All of AlasdairGives's Comments + Replies

Why and how to start a pilot project in EA

I thought this was a really interesting post, thanks! Did you have a full time job while working on your pilot project? If so I'd be interested to know how you navigated your time and any tips you have on that

1Ben Williamson20d
I've worked on this full-time thanks to the grant, so sadly not much in the way of helpful tips. The only rough point I can offer here is that I took the job as a waiter last summer (2021) quite intentionally. This allowed me to work 30-35 hours over 3 days, enough to cover my living costs and leave me 4 days free. One of these days was always lost to full slug-mode tiredness/ recovery, but then I'd have 3 days clear - of which 2 I'd try to treat as fairly full-time idea/ pitch development time. I think this was a pretty effective method in helping me consistently spend time working on project ideas and culminated in my application to EAIF after about 3-4 months of this (I worked on a bunch of ideas before properly pursuing ESH).
[Link] Luke Muehlhauser: Effective Altruism As I See It

This is a good article. I don't think the point on farm animal welfare can possibly be correct though. There are many animal welfare charities and organisations (as well as many commercial players) that while they don't focus on farm animals exclusively or with the same mindset, surely dominate the "farm animal welfare" space. 

8emre kaplan1mo
In this talk [] , Leah Edgerton from ACE says: The combined efforts of Animal Charity Evaluators [], Open Philanthropy Project [], and the Centre for Effective Altruism’s Animal Welfare Fund [] influenced about $40 million[25%] in funding within the farmed animal advocacy cause area [in 2018].
Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics

I just mean this could have been two posts - one about the paper and one about the experience of publishing the paper. Both would be very valuable.

Yeah I agree. I disagree with most of the paper, but I find the claims about pressures not to publish criticism  troubling. 

I agree it would have been better to have this as two posts – I'm personally finding it difficult to respond to either the paper or the post, because when I focus on one I feel like I'm ignoring important points in the other.

That said, the fact that both are being discussed in a single post is down to the authors, not the commenters. I think it's reasonable for any given commenter to focus on one without justifying why they're neglecting the other.

Completely agree!
Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics

I think it is disappointing that so many comments are focusing on arguing with the paper rather than discussing the challenges outlined in the post. From a very quick reading I don't find any of the comments here unreasonable but I do find them to be talking about a different topic. It would be better if we could separate out the discussion of "red teaming" EA from the discussion of this particular paper

The paper is very well written, crisp and communicates its points very well.

The paper includes characterizations of longtermists that seem schematic and many would find unfair. 

In the post itself, there are serious statements that add a lot of heat to the issue and are hard to approach.

I think that this is a difficult time where many people are getting/staying out away, or performing emotional labor, for what are genuinely difficult experiences of the OP. 

This isn't ideal for truthseeking. 

If I was in a different cause area with a similar issue, I wouldn't want a lot of longtermists coming in and pulling on these  threads, I don't think that is the ideal or right thing to do.

Interesting, I was thinking the opposite! I was thinking, "There's so many interesting specific suggestions in this paper and people are just caught up on whether or not they like diversity initiatives generally and what they think of the tone on this paper, how annoying."

Why SoGive is not updating charity ratings after malaria vaccine news

Good post Sanjay, though I think a better title would be "Why SoGive is not yet  updating charity ratings after malaria vaccine news" though. 

 I don't disagree with any of the points you've made - and there are certainly large uncertainties around this, but  there is at least a significant possibility that when some uncertainties are resolved this could  displace nets in terms of cost-effectiveness.  So its certainly a very promising development and even if we don't change our immediate funding priorities, we need to think about how they might change in the future.

[Linkpost] New Oxford Malaria Vaccine Shows ~75% Efficacy in Initial Trial with Infants

I think this is potentially very significant news - i’m hoping to write a more detailed post once I’ve looked into it more but a previous 35% effective vaccine was found to be only marginally less cost effective than LLIN nets in preventing malaria spread - a 75% effective (and cheap!) vaccine has at least the potential to shoot to the top of our list of most effective global health and poverty interventions, to the extent that we may want to think about pooling EA funds towards the project (perhaps creating a special EA malaria vaccination fund)

Hi Alasdair I would love to read the source for the cost effectiveness claim about the less effective vaccine if you know where it come from?
As an EA, Should I renounce my US citizenship?

