All of DavidNash's Comments + Replies

Give Me Career Advice

I would say that, given that you're already doing some projects in the EA & software development space, that you should consider building that network more comprehensively.


At the moment you are coaching, creating a volunteer board and listing impactful companies which is  a few projects but you could build the ecosystem for EA & Software. This could be similar to what the EA Consulting Network is doing, with their recent hire of a full time person.

I think this would hit a few of your requirements of being meta, not earning to give, invol... (read more)

1Yonatan Cale13dThis sounds very interesting. I'm moving in that direction slowly
When and how should an online community space (e.g., Slack workspace) for a particular type/group of people be created?

I think if you can't find the space you are looking for you should create something (at least a low cost version) and then if someone tells you of an existing space that works, then you can inform the people who have already joined. 

Even if the space isn't particularly active it gives future organisers a starting space and potential people to contact who may be interested.

I think the main case where creating a space could be wrong is if the admin is bad at moderation and not open to improving the space. This also provides an incentive for creating spa... (read more)

Join EA Global: London as a virtual attendee

Is it possible to opt in to be seen by both virtual and in person attendees? In the past I've found the connections via virtual events to be super valuable.

6BarryGrimes2moWe're planning to keep the two audiences separate during the weekend of the conference but provide an opt-in option from the Monday onwards. We haven't figured out the technical aspect of that yet, but that's our intention.
Effective Altruism, Before the Memes Started

There was this response by Hadyn Belfield to the longtermism article a few months ago. 

I also don't think that William MacAskill has to be the person that responds to each criticism if there are others better placed to respond.

4OllieBase2moI was about to write a comment along the lines of your second point. I agree it's unreasonable to expect Will to personally comment on or reply to public criticisms of EA/longtermism - lots of people in the community are well-placed to do that.
Some longtermist fiction

It's sometimes a bit of a slog but also relatively short and I was constantly impressed by the scope of the book and the variety of interesting ideas for something written in the 1930's.

Some longtermist fiction

I recently read Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon after a conversation in which someone said that it inspired them to think about longtermism related ideas way before they had heard of effective altruism.

It covers a fictionalised history of the universe from the beginning to end, more like a documentary or a textbook than a novel with characters and plot. It's from the point of view of someone who is picked up from a hill in England and then moved around the galaxy and observes other civilisations in a variety of  times throughout the life of the universe.... (read more)

1Louis_Dixon3moThanks! Did you think it was worth a read?
EA needs consultancies

There is also an Airtable version of that directory that is more up to date, I'll update the google sheet 

Some thoughts on EA outreach to high schoolers

Is engagement the thing you want to optimise for over impact or are the two highly correlated for you?

6Benjamin_Todd6moUltimately I care about impact, but the engagement measures in the EA survey seem like the best proxy we have within that dataset. (E.g. there is also donation data but I don't think it's very useful for assessing the potential impact of people who are too young to have donated much yet.) A better analysis of this question should also look at things like people who made valuable career changes vs. age, which seems more closely related to impact.
What are your main reservations about identifying as an effective altruist?

I don't think I've ever called myself an effective altruist, part of it is the small identity idea mentioned in the original post and another part is that it doesn't seem correct to call myself effective when there are large uncertainties about the prioritisation of causes and interventions, so new evidence could come up showing I was actually very ineffective.

On a more practical level, it's easier to have conversations with people who are newer to EA or are sceptical of certain aspects of it when I'm not calling myself an EA and making it seem like someth... (read more)

The ten most-viewed posts of 2020

Generally for most engagement there is a vast discrepancy between viewers, people who interact and people who comment/post.

1% rule - link with more details.

Open and Welcome Thread: January 2021

Hey Guy,

It's great to see your intro, if you're interested there is a group on Facebook for disabled and chronically ill people interested in EA.  There are also some other groups mentioned on this directory here that you may find useful.

Can we drive development at scale? An interim update on economic growth work

Leopold Aschenbrenner has written about this here.

