All of Bella's Comments + Replies

Nice 1min 80,000 Hours ad on YouTube video

So, I don't dictate per se, but I have input in two ways:

  1. I send creators an initial doc with 'talking points' (things I'd like them to say about 80k) and example ad reads we've liked in the past
  2. I review the script they'll read from and/or the final filmed video (mostly to veto anything I don't like, because rewording once the video is filmed is pretty costly)

I always encourage creators to use their own tone, say things they think will resonate with their audience, and take judgement calls on what will work best in their context. IME that has higher co... (read more)

What’s alive right now?

Thanks for writing this. Now I have a clearly-written, concise piece to share with people whenever I go on a rant about the absolutely absurd number of nematodes. (They're the average animal! By the numbers, Animalia is~worms!)

Nice 1min 80,000 Hours ad on YouTube video

Thanks for the crosspost - FYI I negotiated this deal (it was very easy, Tom Scott & his team are lovely & great to work with) so feel free to AMA!

If it's OK to answer: how much did you end up dictating the content/wording of the ad?
Announcing Non-trivial, an EA learning platform for teenagers

Following the law of equal and opposite feedback: I thought the logo was great, and clearly reads as stairs to me :)

Kurzgesagt - The Last Human (Longtermist video)

3,134 people clicked through to the 80k longtermism article from the Kurzgesagt video. At time of writing, the video has 4.2m views, meaning 0.07% of viewers clicked the link. 85 of those people subscribed to the 80k newsletter (2.24% conversion rate, compared to a 4.2% site average).

Kurzgesagt - The Last Human (Longtermist video)

I'll reply to this comment with our stats on the link to 80,000 Hours' article in a week or so (or when the video stops getting many more views per day)

Great! Thank you.
EA Dedicates

Thank you for writing this; I enjoyed it and thought it was novel (to me). The monk analogy seems particularly instructive.

Still - I feel uneasy because I'm not sure which category I fall into, nor which I want to fall into. Probably just because binaries are not (usually) perfect binaries!

The Case for Reading Books

I liked this post but I think it would have been helpful if you were more clear between two claims you could be making:

  1. 'Reading books is (sometimes) an optimal medium of consuming information, given ~altruistic goals'
  2. 'Reading books is (sometimes) valuable given ~non-altruistic goals - e.g. it is pleasurable, exposes the reader to culture, etc.'

I think you move fluidly between arguing for both 1 and 2, which can be a bit confusing, especially because the framing of the post seems like you wanted to mostly argue for 1.

FWIW I basically think both are tr... (read more)

Critiques of EA that I want to read

a moral realism that seems somewhat popular in the EA space

Could you say more about this? (My anecdata suggest that EAs typically embrace anti-realism)

I'd be interested in a survey on this. My impression is that realism isn't a majority view among EAs, but is way higher than the general non-religious public / greater tech and policy communities that lots of EAs come out of. Though I think this is something I want to see critiqued regardless of realist-ness.
Also, moral realism seems more predictive of ethics being consistent, not less. (Not consistent with our unreflected intuitions, though.)
What YouTube channels do you watch?

Thank you so much, I hadn't seen this!

What YouTube channels do you watch?

Thank you for the feedback - sorry you had a slightly frustrating experience!

What YouTube channels do you watch?

Hey Nathan,

I actually purposefully made it a post rather than a question, as it'd be most helpful for me if people filled out the form I linked rather than replying in the comments with their answers. I figured a question would encourage the latter approach.

You don't have to answer this, but why is it more useful to have results in a form rather than as upvoted answers to a question?

New substack on utilitarian ethics: Good Thoughts

Can't wait for the issue on metaethical non-naturalism! Subscribed :)

My Job: EA Office Manager

Adding another comment testifying to the value of Jonathan's work:

I worked at Trajan House for a few months before he started (but left ~as he was taking on the role). I've had the opportunity to visit a couple times since then, and the impact of Jonathan's work is /extremely/ obvious to me. Every issue I'd had with the office was fixed (as far as I could tell), plus a lot more things that I hadn't even thought could be improved. It's a totally different place!

