703 karmaJoined Dec 2018


  1. I think there definitely would have been pushback against this at the time! And if there wasn't, I would have not felt like this was a community for me. Titotal's comment explains this better than I could. Additionally, GiveDirectly could have deployed billions and animal welfare charities were nowhere close to fully funded even at the height of the FTX bubble.
  2. The idea of refuges broadly isn't obviously terrible, but all the specifics of this one seem terrible, again for reasons outlined by others.
  3. See above
  4. This seems like a pretty essential piece of the proposal! 

Fin Moorhouse asked something along these lines on Twitter. Pasting his question and my response below:

Fin: "Great article. I'm curious: are there estimates for how many extra fish deaths are caused by fishing wild-caught fish, especially high on the food chain (like tuna and salmon)? Seems complicated if fishing diminishes fish stocks and ∴ reduces predation in the long run?"

Me: "I didn't come across any. I think this is an interesting line of reasoning, and it makes me a bit more uncertain about the ethics of wild-fishing, but ultimately, it doesn't move me much. 


1. If killing predators in the wild is good, why stop at fish? Why not systematically hunt tigers and lions to extinction? Some people bite this bullet, but I feel like we don't know nearly enough to know what the welfare effects of such a large ecosystem change would be. 

2. Given how clueless we are, I think that having clear signals that we care about the wellbeing of others is more robust than coming up with a byzantine diet where eating wild-caught predator fish is good, but eating other kids of fish is bad. 

As our knowledge of the world gets better, I think diets like vegetarianism and veganism are more likely to lead to good welfare outcomes, both because they're easier memes to spread & because someone eating wild-caught fish because they are predators may have motivated reasoning to keep eating them even when our understanding of the welfare effects change.

Wow, thanks so much – very cool to hear!

Totally agreed RE the central nervous system!

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find good data on something that specific. Obviously, someone going from an omnivorous diet where they replace all land animals with plants and eat the same number of fish is going to consume fewer animals. But at least in my case, and in others of people I know, they increased their fish consumption as a result of going pescetarian. 

There are also lots of recommendations to swap out land animals for fish for climate and health reasons, so I wanted to focus more on the animal welfare implications of doing that. 

Interesting, will check these out. 

Given that many fish we eat come from farms (and that number is increasing), do you think these arguments still hold?

Congratulations Clara! I think this is a really valuable project and am excited to see it come to fruition.

Another thing to consider is the enormous amount of info value we got out of this campaign. It looks like large amounts of money are not a sufficient condition for victory, but if Carrick hadn't been able to raise the amount of hard money needed to make the campaign happen, we would've learned a lot less. 

Epistemic status: very tired.

As others mentioned, this feels like too much of an update based on one data point. 

One of the largest advantages EAs running for office will have is their ability to fundraise from other EAs. I worry that skepticism of EAs in politics and/or slowness to act on time sensitive donation oppos will kneecap the success of future candidates. 

Big picture, I think the impact case was pretty solid. The US govt is enormously influential. It moves a lot of money, regulates important industries, has the largest military, and can uniquely affect x risk. Members of congress exert significant control over the govt. Senators more, president most. 

Having an extremely committed EA in govt seems worth A LOT to me. 

Raising some amount of money is essential to winning, no matter how much outside money is committed to a race. Campaigns need to hire staff, get on the ballot, and do other things that super PACs can't do. They also get much more favorable rates on TV ad buys, can make better ads, etc. "Hard money", i.e. that raised by campaigns by retail donors and governed by donor caps, is way more valuable than "soft money", i.e. independent expenditure made by super PACs. 

It seems clear to me that marginal hard dollars increase the odds of success, and it doesn't have to be that big of an increase for it to be a good bet in expected value terms. 

I would guess that almost no EAs donating to GiveWell charities really understand the evidence base and models going into the recommendation, but we outsource our thinking to people/orgs we trust. Obviously, there's way less of a track record with running EAs for office and a lot of uncertainty baked into politics. But the most experienced, aligned people in the political data science world were supportive of this particular race happening, and A LOT of thinking went into this decision. 

I've definitely noticed this as a part of the EA NYC community (and I wouldn't be surprised if this were true elsewhere). I think it might come from a place of trying to pre-empt common criticisms/characterizations of EA, but comes off as weird, especially when the person has no preconceptions about EA. EA has a strong culture that's pretty different from every other community I've ever been a part of, but it doesn't exert control over my life. Obviously, ideas and people from EA influence me in big ways, but because I believe those ideas and respect those people.

A few thoughts on how we could mitigate some of these risks:

  1. Have generous reimbursement policies at EA orgs but don't pay exorbitant salaries. 
    1. I think most EAs should value their time higher and be willing to trade money for time, and in these cases, I think you can justify a business expense. I think this will help clarify which spending choices are meant to actually boost productivity and which are just for fun. To be clear, I think spending some fraction of your income on just "fun" things like vacations, concerts, and eating out is fine in moderation. But to me at least, the shallow pond thought experiment is still basically true and there is plenty of need left in the world, even with the current funding situation. 
    2. I think we systematically overestimate how much spending more on personal consumption will make us happy/productive. I know plenty of people in finance/consulting/tech who have convinced themselves that they "need" to spend hundreds of thousands on personal consumption every year. I've lived in NYC on <$50K after taxes and donating for 4 years and feel like I've been able to do basically everything I want to do.
  2. Emphasize costly signals of altruism. 
    1. We should encourage people to take the GWWC pledge and go vegetarian/vegan because they're probably good things to do on their merits and because they signal a commitment to making a sacrifice to help others. 
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