US citizenship is extremely valuable and your career opportunities at this stage are likely to be far more valuable to you in future earnings expectations than a few additional  percentage points on investments. 

In terms of investing, my understanding is that you are best off investing in the US and that there are US investment options open to you (Charles Schwab I believe often comes up as a broker in this area) rather than in the UK. 

Announcing "Naming What We Can"!

Finally the mystery of how CEEALAR got named is solved :D

CEEALAR Fundraiser 9: Concrete outputs after 29 months

Minor typo - The DOI for Evaluating use cases for human challenge trials in accelerating SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development. Clinical Infectious Diseases  has a trailing e in the url which causes the link to fail

Thanks, fixed!
Where are you donating in 2020 and why?

I’ve vaguely thought about this but I’m not a significant enough donor that I’m going to register in people’s calculations, and if I’m donating primarily through third party funds then I’m already quite disconnected. (I.e my money isn't arriving at the charity in December/Feb in any case). I think I prefer the "end of the year" feeling and communal discussions like this to improve my donation habits.

Oxford college choice from EA perspective?

I attended the "Other Place" but my serious answer is the same for Oxford. Research online which colleges are richest (and most prestigious) and apply there unless you have a strong reason to prefer another college. The richest colleges have more grants, funding and opportunities available to students - you can save thousands of pounds and get access to opportunities just not available elsewhere. (For example I found out early on that my peers at another Cambridge college received a grant for books 3x larger each term than my college did - which in turn w... (read more)

Where are you donating in 2020 and why?

I plan to give 10% of my income (as per my Giving What We Can Pledge). I'd previously gotten into a rather weird Feb donation cycle so I'm looking to shift this year back to December. My primary cause area is global poverty and development.

I expect the majority (~75%) of my donation to be to a mixture the Givewell Maximum impact fund or the EA Funds Global Health and Development Fund. I've found the EA funds process to be somewhat lacking in transparency but generally I have been pleased with the donations made. I'd consider donations to the Founders Pledg... (read more)

I continued my regular contribution to MIRI. Their approach to openness does make me wonder if they are being effective, but their regular updates, publications on some of their research, and support from people who are in the know suggests that they continue to do a good job. I also give to a program for autistic youth. Less effective, no doubt, but fuzzies are worth something too.
Side note: You might consider keeping with your February donation cycle. I've heard from some charities that they don't like how a disproportionate amount of their funding comes from December donations, because it makes budget planning much harder.
Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants

"Some donors were surprised by the Fund’s large number of AI risk-focused grants. While the Fund managers are in favor of these grants, we want to make sure that donors are aware of the work they are supporting. As a result, we changed the EA Funds donation interface such that donors have to opt into supporting their chosen Funds. (Previously, the website suggested a default allocation for each Fund.) EA Funds also plans to offer a donation option focused on climate change for interested donors."

This is an extremely positive change and corrects what I have previously considered to be a dark pattern on the EA funds website for a long time. Thanks for implementing it.

6Jonas Vollmer2y
Glad to hear you like it!
What are the leading critiques of "longtermism" and related concepts

that sounds fantastic. I'd love to read the draft once it is circulated for feedback

What are the leading critiques of "longtermism" and related concepts

Thanks - I’ve read the summaries of this but hadn’t twigged it was developed into a full paper

Reality is often underpowered

I think this is a great post and makes a really important point. Thanks for posting

Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad?

Thanks, i do think we have a basic disagreement here about design patterns but i appreciate you taking the time to defend and explain your choices.

Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad?

I don't feel either of these reply's address my points very well (as a member who signed the pledge prior to 2014).

As far as I can tell you accept the first point I made and don't address it. Ok, me. I think the funds are fine you just haven't done the work of showing they are better than other donation routes at all.

In regards to the second point you get very fixated on the default slider setting being representative of the most engaged members of the community. I don't want yet more peer pressure to donate to what the most engaged members of think.(And

... (read more)

Sorry, I’ll try again.