High absorbency career paths

Bella from 80k here — I really liked this post, and think it points to something important - thanks for writing it!

The ‘absorbency’ of a career path is one of the things we take into account when we decide what to recommend. For instance, being a ‘public intellectual’ is something that can probably absorb only a few people, which is why it’s lower down on our list of top recommended career paths (and we note this in the profile itself, too).

(AndreFerretti asked whether 80k considers absorbency below, but I thought I'd post as a comment not a reply since it might be of general interest) :)

Don’t think, just apply! (usually)

Thanks for sharing your perspective from the hiring & evaluation side!

FWIW I already had some belief of this shape, which is why I added the caveat 'things that I imagine will disappoint people' - some part of me knows that the hirers are very unlikely to actually care, but another part worries & feels aversion to this.

Don’t think, just apply! (usually)

One pretty mild but countervailing consideration that a friend raised to me is that it can be psychologically taxing to drop out of an application process, & this might skew your decision-making.

I know myself and know that I don't like disappointing people (or, doing things that I imagine will disappoint people); so much so that I might end up dropping out later than is optimal, or not drop out at all until the final stage.

It's hard to tell people no (more so for some personality types than others!), and if you know this to be true about yourself that'... (read more)

Yeah, that seems a fair point. One thing I'd say in response is that, as a person who's been on multiple hiring committees and evaluated many grant applications, I'm pretty confident hirers and grantmakers would be excited for people to apply even if there's a decent chance they'll ultimately pull out or decline an offer! E.g., even if someone has a 75% chance of pulling our or declining, that just reduces the EV for the hirer/grantmaker of the person applying by a factor of 4. And that probably isn't a very big deal, given that hirers and grantmakers typically don't have to spend long on each application unless someone has a pretty good shot of being worth hiring/funding (in which case the EV is then fairly good). I'm aware that feelings of aversion are not always easily dispelled by logical arguments, so I'm not expecting this comment to totally fix the point you raise. But I'd guess it'd be somewhat helpful to make it more widely known/salient that (I think) hirers and grantmakers are often quite happy to have someone make somewhat speculative applications and then see what happens, and will be fine with just the fact that ex ante this was a good move.
The Vultures Are Circling

Strong upvote for the erosion of trust being one of the things I'm really worried about.

Three minute action to help 80,000 Hours grow

That looks like a good template - thanks for making it & for sharing!

Managing 'Imposters'

"Being the newest member of a team can be daunting, particularly if the new joiner is impressed by the rest of the team. Making sure the person actually chats to the rest of the team makes clear they’re all just people too."

As someone new to the team at 80k, can confirm! Thanks Michelle and also everyone on the team for making me feel so welcome so quickly :)

The Unweaving of a Beautiful Thing

This was a beautiful story, and it made me cry. I especially liked the section about compassion. Thanks for sharing it, and for writing it.

Thanks Bella. I'm glad the bit on compassion resonated. Growing up, sheer emotional empathy definitely came more naturally to me than a more directed form of compassion, so the importance of compassion, in particular, is something I've spent time reflecting on over the years.

Killing the ants

Your suspicions are correct; there's actually some good evidence to suggest that TNR is not effective at reducing feral cat population. Here's a very short summary which links to pages with more detail, if you're interested:

A brief explanation of the Myanmar coup

Could you define 'selectorate' and 'ejectorate'? The paragraph in which these terms are used is quite difficult to read, and I do not know what they refer to. Thanks!

Selectorate: People who select the leader Ejectorate: People who don't. In the Soviet Union, the selectorate was the Politburo Standing Committee. In Egypt and Myanmar the selectorate is a group of generals. In the US the selectorate are voters in swing states. Thanks for the feedback.
Important Between-Cause Considerations: things every EA should know about

Thanks for this post; really interesting and seems like it could be really important.

