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CEA Update: Q2 2021

Hi Michael, 

We've primarily been responding to the existing demand of group leaders running university groups, as opposed to seeding groups from scratch and we are prioritizing particularly scalable programs right now instead of bespoke support (as we wrote about in the "MVP University Group Program" in our Q3 update). There is significant existing demand for supporting new group organizers and we want to be sure to make the pathway smooth and simple for interested and prepared university groups. We expect to support the start-up stages of ~20 new university groups this semester.

Also, the Georgetown model described above relied heavily on students being able to join a virtual fellowship, which was more appealing during the pandemic when all things were virtual. However, our broad uni groups support team is evaluating opportunities to seed groups as a potential activity (and comparing the benefits per staff hour of seeding groups vs. supporting existing uni groups).

I know of one group outside of CEA that's experimenting with remotely trying to seed groups through promoting EA Virtual Programs through targeted advertising. If that's successful we'll consider incorporating it into our programs

What Should be Taught in Workshops for Community Builders?

This is very exciting! 

I am looking into creating and running some trainings for group organizers through CEA Scalable Uni Support :).  If you or others would be interested in helping to create these, please let me know at  

I am particularly excited to hear from people who are willing to take lead on creating and running specific trainings. I think winter break is a great time for organizers to take on projects like this. For example, last winter I made the facilitator training for EAVP as a winter break project. It was a good learning opportunity for me to take ownership over a project and it turned into a helpful repeatable workshop. 

Sabrina's comment covers a lot of the trainings I would be excited to see. The one I am most excited to see soon is one to help train people to do 1-1s as these seem to be both particularly valuable to run and somewhat intimidating to do (at first!).  

Others that might be useful could be: 
* Movement building strategy and strategic prioritization for groups 
* Practicing elevator pitches for EA groups
* Applied rationality for group organizers and creating positive epistemic norms

Shelly Kagan - readings for Ethics and the Future seminar (spring 2021)

I think the big ones were the cluelessness week and the small probabilities week.

 Cluelessness week pointed out that we can't really know the long-term effects of our actions. So people became suspicious that we can knowably affect the long-term future at all. This ended up being more of an empirical claim than a moral one.

The small probabilities week was challenging when put to the extreme (ie: God at your deathbed thought experiment). Additionally, some felt like the numbers of the expected future that people like  Bostrom use were basically pulled out of thin air- along with the tiny probabilities of various actions affecting that future.  So they were again pretty suspicious of the empirics here as well.

Shelly Kagan - readings for Ethics and the Future seminar (spring 2021)

I was lucky enough to get to take this class and really enjoyed it (though it was very difficult!). I thought it did a good job of showing both strengths and weaknesses in longtermism.  Interestingly, it seemed to have pretty different impacts on different students with some becoming significantly less longtermist and a few becoming more longtermist. Would be happy to answer any questions people have about the course :)

Yale EA’s Fellowship Application Scores were not Predictive of Eventual Engagement

Hi Tony!

We actually originally created the scoring breakdown partly to help with unconscious biases. Before, we had given people a general score after an interview but we learned that that is often really influenced by biases and that breaking scores down into components with specific things to look for would reduce that.  We are hoping the checkbox system we are trialing out this semester will reduce it even more as it aims to be even more objective. It is still possible, though, that it would lead to a systemic bias if the checkboxes themselves have one ingrained in them. We will be on the lookout for that and it is part of the reason we are not using it for selection this round :)


Additionally, at the end of the selection process we would look into the demographics of the selected fellows compared to all those being interviewed. Fortunately, for the past several years our selections actually were pretty representative of the total demographics of applicants. Unfortunately, our diversity of applicants, particularly racial, has not been as high as we would like and we are looking for ways to change that. 


As for an experimental approach - I would be interested if you had any ideas on how to go about doing that?   

Yale EA’s Fellowship Application Scores were not Predictive of Eventual Engagement

My instinctual response to this was: "well it is not very helpful to admit someone for whom it would be great if they got into EA if they really seem like they won't".

 However, since it seems like we are not particularly good at predicting whether they will get involved or not maybe this is a metric we should incorporate. (My intuition is that we would still want a baseline? There could be someone it would be absolutely amazing to have get involved but if they are extremely against EA ideas and disruptive that might lower the quality of the fellowship for others.) 

I am not super confident, though, that we would be very good at predicting this anyways. Are there certain indicators of this that you would suggest? I am also really not sure how/when we would collect feedback.  Also open to thoughts here. 

Personality traits associated with being involved in EA?

Thank you so much for this! It is super helpful! Is the raw data from the 2018 survey available anywhere?

Evidence on correlation between making less than parents and welfare/happiness?

From what I have read there is an important difference between perceptions of life satisfaction and well-being/happiness. Perception of life satisfaction continues to grow but actual affective well-being basically stops increasing after around $75,000. I have seen this a lot stemming back to this study. I did most of my research on this a few years ago so it might be outdated. Of course well being research is just really difficult and it is still unknown what exactly we should be measuring.

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