DavidNash

Community Organiser for EA London

DavidNash's Comments

Growth and the case against randomista development

I think even if it isn't inflammatory, a different title might make the intended audience less defensive and more likely to change their minds as it isn't about their identity, and more about how much weight to give RCTs versus other evaluation methods.

Attempts to introduce young high-wealth philanthropists to EA?

There is Generation Pledge, with the below description.

"Generation Pledge exists to unlock billions of dollars that can be deployed to fund the most effective solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

We work with a community of heirs who are committed to doing good with the resources they have available. We offer opportunities to learn, connect, collaborate and take action to create large-scale positive impact."

EA Updates for December 2019

I have quite a few newsletter subscriptions, with some that are tangentially related to EA.

I sometimes search twitter for mentions of effective altruism.

A few things come via LinkedIn connections on the newsfeed.

Community vs Network

I think the community is composed of people who either attend multiple EA events each year or contribute to online discussion, and some proportion of people who work at an EA related organisation, so maybe between 500-2000 people.

There are quite a few people who might attend an EAG or read content but don't get involved and wouldn't consider themselves part of the community. I might be biased as part of my work at EA London has included having lots of conversations with people who often have a great understanding of EA but have never been to an event.


Community vs Network

The 1-3X and 10/90 percent are loosely held assumptions. I think it may be more accurate to assume there are power law distributions for people who would consider themselves in the community and also for those who are in the wider network. If both groups have a similar distribution, than the network probably has an order of magnitude more people who have 100x-1000x impact. Some examples include junior members of the civil service being quite involved in EA, but there are also senior civil servants and lots of junior civil servants who are interested in EA but don't attend meetups.

I'm not sure that it is a core EA org belief that the difference is down to whether someone is heavily engaged in the community or not. Lots of examples they use of people who have had a much larger impact come from before EA was a movement.

Community vs Network
the argument does not hold if those groups are only for people who are very familiar with EA thinking

I think when creating most groups/sub-communities it's important that there is a filter to make sure people have an understanding of EA, otherwise it can become an average group for that cause area rather than a space for people who have an interest in EA and that specific cause, and are looking for EA related conversations.


But the likelihood that I would have changed my cause area because other causes are more important to work on would have been smaller. This could be because it is less likely to come across good arguments for other causes as not that many people around me have an incentive to point me towards those resources.

I think most people who have an interest in EA also hold uncertainty about their moral values, the tractability of various interventions and which causes are most important. It can be easy sometimes to pigeonhole people with particular causes depending on where they work or donate but I don't meet many people who only care about one cause, and the EA survey had similar results.

If people are able to come across well reasoned arguments for interventions within a cause area they care about, I think it's more likely that they'll stick around. As most of the core EA material (newsletters, forum, FB) has reference to multiple causes, it will be hard to avoid these ideas. Especially if they are also in groups for their career/interests/location.

I think the bigger risk is losing people who instantly bounce from EA when it doesn't even attempt to answer their questions rather than the risk of people not getting exposed to other ideas. If EA doesn't have cause groups then there's probably a higher chance of someone just going to another movement that does allow conversation in that area.


This quote from an 80,000 Hours interview with Kelsey Piper phrases it much better.

"Maybe pretty early on, it just became obvious that there wasn’t a lot of value in preaching to people on a topic that they weren’t necessarily there for, and that I had a lot of thoughts on the conversations people were already having. Then I think one thing you can do to share any reasoning system, but it works particularly well for effective altruism is just to apply it consistently, in a principled way, to problems that people care about. Then, they’ll see whether your tools look like useful tools. If they do, then they’ll be interested in learning more about that. I think my ideal effective altruist movement, and obviously this trade off against lots of other things and I don’t know that we can be doing more of it on the margin. My ideal effective altruist movement had insightful nuanced, productive, takes on lots and lots of other things so that people could be like, “Oh, I see how effective altruists have tools for answering questions. “I want the people who have tools for answering questions to teach me about those tools. I want to know what they think the most important questions are. I want to sort of learn about their approach."

Community vs Network
the EA community tends to be especially capable

I'm not sure that an EA community member is 'especially capable' compared to a capable person who attends less events or is less engaged with online content. The wider network may have quite a few people who have absorbed 5+ years of online material to do with EA, but rarely interacted, and those people will have used the same advice to choose donations and careers as more engaged members.

I also think the network has higher variance, you may get people who are not doing much altruistically, but there will also be more people in business with 20+ year experience, leading academics in their field and people higher up in government who want to good with their careers.


Side point

Comparisons have been made before about the impact of an EA and, e.g., the average developed country person.

Whilst I'm aware that you move on from this point, I'm not sure it's useful to have as a comparison when the post is about people who are aware of EA and of having impact within their career rather than everyone in a developed country. It may be that it's also hard to parse your text without paragraphs and removing that first point would have helped.

EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include?

There was a Facebook post on top 10 concepts for people to know in EA.

Here are some of the suggestions.

  • Cause neutrality
  • Scale, Neglectedness and Solvability framework
  • Maximising welfare
  • Moral patient-hood
  • Moral uncertainty
  • Moral trade
  • Longtermism
  • Hits-based giving
  • Worldview diversification
  • Earning-to-give
  • Comparative advantage
  • Epistemic principles
  • Crucial Considerations

I think some of the points in this 80,000 Hours article apply to EA in general

  • We’ve been wrong before, and we’ll be wrong again
  • Many of the questions we tackle are a matter of balance, and different people will benefit from considering opposing messages
  • Personal fit matters, so focus more on strategies than simple answers
  • There are disagreements within the community
  • Treat doing good as just one of many important goals in life

Also this one - Misconceptions of 80,000 Hours research (although maybe they wont be misconceptions if it is the first thing they read)

  • Roles outside explicitly EA organisations are most people’s best career options.
  • Sometimes these roles aren’t as visible to the community, including to 80,000 Hours, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t highly impactful.
  • Many especially impactful roles require specific skills. If none of these roles are currently a great fit for you, but one could be if you developed the right skills, it can be worth it to take substantial time to do so.
  • You should use 80,000 Hours to figure out what your best career is and how to get there, not what “the” best careers are.

I'd add in different ways of having impact and how they generally compare as people often ask about why EA doesn't do much in one of the following; career, donations, volunteering, influence/voting and personal consumption

Also some articles that I've shared quite regularly with people newer to EA.

Why choose a cause and how to strategically choose a cause

6 tips on choosing an effective charity

Where I am donating this year

Giving Cheerfully

Effective altruism as question


Load More