"The same technological progress that creates these risks is also what drives economic growth. Does that mean economic growth is inherently risky? Economic growth has brought about extraordinary prosperity. But for the sake of posterity, must we choose safe stagnation instead? This view is arguably becoming ever-more popular, particularly amongst those concerned about climate change; Greta Thunberg recently denounced “fairy tales of eternal economic growth” at the United Nations.

I argue that the opposite is... (read more)

Jamie_Harris's Shortform

Does this include how it might limit your ability to move for work, which might be the most important factor in salary/impact?

1Jamie_Harris1yNo, I didn't list the "other" pros and cons, this is just the financial perspective. I don't have a good sense of how difficult it is to move houses. But my guess is that a decision to move for work or not wouldn't be that dependent on selling a house. E.g. you either want to stay, come what may, because of reasons like friends, family, partners etc, or you're personally happy to move, and wouldn't mind selling then renting?
2jackmalde1yGood point although I guess there's always the possibility of moving and renting out your home (and then renting yourself in the place you move to)
Cause/charity selection tradeoffs

Could you turn that google doc into a post Sam?

I think it would be valuable to share with others how someone has thought about their morals.

What is a good answer for people new to EA that request advice on volunteering?

I wrote up some thoughts on this after getting this question a few times recently ( taking from some of the previous posts mentioned).


With volunteering it will depend on the motivation behind wanting to volunteer, which can be one or more of the following.

  • Giving back outside of work/donations
  • Having impact
  • Connecting with a community
  • Career capital/building skills
  • New experiences/friends/having fun


Once you know what the main driver is, that can determine the best ways to search for a role. If thinking... (read more)

1NoteworthyTrain1yThank you!
Geographic diversity in EA

There is a group here that it might be worth posting this to - Altruismo Eficaz América Latina

1AmAristizábal1yThanks David!
Looking for a career planning accountability partner

Hi Bianca, thanks for posting here, there are a few resources that you might find useful.

EA Student Career Mentoring - They offer personalised mentorship for students and recent graduates

WANBAM - WANBAM connects and supports a global network of women and non-binary Effective Altruists through mentorship

Directory of cause/career groups - there may be people in the same area that would want to do this

EA London directory - although most people are based in London a few have written down a similar interest in having an accountability buddy

1Bianca1yThank you very much David! This was helpful :)
EA Updates for May 2020

OPP sometimes add grants that were made months ago to their public database, so rather than just highlight the ones added in the last month, I highlight everything added since I last sent out the update.

1EdoArad1yMakes sense 👍
EA Directory & Groups Discussion Board

As an update, I think trying to combine a directory, forum and wiki into a new website didn't work.

I've redirected the links to a directory on the EA London website and think that using Facebook groups as the place for these discussions makes more sense as it is where people already are.

Should I claim COVID-benefits I don't need to give to charity?

I think the guiding principles from CEA would suggest that this is a bad idea

"Because we believe that trust, cooperation, and accurate information are essential to doing good, we strive to be honest and trustworthy. More broadly, we strive to follow those rules of good conduct that allow communities (and the people within them) to thrive. We also value the reputation of effective altruism, and recognize that our actions reflect on it. "

1anony_mous2yThank you David, I agree this would certainly infringe that principle. I was not aware that this was a core principle of EA, it seems like this could potentially often conflict with the duty to do the most good. I always assumed EA was committed to consequentialism, but this is manifestly inaccurate.
New data suggests the ‘leaders’’ priorities represent the core of the community

This is a good analysis but I think it simplifies between short vs long term, when people often aren't 100% one or the other. As well as whether particular cause areas are short vs long term when some existential risk work could be seen as highly valuable even if an individual didn't value lives tomorrow and some interventions that are seen as near term could have a much bigger impact on the future.

I agree, I don't like the near-termism vs. longtermism terms, since I think it makes it sound like a moral issue whereas it's normally more about epistemology or strategy, and like you say for most people it's a matter of degree. I hope we can come up with better terms.

I also agree people should be clear about 'causes' vs. 'worldviews'. You could be longtermist in your worldview but want to work on economic empowerment, and you could be near termist but want to work on AI GCRs.

