Topic Contributions


A New Idea for Financing Philanthropy

I think this is a cute idea and could go viral. A best case scenario would be something where your challenge goes viral like the Ice Bucket Challenge or becomes traditional like giving $$$ to the Salvation Army at Christmas.

Are you involved with a charity that you would want to use this for?

Don’t Be Comforted by Failed Apocalypses

No, because it's possible you observe blue tile or red tile.

You observe things (alive) or don't observe things (not alive.)

In the first situation, the observer knows multiple facts about the world could be observed. Not so in the second case.

Don’t Be Comforted by Failed Apocalypses

In the tile case, the observers on average will be correct. Some will get too many heads, some few. But the observers on average will be correct. You won't know whether you should adjust your personal estimate.

In the anthropic case, the observers on average will zero apocalypses no matter how common apocalypses are. 

Imagine if in the tile case, everyone who was about to get more heads than average was killed by an assassin and the assassin told you what they were doing. Then when you did the experiment and lived, you would know your estimate was biased.

Don’t Be Comforted by Failed Apocalypses

Hi Toby,

Can't we imagine 100 people doing that experiment. People will get different results- some more heads than they "should" and some fewer heads than they "should." But the sample means will cluster around the real rate of heads. So any observer won't know if their result has too many heads or too few. So they go with their naive estimate.

With apocalypses, you know by definition you're one of the observers that wasn't wiped out. So I do think this reasoning works. If I'm wrong or my explanation makes no sense, please let me know!

Don’t Be Comforted by Failed Apocalypses

Hey Ryan,

I think I agree with the religious comparison- they do seem similar to me and I liked that part of your post. I just think failed apocalyptic predictions don't give that much evidence that we can discount future apocalyptic predictions.

Religious apocalypses are maybe a little different because I think (but don't know) that most people who predict the end of the world via God are claiming that all possible worlds end, not just predicting an event that will normally occur.

I mostly think anthropic reasoning is good (but there is a voice in my head telling me I'm crazy whenever I try to apply it).

The Case for a Strategic U.S. Coal Reserve for Climate and Catastrophes

I'm not  an expert on the technical aspects of coal storage. I don't think they would be insurmountable because it's been seriously proposed by some countries as a way to insure against supply disruptions or price spikes. (Germany, India)

But it might be more of an issue on the scale I'm envisioning.

Effective Altruism Isn't on TV.

I agree on the value of the documentary. I honestly wish I had that skill set, I think it could be a really big deal.

Snakebites kill 100,000 people every year, here's what you should know

Fascinating. Have any public health departments tried snake extirpation in certain areas? (Or is that an obviously flawed approach?)

Solving the replication crisis (FTX proposal)

Project looks really cool. I appreciate you sharing this. I hope this project continues to grow.

I really want to know what FTX ended up funding since the rejected grants I know of looked really promising to me.

Effective Altruism Isn't on TV.

I think more people being exposed to GiveWell would be good. Richer audiences with disposable incomes (CNBC/Bloomberg watchers?) I think would be a good target audience.

I do agree that not every part of EA would benefit from general awareness- debates on moral realism, competing theories of utilitarianism and so forth.

More so, the absence of EA on TV just surprised me. I didn't walk around with a clear estimate of how many mentions in my head, but I thought GiveWell would be more prominent for sure.

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