Founder and Co-Director @ The Unjournal
3433 karmaJoined May 2017Working (15+ years)Monson, MA, USA



See davidreinstein.org

I'm the Founder and Co-director of The Unjournal;. W  organize and fund public journal-independent feedback, rating, and evaluation of hosted papers and dynamically-presented research projects. We will focus on work that is highly relevant to global priorities (especially in economics, social science, and impact evaluation). We will encourage better research by making it easier for researchers to get feedback and credible ratings on their work.

Previously I was a Senior Economist at Rethink Priorities, and before that n 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.. 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


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Topic Contributions

Project Idea: 'Cost to save a life' interactive calculator promotion

What about making and promoting a ‘how much does it cost to save a life’ quiz and calculator.

 This could be adjustable/customizable (in my country, around the world, of an infant/child/adult, counting ‘value added life years’ etc.) … and trying to make it go viral (or at least bacterial) as in the ‘how rich am I’ calculator? 

The case 

  1. People might really be interested in this… it’s super-compelling (a bit click-baity, maybe, but the payoff is not click bait)!
  2. May make some news headlines too (it’s an “easy story” for media people, asks a question people can engage with, etc. … ’how much does it cost to save a life? find out after the break!)
  3. if people do think it’s much cheaper than it is, as some studies suggest, it would probably be good to change this conception… to help us build a reality-based impact-based evidence-based community and society of donors
  4. similarly, it could get people thinking about ‘how to really measure impact’ --> consider EA-aligned evaluations more seriously

While GiveWell has a page with a lot of tech details, but it’s not compelling or interactive  in the way I suggest above, and I doubt  they market it heavily.

GWWC probably doesn't have the design/engineering time for this (not to mention refining this for accuracy and communication).  But if someone else (UX design, research support, IT) could do the legwork I think they might be very happy to host it. 

It could also mesh well with academic-linked research so I may have  some ‘Meta academic support ads’ funds that could work with this.

Tags/backlinks (~testing out this new feature) 
@GiveWell  @Giving What We Can
Projects I'd like to see 

EA Projects I'd Like to See 
 Idea: Curated database of quick-win tangible, attributable projects 

Does anyone have any data or anecdotal evidence on how often people have actually stayed in EA houses that sprung from this list?

Anyone know if there is a more web-based version of this paper/research? The 754 page pdf seems like possibly not the best format.

Audio recordings would be good, thanks.

Not sure about the benefit/cost. Am I naive to think something like:

  • Tripod (or a small stabilizer on a desk)
  • Volunteer (or paid person) in each room, sits at front or operates tripod
  • Uses own camera phone
  • Uploads to YouTube directly from phone

Time cost: Maybe 1-2 hours of 'equivalent extra person work' per 1-hour session (say 90 minutes).

Benefit: If even 5-10 people watch the videos, I suspect the value outweighs the cost.

  • Enabling them to shift time; e.g., do 1-on-1's if attending ...

  • Encouraging some people to not come in person (saving tremendous expense obviously)

  • Presenter and their team can re-watch the video to improve their own presentation, as well as using it for onboarding etc.

My guess (very rough) is the value 'per watcher who spends at least 20 minutes viewing on the talk' has about 20% of the value of the 90 minutes spent by the person filming and uploading on average.

(Obviously more so if it's a highly productive person doing the watching, or if the speaker themselves watches it to improve their presentation.)

So I guess if at least 5 people watch the average video for 20 minutes or more, this would be worth doing. Not sure how that compares to the statistics you've seen on usage.

Could it be enabled on a 'strictly voluntary basis', i.e., give permission for people to record certain sessions, announce this, and upload it to an (unofficial?) channel?

These are useful, thanks. I would suggest we also enable/permit a lower-quality recording to be posted or shared of the other talks. It should be fairly costless to have a few people record and post these with camera phones, etc., and I believe it would add substantial value.

I think this was downvoted because of a lack of reasoning transparency.

it makes the most sense to donate to them only when someone is going to 3x or more match your donation

Maybe  it makes the 'most' sense relative to donating at another time, but is 
their impactful per-dollar even close to comparable with other top charities?

Also, when does that match occur and is it really a counterfactual match?

, I recommend investing the money you plan to donate so that you donate more.

On what basis? How do you know the investment will outperform the relative value of the investments the charity would make over this time?

>  and their Our Impact page for information on their impact (e.g., Lives saved, School shootings prevented, etc.).

I took  a glance at that page, but it is very much not transparent

  • Lots of images making it harder to see content
  • It has claims without clearly linked sources
  • Doesn't clearly demonstrate that the 'preventions' are relative to a counterfactual 
  • No clear reporting of benefit/cost

    I just thought I would give my feedback on this well-intentioned post. Hope it's helpful and taken in the positive spirit it was meant

I didn't end up getting around to do a more formal survey. Obviously the one in the approval voting above is deeply unscientific and doesn't represent any particular defined sample. 

I started an Airtable to keep track of 'small quick win projects', which  @Joe Rogero  and others have expanded. 

However, coordination of anything like this is hard, and requires eyeballs and buy-in from the major players and funders.


Just a quick note as The Unjournal was mentioned. We commission expert peer review and rating (and pay the evaluators) and all evaluation is made public. We focus on potentially-impactful work in economics, social science, and policy. We are aiming at a standard and metrics that will be comparable and can be benchmarked against the traditional journal tiers, as well as ratings and adding value on other dimensions.

Submitting your work to The Unjournal basically does not preclude you from also submitting it to anywhere else. We don't 'publish' your work or claim ownership of it; you need to have it made available publicly (in an archive, working paper series, etc., we can advise on this if you like). We simply evaluate it. 

Anyways, this is all stated better in our 'nutshell explanation', and our 'why should authors engage' and on our page (unjournal.org), which has an enabled chatbot you can use to ask it questions. 

Thanks, this is helpful. I'll reach out. Fwiw I've added some public comments on the pdf using hypothes.is (although some of these comments are Unjournal-specific). 

All hypothes.is comments on that hosted page are visible with this search query 

or here, in context if you have the hypothes.is plugin.

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