Danny Lipsitz

85 karmaJoined Jun 2020


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For me the ironic thing about critiquing current practices of EA is that it is, in itself, an act of EA.

The same can't necessarily be said for critiquing the underlying premise of EA.

Hey Aaron -- really want to sit down and read this thoroughly when I have a moment. Someone sent me the link to your post, otherwise, I haven't been on EA Forum for a minute.

That said, I did a talk on just this topic back at the EA Global "Unconference" over the summer. Would love to maybe be in touch about this idea...the link to my talk is here:

Ah, okay. So tractability is built into the term "most important"?

I thought they were two separate concepts: https://concepts.effectivealtruism.org/concepts/importance-neglectedness-tractability/

I agree that all that really matters is how effective a particular intervention will be in reducing suffering for the amount of money you plan to donate. Other metrics (especially neglectedness) are just heuristics.

Kind of unrelated, but I've wondered about these first two considerations that people use to pick a charity, as listed above: 

1) which cause is most important
2) which interventions in the cause are most effective

Couldn't there be a cause that is extremely important but just that don't have any good interventions? Maybe there is a "most effective" intervention for this cause, but it's still not that good, and donating to that intervention doesn't really result in much. 

I hate to admit it, but I think there does exist a utilitarian trade-off between marketability and accuracy. Although I'm thrilled that the EA movement prides itself on being as factually accurate as possible and I believe the core EA movement absolutely needs to stick with that, there is a case to be made that an exaggerated truth may be an important teaching tool in helping non-EAs understand why EAs do what they do.

It seems likely that Peter Singer's example has  had a net-positive impact, despite the inaccuracies. Even I was originally drawn to EA by this example, among a few of his others. I've since been donating at least 10% and been active in EA projects. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

We just have to be careful that the integrity of the EA movement isn't compromised due to inaccurate examples like this. But I think anyone who goes far enough with EA to learn that this example is inaccurate, or even cares to do so, will most likely already have converted into an EA mindset, which is Mr. Singer's end-goal.

Thanks, Michael! I would definitely love to have the talk linked from EA Hub. Cafelow, is that a possibility?

I have definitely checked out SHIC and skimmed through their materials. My initial concept for teaching in schools has a notable distinction from them. Before considering the idea of internal vs. external movement building, my concept was to do a single lesson, spark a lightbulb moment with a student or two who might be EA-inclined, give them a copy of "Doing Good Better," and then move on. Coming back for more lessons with the same class seemed like it would yield diminishing returns. I didn't think I would convince any additional students to become EA the second go-around.

However, reading back through Catherine's conclusions in the High School EA Outreach post, it never occurred to me that sustained exposure might be what encourages some would-be EAs who agree with my first lesson to actually adapt EA behavior.

Since the Unconference and my recent interest in the idea of external movement building, I do think I'd like to rethink a set of materials specifically aimed at people who are not EA-inclined, for classroom use, for general use by EAs when talking to non-EAs, and as guidelines for broader public outreach.

From the conclusions of the contributors to the High School EA Outreach post (and from my own findings) it might be hard to get non-EA young people to put in additional resources into doing good. But collectively, young people will still give tons of money to walk-a-thons and fundraisers they see on Facebook. If we can't increase the quantity of giving, is it possible to improve the quality? It seems like Charity Navigator has been able to become a (nearly) household name and perpetuate certain ideas about giving. This could be a proof of concept that a large subset of the public is open to new ideas about how to do good, and that non-EA charitable funds could theoretically be redirected to more effective charities.

Thank you. This is definitely at least part of what I was remembering! Was there a separate one then involving arguments for EA remaining apolitcal? (I know there's may be small mentions of that on several episodes.)

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