  1. It’s true that we try to provide a default option for giving, because so many users seem to find that helpful. (See Michelle’s comment above on the surprising-to-us amount of use the Giving What We Can Trust got.) When we did charity research and recommendations, those recommended charities were also a suggested default. As a project with the mission of inspiring giving to the world’s most effective organizations, we do think it’s appropriate to provide a recommendation or default, with the knowledge that members have pledged to do

... (read more)
Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad?

There are two long term goals being pursued here by CEA, visible in the design of the site:

1. To increase donations to the EA funds from GWWC members by making the funds the "default" option" and thus increase the importance/power of CEA to guide donations through the funds. (The whole new site is setup to make the funds the default way to give, and to give prominence to the funds, other donation options or recording external donations are much less visible and hidden away in a way that seems deliberate)

2. To set defaults for donations thro... (read more)

[Edited: I missed some corrections that Michelle made to my paragraph about the history of the Giving What We Can Trust. Corrected now.]

I spoke with Michelle Hutchinson (former executive director of Giving What We Can) about this. She writes, “When we first set up the GWWC Trust, we assumed it wouldn't get much use (we set it up on an account designed for an annual turnover of £10k pa), and within a year it was getting up to £1mn. It turned out many GWWC members actually valued a low cost way of giving (in terms of decisions and of how easy it was to give)

... (read more)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for April 2019

I would like to see a prize or incentive for the best comment on an article in the last month. Has that been tried before? Looking at the number of articles now submitted, I think the forum is doing well on articles. However, the comments and engagement with each submission is still often low. The winning 3 articles this month got only 9-2-2 comments respectively. If they are exemplary of the community and platform (which after a quick browse I have no reason to doubt) surely it would be worth encouraging a few more comments and a bit more discussion?

2Aaron Gertler3y
Thanks for the suggestion! We haven't tried this before, but it's something that we've been thinking about for the last month or so. Many Forum comments are more detailed and labor-intensive than the average post, and I'm a fan of rewarding people. I'll discuss this further with the judge team and see if we can figure out a good reward system, though any changes would be implemented for the June prize at the earliest.
5Ozzie Gooen3y
I'd second this. I think great comments/feedback are underrepresented at this point. Do recognize it would be tricky though.
That sounds like a ton of work. There are a LOT of comments.
EA Survey 2018 Series: Do EA Survey Takers Keep Their GWWC Pledge?

One complexity here may be in how members are treating taxation and tax deductibility in relation to their donations. "income" in your sample is self-reported and it is presumably pre-tax income. However, per GWWC: "While we have defined income as pre-tax in the past, after speaking with members in a variety of situations we believe there should be some flexibility here.

  • If you expect to receive a tax deduction for your donation, we recommend basing your giving on your pre-tax income.
  • If you expect to get little or no tax deduction, for exam
... (read more)

I checked and ~22% of GWWC members* did not donate more than 5% of their income in 2017, so even assuming taxes accounted for a large portion of the issue, there are still a lot of people who are not reporting data consistent with keeping the GWWC pledge.

*this analysis was limited to people who (a) took the 2018 EA Survey, (b) reported having taken the GWWC pledge, (c) reported income and donation data, (d) are non-students, (e) have income >$10K, and (f) reported joining GWWC prior to 2017. N=253.

Sentientism: Improving the human epistemology and ethics baseline

The title of this post is “Does EA need an underlying philosophy? Could Sentientism be that philosophy?” I would consider both of those points to betray a lack of basic understanding of effective altruism. There are lots of good resources elsewhere- perhaps it would be good to have a basic faq article / wiki that could be Linked in such cases?

Thanks all. I'd love to hear thoughts from anyone who has downvoted. No obligation of course. Alasdair - I think I'm reasonably familiar with EA but I could have been clearer. I was trying to explore two points: 1) Given both sentientism and EA focus on using evidence and reason and having broad moral compassion - I thought the term and the philosophy might be of interest to EA people generally. 2) Many (all?) of the problems EA looks to address are exacerbated by the fact that billions of people believe and act without a basis in evidence, reason or broad moral compassion. I'm interested in whether people think there is value in trying to bring large numbers of people up towards a simple, common philosophical baseline like Sentientism.

i've deleted the post because I would like to make one on this issue with greater subtlety and nuance to do the complex topic of this saga better justice than my rather late night post did - thanks for your comment, I will take it into account.

