All of jamie_cassidy's Comments + Replies

Giving Later in Life: Giving More

I wrote this post a while ago and my thinking has moved on a little since then so I thought it would be worth adding further thoughts as a comment;

1) In the original post I suggest people should save more when they are young rather than give, but I don't offer an explicit rules based alternative. I think rules based giving makes a lot of sense, and helps to compartmentalize so that we don't spend time and mental energy weighing up every spending decision we make vs opportunity of EA donation. I now have thought about how to solve this problem in ... (read more)

Giving Later in Life: Giving More

Definitely, I think that the discount rate each of us applies to future donations is an extremely important factor to consider. In fact, I would be in the camp that this discount rate is likely very high - mostly in agreement with the points you have made.

Now that I have reached a point where I can start giving without affecting my life choices, I'm planning on giving away a majority of the balance as soon as I get my hands on it, rather than investing to increase future donations.

Giving Later in Life: Giving More

Thanks for the link, I hadn't come across it before and agree it is a very useful analysis of investing vs giving depending on one's opinions about opportunities for investment and the discount rate applied to future donations. I think this point is related to mine and very useful in it's own right, but the point I am trying to make also involves personal utility.

I'm worried about the sustainability of giving which requires sacrifice on the part of the donor - which I believe is the path of least resistance for those interested in EA at college and who en... (read more)

Giving Later in Life: Giving More

Agreed, though most people naturally settle down at around 30-35, at which point people tend to move much less frequently. Even if you move once every 5 years from this point, I would still say that most of the time it is worth buying vs renting. This in mind I think people younger than this should consider saving to the point where they at least have the option to do this when they reach this point in their lives/careers.

Giving Later in Life: Giving More

Hey Thomas, I have a spreadsheet to highlight the disparity rather than a source, I can send it to you'd if you like? As an illustrative example though let's imagine we have a 30 year old person with $50k saved up. They can either donate this to charity and continue to rent, or use it as a deposit (down-payment) to buy the same house, which let's say is valued at 500k. The numbers will depend by city, but let's assume mortgage interest rate of 4.5%, rental yield of 3% and an average house price increase of 3% per year.

If you have a 450k mortgage on a 30 y... (read more)

Several of your assumptions - for example, about taxes - are country-specific. Property tax for owners, closing costs, and tax breaks for homeowners vary from country to country. You also didn't include time or money costs from maintenance, which I expect to be substantial. Your core argument - young EAs should build up savings - could be right, but has already been discussed at length. For example, see []
Empirical data on value drift

Good work, it's great to have any numbers on this at all. Given these are acquaintances I wonder could you follow up to try to get some reasons from the drifters. I would like to be able to classiy the reasons for changes in behaviour in one of the following two buckets; 1) I am lazier, more self-centred than in the past 2) I was young and naive, I know better now

In combating future potential value drift, we are considering tactics to essentially coerce our future selves. If we are confident this is because 1) then I think this coercion is merited, but if it's 2) then maybe we are compounding an error?

Cash transfers are not necessarily wealth transfers

Very interesting and I like the central point that cash transfers aren't an automatic win and are therefore worth studying, which I hadn't considered to the same extent before. On the education stuff, it seems like a lot of these problems could be solved if jobs were allocated based on the results of a standardized exam rather than years of schooling or some similar metric. I'm not talking about one run by schools, because it's likely the process wouldn't be trustworthy, I'm talking about when you advertise a job that requires reading, writing, or filing ... (read more)

We should also expect this to mean that countries such as Australia and China that heavily weight a national exam system when advancing students at crucial stages will have less corrupt educational systems than countries like the US which weight locally assessed factors like grades heavily. (Of course, there can be massive downsides to standardization as well.)
Volunteering for a non-EA charity - a write up

I want to be careful not to put words in her mouth here, as it's been a while now, but I can share more detail on what I took out of the conversation. Basically, to have any large impact you need to change the whole chain of events rather than focus on one particular area. Taking an extreme example, consider a mining town in Britain in the 19th century, where after primary school, working class children go to work in the mines and remain there for the rest of their lives. Improving the standard of primary education they achieve will have very little direct... (read more)

Volunteering for a non-EA charity - a write up

Not that I'm aware, although I do remember reading that Philipp Gruissem went to Uganda, and the Givewell guys have been on site visits. I imagine that if you are a frequent or large donor one of them would facilitate, but it would be interesting to explore an organised EA trip.

Volunteering for a non-EA charity - a write up

As you say, people are and will be driven by emotion for the forseeable future. Therefore there will always be demand to give to charities which cater to this need, so their will always be charities that target relatively ineffective solutions. Within that though, I think charities understand that they have some scope for discretion as to how exactly to spend their budget. I'd be hopeful by nudging the right people at the right time, and by making EA a thing that people have heard about, we can have a positive impact on effectiveness.

The idea of trying to come up with a minimum level of giving to fulfill your moral obligation is a nice one, and one Singer tries to address in his 'Life You Can Save Pledge by varying the % of donation with income. However, you are going to need a lot more logical rigour when attempting to construct a framework.There is no direct logical link between point 6. and the previous points, which you seem to be framing as the assumptions required to reach your conclusion.

I would also ask you to question your assumptions. Consider for example assumption 1; some ... (read more)

Why I left EA

Every so often this sort of thing happens to me - deep down I wonder if philosophy is much more interesting than it is useful! As you say I think trying to get a human (ie myself) to figure out how they make decisions and then act in a fully rational manner is a task that's too difficult, or at least too for me.

However, what I come back to is that I don't need to make things complicated to believe that donating to AMF or GiveDirectly is fundamentally a worthwhile activity.

Clarifying the Giving What We Can pledge

I like the pledge in it's current form and I think it strikes an excellent balance. However, I'm a little uncomfortable with the GWWC Pledge 'Drive' in it's current form.

I like the analogy of marriage that you've used above Julia, but I this further clarifies to me something that the Pledge is a very serious, long-term decision. Such decisions require a lot of thought and planning and the specifics of an individual's situation are important, and even then they don't always work out, particularly if taken at a young age. As such, I worry it is inappropriat... (read more)

Sorry I missed seeing this earlier. Thanks, this is a good point. I do think the balance between excitement/action and careful contemplation of a serious life choice is a tricky one, and we've probably made mistakes here at times.
GiveWell and the problem of partial funding

A very interesting piece, my initial reaction to GiveWell's splitting approach was similar to yours. Via the comments in that Dec 15 blogpost on the GiveWell website we narrowed the point of disagreement between myself and Holden to the effectiveness of Good Ventures' future giving opportunities.

At some time GV hope to (and I believe will) have made themselves experts in donation, having much more information than they do now about how to give best. However, given the pace at which the world is improving through economic growth and the impact of other cha... (read more)

Effective Altruism Outreach winter fundraiser

While it's likely true that many people are currently beyond convincing, a movement has to start somewhere if it's ever going to become mainstream. This was true for the abolition of slavery early in the 19th century, women's suffrage in the early 20th century and to some extent gay marriage in the recent past. One reasonable explanation for this is that older people are much more difficult to convince than those who are still in their formative years. So while there will be many > 30 who will be drawn immediately to the movement, it is likely that bro... (read more)