54Joined Jun 2022


[Cause Exploration Prizes] Why we should work on preventing suicide

Immediate thought here was that suicidal ideation is comorbid with depression and that there's some evidence that psychotherapy seems to be cost-effective: https://www.happierlivesinstitute.org/report/psychotherapy-cost-effectiveness-analysis/

[Cause Exploration Prizes] Trust and Science

Super cool to see this write up. Broadly,  it seems to me that a lot of related work here is being carried and developed already particularly within the open science movement, so thought I'd share some links for anyone interested.

PubPeer https://pubpeer.com  is a great way to provide comments on any paper and this has successfully been used to raise concerns.

And there are researchers who already focus on potential research mis-firings: https://www.science.org/content/article/meet-data-thugs-out-expose-shoddy-and-questionable-research

I'm also thinking of Elisabeth Bik who transitioned from a traditional academic role to a 'science integrity' consultant, e.g. https://scienceintegritydigest.com/about/ (her twitter is worth having a glance at, just scroll and see some of the really appalling image manipulations: https://twitter.com/MicrobiomDigest)

It seems to me that more should be done to unite and fund people working on this, as well as apply more pressure to journals and editors to prioritze retractions.

Anyway, great post and I'm glad you made the case for it.

[Cause Exploration Prizes] Trust and Science

Yeah, I agree with you strongly re: broader change. The dangers of large scale misinformation cannot be understated either.

We Did AGISF’s 8-week Course in 3 Days. Here’s How it Went

Thank you, seems like an awesome 3 days. Would you be able to share a little more on the participants' motivation, either their own or how you motivated them? I am trying to encourage a local group to try similar short but somewhat intense sprints as a low stakes attempt to increase familiarity and confidence with different topics, or at least encourage interest and breadth of knowledge. What worked well for you? 

How EA is perceived is crucial to its future trajectory

I'm really greatful you've wrote this detailed and specific focus.

I too have worried about the perception of EA from AI Ethics Researchers, may of whom are well established and reputable scientists who sincerely care about what many EAs care about, a safe AI. I've felt it's a shame more respectful common language hasn't been found there. I think some of what is missing is a reflection on communication. I've seen pretty nasty spirited tweets from EAs in response to TG and folks in her research network. Of course caution should be applied when reasoning from small numbers but if there is anything done on a group or bigger community level, like adversarial collaborations, discussion panels I have missed it, though I'd be interested in learning what's been done. It just looks at face value like a misuse of resources to not be collaborating with them or trying to find more common ground if the ultimate values are similar.

Launching a donor circle for mental health

Sounds really exciting. Could you give more detail on what kind of projects or work is eligible or likely to be successful for funding? It wasn't clear to me from the website.

History of the theory of well-being

If you listen to Marty Seligman's early talks, when positive psychology starts to become a more well defined field, his view of wellbeing is going beyond 'the basics' of everyday life. He's even used numbers to say, ok if the aim of therapy is to bring a depressed person from -5 to -3 or 0, the goal of positive psychology is to take you from +3 to +5. Some wellbeing theories inherit this general thinking, and many of the basic physiological needs like having food or shelter or being safe are things seen for a requirement to be at a normal baseline. With the exception of social relations and some of the emotions work, you're more likely to see most physiological needs  in the clinical literature and some with folks who work on resilience.

History of the theory of well-being

Really great and clear write-up. 

For feedback: I wouldn't say this isn't a meta-analysis in the technical sense and it doesn't seem like a systematic synthesis either. I think it's a great intro to some prominent ideas with a more descriptive slant overall, though the places where you do evaluate evidence (e.g. Maslow re: lack of empirical evidence) are where the highest value would come for a reader who doesn't know the literature. I think if you were to frame this differently and draw out a little more why we should care about wellbeing, you'd get more punch. 

In the EA space, you may want to reach out to Happier Lives: https://www.happierlivesinstitute.org/key-ideas/

For flourishing, I think you're missing some of the context with Barbara Fredrickson's work, particularly broaden and build theory, which many people view as a major early contributor to this field .

Other important theories that come to mind withing positive psych or wellbeing:

Flow - notably the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  

Grit - Angela Duckworth (although some folks think grit is basicaly conscientiousness repackaged)

Beyond PERMA, there are now a lot more mini-theories dealing with disposition, attitudes, character, gratitude. Sonja Lyubomirsky comes to mind with her theories on happiness. I guess it depends what you want to capture.

And more broadly for anyone wanting to read more into this literature, I think there are  good recommendations for reading in these syllabi: