Excellent— thank you for clarifying!
I'm curious about why the deadline was extended. I can think of two possible reasons:
It seems like either would be great information value. (#1 might imply that interest in this kind of program is lower than expected for some reason. #2 helps people improve the quality of their referrals).
Also, thank you for doing this! Even if #1 is true, this seems like a valuable experiment, and I'm grateful to you for running it.
Penn EA organizer here! Thanks for raising this discussion, Aaron. Penn EA paid intro fellows $500 this semester, and we plan to write-up a reflection soon. For now, though, I have a few quick thoughts on the points you raised:
1.1-- This seems quite reasonable. Does this require paying everyone, or just having an optional financial aid policy? I suppose people might feel bad applying for financial aid, especially from a group focused on altruism.
1.2-- I actually see this as an argument against paying fellows. I think one common failure mode of fellow... (read more)
Great points, Michael! Some of these questions (e.g., why does it make sense to pay people for learning about EA?) came up during Penn EA's fellowships this year.
In my experience as a facilitator, these conversations were almost always productive. I would generally use these moments as opportunities to explain why careers in high-impact cause areas are so valuable. I'd say something like "EA is willing to invest resources into student groups because they've seen that student groups (and intro fellowships) can help people apply EA principles in their career... (read more)
Some of the comments point out ways that career conversations can go wrong (e.g., people see this as manipulative, people get turned off to EA if someone is telling them they need to change their career). Some comments also point out alternative strategies that would be helpful (e.g., asking people open-ended questions about their career, talking about personal fit/happiness in addition to impact).
With that in mind, I just want to express support for the original strategies endorsed by Nikola and Daniel.
I think the new title is better. To nit-pick, "more objective" might imply a sense of "we're right and they're wrong".
Maybe an alternative could be something like "Helping newcomers feel more comfortable considering new career paths."
(I don't think you actually need to change the title again-- just throwing this out there because I see how discussions around these kinds of strategies can be perceived as manipulative, and I think the wording/framing we use in group discussions can matter).
I don't have anything useful to say, except that I've appreciated your recent posts & I hope to keep seeing more from you. Thank you for sharing, Nikola!
Thanks for sharing this, Aaron! Really interesting pilot work.
One quick thought-- I wouldn't rely too heavily on statistical significance tests, particularly with small sample sizes. P-values are largely a function of sample size, and it's nearly impossible to get statistical significance with 44 participants (unless your effect size is huge!).
Speaking of effect sizes, it seems like you powered to detect an effect of d=0.7. For a messaging study with rather subtle manipulations, an effect of d=0.7 seems huge! I would be pretty impressed if giving peo... (read more)
As an example, I currently think All Possible Views About Humanity's Future are Wild would be on my list because it is a) thought-provoking and b) short; only takes 10-15 mins to read.
In contrast, The Case for Strong Longtermism is thought-provoking but would likely take >1hr to read, so I probably wouldn't include it on my list. (Though I would certainly recommend it to people who want to learn more.)
+1! For debate, I believe the EA Debate Championship and Lecture Series would offer some useful lessons. It was for college debate, and I haven't heard of anything similar being done for HS debate (but it's quite possible that I've missed something).
Many top universities in the US host HS debate tournaments (often as a money-making activity for the club). It seems plausible to me that at least one of the major uni debate societies would be open to sponsoring an EA-related tournament (or perhaps have one or two rounds that are focused on EA topics). H... (read more)
Hey! I have been on the lookout for people connected to debate. I was my school's Public Forum debate coach for four years, but I wouldn't want it to come from me, and I don't work at that school anymore. I spoke with one very good mock trialler recently who might try out speaking to his organizations and the national competitions. If you're still in contact with high school debaters, let's talk!
Thanks, Nikola! +1 on so much of this. A few specific thoughts:
I often hear people say things like “they’re so cool” or “they're superhuman” about individuals who are highly engaged with EA. Saying this makes newcomers want to emulate these individuals more and become more engaged to get some of that sweet, sweet status.
I agree that having high-status role models can be really inspiring/motivating. At the same time, I think some of these comments can have unintended harmful effects. I've seen a few ways this can go wrong:
Thank you for this excellent post! I'm a student group organizer & I'll be recommending this to other members/organizers :)
A few specific thoughts that came up as I read:
Rather than trying to convince the employer that you have to be chosen, you can flip it and concentrate on helping their employer to find the right fit for the position
I love this advice, and I think it can have a special implication for EAs. The question flips from "how can I get this job" to "how can I help this employer make an informed assessment of how impactful I will be at... (read more)
Hey Akash, thanks so much for reading and also for your thoughts. I love that you connected the "helping" bit with EA principles - I don't think I thought of that! So this is a really valuable point. After all, we are trying to make an impact with our jobs and by applying for a job, we are trying to solve a problem for the organisation and the cause area in general. Also many thanks for sharing this with your network, I hope it will help more people!