Advisory panel at CEA

Apologies I had it in my head that ACE was a CEA project

Note though that ACE was originally a part of 80k Hours, which was a part of CEA. The organizations now feel quite separate, at least to me. Additionally, I am not paid by ACE or CEA. Being on the ACE Board is a volunteer position, as is this. Generally, I don't feel constrained in my ability to criticize CEA, outside a desire to generally maintain collegial relations, though it seems plausible to me that I'm in an echo chamber too similar to CEAs to help as much as I could if I was more on the outside. Generally, trying to do as much good as possible is the motivation for how I spend most of the hours in my day. I desperately want EA to succeed and increasing the chances that CEA makes sound decisions seems like a moderately important piece of that. That's what's been driving my thinking on this so far and I expect it'll continue to do so. That all said (or rambled about) here's a preview of a criticism I intend to make that's not related to my role on the advisory board panel: I don't think it's appropriate to encourage students and other very young people to take the GWWC pledge, or to encourage student groups to proselytize about it. I think the analogy to marriage is helpful here; it wouldn't be right to encourage young people who don't know much about themselves or their future life situations to get married (especially if you didn't know them or their situation well yourself) and I likewise think GWWC should not encourage them to take the pledge. Views totally my own and not my employer's (the Open Philanthropy Project).
Peter Singer no-platformed by pro-disability protestors at Canadian university

According to my facebook this topic has had 156 comments on the EA facbook group already. I don't want to repeat or diminish those comments here so what is the purpose of opening a parallel discussion here as this seems like a topic which has attracted a huge amount of EA discussion already?

Facebook requires that you give your real name to post an opinion, be part of the group etc. That is certainly a serious limitation to open discussion, and this topic in particular exacerbates that problem.

Not everyone will necessarily want to comment on this issue under their real name.

Also, I presume this forum exists because someone decided that something other than Facebook is required. Are we questioning this logic in general? Or are we making a special case of this issue? Why?

But if you would be so kind as to post anything you see as particularly relevant, I would appreciate it.

Advisory panel at CEA

One thing I am disappointed about is that this has just been announced - there was no public process or call for comment on the advisory council, its role or what criteria should have been used to choose its members - to the extent that happened all of that was in private as far as I can tell. So all of the power in this situation was held by the CEA and people close to you in informal networks. To get wider views you have chosen a team of 4- 3of whom are or have previously been employed by CEA.

To the extent this is about opening CEA to wider views I can't... (read more)

Hi Alasdair Well, I'm far from sold on the principles and panel being a good idea in the first place [] . But everything in the linked comment is low confidence, some of it doesn't apply given the actual implementation, and certainly it's not obvious to me that it's a bad idea (i.e. I have a small positive but extremely uncertain EV). For something that happened that I more robustly disagree with, a lot of the marketing around EA Global last year concerned me. I didn't go, so I only heard about it secondhand, and so I didn't feel best-placed to raise it directly, but from a distance I think pretty much everything Kit said in this [] thread re. marketing was on point. With that said I think there is definitely some version of what you are saying that I would agree with; I certainly would consider myself very much an EA 'insider', albeit one who has no particular personal interest in CEA itself doing well except insofar as it helps the community do well. I'm not sure what the best way for CEA (or EA in general for that matter; this isn't just their responsibility) to hear from people who are genuinely external or peripheral to EA is, except that I think a small panel of people is probably not it.
One way to think about this is as a complement to a nonprofit board. My understanding is that in the US, nonprofits usually have a largish board which advise partly on how the nonprofit's actions might affect the wider community. As with most UK organizations, the CEA board is small, so we wanted to add in a few more voices. In neither case is the board typically suggested or drawn up by the public. Of course, anyone who wants to give us input on decisions we make is welcome to do so at []. I'd like clarify that of the 3 people who are outside voices on the board, only one (Peter) did a summer internship for a CEA project years ago.
Concerns with Intentional Insights

