david_reinstein

davidreinstein.org

I am a Senior Economist at Rethink Priorities (https://www.rethinkpriorities.org/our-team), previously an Economics lecturer/professor for 15 years

I'm working to impact EA fundraising and marketing; see https://bit.ly/eamtt

And projects bridging EA, academia, and open science (esp. the 'Unjournal') ... see bit.ly/eaprojects

My previous and ongoing research focuses on determinants and motivators of charitable giving (propensity, amounts, and 'to which cause?'), and drivers of/barriers to effective giving, as well as the impact of pro-social behavior and social preferences on market contexts.

Podcasts: "Found in the Struce" https://anchor.fm/david-reinstein

and the EA Forum podcast: https://anchor.fm/ea-forum-podcast (co-founder, regular reader)

Twitter: @givingtools

Topic Contributions

Comments

"Two-factor" voting ("two dimensional": karma, agreement) for EA forum?

Although, if it's not too late, maybe 'two-factor' could use a better name? I suspect many people get confused because they associate it with 2-factor authentification.

"Two-factor" voting ("two dimensional": karma, agreement) for EA forum?

Is 2-factor voting popular, or did they love my epistemic rigor and rhetorical clarity? :)

Seriously, though, this is exciting and I'm eager to see how it goes. It seems to me to be very much on-brand for the EA forum.

Why Effective Altruists Should Put a Higher Priority on Funding Academic Research

Aside: It's not funding research, as you are proposing, but I'm hoping the Unjournal will help encourage academic research in the right direction through:

  1. In choosing which research to evaluate and feature, prioritizing work relevant to the most effective interventions, that explicitly addresses cost and scalability, that provides transparent calculations and reasoning, MonteCarlo CEAs, etc.

  2. Through the evaluation and communication process, encouraging and helping researchers to do the above.

The Comparability of Subjective Scales

Perhaps the sceptic thinks, for some reason, we should give up on happiness data altogether - they don’t buy the construct validation story. But, why stop here? We ask people for subjective ratings all the time: Uber drivers, restaurants, job satisfaction, mental health diagnoses, pain scores, etc. Are these all nonsense too? Surely not.

But Uber is not claiming that a movement from a 4 to a 5 is equally valuable as a movement from a 3 to a 4, are they?

Notes on "A World Without Email", plus my practical implementation

 Remove all Sidebar fluff. I don’t think anyone really uses these. (Preferences -> Sidebar -> Always show in sidebar -> uncheck all. 

Some of these are useful

 

Critiques of EA that I want to read

This seems very much too strong to me:

Person-affecting views are interesting, but pretty much universally dismissed in the EA community

I consider myself part of the EA community and I do not dismiss PAV... I am very sympathetic to them. When I have presented these others have not been dismissive. They are usually at least mentioned as a potential important part of a balanced breakfast of moral uncertainty.

Some articles in the forum seem to be sticking up for PAV, by Michael St Jules and others:

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/cXEvzaQhQGfvFSy5Z/the-problem-of-possible-populations-animal-farming

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/2BWQ4NrCEP7a4vzaW/defending-the-procreation-asymmetry-with-conditional

Here, the author states:

Unfortunately, these views have largely been neglected in population ethics, at least in EA and plausibly in academia as well,[69] while far more attention has been devoted to person-affecting views.

(Love your post by the way)

Uncertainty and sensitivity analyses of GiveWell's cost-effectiveness analyses

He was very positive about it and willing to move forward on it. I didn't/don't have all the bandwidth to follow up as much as I'd like to, but maybe someone else could do. (And I'd hope to turn back to this at some point.)

I think this could be done in addition to and in complement to HazelFire's work. Note that the Hazelfire effort is using squiggle language. I've been following up and encouraging them as well. I hope that we can find a way to leverage the best features of each of these tools, and also bring in domain knowledge.

What is the best NGO for hunger relief in Somalia? Asking for a millionaire friend who is locked in on that specific cause

Trying to craft an answer, may update this as I think some more. Of course, this answer is crafted from my perspective on what is 'best'. You will probably want to consult with your friend as to what they value (as well as discussing this issue with them to help them carefully consider their priorities.)

MSF

I suspect that MSF is as good as best for the institutional 'laying the groundwork' to permit relief in these specific disaster cases, but I don't have hard evidence. (E.g., latest GiveWell evaluation of MSF in 2012.)

Note that (I recall reading discussions of) the work of an organization like MSF is particularly hard to analyze with a GiveWell-style CEA, both because:

... they do many things and it's hard to isolate costs or earmark funds specific activities, and because

... much of their work has harder-to-immediately-measure benefits, such as providing an environment to permit further aid and an international presence, and (maybe) building institutions.

That's not to say we shouldn't try to measure this; I think we should!

Open Philanthropy's choices

I defer to the careful judgment and research of Open Phil, who recently gave :

$20 million to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for malnutrition treatment in Chad, Niger, Somalia, Burkina Faso, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and $7 million to The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) for malnutrition treatment in Chad. This is a new intervention for GiveWell, and they wrote about the scale of the need, evidence base, and open questions here.

Regular malnutrition is not the same thing as famine relief, I think, but there may be some overlap.

This is why we need rigorous evaluation of a wider set of charities/causes

(One of my hobby horses)

As I've argued before, the case you present offers an example of one reason (of several reasons) why we should fund and do systematic measurement and evaluation of 'harder to evaluate' charities and causes.

I hope that the use of Fermi estimation involving meta-analysis of existing (limited evidence, calibrated judgment where evidence is lacking, quantified uncertainty, and MonteCarlo estimation will enable this more. See Hazelfire/QURI work here. I'm also hope that Sogive can move in this direction. I'm also interested in fostering multiple independent evaluations of the same programs and charities to get a sense of our reliability here.

Where to donate goods/textbooks/items ~effectively in the UK/US/beyond?

I’m also working and shouldn’t let this effort distract me too much. Maybe the way I wrote it made me sound like a student? The textbooks are built up over years of teaching and getting free copies of these things.

General equilibrium thinking

I’m being fussy, but I’m advocating for using terms precisely. We generally have enough confusion and misunderstanding in discussing these difficult issues. When we have concepts like Partial Equilibrium and General Equilibrium that are rigorously defined in mathematical economics I think we should try to use them as precisely as possible.

Yes economists also sometimes use these terms loosely and I yell at them too :).

I think there are also concepts in game theory that your ideas seem to engage, involving comparative statics of equilibrium concepts other than Nash Equilibrium (single deviation)… , or possibly a sequential game

The indirect effects on labor markets that you mention actually sound to me more like what one would traditionally call general equilibrium effects. Maybe a better term for what you want would be something like “indirect strategic responses” … or “effects taking into account sequential responses of others”?

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