I agree with you about transparency, we definitely shouldn't say anything that's not true about ... (read more)
Whoops-- definitely meant my comment as a response to "what content can be cut?" And the section about activities was meant to show how some of the activities in the current fellowship are insufficient (in my view) & offer some suggestions for other kinds of activities.
Regardless of whether we shift to a radically new model, or we try to revamp the existing structure, I think it'll be useful to dissect the current fellowship to see what content we most want to keep/remove.
Will try to respond to the rest at some point soon, but just wanted to clarify!
TLDR: I agree that content is important, but I don't think the current version of the fellowship does a good job emphasizing the right kind of content. I would like to see more on epistemics/principles and less on specific cause areas. Also the activities can be more relevant.
Longer version: I share some of your worries, Mauricio. I think the fellowship (at least, the version that Penn EA does) currently has three kinds of content:
Thank you, Brendon and jh! A few more thoughts/questions below. Feel free to ignore any that are not super relevant or that would take a very long time to address.
It seems to me like the case for MindEase (whether from an impact perspective or from a return-on-investment perspective) rests on MindEase's ability to attract users.
Can you say more where the estimate of 1,000,000 active users came from, as well as the 25% chance of success? At first glance, this strikes me as overly optimistic, given that a) many other well-designed apps have failed to acquire users and b) it seems really hard to compete with the existing mindfulness apps. (See here, here, and here for papers that go into these points in greater d... (read more)
Great work, Ben! I appreciate the actionable suggestions & the structure of the post (i.e., summaries at the top and details in the main body). Excited to see the other posts in this series!
One suggestion: I think it would be helpful to distinguish between interventions that are helpful for people with poor sleep quality (e.g., people with insomnia) and those that are helpful for people with "average" sleep quality (e.g., people who don't have any huge problems with their sleep quality but are trying to optimize their sleep quality).
In other word... (read more)
I think this content is well-written, so I am praising it publicly! (See what I did there?)
Terrific overview! I'll offer some feedback with the hope that some of it may be helpful:
Big Picture Thoughts
I think the steelman of the neglectedness argument would be something like: "The less neglected something is, the less likely it is that we would be able to make them do it slightly better."
This is both because (a) it is harder to change the direction of the movement and (b) it is harder to genuinely find meaningful ways to improve the movement.
In (b), I wonder if there are some specific limitations of the current War-on-Drugs movement that would match the skills/interests of (some) EAs.
I'd be curious to learn more about the "types" of EAs that might be best-suited for this work, or how the "EA perspective" could enhance ongoing efforts.
As it stands, the case for scale (i.e., the magnitude of the problem) is very clear. However, I think scale is usually the strongest part of most cause area analyses (i.e., there are a lot of really big problems and it's usually not too difficult to articulate the bigness of those problems, especially using words rather than models). I think the role that EAs would play is less clear (as has been reflected... (read more)
What a great opportunity! I wonder if people at SparkWave (e.g., Spencer Greenberg), Effective Thesis, or the Happier Lives Institute would have some ideas. All three organizations are aligned with EA and seem to be in the business of improving/applying/conducting social science research.
Also, I have no idea who your advisor is, but I think a lot of advisors would be open to having this kind of conversation (i.e., "Hey, there's this funding opportunity. We're not eligible for it, but I'm wondering if you have any advice..."). [Context: I'm a PhD student in... (read more)
Super exciting work! Sharing a few quick thoughts:
1. I wonder if you've explored some of the reasons for effect size heterogeneity in ways that go beyond formal moderator analyses. In other words, I'd be curious if you have a "rough sense" of why some programs seem to be so much better than others. Is it just random chance? Study design factors? Or could it be that some CT programs are implemented much better than others, and there is a "real" difference between the best CT programs and the average CT programs?
This seems important because, in practice, don... (read more)
What are the things you look for when hiring? What are some skills/experiences that you wish more EA applicants had? What separates the "top 5-10%" of EA applicants from the median applicant?
Thanks for the question!
We hire for fairly specific roles, and the difference between those we do hire and don't isn't necessarily as simple as those brought on being better as researchers overall (to say nothing of differences in fit or skill across causes).
That said, we generally prioritize ability in writing, general reasoning, and quantitative skills. That is we value the ability to uncover and address considerations, counter-points, meta-considerations on a topic, produce quantitative models and do data analysis when appropriate (obviously this is mor... (read more)
Thank you, Denise! I think this gives me a much better sense of some specific parts of the post that may be problematic. I still don't think this post, on balance, is particularly "bad" discourse (my judgment might be too affected by what I see on other online discussion platforms-- and maybe as I spend more time on the EA forum, I'll raise my standards!). Nonetheless, your comment helped me see where you're coming from.