In the original facebook thread I was highly critical of intentional insights, I have not read all the followup here yet, but I would like to note that after that thread the next "thing" I saw from Intentional Insights was this post about EA marketing. I thought that was a highly competent and interesting contribtuion to the EA community. All of the ongoing concerns about II may stand - but there is clearly a few people associated with the org who have valuable contributions to make to the future of the community,

Looking for Wikipedia article writers (topics include many of interest to effective altruists)

I have about ~2000 edits on wikipedia (alasdairedits) and have created a number of DYK articles (though not for several years). I have been thinking about getting back into wikipedia editing and this might be a good way to do so. I know that paid (i.e PR editing on wikipedia) has become a big issue recently though. I would like to know more about how your work interacts with the COI/NPOV guidelines and how you ensure your articles and offering to pay people remains within that scheme. Have you considered using the on site reward board (I don't know how active that is) which would get less related wikipedians involved

It would be good to get feed

I don't think payment per se causes any additional problems. All the content I am paying for is content I might have created myself; in almost all cases, both I and the person I am paying have absolutely no COI with the content. I am not trying to pay people to create content that I personally couldn't create for COI reasons; I am simply paying people to create content I don't have time to create. There are some cases where people could question the notability of the content or the verifiability of the claims in the article. For the most part, I work hard to provide adequate citations for claims made in articles, and I try to make sure that the people I'm paying to create articles follow similar practices. In any case, I don't see these problems as necessarily being magnified because I am paying people to create content. As a general rule I prefer to pay people who are sufficiently value-aligned and willing to put in significant individual effort rather than relying on WIkipedia's existing structures for content creation. The articles require significant effort to create and I want to work closely with the people creating the content to make sure that the effort is channeled well.

I don't think it would be unfair to characterise your argument as: "I have a hunch based on my "tacit knowledge", a report written by a consultancy firm a decade ago and my background in a tangentially related field that the conservative party has been working in secret for 9 years on a bill of "economic rights and freedoms" which they are going to suddenly unveil and force through parliament in a few months attached to their public Bill of rights Proposals. This bill is going to cause all sorts of negative effects by making the co... (read more)

$250 donation for best EA intro essay - deadline: March 10

I think this is the way to go - but a CC attribtuion license is very different from an assignment of intellectual property (in a good way!) - you will need to provide attribtution on the about page and any subsequent usage of the entry for one thing (the whole point of an attribution licenese is to protect those moral rights!). so you should update your faq to reflect this.

$250 donation for best EA intro essay - deadline: March 10

Per above - CEA owns (is assigned) all the intellectual property of any entry. So posting your essay elsewhere without their permission would be a copyright violation.

This IP thing is rather creepy. I would strongly prefer it if either the essays go into Creative Commons or only the winning essay becomes CEA property.
$250 donation for best EA intro essay - deadline: March 10
  • Obligatory EAish objection: Where is the $250 coming from? If it is just $250 from the CEA budget that would otherwise have been spent on EA causes that is not much of an additional incentive unless you have very strong opinions about which cause area is most important.
It will come from CEA's EA Outreach budget. Winners may choose to re-donate to CEA if they think that we're the best target of funds, or donate somewhere else they think is a better target. That said, we think the main reason why someone would be motivated to enter the contest would be to have the 1000s of future people being introduced to EA be introduced by the best content.
Announcing ImpactMatters: Auditing Charity Impact across Causes

Dean Carlan has a long history of work on charity effectiveness and rigour long pre-dating EA. He has said on twitter that they took a lot of influence and inspiration from EA charity evaluators (esp Givewell). I think the best way of looking at this and much of his other work (for example Innovations for Poverty Action) is that it is EA-aligned organisation but not part of Effective Altruism as a "thing" since it comes from a different community and background and has a narrower focus ("are these charities effective at what they do" v "what overall is the most effective thing we can be doing")

