Open and Welcome Thread: March 2021

by Aaron Gertler1 min read3rd Mar 202126 comments

10

Open thread
Frontpage

If you have something to share that doesn't feel like a full post, add it here! 

(You can also create a Shortform post.)

If you're new to the EA Forum, consider using this thread to introduce yourself! 

You could talk about how you found effective altruism, what causes you work on and care about, or personal details that aren't EA-related at all. 

(You can also put this info into your Forum bio.)

If you're new to effective altruism, consider checking out the Motivation Series (a collection of classic articles on EA). You can also learn more about how the Forum works on this page.

26 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 6:41 AM
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Hello! I'm a maths master's student at Cambridge and have been involved with student groups for the last few years. I've been lurking on the forum for a long time and want to become more active. Hopefully this is the first comment of many!

Welcome Tristan!

Welcome! If you ever have an idea for a post you'd like to write, I'd be glad to read over a draft. And be sure to check out the useful links page for other resources you mind find useful.

Great to see you're still involved, Tristan! Looking forward to reading your thoughts :)

Hi.

I am an unemployed, paranoid schizophrenic who recently started studying stoicsm, Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness and begun to sort my personal problems out. I now want to contribute to society in a meaningful way and I Googled "Effective Altruism" with a view to discovering how to best invest my time and I found you.

My initial impression was that I wanted to do something I could directly see the positive impact I had so you may not be a good fit. I have been considering helping people who are struggling with life and achieving even the basics, much as I have based on my own recent experiences but the idea of maximizing the return on investment for sentient beings on the investment I and others make appeals so, that's where I'm at and what brought me here.

There is a lot of information on this site! Too much for me to digest right now. I'll give you my initial reactions then perhaps read more if you seem like people I should connect with to further my dual intentions of effective contribution and living a life of satisfaction.

Sorry if this has been discussed before or falls foul of etiquette, if it does it can be edited or deleted. I wonder if any effective altruism movements ever do anything for communities on a local level in the developed world, beyond the big direct impact issues such as factory farming? I understand that resources often make a bigger difference in the developing world but if you also target neglected but noticeable things in the communities of the developed world, even if they seem trivial in scope, people who haven't heard of you will know you exist. It could serve as a gateway to introduce people attracted to altruism to contributing in an effective way. Getting involved in a wider scope of issues may dilute the mission if managed poorly but managed correctly I wonder if it would be good PR and advertising?

That's all for now except to offer one thing. I used to be very, very overweight, spend most of my time in bed and catch a taxi round the corner. I'm planning to run my first marathon in September. I have a paid regular entry, if I am sold on Effective Altruism I could run in aid of this cause, though I know not how much impact it would have, more than just running for myself I'm sure.

Thanks for reading.

Hey Rob, welcome to the forum!

Given your interest in Buddhism, you might be interested to join the Buddhists in EA Facebook group. There is also an EA Meditation community that you or others interested in mindfulness can join. I believe they have 3 weekly guided meditations for people to join. Two people in my group in EA Philippines regularly join the meditations and find them valuable.

Regarding what you said about wanting to do something you could directly see the impact of, I think there's many ways you can still achieve this within EA. As you learn more about EA, you can have 1-1's or chats with people newer to EA than you, and help them learn more about EA or one of its causes/concepts, give them career or productivity advice, or even just some tips on mindfulness. 

Also, being able to volunteer for an EA project can allow you to see some more direct impact other than just donating. There might be a volunteer or job opportunity that might interest you in the EA Work Club.

Lastly, regarding if anyone in EA is doing anything for communities on a local level in the developed world, I can think of a few ideas:

  1. Mental health is a big problem both in developed and developing countries, and is prioritized by some people in the EA community. For example, the charity Canopie, incubated by the EA org Charity Entrepreneurship, are developing and testing a mobile app to treat pregnancy-related mental health issues in the United States. So I think if you can find ways to cost-effectively improve mental health in your local community, that could still be impactful to work on.
  2. Another thing that involves local communities is if you're in the U.S., having approval voting become the voting method in your state could be high-impact, because of how approval voting can lessen polarization. The EA-aligned org called The Center for Election Science works on this.
  3. Finding ways to get involved or educated about the policymaking in your area, and seeing if you can advocate for more effective and evidence-based policies, can plausibly be high-impact too.
  4. Finally, I guess doing EA community building work, or running Rationality talks/workshops for your local community, are ways you can introduce people in your area to some relevant ideas, which can help them think of other ways they can make an impact on the world.

I hope some of these links and ideas help!

Thank you, your reply appears helpful and is greatfully received. I am located in the UK rather than the USA.

I will look deeper into EA.

