Epistemic status: Quick thought.
I was just feeling vexed yet again about how I e.g. want serious public funding of research into covid vaccines (and efforts to speed their availability, etc.), but do not want preschoolers stuck wearing masks. (Like, it would be nice to get the most cost-effective interventions, because covid in fact has large continuing costs year on year, but not to totally suspend life as we know it or pay costs with little upside. Which is neither team “exaggerate the risks and keep everyone wearing masks always” nor team “let’s all stop thinking about it and say it’s no big deal.”)
And… then I started daydreaming a bit about an activist movement or political coalition that was about “amounts matter” or “let’s actually do cost-benefit analysis” or “let’s do useful things and not pointless things, without getting stuck on flags or political banners.”
To be clear, "amounts matter" is the usual EA stance already; EA already has this particular piece of sanity. (Thank goodness!) But a lot of people don’t, including some who might enjoy organizing around this and not around EA.
(In addition to rallying *for* vaccine research but *against* mask requirements for young children, such a group could e.g. rally against paper straws. Everybody hates paper straw requirements.)
I… suspect this doesn’t actually make sense to do, given that starting brands is hard. But from time to time, people discuss various brands or political coalitions under which it might be easier to connect particular sets of people or do particular pieces of good (e.g. EA vs longtermism vs progress studies vs etc.). So I'm throwing this one into the brainstorming mix. Especially since covid response seems to offer a better than usual opportunity for allowing an "amounts matter" movement to have a flag people care about. Maybe somebody could build a cool blog and small brand and be cited in newspaper articles and so on? (Or maybe this is already mainstream economics departments, and there’s no need for more?) (If this was useful enough to be worth doing, the upside would be in either letting good people find each other, or raising this basic part of general sanity in public; not in re-allowing plastic straws per se.)
Anybody have a good name/slogan idea for this, that is better than “Amounts matter”?