You wrote:

"I think this classification allows for there to be potentially astronomical differences in value between the cause areas. There probably won’t be as astronomical differences in value within these cause areas (e.g. between different ways to improve near-term human welfare)."

While I share this intuition (i.e. I can think of some informal reasons why I think this would be correct), I'm not sure it's an obvious enough claim to not need argumentation. Also, I agree w... (read more)

2Jack Malde2y
Hey Bella, I'm glad to hear you found it interesting! I agree that that claim needs more argumentation, and I have replied to one of Michael's comments with my thoughts. On thinking about all of this a bit more my view has actually evolved somewhat (as explained in my comments to Michael).
Ranking animal foods based on suffering and GHG emissions

Just wanted to say that this looks extremely cool, and is something I will definitely be sharing with people in my life! (Especially those who insist on still eating shrimp and almost no other animal products...)

Thank you for the kind words Bella!
AMA: Owen Cotton-Barratt, RSP Director

Thanks for this interesting discussion; for others who read this and were interested, I thought I'd link some previous EA discussions on this topic in case it's helpful :)

One brief addition: I think the kind of conscientious omnivorism you describe ('I do try to only consume animals I think have had reasonable welfare levels') might have similar opportunity costs to veg*ism, and there's some not very conclusive psychological literature to suggest that, since it is a finer grained rule than 'eat no animals', it might even be harder to follow. 

Obviously... (read more)

The scale of direct human impact on invertebrates

If there was ever something to read to prove that scope insensitivity exists, this would be it! Unreflectively, I feel about as bad about all of these industries, even though there are many orders of magnitude between the smallest and largest.  

Thanks for this very valuable post!

Antibiotic resistance: Should animal advocates intervene?

Arguments like these are some of the reasons why I am less optimistic about total bans, rather than bans on subtherapeutic and growth promotion use of antibiotics. If there aren't good treatment alternatives available, then banning antibiotics outright would probably sometimes force producers to leave disease untreated, which seems like it would be really bad for animal welfare. I don't know how often there are no good treatment alternatives, but I'd guess it's some decent proportion of disease.

However, I do think the argument is a bit disingenuous. I can'

... (read more)
Urgency vs. Patience - a Toy Model

I think that ignoring all the value in futures where we don't safely reach technological maturity kind of stacks the deck against GPR, which I intuitively think is better than your model suggests. This seems especially the case if we have a suffering-focused ethics (I mean by this: there is an asymmetry between suffering and happiness, such that decreasing suffering by x is better than increasing happiness by x). 

Including 'bad futures' would, I suspect, affect how easy you think it is to increase the value of the future by 1/4 (or equivalent). This i

... (read more)
Antibiotic resistance: Should animal advocates intervene?

Thanks for your question!

I didn’t go as far as doing a cost-effectiveness analysis on this; I think that there are a lot of uncertainties that would make that quite difficult, but it'd definitely be a good next step for this topic.

My guess is that if we purely consider impact on animals then it might come out quite a bit less cost-effective than other interventions, but that if we account for public health benefits as well it might turn out to be comparable in terms of cost-effectiveness.

I think the two most important variables that cost-effectiveness woul

... (read more)
My Meta-Ethics and Possible Implications for EA

Thanks for this. I think that we should probably be investigating metaethics much more than it generally seems to be investigated (based on my view that conclusions in metaethics seem like they could be hugely important, mitigated by the fact that conclusions seem very hard to come by). 

I'm not sure I fully understand the claim about population ethics. Is it that population ethics necessarily speculates about things outside of our experience, therefore it's harder to make correct judgements? Or is it a stronger conclusion than that (perhaps, we can't

... (read more)
Yes, thanks for clarifying. I believe that it is necessarily harder to make correct judgements in the domain of population ethics. My stronger claim is that any such judgements, even if correct, only carry force as mediated through our 'call to universality' meta-emotion. Hence, even if we have the right population axiology, this likely should not over-ride our more mundane moral intuitions.