Hi! My name is Sive, I am an undergrad in Anthro and Economics in Public Policy. I have just been introduced to effective altruism, and hope to better my understanding about the general underlying concepts, and hopefully, witness/participate ongoing (live) theoretical discussions to orient EA's actions!

Welcome Sive! Have you joined an EA fellowship yet? An intro one can help you understand the general underlying concepts, and an in-depth one can also let you go deeper in them if you've finished an intro fellowship :)

I created a sequence for the 2019 EA Survey. Is anyone else able to see it? Also, why isn't it linked from the sequences page?

It didn't have a card image, and so couldn't be displayed in the list on the sequences page. Sorry about that — the sequences creation tech is used by sufficiently few users that we / LW haven't prioritized making it a good user experience. Thanks for making it!

I see that someone added a card image. Thanks to whoever did that!

Hey y'all. After reading alot of Singer and some introductory information on this site I've realized how much I want to start actively contributing towards EA goals, especially toward animal rights. Unfortunately I've run into some road blocks and am feeling stuck. I wanted to share some of these problems in hopes that I can receive some resources or ideas from you good people.

  1. I'm poor. I'm saddled with student loan debt. I'm convinced that donating effectively is really the quickest and best way to make an impact but just cant afford to part with much money. How can I most effectively contribute without donating to causes?

  2. I love my job. I work as a Guide for a Wilderness Therapy program and while I feel that I have benefited a few of the troubled adolescents who I've worked with I also recognize that this type of work isn't addressing the more important issues that I've become concerned about through reading about EA. How can I help without having to change careers?

  3. Volunteering with animal advocacy groups is appealing to me but I'm skeptical of alot of groups and not sure where to go. It seems every animal advocacy group I look into is accused of hypocrisy or incompetence. How can help reduce animal suffering? I would love to find some small achievable goal that would help animals and get behind it.

  4. Can't find any EA groups near Salt Lake City. Anyone know of anything?

Lastly, I recognize that looking for a way to help without donating or shifting to a more beneficial career might be unrealistic. I'm definitely open to the idea that making more money in a different field may be the most ethical thing to do and would love to hear thoughts on that as well.

Hey! Just a quick comment that I totally support you paying down your student loan debt before donating, or at least before donating much (some people donate 1% when they're short on cash to get in the habit). I really think that one of the best things you can do early on is get yourself into a good financial situation.

You can also learn lots and share what you learn with your friends - hopefully this website can be useful for that!

Thanks for the 1% suggestion. Any causes you feel it would be best directed to?

Hey!
Re #4, I found this, but I'm not sure if they're still active. If this doesn't work, you very welcome to join us at EA Anywhere.

Hey  Rwoehrle, 
Thanks for sharing! I think it's always good to take a very pragmatic approach towards donating. As long as you have a debt to pay, it seems like it's worth putting money into that, and building a safety net for yourself first (a bit like putting an oxygen mask on yourself before you gonna get one on your child). When it comes to volunteering for animal groups, I'd recommend ACE top charities, or charities that are founded by Open Philanthropy or Animal Welfare Found, they should be kind of safe bets. Personally, I like The Humane League, and orgs around Open Wing Alliance (because this is an intervention that seems to be proven to be net positive for chickens). You can look for online volunteer opportunities with them. E.g. I work for an EA organization full time, but recently decided to donate some hours of graphic work to Fish Welfare Initiative. Maybe you can think of things you like to do, and the skills you have and go from that. I think that volunteering is a great thing, and you can start with as little as 1-2 hours a week. 
Also, try to join this group with EA Online Events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EAOnlineEvents to connect with the community online until you will find (or maybe start) a group near you. All the best!

Hi there! I'm new to the forum and am excited to learn more and hopefully add value to the group. I currently work on energy and climate policy in a government role (more about me in my bio) and spend most of my free time reading books and articles in the fields of physics, neuroscience, and economics and thinking about what it all means for how we should live our lives. Can't wait to get more involved!

Welcome Schuyler!

[+][comment deleted]3mo 2

Welcome Schuyler! I haven't encountered anyone else yet in the EA community who works on energy and climate policy in a government role, so it's nice to have someone with your background. 

You might be interested to join the Effective Environmentalism Facebook group, which gathers people who want to discuss and collaborate on impactful action for the climate crisis and other sustainability challenges. If you haven't seen some of Founders Pledge's resources on their Climate Change analysis and charity recommendations, such as this executive summary, I'd encourage you to read them. I'd also love to hear your thoughts on them!

Hey Rob, welcome to the forum!

Is anyone else having trouble logging into the EA Fellowship Weekend Grip platform? I can't get past the screen where I set my password.

Hey Evelyn, I'll DM you about this to figure it out!

For anyone else having issues please email eafellowshipweekend@gmail.com.