Again, sorry for not responding sooner, but AlasdairGives is right from what I understand.
Updates from Giving What We Can

I am surprised the number of people donating via the trust but who are not GWWC members is so high. This 80% seems like a fertile source either of new members or a worrying statistic about the number of people who become aware of EA ideas but do not wish to change their behaviour to the extent of signing the pledge and I am not sure which

Hi Alasdair, The question of whether this group represents a good source of potential members is something we plan to look into in the New Year when we have increased our staff. However, if it turns out this is not the case, I'm not sure that this should worry us. It could be for instance that they are simply a somewhat different demographic than most of our members meaning they're less likely to feel able to commit 10%, but nevertheless have taken onboard and acted on ideas about charity effectiveness. In any case it seems to make sense that there would overall be more people willing to donate to top charities than there are people willing to sign the pledge, since this is a bigger ask. NB. I work at Giving What We Can :)
More on REG's Room for More Funding

Does REG not have any full time employees? I am very impressed in their progress if that is the case as I presumed they did!

Sorry that's not what I meant to imply, I was saying that figuring out how much good REG is likely to do takes a lot of work and I still have a lot of unanswered questions, and I'm tempted to quit school/work and investigate charities full time.
More on REG's Room for More Funding

I don't know about whether the NY declaration reduces the market by that amount itself. I more see it as an indication of the serious challenges and uncertainties that the DFS market faces in the US.

For example, one DFS operator has ceased US operations in all but 4 states where DFS has explicit state laws allowing it: ( which i found on google has a lot more in depth look at the battles going on all across US on this)

It is clearl... (read more)

I agree. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. I can certainly see why Holden and Elie quit their jobs to work on this full time.
More on REG's Room for More Funding

The analysis of the DFS market seems off to me

  1. I don't think the conversion rate is likely to be the same. High earning poker players are to some extent mini-celebrities and seem to have strong image consciousness and network frequently with others. By contrast, high earning DFS players seem to be private people with no public image, working alone or in small teams and with limited contact with wider world. I think marketing to those people would be significantly harder than to poker "stars".
  2. The New York declaration is a significant risk fact
... (read more)
Extremely useful comment Alasdair. It'd be helpful to see a back of the envelope estimate of projected money moved from targeting a new niche (e.g. one of DFS/pro video gamers/finance professionals). This would highlight the relevant factors and potential failure points. If REG have developed such estimates internally it could be cool to share them. Perhaps [] would be well suited for this, though I'm not sure.
1. That's a good point. It's hard to predict how important of a factor that would be, but it's plausible that it could make raising money among DFS players substantially harder. 2. Do you believe the recent New York declaration reduces the expected size of the DFS market by more than 20%? 20% seems reasonable to me.
Effective Altruism Merchandise Ideas

I can believe your logo was designed by a professional (i don't like the colour but its kinda cool)! but i was commenting on your clothing not that in isolation. This? That is someone with no design skills taking that logo and bastardizing it. Writing a slogan in a microsoft clipart font and replacing one letter with a bit of your logo is not a design. you use font choices that professional designers openly mock.

I love minimalist designs, but your designs are not minimalist in any sense of the ... (read more)

I don't have a strong skill in visual language, so I will accept that minimalist is not an appropriate word here, and will update toward avoiding using it. Thanks for helping me update!
Effective Altruism Merchandise Ideas

Ok, i don't want to be rude but there is no nice way to say this, so please just take it as feedback on this project not you as a person. Your existing merchandise is an ugly mess. My reaction to someone wearing an EA themed shirt of the same aesthetic level and quality would be cringing embarrasment not pride in a community.

EA merch as a tribal/signalling thing is a fine idea - but it needs to be of a much higher quality and design. As a bare minimum it should be printed by a higher quality producer than cafepress (like teespring?) and be designed by a professional designer.

