All of Jemma's Comments + Replies

EA Global Live Broadcast

Thanks Aaron! I'd love to join that Discord, but the link says that the invitation has expired.

2Aaron Gertler2y
Sorry about that! I've replaced the previous link with one that should never expire.
EA Global Live Broadcast

Is there an official place for real-time chat among virtual attendees? If not, would it be okay for me to create an unofficial Discord or similar? Again, absolutely amazing work putting this together so quickly Amy.

There's also a real-time chat on the YouTube page []
5Aaron Gertler2y
The "EA Corner" Discord [] has quite a few users and an ea-global channel set aside for live conversation, but it's a community project and isn't linked to CEA.
Virtual EA Global: News and updates from CEA

Hey Amy and Barry, thanks so much for pulling this together, and so quickly -- incredible work!

I would like to use the Grip agenda website to add items to my agenda (i.e. not just view it) but it won't let meas I haven't registered. I fear that this means I also won't be able to click through to the live streams when they happen. Maybe I'm just missing a registration link somewhere, but this might be a bug where only people who were actually registered for EAG SF are able to interact with the agenda (and, potentially, view the livestrea... (read more)

Heres' the link: [] Also from here: []
The best places to donate for COVID-19

I wonder whether Development Media International would be a particularly good choice at this time, not only for preventing COVID-19, but also because it is a charity that is likely to be more able to continue its regular operations during a pandemic (versus, say, charities that distribute bednets or medicine).

How to find EA documents on a particular topic

This is also a fantastic lifehack for searching for information on websites whose own search bar functionality is... subpar.

Be the Match: a volunteer list for bone marrow donation

Australian equivalent: (They say on this one that you could be asked to donate to someone anywhere in the world, as it's part of a worldwide network.)

I signed up for this a couple of months ago. Pretty simple process, probably the same one that's described above. My main worry was not dropping more than 1/4 of the swabs! (They need three, but give you four in case you drop one as it's invalid if the tip has touched any surface except the inside of your mouth.)

EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include?

This may be a touch too philosophical, but I enjoyed Derek Parfit's essay 'Personal Identity', as I think that it provides a brief insight into one of the central concerns of this major EA thinker.

Book launch: "Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues" (Oxford)

My university group is planning to do a reading group around this book next year. While discussing how we'd all get access to a copy without each individually buying one, we discovered to our delight that it's available through our university library as en e-book. Just putting this out there because if any other student group is planning something similar, check if your uni library has or can get e-book access, too.

Another option would be to buy it for your university library, but ask them (or ask a sympathetic philosophy professor to ask them i... (read more)

English as a dominant language in the movement: challenges and solutions

Excellent idea, and highly detailed and informative post.

I was reading an article recently which suggested that scholars who speak English as an additional language can struggle with the expectation to write their work in English---especially in fields such as philosophy where prose expression forms the bulk of academic articles (less of an issue in the sciences). The article concluded that there should be more opportunities for translation, so that authors can express their ideas in the language they are most proficient and comfortable in. Perhaps this wo... (read more)

How to Make Billions of Dollars Reducing Loneliness

Although I can't comment on the sense of community felt by the local residents, I observed and to some extent experienced this in Spain. I'd say the key was the combination of high urban density and availability of shared spaces. Another factor could be the low price of eating/drinking outside the home - - I'd say this facilitates socializing since it's easier to say "Let's meet at X at 9pm [Spanish people have dinner very late!]" rather than having to prepare your house to host guests. There's a joke that you only go into a Spanish person's flat for a wak

... (read more)
Ask Me Anything!

To what extent, if any, have online sources (such as Less Wrong) influenced your thinking, as compared to "traditional" philosophy?

Advice for an Undergrad

On a related note, Cal Newport's 'How to Win at College' is great, though the advice might be quite similar to that of the 80k guide. I read Newport's book prior to transferring universities and I found it to be very useful.

