Abby Hoskin

Topic Contributions


Some unfun lessons I learned as a junior grantmaker

Thanks for writing this! 

I appreciate your points about how EA grantmakers are 1. part time, 2. extremely busy, 3. and should spend more time getting grants out the door instead of writing feedback. I hope nobody has interpreted your lack of feedback as a personal affront! It just seems like the correct way to allocate your (and other grantmakers') time. 

I think the EA community as a whole is biased too far towards spending resources on transparency at the expense of actually doing ~the thing~. Hopefully this post makes some people update! 

How many people have heard of effective altruism?

Really cool survey, and great write up of the results! I especially liked the multilevel regression and post-stratification method of estimating distributions. 

Peter Singer seems to be higher profile than the other EAs on your list. How much of this do you think is from popular media, like The Good Place, versus from just being around for longer? 

Peter Singer is also well known because of his controversial disability/abortion views. I wonder if people who indicated they only heard about Peter Singer  (as opposed to only hearing about MackAskill, Ord, Alexander, etc.) scored lower on ratings of understanding EA? I've had conversations with people who refused to engage with the EA community because we were "led by a eugenicist", but that's clearly not what EA believes in.

Also kinda sad EA is being absolutely crushed by taffeta. 

Most students who would agree with EA ideas haven't heard of EA yet (results of a large-scale survey)

This is such cool research! Thanks to everybody who contributed :)

I've found the majority of EA University Club members drift out of the EA community and into fairly low impact careers. These people presumably agree with all the EA basic premises, and many of them have done in depth EA fellowships, so they aren't just agreeing to ideas in a quick survey due to experimenter demands, acquiescence bias, etc. 

Yet, exposure to/agreement with EA  philosophy doesn't seem sufficient to convince people to actually make high impact career choices. I would say the conversion rate is actually shockingly low. Maybe CEA has more information on this, but I would be surprised if more than 5% of people who do Introductory EA fellowships make a high impact career change. 

So I would be super excited to see more research into your first future direction: "Beyond agreement with basic EA principles, what other (e.g., motivational or cognitive) predictors are essential to becoming more engaged and making valuable contributions?"

How to apply for a PhD

Effective Thesis is awesome! I will mention their coaching services in the top post :)

How to apply for a PhD

Great advice! Thanks for sharing :) 

A bunch of this definitely does generalize, especially: 

"If you have multiple research ideas, considering writing more than one (i.e. tailored) SOP and submit the SOP which is most relevant to faculty at each university."

"Look at groups' pages to get a sense of the qualification distribution for successful applicants, this is a better way to calibrate where to apply than looking at rankings IMO. This is also a good way to calibrate how much experience you're expected to have pre-PhD."

And if you can pull this off, you'll make an excellent impression: "For interviews, bringing up concrete ideas on next steps for a professor's paper is probably very helpful."

CS majors and any program that's business relevant (e.g. Operations Research and Financial Engineering) have excellent earning/job prospects if they decide to leave partway through. I think the major hurdle to leaving partway through is psychological? 

EA and the current funding situation

I had the same exact reaction! "Only $200 for one attendee? In this economy? What is that, 20 bananas?" 

EA will likely get more attention soon

Thanks, Julia! The  "Advice for responding to journalists" doc you link is really excellent. Everyone should read this before speaking to the media.

Some advice I would add: if a journalist asks to interview you, try to understand where they are in their research. 

Do they have a narrative that they are already committed to and they're just trying to get a juicy quote from you? If so, it might not make sense to talk to them since they might twist whatever you say to fit the story they have already written.

Alternatively, are they in information gathering mode and are honestly trying to understand a complex issue? If they have not written their story yet and you think you can give them information that will make their writing more accurate, then it makes more sense to do an interview. 

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