, 9pm your time so if you could join, that'd be great!

Fantastic!

(Replied more privately.)

That sounds excellent, Kaj! I remember when we ran a giving game in Melbourne, lots of people would try to break the token we gave them in half, to split it between the charities offered! I think lots of people got an impression that choosing is difficult but also important.

Sounds like EA Helsinki is off to a great start.

I have about three months before I hopefully start studies for a new degree -- when I'm hoping to also start an EA group -- and I've been thinking about how to use my time effectively, either by earning some money, volunteering, studying, or a combination of the former.

One thing that I did today was post flyers on a campus close to where I live to offer tutoring. On the flyer, I wrote that my rate would be $20/hour if anyone interested wanted to pay me personally, or $19/hour if they donated the money to the Deworm the World Initiative instead.

I realize that these rates are comparable, and that giving less to charity might sound strange, but including a contrasting rate seemed like a decent way to garner interest in this particular charity and GiveWell without the overall offer coming across strangely by only having the donate-to-charity rate.

You could justify the lower price because then you don't have to give away a fraction of your income to sales tax!

Great idea, Kaj, this'd make a good regular thread. Is the best way to do that to have it be a sub-thread of the open thread?

This week I launched EA Profiles, added several features to those, helped some people join the 'donate your birthday' fundraising scheme (moving some money to GiveDirectly), researched and talked to peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, and researched how to leave your money to effective charities in your will (post forthcoming).

I think it's good to have regular threads as top level posts. I imagine there'll only be a handful of them. That seemed to work well on LessWrong.

What did you learn about p2p fundraising? Also, I look forward to hearing about wills.

Seattle Effective Altruists recent meetups:

  • Dinner with Nick Bostrom
  • Criticisms of EA discussion
  • Existential risk discussion

Future meetups:

  • Factory Farming documentary night (Earthling and Farm To Fridge)
  • Style for Effective Altruists
  • Short talk from Giving What We Can on the pledge

Myself:

You can see my EA activities on my latest personal review.

My first effective altruism (EA) activity was spending time and energy looking up in the internet several altruistic phrases, such as "rational altruism" “naïve altruism“ , “wise altruism“, “mature altruism“, "genetic altruism", "pragmatic altruism". I am interested in understanding how a person’s worldview may effectively transition from naïve to mature altruistic states of mind. Any ideas?

I'd recommend reading the links offered here: http://effectivealtruism.org/resources/#reading They are some useful introductory articles to effective altruism.

The idea of talking about recent EA activities is closely related to Your Good Deeds Thread but it's good to try out variations on a good theme.

Yeah, I thought about that one too, but figured that "just write about anything EA you've done, big or small" would be a useful lower bar than "the most awesome altruistic thing you've done lately".