All of arrowind's Comments + Replies

Working at EA organizations series: Why work at an EA organization?

I wouldn't assume that the people making large donations to GiveWell charities or TLYCS' members are EAs are dedicated EAs. Equally I wouldn't say there are tens of thousands of people very interested in EA on the basis of unique website views (do the figures you gave refer to visits or visitors?)

'Unique' refers to visitors I believe: []
Announcing the new EA Wiki!

Neat... so anyone can 'join' .impact by getting involved in EA work and communicating about it with other EA's in the .impact slack?

Yup, and they also hold regular workathons and hangout meetings if you feel like joining in with those.
Working at EA organizations series: Why work at an EA organization?

there's thousands of dedicated EAs, and tens of thousands of people very interested in it.

What are you basing these estimates on? I'd be interested to find out what the best estimates of them that we have are.

There's 1000 GWWC members, and around 5000 people making large donations to GiveWell recommended charities. TLYCS has more members too. Total attendees of EA Global was about 1000, and more than that applied. In terms of interested people, GWWC, 80k and GiveWell all have well over 100k unique web views per year.
Improving the Effectiveness of Effective Altruism Outreach

How specifically would you try to reach secular people? Eg would you recommend EA's try to get articles into major secular websites and magazines?

Yup, and as I said, I'm putting my efforts and money where my mouth is. I had an article published in American Atheist magazine and Secular World recently, for example, and have appeared in podcasts for The Humanist Hour, Unbelievers Radio, and others. For a fuller list, see here []. If you are interested in strategies for how to get into secular websites and magazines, I'd be glad to share what I know, email me at []
Announcing the new EA Wiki!

What is the ".impact slack" and how do you join it?

.impact [] is a volunteer taskforce, and to request an invite to our slack [] (kind of IRC for the modern web, very handy for communicating and organizing projects) put your email here [] .
June Open Thread

I heard TLYCS might be making one, and they seem uniquely well placed to doing so.

That's great to hear. I think it is important that media depictions of EA highlight the positive impact one can have through EA. In other words, present the opportunity to do incredibly good things rather than offering condemnation for inaction. I agree that TLYCS is in a good position to do just that.
Collective Action and Individual Impact

I thought EAs were mostly consequentialists

I think the survey of EAs from the start of the year picked up a few hundred non-consequentialists. It had a high %age of consequentialists, but emphasized this figure shouldn't be taken as covering all EAs out there.

June Open Thread

Any chance of a breakdown? What were the Vox and slatestarcodex articles?

27% referrals, 23% search, 28% social, 21% direct.'s main page, []
Collective Action and Individual Impact

Do EA's generally think we have an obligation to take the action which will do the 'most' good?

I personally think we have an obligation. And I would speculate that most EAs would at least believe that we have an 'obligation to help others effectively' in a weaker sense. But I should have been more careful in making that statement.
depends which one you ask!
Collective Action and Individual Impact

Isn't that a common distinction among philosophers? I recall that there's a technical name for it.

Yeah, and among common intuitions I think. But I thought EAs were mostly consequentialists, so the intended role of obligations is not obvious to me.
Philosophers call good acts that aren't obligations 'supererogatory'.
Introducing Alison, our new forum moderator

Welcome Allison, it sounds useful to have someone with such relevant experience volunteering!

Solving donation coordination problems

Have you thought of updating that? I remember, or think I remember, you doing a version for individuals which I found especially interesting, which could perhaps be rolled into one periodically updated page (updateable by anyone?) rather than a series of blog posts.

The update that I did on individuals is also now over a year old. I'm too time-poor presently, although I could imagine an ongoing transparency update could be a useful thing to have.
Learning From Less Wrong: Special Threads, and Making This Forum More Useful

I don't have any good suggestions in particular, so maybe donation-announcement threads would work. Can you think of any possible alternatives?

Giving What We Can needs your help!

Again this is just a list of CEA organizations and a pitch for continually growing funding. But I'll go with that and ask you to expand on the track record: what are the best examples of someone trying to make the strongest case for and strongest case against it? When I've heard people make the case against, it's that people counselled (at least in the northeast megalopolis and London) have been EA's before.