There is already a proposal to use sortition to form a third legislative house, of citizens who would have responsibility for deliberating on whether legislation would harm future generations: Rupert Read's 'Guardians of the Future' (2012)

This seems more promising than re-weighting the value of votes of certain groups whose self-interest is presumed to lie more in the future given that i) voters tend not to vote much on the basis of self-interest, ii) to the extent that slightly younger generations have a greater interest in the future it is only in the ve

... (read more)
Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice?

Thanks, looks interesting --- it seems from this report like what reduces maternal mortality rates is likely to be a combination of factors, or a factor that hasn't been discovered yet. Though maybe now GiveWell has incubation grants, they're in a position to support more investigation into the final option presented (clean birthing kits and/or associated education), which seemed promising?

Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice?

Have GiveWell examined many charities addressing maternal and neonatal health? Childbirth is a situation in which the worst-case scenario is the death of two people, one of whom literally has their whole life ahead of them, the other of whom is also relatively young and may have other young children who would suffer extreme emotional hardship from the loss of their mother (as well as the suffering caused to her partner and other relatives and friends, of course). In The Life Equation, a woman receives a caesarian which seems to save her baby (and, if I rec... (read more)

GiveWell did an intervention report on maternal mortality 10 years ago [], and at the time concluded that the evidence is less compelling than for their top charities (though they say that it is now probably out of date).
Needed EA-related Articles on the English Wikipedia

I feel like it would be more appropriate for the organisation to have its own page, while information about the book could be divided as appropriate between that page, and those of effective altruism and Peter Singer.

Ways Frugality Increases Productivity

Also, there are many ways that frugality can boost productivity that aren't mentioned in this post. A major one would be that living in an apartment, rather than a large(r) house with a garden, substantially reduces the time spent on home cleaning and maintenance.

Ways Frugality Increases Productivity

Point 2 confuses me on an empirical level. I don't know many people whose social/leisure life largely consists of locked-in regular weekend/evening plans that they can't change if a work opportunity (or anything else) comes up. More importantly, whether the fun activities are flexible seems to be unrelated to their cost. In fact, the commitment/cost relationship is usually negative -- it's often cheaper to pay for, say, sport and exercise classes if you lock in a series of lessons rather than paying casual entry. Likewise, casual commitment-... (read more)

Also, there are many ways that frugality can boost productivity that aren't mentioned in this post. A major one would be that living in an apartment, rather than a large(r) house with a garden, substantially reduces the time spent on home cleaning and maintenance.
What social movements can EA be compared to?
Answer by JemmaJun 12, 201910

I think that EA is most similar to the climate movement:

1. Trust in data, rather than intuition, to even identify the problem. Although the impacts of climate change are being felt today, without data, we wouldn't intuitively feel that (e.g.) one specific heatwave, drought or hurricane is a sign that the overall global climate is changing.

2. Focus on a problem whose major impacts won't be felt until after our lifetimes; valuing of future people.

3. (Often) Also valuing non-human animals and their experiences.

4. (Method-related) Veganism

5. (Totally... (read more)

My recommendations for RSI treatment

"if one thing starts to go wrong it can have a ripple effect on the rest of your body"

Absolutely can confirm, especially if the initial injury is lower in your body. For me, a temporary sporting injury to my knee caused a slight gait alteration that then triggered a relapse of a neck injury.

Also, I second any recommendation to switch from a laptop setup to desktop. A laptop should never be your main workspace. At the very least it needs to be elevated with a separate mouse and keyboard, and I'd recommend getting a separate monitor so you ca... (read more)

Is trauma a potential EA cause area?

To put a brighter spin on what other people have said about tractability, many EA-backed cause areas reduce trauma already, too. If a child doesn't die of malaria, their siblings and parents are also spared the huge trauma of experiencing the death of a family member.

Please use art to convey EA!

The book this is based on, Schindler's Ark by Thomas Kenneally, is also great if you want to delve more into character psychology.