I'll add that I appreciated that you explained why you downvoted, and it seems like a good norm to me. I think some of the downvotes... (read more)
Thank you for this post, Mark! I appreciate that you included the graph, though I'm not sure how to interpret it. Do you mind explaining what the "recommendation impression advantage" is? (I'm sure you explain this in great detail in your paper, so feel free to ignore me or say "go read the paper" :D).
The main question that pops out for me is "advantage relative to what?" I imagine a lot of people would say "even if YouTube's algorithm is less likely to recommend [conspiracy videos/propaganda/fake news] than [traditional media/videos about cats], then it's still a problem! Any amount of recommending [bad stuff that is harmful/dangerous/inaccurate] should not be tolerated!"
What would you say to those people?
I read this post before I encountered this comment. I didn't recall seeing anything unkind or uncivil. I then re-read the post to see if I missed anything.
I still haven't been able to find anything problematic. In fact, I notice a few things that I really appreciate from Mark. Some of these include:
Sure. I am pretty baffled by the response to my comments. I agree the first was insufficiently careful about the fact that Mark is a new user, but even the second got downvotes.
In the past, users of the forum have said many times that posting on the EA Forum gives them anxiety as they are afraid of hostile criticism. So I think it is good to be on the lookout for posts and comments that might have this effect. Being 'kind' and 'approaching disagreements with curiosity' should protect against this risk.
But I ask the question: Is Tristan going to feel comf... (read more)
Thank you, Michael! I think this hypothetical is useful & makes the topic easier to discuss.
Short question: What do you mean by "user error?"
Longer version of the question:
Let's assume that I fill out weights for the various categories of desire (e.g., health, wealth, relationships) & my satisfaction in each of those areas.
Then, let's say you erase that experience from my mind, and then you ask me to rate my global life satisfaction.
Let's now assume there was a modest difference between the two ratings. It is not instinctively clear to me why... (read more)
Note: You don't have to answer to follow this structure or answer these questions. The point is just to share information that might be helpful/informative to other EAs!
With that in mind, here are my answers:
Where do you work, and what do you do?
What are things you've worked on that you consider impactful?
Thank you for sharing this post! It's definitely useful to think about different ways of conceptualizing/measuring well-being. Here's one part of the post I wasn't fully convinced by:
"While life satisfaction theories of well-being are usually understood as distinct from desire theories (Haybron, 2016), life satisfaction might instead be taken as an aggregate of one’s global desires: I am satisfied with my life to the extent that it achieves my overall desires about it."
From a measurement perspective, is there evidence suggesting that peoples' judgments of ... (read more)
Ah, I completely missed that paragraph. Thank you for pointing it out, and best of luck as you create more digestible versions!
After reading the paragraph, I have a few additional thoughts:
This is fantastic! I know several EAs who "feel guilty about not being able to work on [AI safety or one of the other top cause areas] and compare themselves negatively to others who can," and I think this could be a great resource for them.
Upon skimming the article and the Google Doc worksheet, I'm struck by how long/involved the process is. On one hand, this makes sense-- this is about career planning, and people who are serious about changing their careers should be willing to put in the effort. On the other hand, I wonder if there could be shorter/easi... (read more)
Thank you for this post! I want to raise another potential issue with forecasting tournaments: using Brier scores.
My understanding is that Brier scores take the squared difference between your forecast and the true value. For example, if I say there's a 70% chance something will happen, and then it happens, my brier score is 1-0.7 squared.
I think the fact that Brier scores use the squared difference (as opposed to the absolute difference) is non-trivial. I'll illustrate this a bit with a simple example.
Consider two forecasters who forecast on three e... (read more)
Oops! Here's the correct link:
First off, I love this idea. I've been thinking about doing a "birthday fundraiser" for my birthday (which is in January) and I will definitely consult this before I post.
A few thoughts/pieces of feedback:
Hey Akash! Thanks for your comment, and apologies for my late response!Let me respond to your individual thoughts:
1- I'd love to hear more about your decision to go with a career-focused post rather than a donation-focused post. I see how someone changing their career could have an immense impact (especially if they are able to find something impactful that they're also very good at). However, I'm skeptical about the proportion of people who would seriously consider changing their career paths as a result of this. Maybe my forecast is off, though-- I
Anyone: This is my first forum post, but it won’t be my last. Do you have any feedback on my writing? Please don’t hold back!
I think that it is very well written, neatly organized and clear. You clearly state your actual belief in what you claim and you give good references. Also, the tone is friendly and fun to read :)
Definitely encourage you to write more!
Anyone: What do you think of the points I raised? Do you disagree with anything? Do you think I should have explained anything more clearly?
Others who attended: What were some of your takeaways? Were there any parts of the summit that stood out for you? And, perhaps most importantly, did the summit get you to think or act differently?
For me, the most useful part of the student summit was less the actual information, and more the opportunity to meet and talk to other EAs. I'm actually really happy that the summit was virtual this year because that lowered the cost significantly and made me more willing to attend.