Aaron_Scher

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Partnerships between the EA community and GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums)

Love this idea, and your suggestion of talks with AMNH, it seems like there could be lots interesting content around longtermism or existential risk with a colab there. A small idea would be asking libraries to buy EA and rationality related books (if they don’t have them), and make sure that they’re included with other related books. Like the “business self-help” and “how to be a top CEO” sections should probably include the 80k book imo.

Pilot study results: Cost-effectiveness information did not increase interest in EA

Thanks for your thorough comment! Yeah I was shooting for about 60 participants, but due to time constraints and this being a pilot study I only ended up with 44, so even more underpowered.

Intuitively I would expect a larger effect size, given that I don't consider the manipulation to be particularly subtle; but yes, it was much subtler than it could have been. This is something I will definitely explore more if I continue this project; for example, adding visuals and a manipulation check might do a better job of making the manipulation salient. I would like to have a manipulation check like "What is the difference between average and highly cost-effective charities?" And then set it up so that participants who get it wrong have to try again.

The fact that Donation Change differed significantly between Info groups does support that second main hypothesis, suggesting that CE info affects effective donations. This result, however, is not novel. So yes, the effect you picked up on is probably real – but this study was underpowered to detect it at a level of p<.05 (or even marginal significance).

In terms of CE info being ineffective, I'm thinking mainly about interest in EA – to which there really seems to be nothing going on, "There was no significant difference between the Info (M = 32.52, SD = 5.92) and No Info (M = 33.12, SD = 4.01) conditions, F(1, 40) = .118, p = .733, ηp2 = .003." There isn't even a trend in the expected direction. This was most important to me because, as far as I know, there is no previous empirical evidence to suggest that CE info affects interest in EA. It's also more relevant to me as somebody running an EA group and trying to generate interest from people outside the group.

Thanks again for your comment! Edit: Here's the previous study suggesting CE info influences effective donations: http://journal.sjdm.org/20/200504/jdm200504.pdf

What are the best (brief) resources to introduce EA & longtermism?

I really like Ajeya Cotra’s Intro EA talk (https://youtu.be/48VAQtGmfWY) (35 mins 1x speed). I also like this article on longtermism (https://80000hours.org/articles/future-generations/) although it took me about 25 mins to read. This is a really important question, I’m glad you’re asking it, and I would really like to see more empirical work on it rather than simply “I like this article” or “a few people I talked to like this video” which seems to be the current state. I’m considering spending the second semester of my undergrad thesis on trying to figure out the best ways to introduce longtermism.

Also worth considering MacAskill’s video What we Owe the Future (https://youtu.be/vCpFsvYI-7Y) 40 mins at 1x speed.

Supporting Video, Audio, and other non-text media on the Forum

Having more types of content on the forum is appealing to me. There's probably discussion of this elsewhere, but would it be difficult to have audio versions of all posts? Like a built in text to speech component option.

A case for the effectiveness of protest

Thank you for looking into this! This strikes me as really important!! Your post is long so I didn't read it – sorry – but this made me think of an article that I didn't see you cite which might be relevant: https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/136610C8C040C3D92F041BB2EFC3034C/S000305542000009Xa.pdf/agenda_seeding_how_1960s_black_protests_moved_elites_public_opinion_and_voting.pdf

Aaron_Scher's Shortform

Progressives might be turned off by the phrasing of EA as "helping others." Here's my understanding of why. Speaking anecdotally from my ongoing experience as a college student in the US, mutual aid is getting tons of support among progressives these days. Mutual aid involves members of a community asking for assistance (often monetary) from their community, and the community helping out. This is viewed as a reciprocal relationship in which different people will need help with different things and at different times from one another, so you help out when you can and you ask for assistance when you need it; it is also reciprocal because benefiting the community is inherently benefiting oneself. This model implies a level field of power among everybody in the community. Unlike charity, mutual aid relies on social relations and being in community to fight institutional and societal structures of oppression (https://ssw.uga.edu/news/article/what-is-mutual-aid-by-joel-izlar/).

"[Mutual Aid Funds] aim to create permanent systems of support and self-determination, whereas charity creates a relationship of dependency that fails to solve more permanent structural problems. Through mutual aid networks, everyone in a community can contribute their strengths, even the most vulnerable. Charity maintains the same relationships of power, while mutual aid is a system of reciprocal support." (https://williamsrecord.com/376583/opinions/mutual-aid-solidarity-not-charity/).

Within this framework, the idea of "helping people" often relies on people with power aiding the helpless, but doing so in a way that reinforces power difference. To help somebody is to imply that they are lesser and in need of help, rather than an equal community member who is particularly hurt by the system right now. This idea also reminds people of the White Man's Burden and other examples of people claiming to help others but really making things worse.

