Topic Contributions


The Rodent Birth Control Landscape

Thank you! I was hoping it would be useful to people to consult just the heading they were curious about.

Effective altruism’s odd attitude to mental health

I think there's a conflation of "mental health is difficult to measure", "mental health interventions are difficult to study well", and "my mental health is such a winding road" that often people kind of end doubting that mental health interventions are worthwhile even while seeking them in their own lives. 

Virtue signaling is sometimes the best or the only metric we have

I just want to reiterate, I am not advocating doing something insincere for social benefit. I'm advocating getting and giving real data about character.

Virtue signaling is sometimes the best or the only metric we have

lol, see the version of this on less wrong to have your characterization of the rationalist community confirmed: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/hpebyswwhiSA4u25A/virtue-signaling-is-sometimes-the-best-or-the-only-metric-we


From an EA point of view, doing the most good is the most important thing, so socially-motivated virtue signaling is defensible if it consequentially results in more good.

EAs may be more likely to think this, but this is not what I'm saying. I'm saying there is real information value in signals of genuine virtue and we can't afford to leave that information on the table.  I think it's prosocial to monitor your own virtue and offer proof of trustworthiness (and other specific virtues) to others, not because fake signals somehow add up to good social consequences, but because it helps people to be more virtuous. 

Rationalists are erring so far in the direction of avoiding false or manipulative signals that they are operating in the dark, when at the same time they are advocating more and more opaque and uncertain ways to have impact. I think that by ignoring virtue and rejecting virtue signals, rationalists are not treating the truth as "the most important thing". (In fact I think this whole orientation is a meta-virtue-signal that they don't need validation and they don't conform-- which is a real virtue, but I think is getting in the way of more important info.) It's contradicting our values of truth and evidence-seeking not to get what information we can about character, at least own own characters. 

Consider Not Changing Your Forum Username to Your Real Name

It would be so beneficial to me if there were a more standard "First Name, Last Name" format to forum users because it's a lot of cognitive overhead for me to keep up with abbreviations, only using a common first name, and open pseudonyms. Just the other day someone misattributed something Holly Morgan wrote to me. It's one thing if the account is anonymous and I'm not supposed to know who they are. It's quite another if I'm expected to recognize people's idiosyncratic naming or alt accounts. I'm not saying anyone's done anything wrong-- it just creates unnecessary friction to discourse.

High absorbency career paths

Great idea. I notice a huge disconnect between the idealized ranking of high impact careers 80K puts out and what it actually takes  to move people on the ground into higher impact roles, and the high emotional costs of trying to enter low absorbency fields is definitely one of the factors. On a population level, I agree that it would probably be higher EV to recommend careers more people are more likely to be able to successfully enter. 

Against the "smarts fetish"

And beyond neglectedness, a reason to focus more on these other important traits relative to IQ — at the level of what we seek to develop individually and incentivize collectively — is that many of these other traits and skills probably are more elastic and improvable than is IQ

This is the most important thing to me. We're burning a lot of fuel proving that we have a good (basically) fixed trait, and what's the point? What do we actually gain by knowing the exact smartness ranking of the people in EA? Just seems like a waste of time compared to learning things, gaining skills, forming new collaborations, etc. 

Also disturbs me that being found to be smart seems to be its own reward, instead of an instrument for having a positive impact.

Crucial considerations in the field of Wild Animal Welfare (WAW)

Okay, so it turns out the details of how that number was estimated are still unpublished, and I'll cite them as such along with that meme Peter shared.

Good catch, once again!

Load More