All of AllisonSmith's Comments + Replies

More info on EA Global admissions

I appreciate how thoughtful the admissions team seems to be about creating a useful experience for attendees!

With this explanation (maybe moreso than in previous years when the average applicant was less involved in EA), it sounds like there are some large categories of people where your message is "We'd like you to apply, but you probably won't get in, and we know that's discouraging you from applying." That seems like a tough spot to put applicants in, particularly given that individual EAs can be very self-critical and might be inclined to forgo applyin

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Thanks for the questions. We have adjusted our promotion – for example: the application page [] and form [] lists who we believe EA Global to be a good fit for, and we send group leaders an email with this set of criteria and some FAQs about why group members may not be admitted. Conversely, we send emails to people we expect to accept (e.g. Community Building Grant recipients), to encourage them to apply. We try to make community members aware when applications open and convey who the event is aimed at, but we don’t try to promote it as strongly as we did in some past years. Despite this, we know that there are still many people who would be a good fit for EA Global who do not apply, and others who apply and feel disappointed when they are not accepted. We want to express our appreciation to everyone who applies. Regarding themes: in 2017 EA Global Boston had a theme of “expanding the frontiers of EA”, EA Global London had an academic theme, and EA Global SF had a community theme and had looser admission standards than the other two. We found that people primarily applied to the conference they were geographically closest to and did not seem to have strong preferences about themes. We’ve also run smaller targeted retreats on specific topics like organizing EA groups or working in operations.
Is pain just a signal to enlist altruists?

To me this is interesting evidence suggesting that one purpose of pain in humans is to be visible (attracting help). It doesn't go very far to suggest that this is pain's only purpose, which I think is what would be needed for me to hypothesize that solitary animals feel little or no pain.

I'm currently in school for physical therapy assisting; as you might imagine, pain is a big topic for us! The standard hypothesis we've been taught is that pain is most typically experienced as a signal to the person experiencing it that something needs to be done. (This

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Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments?

It's interesting to me how different reporting rates are in CIWF's EggTrack projects in the US vs in Europe. Do you have any insight as to what might be leading to that difference?

I mentioned that U.S. egg producers are not transitioning to cage-free housing as fast as they should. That means that many U.S. companies probably made less progress than they should have, which is not something they want to report. Europe may not have a similar problem. I also vaguely remember someone telling me in a conversation that there are cultural differences: European companies are more likely to make promises only when they already have a clear plan how to make a change, or even to just announce that a change was already made without any prior promises. I don’t know if that is really true.
Should effective altruism have a norm against donating to employers?

ACE and GiveWell have both written blog posts about where staff donate in the past. It's been a mix of recommended charities, the employer organization, and other charities. On skimming, it looks to me like GiveWell staff, at least in 2015, more closely followed the recommendations of their employer than ACE staff.

(Links go to 2015 staff donation posts.)

That seems like something we would expect if GiveWell and ACE researchers are doing a good job, given that animal interventions seem to have less robust evidence than global poverty ones.
Effective Altruists really love EA: Evidence from EA Global

I think welcoming/unwelcoming is one of those things that most people initially assess almost immediately upon contact with a community. Yes, people who stay in the community will update their perceptions over time, but I have definitely been to enough meetups, dances, and general social gatherings to have a sense after one interaction with a community of whether I feel welcome and to have noticed that this affects my probability of returning. It even affects my probability of returning if I go with a friend, or know a subset of people there; being welcome... (read more)

The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis

When ACE and HRC talked to statisticians and survey researchers as part of developing our Survey Guidelines for animal charities beginning to evaluate their own work, they consistently said that demographic questions should go at the end of the survey because they have high non-response rates and some people don't proceed past questions they aren't answering. So while it's intuitively surprising that people don't answer these simple questions, it's not obviously different from what (at least some) experts would expect. I don't know, however, whether 20% is an especially high non-response rate even taking that into account.

That's interesting to know, thank you for sharing it! Looking at this study (comparing mail and web surveys) they cited non response rates to demographic items at 2-5%. However I don't know how similar the target population here is to the 'general population' in these behaviours. []
Yes, these questions were right at the end. You can see the order of the questions in the spreadsheet that Peter linked to - they correspond to the order of the columns.
Animal Charity Evaluators is hiring

This is a very rough estimate, because we almost never put entire days into this kind of work, and because the boundaries between it and other work we do aren't clear - I'm not sure what things to count, in some cases. But I would guess on the order of 10 person-days last year, and hoping to slightly increase the amount of time we spend on it in the future. We don't have total control over how much time we spend on this, because other people need to also be interested in working with us.

Animal Charity Evaluators is hiring

ACE does not have immediate plans of running more original studies; while more research of that type is definitely needed, we're currently focusing our efforts in that direction on encouraging other people to do it. Academic researchers and animal advocacy groups which perform the intervention under consideration as part of their usual activities seem to be better placed do do this type of study than ACE is, especially if both groups can work together. With more research staff, there's a possibility that we would again take on this kind of work, but it's n... (read more)

Roughly how many resources (person days) have you put into this, and how many do you plan to?
Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

I am not a member of GWWC, and the primary reason for this is that humans are not the only "others" I care about, so the restriction to considering only what will do the most good for humans in the developing world is not one I am willing to make. I would consider joining GWWC if the pledge were changed. This might or might not have an effect on the amount I donated or where I donated it. If GWWC requires members to disclose where and how much they donate, sharing that information would be a difference in my donation behavior.

I personally think f... (read more)