207Joined Jul 2021


Topic Contributions

You Don't Need To Justify Everything

(Intersubjective evaluation - the combination of multiple people's subjective evaluations - could plausibly be better than one person's subjective evaluation, especially if of themselves, assuming 'errors' are somewhat uncorrelated.)

You Don't Need To Justify Everything

Linking to Spencer Greenberg's excellent short talk on intrinsic values: 

Spencer claims, among other things, that

  • it's a cognitive fact that you value multiple different things
  • if you pretend otherwise, e.g. because you feel it's stigmatised to act based on any consideration but impartial impact, you will fool yourself with 'irrational doublethink' of the type described in this post.
Leaving Google, Joining the Nucleic Acid Observatory

Thanks for sharing, and congrats! I especially enjoyed reading through the timeline. (I generally like & find it helpful to read concrete, relevant info, especially in posts more abstract than this one.)

Bad Omens in Current Community Building

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts in such detail here :)

Where are the cool places to live where there is still *no* EA community? Bonus points if there is unlikely to be one in the future

Not sure about best places, though I have a friend who's working on setting up an EA community in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It might be worth pointing out that, in my experience, EAs seem quite unusual in tending to talk about EA almost all the time, e.g. at parties and other events as well as at work. I've often found this inspiring and energising, but I can also understand how someone could feel overwhelmed by it.

Organizations prioritising neat signals of EA alignment might systematically miss good candidates

Great post!

The fact that some  orgs already say things like 'knowledge of effective altruism is preferred but not essential' probably doesn't solve this issue. I can imagine that many jobs are competitive enough that you could only reasonably have a shot if you ticked certain boxes related to EA knowledge/experience, even if you might be a better and more-aligned candidate but don't have obvious evidence.

I think there's information value from doing lots of 10-minute speed-interviews, at least sometimes, so that we can get a sense of how many competent and EA-aligned people might be off EA orgs' radar.

p.s. I can confirm that Evan has been an excellent volunteer for the EA & Consulting Network.

Free-spending EA might be a big problem for optics and epistemics

Thank you very much for this post. I thought it was well-written and that the topic may be important, especially when it comes to epistemics.

I want to echo the comments that cost-effectiveness should still be considered. I have noticed  people (especially Bay Area longtermists) acting like almost anything that saves time or is at all connected to longtermism is a good use of money. As a result, money gets wasted because cheaper ways of creating the same impact are missed. For example, one time an EA offered to pay $140 of EA money (I think) for me for two long Uber rides so that we could meet up, since there wasn't a fast public transport link. The conversation turned out to be a 30-minute data-gathering task with set questions that worked fine when we did it on Zoom instead.

Something can have a very high value but a low price. I would pay a lot for potable liquid if I had to, but thanks to tap water that's not required, so I would be foolish to do so. In the example above, even if the value of the data were $140, the price  of getting it was lower than that. After taking into account the value of time spent finding cheaper alternatives, EAs should capture the surplus whenever possible.

As a default, I would like to see people doing a quick internal back-of-the-envelope calculation and scan for cheaper alternatives, which could take a minute or five. Not only do I think this is cost-effective; I think it helps with any issues of optics and alienation as well, because you only do crazy-expensive-looking things when there's not an obvious cheaper alternative.

It would also be nice to have a megathread of cheaper alternatives to common expenditures.

Considerations and advice on entering management consulting

In my experience (interviewed 2020/21), Case In Point is no longer useful, except perhaps to skim through for some ideas.

My understanding is that, when consulting firms started using case interviews, they could get away with using a handful of standardised formats (profitability diagnosis, M&A, etc.). Case In Point provides rigid frameworks to apply to those standardised formats. But the firms have got wise to this. They used these frameworks to test thinking but got 'framework monkeys' using canned frameworks, so now they often give cases that don't fit those frameworks and/or expect candidates to produce better / more specific insights.

I think the most helpful resources are those that focus on developing the skills being tested in case interviews. In my opinion, improving at the actual skills firms look for is a robust way to do well, is more fun, and is more useful for consulting and life.

I'd recommend the free course and articles from, as well as (BCG London gave all interviewees free CaseCoach access.)

Making Community Building a more attractive career path

I think that community building has historically been massively promoted as important by EA communicators and key institutions, but then implicitly undervalued by the actual prestige, funding and support offered to existing or aspiring community builders. 


This is my impression too. For university groups, CEA was trying to fix this with the Campus Specialist program, which was then discontinued. I'm curious why an org isn't hiring people on 2-year contracts / longer-term roles to lead promising city and national groups, since only being able to do the job on a grant already seems lower-prestige. (Someone might think: if people cared about community building enough, they would hire me to do it in a more stable way.)

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