Stories and altruism

Perhaps not EA-related, but as a refreshing change from the apparent focus on villains in both "literary" and "genre" fiction, I'd recommend Anna Funder's 'All That I Am' and 'Stasiland'. They are based on the stories of resistors to the Nazi regime and the East German GDR regime, respectively. 'Stasiland' is non-fiction (long-form journalism) and also includes stories from informers/ex-Stasi police, but most of the focus is on the resistors. 'All That I Am' is based on the life of a person whom the author, Anna Funder, knew personally.

Overview of Capitalism and Socialism for Effective Altruism

I don't feel qualified to comment on this myself, but I found an interview with Peter Singer that touches on the topic of politics and EA, published yesterday. One relevant extract:

"[Singer] proudly recalls how many of his own students have been turned towards Effective Altruism and have decided to integrate it into their future lives. He then briefly alludes to students’ political leanings, and I decide to probe a little further, asking, more generally, about how the philosophy plays out in the political domain.

“It’s clearly political in so ... (read more)

I'd disagree, the EA movement should push economic change if such change is in fact valuable. Just happens to be the case that there isn't good enough reason to substantiate that cause area in most cases. Of course even if it is a good cause area, the idea that short-term charity is therefore bad/neutral is just nonsensical.

Should EA collectively leave Facebook?

Currently reading Cal Newport's 'Digital Minimalism'. Even as an older millenial who has been implementing some of his practical tips for some time, I find that he explains the detrimental effects of social media (mostly focussed on harms at individual/social group level rather than societal) in an accessible yet detailed way.

In terms of practical advice, I personally am not in favour of "willpower alone" approaches (though arguably I "use" those with respect to social media I've never been drawn to, e.g. Instagram)... (read more)

I entirely agree that "willpower alone" approaches aren't likely to work for many, or even most, people. I block my newsfeed and don't have the Facebook app on my phone. I also block dozens of other websites that I find more distracting/sticky than valuable.

I do similar things to control the amount of sourdough bread I eat; if I purchase good sourdough, I find that willpower isn't enough to stop me from eating too much of it, so I only buy it on special occasions. Like bread, Facebook is a "sometimes tool" that I'm glad to have in my life.

Does climate change deserve more attention within EA?

"EAs make sacrifices by being prepared to accept the substantial probability of themselves never having impact. This would be hard to take psychologically, but might be the right thing to do in a crowded talent space."

My impression has always been that even the most qualified person who goes into the most promising field (say, for example, AI risk reduction) has a low absolute chance of being the person to make a breakthrough in that field, but rather, that part of the point of EA was to get more talented people into those fields (e.g. by increasing the number of jobs) to increase the chance that a breakthrough will be made by someone.

Political culture at the edges of Effective Altruism

A problem with this post is that its conclusion that the "left" poses more "risk" is based on the number of individual perceived objections from the left. However, even if this were true, this conflates the number of separate issues with some attempt at a measure of the overall "magnitude" of risk, without taking into account the number of people complaining based on each objection, and/or the "intensity"/impact of their complaints. Which, as Halffull points out, could in any case even be a positive impact if they&#x... (read more)

I am aware of the magnitudes of costs and that is what drives the overall judgment. Your assumption that I'm only thinking about the # of points is incorrect. In my experience the severity and intractability of leftist hostility is systematically worse than right-wing hostility, I just did not go into detail about that in the OP. In any case, this judgment is secondary and not central to the post. I'd say the EA movement does not have a refined, close engagement and understanding of nuclear deterrence/safety in the same way that it does for its top 3 cause priorities. This becomes a more generic judgment on whose political ideology is better in general; we could just as easily judge people on the full variety of political issues. Which of course is a valid project, but beyond the scope of this post. Sure, but that's within the space of relatively moderate politics as I explicitly define it.

I think, for good or bad, EA is much more vulnerable to pressure from the left-wing because the institutions we interface with and the locations where most EAs are based lean that way.

Severe Depression and Effective Altruism

In my experience, this overvaluation of depression, or fear about what might happen if you feel happier, is a really common concern among some types of creatives (though in their case it has more to do with inspiration than motivation). In both cases, I'd say it's probably an incorrect perception that results from the depressive state itself.

