Denise_Melchin

3550Joined Oct 2014

Bio

I took the Giving What We Can pledge in 2013 and have donated seven figures with my spouse since then. Primarily to EA meta charities and secondary to global health charities. I was on the EA Infrastructure Fund (former: EA Meta Fund) from 2018 - 2021.

My current day job is as a Data Scientist for the UK Health Security Agency.

Please chat to me about donation opportunities.

Comments
270

Yvain is Scott’s old LW name.

I'm afraid I don't know anything. While I still like my piece it wasn't intended to provide a strong case against longtermism, only to briefly explore my personal disagreements. In such a piece I would want to see the case against longtermism from different value systems as well as actually engaging with the empirics around cause prioritisation, apart from the obvious: being a lot more thorough than I was.

I’m sorry I’m only getting to this comment now: I would like to clarify that the reason I started to work outside the EA sphere was not exclusively financial. I decided against exploring this, but I had some suggestions for a generic grant in my direction. The work I did as a research assistant was also on a grant.

I much prefer a “real job”, and as far as I can tell, there are still very few opportunities in the EA job market I’d find enticing. I care about receiving plenty of feedback and legible career capital and that’s much easier as part of an organization.

(But if someone wants to pay me six figures to write blogposts, they should let me know!)

I’m also a bit confused by your framing of “getting to keep” me. I am right here, reading your comment. :)

There’s a small selfish part of me which is happy that my “Why I am probably not a longtermist” post is shared as the critical piece on longtermism.

There’s a much bigger part which would wish that someone had written up something much more substantial though! I am a bit appalled that my post seems to be the best we as a movement have to offer to newcomers on critical perspectives.

I did not know this at the time of writing, but GiveWell recommended an Incubation Grant to an Evidence Action programme for syphilis treatment during pregnancy in 2020. They view the moral weights of stillbirth prevention as highly uncertain, in their CEA they are assigning 33 QALYs to a stillbirth averted. This is consistent with a number I found once for what the British NHS assigns.

The CEA for syphilis prevention includes stillbirths averted in its total cost per life saved (coming out to a bit over a $1,000), which is inconsistent with how GiveWell handles stillbirths in the CEA for malaria prevention. Stillbirths are not counted in the cost per life saved for malaria prevention.

Stillbirths only provide a 9% “supplemental intervention-level adjustment” on top of the cost per life saved in the malaria prevention CEA. If one stillbirth comes on two child deaths due to malaria and a stillbirth's prevention is valued at 33/84 compared to a child under 5 passing away, this 9% supplemental intervention-level adjustment should be twice as big.

Current reporting on monkeypox, particularly from government agencies/public health officials have been pretty terrible, trying to downplay that MPXV is predominantly spreading through sexual activity between men.

The only source for this claim you give is US based. I have not investigated this broadly, but the first two countries whose disease protection agencies I checked do make very clear that this outbreak is primarily in men who have sex with men.

The UK Health Security Agency on latest updates on monkeypox:

"While anyone can get monkeypox, the majority of monkeypox cases in the UK continue to be in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, with the infection being passed on mainly through close contact in interconnected sexual networks."

The NHS Webpage on monkeypox says the same thing:

Anyone can get monkeypox. Though currently most cases have been in men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men, so it's particularly important to be aware of the symptoms if you're in these groups.

The German Robert Koch Institut (a federal government agency and research institute on disease control and prevention) on the monkeypox outbreak and cases and situation in Germany:

Die Übertragungen erfolgen in diesem Ausbruch nach derzeitigen Erkenntnissen in erster Linie im Rahmen von sexuellen Aktivitäten, aktuell insbesondere bei Männern, die sexuelle Kontakte mit anderen Männern haben.

(translated: According to most recent findings the infections in this outbreak are primarily occurring after sexual contact, especially in men who have sexual contact with other men. )

Thank you for writing this Nuno.

Posts around self-worth, not feeling "smart enough" and related topics on the EA Forum don't resonate with me despite having had some superficially similar experiences in EA to the people who are struggling.

My best guess is this is because this is true for me

Or, in other words, I agree that having psychological safety is good. But I think this is the case for true psychological safety, which could come from a circle of close friends or family who are in fact willing to support you in hard times. So psychological safety > no psychological safety >> a veneer of psychological safety that fails when it is tested.

I am happily married (to someone I found in the EA Community in 2014) and have a strong relationship with my parents.

That said, I do think there is something wrong with the EA Community when people trying to do as much good as they can do not feel appreciated! But it's important to narrow down what exactly it is that people should be able to expect from the Community (and where it needs to change) and what not.

Thanks for doing this!

The strength of the arguments is very mixed as you say. If you wanted to find good arguments, I think it might have been better to focus on people with more exposure to the arguments. But knowing more about where a diverse set of EAs is at in terms of persuasion is good too, especially for AI safety community builders.

Ah, when you said 'significant amount' I assumed you meant a lot more. 10% of the total does not seem like much to me.

Sorry, I didn't want to imply Caplan was making a more nuanced argument than you suggested! I do think he makes a much more nuanced argument than the OP suggests however.

EAs seem generally receptive to resources like Emily Oster’s books, Brian Caplan’s book, or Scott Alexander’s Biodeterminist Guide (and its sequel), which all suggest to varying degrees that a significant amount of the toil of parenting can be forgone with near-zero cost.

I think this is not only false, but also none of the authors claim this.

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