I did my analysis in terms of causes, though my impression is that results are similar when we ask about worldviews instead (because in practice causes and worldviews are reasonable correlated).

Connecting with Online EA Events

Is that because Facebook is GMT, and the UK is GMT+1?

Advice for getting the most out of one-on-ones

I have a rough draft of questions that I sometimes send to people who are thinking of contacting someone on the EA London directory.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What is the purpose of meeting with this person?
  • What could you gain?
  • What could they gain?
  • Is it worth their time? (Potentially let people know why you think it may be useful)

To help them decide to meet you can give your background/skills in their areas of interest

Questions you could ask (choose relevant ones)

  • Why did you want to do X?
  • What was your background before X?
  • What are the biggest bottlenecks in
... (read more)
What are some 1:1 meetings you'd like to arrange, and how can people find you?

In London there is a directory that some people have used to arrange 1-1s, I think there are a few others for different locations, careers and causes. I don't know if it's better to have one master directory/CRM/messaging capability on the EA hub or for each group to have their own way of networking.

1MichaelA2yPotentially there could be both. And if people enter themselves in the master directory, they could get a pop up informing them of their local group's directory or way of networking, and could be asked if they're happy for their info to be automatically added there as well. And vice versa if they add their info to the local group's directory (or equivalent), as long as the local group's approach involves people adding their info in some way. That way both the centralised and local versions could grow together, but people would still have the choice to just be involved in one or the other if they prefer. Just a thought - not sure how easy/useful it'd be to actually institute. Personally, I think I'd benefit from and appreciate something like that system, if someone else put in the work to make it happen :D
EA Directory & Groups Discussion Board

Yeah, it's trying to do 2/3 things at once, and using a forum software for a directory isn't optimal.

Are there any public health funding opportunities with COVID-19 that are plausibly competitive with Givewell top charities per dollar?

It looks like DFID have funded a similar intervention today.

"Dangerous myths about coronavirus which are hampering the global fight against the disease will be challenged thanks to a new initiative backed by UK aid.

The support from the Department for International Development will challenge misinformation in South East Asia and Africa, which is then spreading worldwide, and direct people to the right advice to help stop the spread of the virus.

False claims and co... (read more)

1alexrjl2yI hadn't heard that, thanks for sharing!
How much will local/university groups benefit from targeted EA content creation?

Would that distinguish between people who knew about all the current resources and still wanted more versus those who hadn't been connected to what is currently available?

1David_Moss2yThere was no way to ask whether people knew about all the resources that currently existed (although in the next survey we could ask whether they know about the EA Hub's resources specifically). We do know from other questions in this survey and in 2017's that many group leaders are not aware of existing services in general though.
1vaidehi_agarwalla2yI don't think there was an exact question on this (unless I'm mistaken), but as a proxy I'd be curious to see a breakdown of this question for new vs. older groups and more vs. less experienced group organisers. It wouldn't be a perfect proxy, since older groups may still not know about resources but also not need them, but might be worth considering.
Neglected EA Regions

I think I agree with the minimum recommended resources you suggest, but I don't see Facebook group membership requirements as the only filter. It's more likely to be based on seeing what people write/projects they do/future attendance at EA events.

Sometimes obstacles can be good but maybe there are people who would be really great organisers if they just knew one other person who was interested or were encouraged to go to EAG.

A tangential issue that might be part of this disagreement is that anyone can decide to become a group leader, create a ... (read more)

Neglected EA Regions
I doubt the people who are plausibly good founders would actually benefit from such groups, and even less from some vague coordination due to facebook groups

I agree that Facebook groups are most likely not the ideal coordination tool, but I haven't found a platform that is as widely used without having bigger flaws.