Carolyn Henry: Eliminating Parasitic Worm Infections

Correction: article summary says "quarter of a million" but article makes it clear it is 250 million, i.e. "quarter of a billion". Feel free to delete this comment. :)

1EA Global3y
Thank you for catching the typo! Would that it were true.
Rodents farmed for pet snake food

Interesting research. I first became aware of this issue from being involved in the animal welfare movement, specifically with small/"pocket" pets where sale of breeding "overstock" for reptile consumption is sadly common. Unfortunately, some people simply enjoy the spectacle of their pet consuming live prey. More generally, it's part of the broader issue of carnivore pets in general -- the meat produced for consumption by dogs and cats is likely to come from factory farms similar to those raising meat for human consumption, where ... (read more)

It seems that meat produced for consumption by dogs and cats normally comes from the very same factory farms that produce human food. Because Animals [] claims that Of course, this doesn’t change much. Pet food allows meat industry to be more profitable, which leads to them farming more animals. I agree that this is a strong consideration against having carnivorous pets. There was a discussion about it in the EA forum here [] .
Vocational Career Guide for Effective Altruists

Depending on the level of government involved in making and/or enforcing animal welfare regulations, this sounds plausible even in a First World country. While discovering major, overt bribery in the federal government would be a shocking scandal, a lot of bribery and corruption occurs in lower levels of government, particularly between businesses and local councils. It sounds like John_Maxwell_IV has stats on bribery in animal welfare organisations, and I'd definitely be interested to see those.

I don't have stats, it's just something I hear from vegans when I suggest an organization to provide welfare standards for meat providers. They say it has been tried before and the organization always gets co-opted by the industry. I'm actually kinda skeptical.
What movements does EA have the strongest synergies with?
  • General vegan movement, including to a greater or lesser extent people becoming vegan for health, environmental, and/or animal suffering reasons
  • Left-wing people who are disillusioned with the prospects of/normally promoted avenues for systemic change or the ability to help people in other countries
  • People who are accustomed to donating money, e.g. for religious reasons: potentially a large demographic but may be hard to sway donations, though I have had some success introducing GiveWell to people who have left religion and are looking for secular charities
1Aaron Gertler4y
Thanks for responding, Jemma! For future reference, we recommend posting answers in the "New Answer" section, rather than as comments. The comment section is meant for asking clarifying questions, or for thoughts that aren't actually answers. (This is a new feature, so we know it takes some getting used to!)
College and Earning to Give

This is a great article! Given the extremely high cost and demanding debt structure of college in the US, do you think that those of us who are lucky enough to live in countries with free, cheap(er) or more easily paid-off college tuition, should remain in those countries at least for undergrad (while aiming for top world colleges if/when we do a PhD)?

Higher and more equal: a case for optimism

Yes, it's great. I was talking to some people about this topic on New Year's Eve, wish I'd had this stat and the link to this article then!

EA gifts for kids?

I just saw this post and came onto this comment thread to post that (had the Amazon link open and everything)! I'm home living with family for the holidays and while moving my bookshelf a few days ago I came across 'Children Just Like Me'. It led me down a whole pathway of reflections about how much I loved that book as a kid and whether it was something that prompted me toward EA values.

I must have read it at least half a dozen times as a child, as I can remember parts verbatim. I am so amazed that other EAs grew up reading it! Wow, this has made my day. I'm tempted to order a copy for my little cousin now.

Will MacAskill: Why should effective altruists embrace uncertainty?

This reminds me of a pretty excellent Simone de Beauvoir quote: "We must decide upon the opportuneness of an action and attempt to measure its effectiveness without knowing all the factors that are present." (From The Ethics of Ambiguity) I quite like this quote, because I don't interpret it as an argument against trying to measure and predict the consequences of an action, but rather, as an expression of the fact that uncertainty and incomplete information is a fact of life, and we must at some point act anyway rather than becoming paralyse... (read more)