We put some shirts together, what do you think? []
I don't take it as commentary on myself, and thanks for sharing your take :-) It's actually designed by a professional designer, but I hear that you don't like that minimalist style. I'd love to hear your ideas on improvement :-)
Making Effective Altruism more emotionally appealing

reading again this was the bit i found wierd/creepy - For instance, to address the guilt people experience over their previous giving, to address cached patterns, and help people update their beliefs, it helps to use the CBT tool of reframing by encouraging themselves to distance their current self from their past self, and remember that they did not have this information about EA when they decided on their previous giving, making it ok to choose a new path right now. Another approach I found helpful is to encourage people to think of themselves as being ... (read more)

Thank you for clarifying what I actually meant to convey. I'll work on phrasing it more effectively in the future.
Making Effective Altruism more emotionally appealing

Too many thoughts all jumbled up, have to try and write more on this but:

  1. Everyone is an emotional thinker, EA's have some strategies for avoiding worst pitfalls, but still easy and many do fall into them, and we have weaknesses as well which harm our work.
  2. Different strategies needed for between raising profile & funding of highly effective causes and evidence strategies and creating more EA's - and we can do both.
  3. Some of these ideas sound good, some sound weird and creepy and like we have all the answers and are concerned with manipulating people
... (read more)
Agreed on many of the points, except the weird and creepy - I'd like to understand more about that. More broadly, my point as I stated in the beginning of the piece was to open up a discussion, not give definitive answers. I'd like to hear many other people's thoughts on this.
EA's Image Problem

When I was at grad school for legal&political science the main way I encountered utilitarianism was as a bogeyman in legal/political/social science papers. Though limited to my own experience and universities I visited - my overwhelming impression is that in most policy connected academic disciplines not specifically housed in dedicated philosophy departments utilitarianism is mostly used as a signalling slur in similar way to a word like "neoliberalism" is and is not considered a respectable "thing" to identify as.

From David Chalmers' site, a guide [] to philosophical terms: * Utilitarian: one who believes that the morally right action is the one with the best consequences, so far as the distribution of happiness is concerned; a creature generally believed to be endowed with the propensity to ignore their own drowning children in order to push buttons which will cause mild sexual gratification in a warehouse full of rabbits
How does fighting diarrhoea stack up to malaria in effectiveness?

Yes potentially. I know that Evidence Action (the charity that runs Deworm the World) also has a water dispensing charity .

GWWC has a good blog post from 2014 about them and the potential for research in this area.

As a general point, I think there are a whole host of potentially high impact charities (such as those that are "other outstanding charities") that have not received much attention in the EA community, and could be good t... (read more)

How does fighting diarrhoea stack up to malaria in effectiveness?

Givewell published their findings on water treatment interventions in 2013 did you miss this page? I think it is very plausible that such interventions could be a highly effective cause area With more research though.

Interesting, I suppose I must have... Thanks for the link. It seems that a lack of good evidence is rather crippling here. I wonder how much it would cost to set up a trial with a good chance of determining the effectiveness of water treatment and related interventions. It almost seems like a cop out to leave things at that point. Surely, if there's a chance that water treatments are more effective at saving lives than malaria interventions and the costs of setting up a good trial are not exorbitant, it would be worth funding such a study.
Low hanging fruit and 'quick wins'

In terms of quick wins, I think it is notable that so far as I am aware the EA movement has not set up a single charity/cause that aims to be suitable for Givewell's evaluation process (or for that matter the ACE evaluation process) let alone one that has passed such a process. If something is a potential "quick win" it should be much more suitable for these things than most EA meta / GCR charities. Especially, because the progress on Givewell endorsed cause areas is large (for example, malaria deaths reduced by 60% since 2000). Having a few idea... (read more)

Evidence Action has a new 'beta' initiative [] to launch new interventions. Evidence Action seems well suited for creating new programs since they have the experience and infrastructure already in place. They have an evidence and cost-effectiveness mindset that seems closely aligned with the EA movement.
September Open Thread

Ahh is now obvious they were just holding it because they knew there was going to be the much more detailed post about it. Which is obviously fine and makes a lot of sense :)

Effective Altruism and Religious Faiths: Mutually Exclusive Entities, or an Important Nexus to Explore?

Interesting! I don't know if you are still at CEA but There is an event being held next weekend in Oxford and London for Christian effective altruists that I saw advertised on Facebook.

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