DR

david_reinstein

Founder and Co-Director @ The Unjournal
3521 karmaJoined Working (15+ years)Monson, MA, USA

Bio

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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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 

Great video, will share! 

One question – in the interviews you incorporated, people stated that they thought it would be very expensive to save a life (£100k+) and even more (!) internationally. 

Was this the norm? Because in the academic research I've seen people tend to state very low amounts, vastly underestimating the true (~£5k) cost.   (This also seems to be happening iirc in my own ongoing work with Janek Kretschmer and Paul Smeets. Also why I was interested in seeing someone develop a "how much does it cost to save a life quiz and calculator"?) 

If this £100k+ estimate was fairly normal in your street interviews, I'm wondering if you framed this in a particular way, or whether you stated something before asking them this question that made them think of these larger numbers. Potential useful to  know how to frame this question for other research work and other contexts so that people are getting at 'what we really mean by cost to save a life'. 

Thanks for this detailed report. It's likely to be helpful to other organizations to understand the reasoning and evidence base behind this in considering whether to start or fund adjacent projects. Il

Some things that woukd also be nice com apologise if you already did this.

Can you share your data and code or spread sheets in case other researchers or founders want to revisit this? potentially this is something students and academic researchers would want to help you with.

You often report pre-values and a “lack of significant difference". Of course, this could be driven by lack of statistical power in small samples. it would be helpful if you could report, confidence intervals for these. if you have the bandwidth, it would be helpful if you could do some equivalent test or even Bayesian analysis in a decision framework.

Someone reminded me about NE&EP Normative Economics and Economic Policy.  This is a good and useful seminar series, and helpfully, they do post their topics. 
It tends to be more focused on economic theory, but not exclusively so. 

That said, I'm mainly looking for in-person opportunities atm, in part to help build and maintain ties and contacts, in part to have something that I actually do in 'meat space'.   

But I generally am very supportive of online or hybrid presentations and conferences.  And if we were to make a curated list, we should include both.

Thanks for this. We are trying to prioritize this work for evaluation, feedback and rating at Unjournal.org. Aiming to incorporate your suggestions soon.

We now have a good team in this area (still looking for more).

We're now particular interested in people submitting and suggesting research in this area for The Unjournal to evaluate.

I'm going through the hosted paper ("Forecasting Existential Risks") and making some comments in hypothes.is (see here). 

I first thought I saw something off, but now see that it's because of the difference between   total extinction risk vs catastrophic risk. For the latter, the superforecasters are not so different from the domain experts (about 2:1). Perhaps this could be emphasized more. 

Putting this in a 'data notebook/dashboard' presentation could be helpful in seeing these distinctions.

Could this could be made even close to cost-effective and scaleable? If so, I think it has strong potential appeal. Perhaps not so much to hard-core rationalists and EAs, but as a bridge to making mainstream donation more effective. From this perspective, I'm more optimistic about your 'hands on charity' proposal. 

I discussed this concept in a 2021 post a while back (see especially 'my proposal sketch'). Wonder what you think.

Curious about the "rescue meat" thing.

My take is that buying "about-to-expire meat on discount when in the grocery store" incentivizes meat production less than buying expensive super-fresh premium meat.

On the other hand, stores that visibly see meat rotting on the shelves may be (emotionally?) inclined to reduce their meat orders in the future.

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