I also agree that the impact could be negative if there are people who would build communities just because they met via Facebook but I think a lot of that depends on how it is used. One check is ensuring that people who join understand EA ... (read more)

5Jan_Kulveit2yI'm not sure you've read my posts on this topic? (1 [] ,2 [] ) In the language used there, I don't think the groups you propose would help people overcome the minimum recommended resources [http://Recommended minimum resources], but are at the risk of creating the appearance some criteria vaguely in that direction are met. * e.g., in my view, the founding group must have a deep understanding of effective altruism, and, essentially, the ability to go through the whole effective altruism prioritization framework, taking into account local specifics to reach conclusions valid at their region. This basically impossible to implement as membership requirement in a fb group * or strong link(s) to the core of the community ... this is not fulfilled by someone from the core hanging in many fb groups with otherwise unconnected ppl Overall, I think sometimes small obstacles - such as having to find EAs from your country in the global FB group or on EA hub and by other means - are a good thing!
Neglected EA Regions

There is this post - Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages.

And this post I wrote where one conclusion is that maybe there should be less focus on location when thinking about movement building.

I'd agree that it makes sense to get it right first time but maybe that's one reason to have someone involved in EA community building able to filter and help people who are interested in EA in neglected regions.

9Jan_Kulveit2yFWIW the Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages [] post was quite influential but is often wrong / misleading / advocating some very strong prior on inaction, in my opinion
“The Vulnerable World Hypothesis” (Nick Bostrom’s new paper)

Switzerland seems to have a bunker and archive system - link.

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.

5John G. Halstead2yYes I think that's a fair point
4bwildi2yI have no doubt that the term was used in good faith. I apologise that my post was worded a bit poorly, so it sounded like I was accusing you of name-calling. The '-ista' suffix sounds pejorative to me in English,like someone who is a zealous dogmatic advocate. Corbynista was the example I referred to, which is a term used often to in the UK to bash the left. Etymologically, it sounds like my suspicion was correct (see Hauke's post above). Of course these words often get reclaimed, and it appears that's happened here too, hence why I asked whether the RCT proponents call themselves that. It's obviously not that important, and I don't want to start a battle over words, but David makes a good point about how you engage your critics.
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.

5Denkenberger2yThis is very helpful to understand where you are coming from. Local groups have 2124 regular attendees [] (more than an event every 2 months or more than 25% of events, which appears to be more selective than your criterion, and not all groups would have filled out the survey). Then there are ~18,000 main EA Facebook group [] members (and there would be some non-overlaps in other EA-themed Facebook groups), but many of them would not actually be contributing to online discussions. Of course there would be overlap with the active local group members, but there could be people in neither of these groups who are still in the community. Giving What We Can members are now up to 4,400 [], who I would count as being part of the EA community (though some of those have gone silent). 843 [] out of the 2576 [] people who took the 2018 EA survey had taken the GWWC pledge (33%). Not all of the EA survey takers identified as EA, and not all would meet your criterion for being in the community, but if this were representative, that would indicate about 13,000 EAs. Still, in 2017, there were about 23,000 donors to GiveWell [] . And there would be many other EA-inspired donations and a lot of people making career decisions based on EA who are not engaged directly with the community. So that would be evidence that the number of people making EA-informed donations and career decisions is a lot bigger than the community, as you say. The 80k newsletter has >200,000 subscribers [
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 ... (read more)

8lexande2yIt seems unlikely that the distribution of 100x-1000x impact people is *exactly* the same between your "network" and "community" groups, and if it's even a little bit biased towards one or the other the groups would wind up very far from having equal average impact per person. I agree it's not obvious which way such a bias would go. (I do expect the community helps its members have higher impact compared to their personal counterfactuals, but perhaps e.g. people are more likely to join the community if they are disappointed with their current impact levels? Alternatively, maybe everybody else is swamped by the question of which group you put Moskovitz in?) However assuming the multiplier is close to 1 rather than much higher or lower seems unwarranted, and this seems to be a key question on which the rest of your conclusions more or less depend.
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 sm
... (read more)
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, b... (read more)