I could ask my more progressive friends if they think it is good to help people, and they would probably say yes – or at least I could demonstrate that they agree with me given a few minutes of conversation – but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be peeved at hearing "Effective Altruism is about using evidence and careful reasoning to help others the best we can"

I would briefly note that mutual aid is not incompatible with EA to the extent that EA is a question; however, requiring that we be in community with people in order to help them means that we are neglecting the world's poorest people who do not have access to (for example) the communities in expensive private universities.

The Explanatory Obstacle of EA

Great post, I totally agree that we need more work in this area. Also agree with other commenters that volunteering isn’t a main focus of EA advice, but it probably should be – given the points Mauricio made.

Nitpicky, but it would have been nice to have a summary at the start of the post.

I want to second Bonus #2, I think EA is significantly about a toolkit for helping others effectively, and using examples of tools seems helpful for an engaging pitch. Is anybody familiar with a post or article listing the main EA tools? One of my side-projects is developing a workshop on these, because I think it could be a really good first introduction to EA for newcomers; even if they don’t want to get further involved, they’ve learned something (we’ve added value to their life) and therefore (hopefully) have a positive attitude toward EA.

The phrasing “helping others” will turn off some progressives. I’m not sure how to deal with this, but it is worth being aware of. This might help explain why (tho I only skimmed it): https://sojo.net/articles/mutual-aid-changing-way-we-help-each-other

We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships

Again, thank you for some amazing thoughts. I'll only respond to one piece:

\begin{quotation}But, anecdotally, it seems like a big chunk (most?) of the value EA groups can provide comes from:

  • Taking people who are already into weird EA stuff and connecting them with one another
  • And taking people who are unusually open/receptive to weird EA stuff and connecting them with the more experienced EAs \end{quotation}

I obviously can't disagree with your anecdotal experience, but I think what you're talking about here is closely related to what I see as one of EA's biggest flaws: lack of diversity. I'm not convinced that weird people know how to do good better than anybody else, but by not creating a way for other people to be involved in this awesome movement, we lose the value they would create for us and the value we would create for them. There also seems to be a suspicious correlation between these kind of "receptive to EA ideas" people and white men, which appears worrisome. That is, even if our goal is to target marketing to weird EAs or receptive to EA-s, it seems like the way we're doing that might have some bias that has led our community to disproportionately white and male relative to most general populations.

On that note, I think learning about EA has made my life significantly better, and I think this will be the case for many other people. I think everybody who does an Intro Fellowship (and isn't familiar with EA) learns something that could be useful to their life – even if they don't join the community for become more involved. I don't want to miss out on these people, even if it's a more efficient allocation of time/resources to only focus on people we expect will become highly engaged.

Shortform post coming soon about this 'projects idea' where I'll lay out the pros and cons.

We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships

Good points. We should have explained what our approach is in a separate post that we could link to; because I didn't explain it too well in my comment. We are trying to frame the project like so: This is not the end goal. It is practice at what this process looks like, it is a way to improve our community in a small but meaningful way. Put another way, the primary goals are skill building and building our club's reputation on campus. Another goal is to just try more stuff to help meta-EA-community building; even though we have a ton of resources on community building, we don't (seem) to have all that many trials or examples of groups doing weird stuff and seeing what happens.

Some of the projects we are considering are related to global problems (e.g., carbon labeling on food in dining hall). I like the project ideas you suggest and we will consider them.

One reason we're focusing on local is that the "international charity is colonialism" sentiment is really strong here. I think it would be really bad for the club if we got strongly associated with that sentiment. Attempting to dispel this idea is also on my to-do list, but low.

Another point of note is that some of what the EA community does is only good in expectation. For instance, decreasing extinction risk by 0.5% per century is considered a huge gain for most EAs. But imagine tabling at a club fair and saying "Oh what did we actually accomplish last year? We trained up students to spend their careers working on AI safety in the hopes of decreasing the chance of humanity ending from robots by 0.02%". Working on low probability, high impact causes and interventions is super important, but I think it makes for crappy advertising because most people don't think about the world in Expected Value.

Side point to the side point: I agree that a dollar would go much further in terms of extreme poverty than college students, but I'm less sure about an hour of time. I am in this college community; I know what its needs are. I would spend 5 minutes of the hour figuring out what needs to be done and the rest of the time actually helping folks. If I spent an hour on global poverty, it's unclear I would actually "do" anything. I would spend most the time either researching or explaining to my community why it is morally acceptable to do international charity work at all. But, again, we are considering some relevant projects.

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