Infection Biology PhD Student working on genomic sequencing of viruses with the ambition to increase pandemic preparedness further down the line.

Also running EA Hannover and very interested in metaethics, anti-speciesism, and welfare biology


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EA for Christians Annual Conference

I hope you'll have a great conference with interesting talks and conversations. And I'm also all for small communities of like-minded people within EA sharing experiences and discussing their (possibly unique) views on the project of world improvement.

I do, however, have some reservations against the phrase "advancing God's kingdom". I'm assuming it just means "increasing wellbeing/reducing suffering for sentient beings" or something along those lines, but I believe that it can be misread as "adopting EA methodology for missionary purposes since we believe this is (Christian) EA's top cause", which would certainly put you beyond the pale of EA thinking/methodology.

Your website doesn't make any such claims, so people interacting with you likely get the right impression, but I just wanted to flag this and similar phrasings as a caveat :)

Project Ideas in Biosecurity for EAs

Dataset of different viral pathogens which have emerged or are discussed as novel/emerging diseases for both humans and animals, by viral realm and kingdom, Baltimore classification, transmission method, and region.

I've thought about this at some point and would be happy to chat and share my thoughts with anyone thinking about such datasets.

I'm also working on viral (and some metagenomic) sequencing for my PhD and could see myself collaborating or at least giving input to related projects on the side, should people want to pursue something along those lines.

The Fable of the Bladder-Tyrant

Pretty sure people get the reference but just think that you're mocking longevity research without making a good point. A disclaimer would've helped.

OPIS initiative on access to psilocybin for cluster headaches

Cool, thanks for the pointer, I'll have a look for the study and hope that it kickstarts broader change.

Any explicit reason why migraine orgs and OUCH avoid the topic? Perhaps they fear that migraines are already viewed as "just a headache" and association with psychedelics would undermine the struggle for serious acceptance? Conformity signaling? Status quo bias? Low-openness staff? One person I know who is suffering from migraines is just very unenthusiastic about exploring treatment options despite ~10 days/month of substantial suffering, which always boggled my mind. 

OPIS initiative on access to psilocybin for cluster headaches

Great news, I'm very excited about this!  The amount of QALY left by the wayside due to the effective shut down of psychedelics research makes me cringe every time I think about it.

Will you eventually look into psychedelics for migraine as well? They are probably 1–2 orders of magnitude less painful than cluster headaches but also ~2 orders of magnitude more common. (Which could then also make it more difficult to achieve acceptance in the population/regulatory bodies, I suppose...). And as far as I remember, psilocybin/LSD worked for migraine as well.

How much does it cost to save a life in the mediterranean sea?

Might, yes, but this question of NGOs being a "Pull-Factors" is still very disputed:

The NGO flotilla thus responded to trends in smuggling practices that had been spurred by the anti-smuggling operation, as well as endogenous dynamics in Libya, and the increasing presence of NGO SAR vessels did in fact make the crossing less dangerous. […] While the practices of SAR NGOs may thus have inadvertently contributed to consolidating the shifts in smugglers’ practices, there has so far been no evidence of the criminal collaboration with smugglers alluded to by several actors, and as such, we cannot engage with these claims in details.

Both your post and this report mention changed practices such as using cheaper, more dangerous boats but does this also lead to more refugees or just higher revenues for the smugglers?

How much does it cost to save a life in the mediterranean sea?

After I plugged the raw numbers into guesstimate I started to look into the data a bit more and came out a bit more confused.

I was not sure how much the numbers were influenced by 2015, which had more refugees combined than all following years until now ('15: 1M, '16: 360k, '17: 170k, '18: 140k, '19: 125k) but also fewer deaths than the following years ('15: 3.7k total, following years: ~2–5k total, so way higher fraction). I also found little data on the fraction of refugees being saved by NGOs (data for 2015 and 2016 is 14 % and 20 % respectively).

So many of Sea-Watch's lives could've been saved during peak migration 2015 when empathy on the Mediterranean sea was still higher and the counterfactual impact is less clear. To check that I updated the Guesstimate to try to model a post-2015 year with refugee numbers and deaths more similar to 2016/17/18 and yielded similar numbers of saved refugees as Sea-Watch claims, so 2015 was likely not an extraordinary year for Sea-Watch (They also only operated in the second half of 2015 with just one ship).

It really hinges on the question of whether the removal of an NGO would result in the refugees they would've interacted with dying or being saved by other ships. I tried to bound this "counterfactual death rate" by calculating how high the total death rate would be without NGOs operating and how big Sea-Watch's share of total NGO-activity plausibly is. Again, see the model. Under these assumptions, cost-effectiveness for a 2016/18-like year would be around 5000€. Which is still very surprising IMHO! But data is spotty and I made the Guesstimate at 1 am, so I apologise for potential errors.

How have you become more (or less) engaged with EA in the last year?

Less-ish, compared to my first EA-involved years after 2015, I think.

After starting my PhD two years ago I was aware of the prospect that I would have less time for more intense EA involvement (although my PhD is part of the broader EA career plan). But I didn't anticipate how much the lack of community would affect this. While I run a local group in my city, nobody so far is into EA enough to start their infovore-journey down the rabbit hole.

Not living in an EA hub and regularly discussing with other, deeply involved people leads to a cycle where I feel less motivated to read up on the latest research because there's nobody there to personally discuss it with over lunch or coffee. It was more motivating when I still (even if only irregularly) visited Berlin. I still donate and I still visit all the conferences I can to meet friends and get a glimpse of the possible good life but I do fear a future lack of motivation due to a lack of peers.

Why and how the EA-Movement has to change

On the one hand I empathise with your situation – (seemingly) interested in the guiding principles and the core idea and put off by other aspiring EAs in your immediate vicinity. On the other hand, I don't see your situation as generalisable to EA as a whole and very contrary to most experiences on conferences, in local groups etc (e.g. DGB is neither bible-like, nor an EA-blueprint imho).

Your title's "why" seems to be solely based on a small sample of local EAs and the "how" is just a 'really think about how much good the actions you take do'?

You could've addressed your local group directly, or started separate events or meet-ups meeting your standards (which is something people did before and which is encouraged as to circumvent lock-in). You could've been more careful with the generalisations and written a caveat on how to not run a local group as to not put off newcomers. But in this format, you don't really provide a differentiated critique and I'm not really sure where you're going with this post. Hence a downvote.

Why and how the EA-Movement has to change

Looks like it is. Waschke-Wischedag already *sounds* like a made-up German name and googling confirmed that.

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