3Denkenberger2yThanks for the feedback-now I have broken it into two paragraphs. It's not clear to me whether to use the reference class of average person in the developed country versus reference class of EA community. I was not envisioning someone who has read 5+ years of EA content and is making career and donation decisions as the "EA network." Then I would agree that the EA community would be a better reference class for EA network. I was envisioning for the EA network more people who have heard about EA through an EA community contact, and might've had a one hour conversation. How would you define the EA community and how large do you think it is?
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, an
... (read more)
2Prof.Weird1yI truly want Effective Altruism to flourish, but I am concerned with the EA handbooks, the backbone of the EA community, being too theoretical. Donating and volunteering aside, there are be driving principles of EA which are not summarised as daily practices, and thus the EA community merely the theorise about them. Práctica principles such as decision making ratios between income, expense and donations or the exact tenants of thinking globally and acting locally (such as being aware of what actions will/won’t make positive/negative change). These are actionable practices distilled from the EA theory and they may go a long way towards helping individuals live altruism effectively and not just think about it. The practice of the giving pledge, a daily practice distilled from an EA principle, is among the most galvanising and wide-spread ideas even beyond the EA community. In my undergraduate study of both marketing and psychology, I am learning the power of distilling theory into simplified, actionable steps. For this reason, it is no surprise the giving pledge is talked about in new cycles, suggested by celebrities and understood by the average person. On the other hand, I find it personally hard to keep up with the evolving, contrasting theory of EA’s global catastrophic risks, highest priorities, socialism vs capitalism debates and general philosophical questions. Reading about how nuclear weapons are an issue we should be aware of for half-a-dozen reasons doesn’t give me any idea as to what to do next. On the other hand, I’ve sent messages to my local MPs in Australia about investing in the Adani coal mines and have genuinely make a difference; I didn’t need to read an article to understand why and the practice seemed obvious, simple and easy to do.
Seeking Marketing & Sales + EA Project/Work Ideas

One idea is for them to coordinate the global community of people in marketing/sales who are interested in EA.

Providing a point of entry for other marketers to see where the best places may be for them to work, what skills to build and what networks to join so that they can have more positive impact.

This may include a newsletter every few months highlighting job opportunities and examples of marketing for good, an online group(FB/Slack/etc) for people to swap ideas and potentially get mentorship.

Announcing plans for a German Effective Altruism Network focused on Community Building

I think that this is a good plan and it would be interesting to hear if there have been any updates in the last 4 months.

I agree with a lot of the other comments but one thing I haven't noticed is how to provide value to the wider network of people in Germany who have an interest in EA but may not want to go to events or become heavily engaged.

Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad?

I thought it was so that it tied in with EA Funds, which is something that made me think CEA was paying much more attention to donations, making a unified system that also allowed people to donate from one platform and automatically record donations.

Although I agree that repeated donations not being an option is quite annoying.

Chart showing effectiveness of schooling internvetions

I used these images for a slide show a few years ago, the original source being this report by CEA (page 6).

That might be old data though, this is the most up to date version on JPALs website.

EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include?

I don't think addressing these questions in a handbook that's meant to introduce EA would be that useful as most of them require much more in depth reading than a few paragraphs would allow.

It may make more sense to have an FAQ for these typical questions or to say that lots of areas within EA are still being discussed, and then list the questions.

3Khorton2yI think you're right - these questions aren't right for an introductory handbook.
Summary of my academic paper “Effective Altruism and Systemic Change”

I think this is a really good comment and probably should be it's own post.

A minor point, I would say that giving to the Against Malaria Foundation may not on it's own be systemic change, but if enough people keep on giving to charities that are evaluated on their impact, it could change individual giving as a system, as charities respond to these new incentives.

Agreed (see this post for an argument along these lines), but it would require much higher adoption and so merits the critique relative to alternatives where the donations can be used more effectively.

I have reposted the comment as a top-level post.

Optimizing Activities Fairs

A two stage strategy might be best, outreach for the first week, then core community the rest of the semester.

It may be that getting lots of email sign ups can be okay to then pass on 80,000 Hours material, the first few events and 1-1 sign up. I've heard from quite a few people that they first heard of EA at a university fair and kept on getting the 80,000 Hours emails and then got much more involved once they started working 3-5 years later.

After focusing on outreach for the first week, I agree it probably makes sense to focus on the core 5-30 peopl... (read more)

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