Sorry, I was just responding to Ryan's comment, not addressing your overall point. You're correct that some people we coach are already EAs, but the majority of coachees and especially the 25k monthly website readers either (i) know about EA but aren't actively involved or especially well linked into the community (ii) don't know much about EA. But many people we coach end up active in the community. There's a clear mechanism for this: we make introductions, talk about EA with them, persuade them of the key ideas, and help them figure out how they can be more EA in their career. I'd recommend reading through some of our last evaluation to see the types of career changes people made, many of which involve becoming "more EA". [] Since hardly any recent graduates making career decisions already know about effective altruism, there's huge room of expansion. And talking about career decisions is a great platform for discussing EA ideas, because it's a very big decision but existing advice is so bad. There's also many people involved with effective altruism but who only donate income and don't know how to apply effective altruism to their career. 80k provides motivation and information to people in this category, making the EA community more effective. Many of our past plan changers are in this category e.g. Peter Hurford. [] One reflection of this is that we've catalysed the development of 8 new EA non-profits (5 of which have full-time staff) which likely wouldn't have been created if 80k hadn't existed. [] I think there's a lot mor
Giving What We Can needs your help!

Looking at Charity Science, they do talk about spreading the word about evidence-based charities but reading between the lines they appear to be quite different from movement building/GWWC in that they focus on fundraising, with 'spreading the word' perhaps partly a more acceptable face to present to the fundraised-from. And I couldn't quickly see any references to the effective altruism movement on their website, so I don't think they'd be a good choice for someone following your argument for the absolute priority of movement-building.

If the problem is framed as 'money isn't going to effective charities' then we look very similar. But I agree that my impression (admitted from limited evidence) is that CS is more focused on moving money immediately relative to winning hearts and minds for the long term than GWWC or EAO.
Giving What We Can needs your help!

OK I'll own up. I downvoted in a blip of initial irritation that you hadn't answered my question, just talking more about CEA, making it look like your argument for funding movement-building might (to be direct) be primarily motivated by self-interest as one of GWWC's salaried Directors. I've now retracted the downvote given I've clarified with this comment though it would still be good to see the argument applied to funding things other than further growing CEA.

Ah OK. I was trying to acknowledge that GWWC wasn't unique in this regard and it would be totally understandable if someone bought the overall argument but then decided to give to another group doing similar work. When I said 'we' I meant CEA as a whole, because as Ryan points out, we have a bunch of projects where the priority is movement building. Most other groups besides CS and CFAR have more of a research focus.
I would say that EA Outreach (by CEA), EA Ventures (by CEA), and Paul Christiano's Certificates of Impact would be the main candidates other than GWWC.
Giving What We Can needs your help!

Yes I think the claim is that on the current margin and point in time movement building is under-resourced.

Do you think this applies to anything or anyone besides CEA and the people involved in it?

Yes absolutely, the consideration would apply to anyone who had good reasons to think they would get many more people taking effective altruist actions. However to my knowledge we are currently the group most focussed on movement building (though Global Priorities Project is mostly research so it doesn't stand out there, and 80,000 Hours is something like 50/50).
$10k of Experimental EA Funding

One good outcome would be if people who sold one certificate were incentivised to do some more good to get another. These could well be the people with the strongest incentive, as they'll be most convinced they have a chance of selling a certificate for future impact. However do you think they'll be enough funding in the future to allow for this?

Tentative Thoughts on the SENS Foundation

Does that article deserve the title you gave it? It only would if the movie were presenting itself as a credible economic scenario, but its more like Swiftian satire.

Tentative Thoughts on the SENS Foundation

This sounds like the movie In Time: "In a future where time is literally money, and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, steal, or inherit more time. Will Salas lives life a minute at a time, until a windfall of time gives him access to the world of the wealthy, where he teams up with a beautiful young heiress to destroy the corrupt system."

The awful economics of 'In Time' []
Open thread 5

It'd be an interesting experiment to see how much this raised.

Comparative Bias

The biases which Peter Hurford discusses in his classic post Why I'm skeptical about unproven causes (and you should be too) seem to be relevant here.

Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

Thanks for the reply. That's interesting that there was an even split, though an unrepresentative response is as you say an issue. That could cut either way though as as someone said in reply to Jess, members may feel uncomfortable disagreeing with a proposal. Unless you press a lot of members for answers, including ones who aren't very into the online community, it's hard to tell what they're comfortable with as a whole.

I would feel somewhat better if the branding/vision/mission kept a focus on the case for giving some of our money to help those in extreme poverty. I may send an email about having a Skype, or at least an email exchange.

Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

OK that's reassuring to hear, I think my impression that this was going to happen regardless came from this being reposted here without much discussion of all these negatives. I certainly appreciate the effort to make sure that members are happy with this.

I just wanted to give people some background. Sorry about the long lag-time, which I imagine was mostly to blame for the weird impression. The reason is I've been on sabbatical to finish my PhD.
Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

I remember that GWWC management asked us this in the pledgers' Facebook group, and that a lot of us expressed unhappiness about it, saying that it'd be a big rebranding, change the organisation from the one they joined, be unproductively vague, and we'd "perceive it as a big loss", etc. So I'm a bit surprised and disappointed to see the apparent determination to push this through regardless of our wishes. (I apologise if I'm wrong to perceive this, and there's a chance that GWWC will stay focused on the global poor.)

I wouldn't see this as 'determination to push this through'. It is very much still in the information gathering stage.
Hi Arrowind, I'm sorry you feel we're trying to push things through! I did indeed ask the members in the member facebook group for feedback, and also people on the members mailing list. I've collated those responses, and they were around evenly split for and against. That was somewhat more positive than I would have expected, given as Jess said, that if people were against a change they would be more likely to put effort in to tell us. It was also interesting that various of the members were quite strongly in favour, not just accepting of the change. The responses did solidify in our minds that we should definitely keep the branding/vision/mission as it is now, and that we needed to approach the question of whether and how this would be done with a great deal of consideration and discussion. I'd be very happy to chat more with you about it if you're interested - maybe via skype?
As Jess Whittlestone said below, it is often the case that dissenters are much more likely to voice their dissent than agree-ers are to voice their agreement; so the comments on a Facebook group are not necessarily representative. Edit: Also, if you ask pledgers what they think about the change, your audience necessarily excludes everyone who didn't like how the pledge was written originally (because people who didn't like the pledge didn't sign it).
Introducing an EA Donation Registry

Update: spotted this featured in the sidebar of the making it a good go-to place for animal welfare donors for sure.

Your Good Deeds 2014 Thread

Impressive, how did you raise that sort of sum?

Sorry for the late response! IIRC, five members each donated $500 and one member offered to match everyone else's donation. We received a $2000 matching from Giving 2.0 [], so we effectively moved $7000 to The Humane League.
Brainstorming thread: ideas for large EA funders

Is the idea that buying is significantly more cost-effective than renting, so this'll let you donate more in the future? I believe whether thats true depends on which property market you're in.

2Owen Cotton-Barratt8y
I didn't downvote it, but I had a temptation to. I think that temptation came from tone rather than content -- as the original post talked about giving to charity as default option, and asked if you could do better, it felt like this post was ignoring the premise of the question (as opposed to saying something like "I don't think the scale lets you beat giving to the best charities").
Where I'm giving and why: Peter Hurford

Out of interest, where have you ended up giving so far?

@PETER_HURFORD, seconded. I don't know how to put this properly but I hope you've moved past any analysis paralysis!
Learning From Less Wrong: Special Threads, and Making This Forum More Useful

That would be great, but I feel as if a thread isn't the best venue for it - it would get samey, and people would feel inhibited by the bragginess of it.

Where do you think would be a good place? The points you brought up are concerning, but I think it works decently on LW (although the samey-ness potential is higher here...) and I'm not sure where a better place for it would be.
Open Thread

Yes, being able to say "I'm part of a group who's pledged to give 10% of their money to global poverty charities" is really clear, which makes it more approachable to say - partly because you don't have to get into a complex explanation. 10% is a clear total similar to tithing, and the concept of and case for giving to global poverty charities is pretty well known.