Abby Hoskin


Should you do a PhD in science?

The national averages were determined using the same measurement instruments we used, but they did not control for non-respondents the way we did. My intuition is that the national averages are pretty accurate because they had big sample sizes and did not seem to be obviously sampling from a more depressed/anxious segment of the population. 

But you can decide for yourself:  

In a national sample collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 31,366), 8.75% of people in the United States meet the criteria for moderate to severe depression. When restricting the national sample to only those with a college degree or above (n = 6,660), national rates of moderate or severe depression were much lower than what we found in our graduate student sample: 3.8%

In a national sample (n = 5,030), 5.1% of Americans met the criteria for moderate or severe anxiety on the same measure (Löwe et al., 2008).

We controlled for non-responders by keeping track of how many reminders it took subjects to respond to the survey, and checked to see whether the harder it was to get people to respond predicted their depression or anxiety scores. It did not. We also had such a high response rate (30%) that even if all of our non-respondents felt depression or anxiety at rates equal to national averages (unlikely), the graduate students would still be worse off on average. 

Should you do a PhD in science?

We are writing up the paper now! We sampled in 2019 and 2020. We used the PHQ9 to measure to depression and the GAD7 to measure anxiety. Happy to answer any questions if you have :)

Should you do a PhD in science?

In my research I have found Princeton graduate students experience higher rates of moderate to severe depression (21.99%-27.90%) and anxiety (24.53%-27.80%) compared to national averages (8.75% for depression, 5.1% for anxiety). We had over 900 respondents (~30% response rate), and used a difficulty to reach technique to check our results generalize to non-respondents, which most other studies of this kind do not do.

As a result, I am very confident PhD students are more depressed and anxious than the general population, and I am very hesitant to recommend doing a PhD.

What are the highest impact questions in the behavioral sciences?

It has been very frustrating sitting in Psychology seminars led by big prestigious professors, listening to them spout absolute nonsense completely unsupported by quantitative analysis. So I feel your pain for sure! 

Digging up one of my old tweets: Social Psych talk: no error bars, description of stats, or listing size of subject groups. p values displayed as p=0. This is accepted?

What are the highest impact questions in the behavioral sciences?

This is cool, thanks for sharing! Looks like Lucius Caviola's and Stefan Schubert's research projects are already on your radar ;)

Why do EAs have children?

The following list is not ordered.

  1. I am glad my parents decided to have me. 
  2. My parents seem to be glad they had me. 
  3. It appears that my parents and my husband's parents derive an intense amount of joy from interacting with their first grandchild, more joy than they receive from any other activity.
  4. My family is one of my main sources of happiness and meaning. It will literally die off if I do not have children. (Alternative path: invent longevity technologies? Unfortunately not my skillset.)
  5. I am relatively young, healthy, and financially stable. Statistically my child has a very strong chance of leading a positive utility life.
  6. You don't have to choose between having a positive impact on the world and having children; you can very much do both. 
    1. During my child's first year of life, I started working on some cool EA Psych/X Risk research. 
    2. During my child's first year of life, my husband published a highly appreciated (objectively measured by upvotes!) AI-alignment literature review and did EtG without getting fired. 
    3. Plenty of EAs doing AMAZING work have kids (e.g., Toby Ord, Julia Wise, Michelle Hutchinson, Peter Singer). 
    4. Nothing at all was accomplished for the first three months after having a baby. Little was done between 3-6 months. 50% productivity was achieved between 6-12 months. At 12 months, things are pretty good. The massive hit to productivity seems to be a 1 X child event, which, amortized over the next 30 years of our expected careers, is not too bad. 
  7. After having a child, I feel more connected to humanity in a way that is difficult to describe but is nice. Things I file under this category include:
    1. Having spontaneous, warm conversations with people who would absolutely never speak to me otherwise when I was visibly pregnant. I lived in the same town for 7 years and went from having approximately 1 conversation with strangers a month to ~10 a month. These interactions were all very kind, and made me very happy. (Your mileage may vary if you don't like interactions with strangers.)
    2. Going from feeling vaguely positively towards children to feeling incredibly protective of all human children. Reading about violence against children went from unpleasant to intolerable.
    3. Having more positive conversations with my family/my in laws than ever before. 

All this being said: the first three months after childbirth is literally torture for whoever is waking up at night to feed the baby. Plus there is a strong possibility that I and/or my baby would have died if I hadn't given birth in a high quality hospital (we had a prolapsed cord and then a lot of maternal hemorrhaging). So despite all the nice stuff written above, I don't think it's an easy decision to make.

Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups

Same. Especially agree that the format of the event needs to be structured so that ideas are not presented as facts, but are instead open to (lots of public) criticism. 

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