All of Julia_Wise's Comments + Replies

Tentative Reasons You Might Be Underrating Having Kids

I'm writing about this kind of thing on my blog: I'm hoping to do some interviews with EAs about their choice to have or not have children and what led them there. I'd be excited to see more work here by others, too!

Tentative Reasons You Might Be Underrating Having Kids

My gut-level feelings about the future changed, but it's not at all surprising to me that other parents like Abby had a different experience. I didn't mean to make a claim about what other people's experience was.

I agree with Abby that it's a mistake to read Caplan as meaning that parenting won't be hard. It will definitely be hard, especially in the early years. It just doesn't have to be quite as hard as current upper-middle-class US norms would have you think.

What share of British adults are vegetarian, vegan, or flexitarian?

Interesting how "none of these" is more popular in younger brackets - I wonder if there's some other category people identify with, or just more into not picking existing categories on surveys or something?

My (unverified) suspicion is that these people wanted to pick something that they considered to be a specific diet but that isn't related to meat-eating and therefore wasn't listed, e.g. 'gluten-free'. That could also explain the correlation with age if younger people tend to adopt these 'alternative' diets in a higher proportion.
EA will likely get more attention soon

It's definitely a bigger job than I can do on my own! As I said, staff at several organizations plus a communications advising firm are working on this.

We're also keeping an eye out for possible hires who are familiar with both media/communications work and EA. If that sounds like you, feel free to let me know ( and I can let you know if we have a job posting.

EA will likely get more attention soon

That list is almost identical to what I started with, yes! :)

In several cases the projects are already working on their own media outreach, but we’ll be trying to help where we can (perhaps introducing them to journalists they weren’t already in touch with) and to help smaller projects that might not have a media plan yet.

Cool, good to hear!
EA will likely get more attention soon

Hi Charlie,

Yes, we have some connections with journalists already who have worked on EA-related pieces before or expressed interest in EA.

The types of projects we expect they might want to cover are those working on problems that non-EAs are also concerned about (like poverty, animal welfare, pandemic risk, and other catastrophic risks.) We expect EA community-building projects to be of less of a focus. We do expect stories about the amount of funding in EA, but we want to shed more light on the concrete work that the funding and community-building are a... (read more)

EA will likely get more attention soon

I agree! This is part of what we’re trying to work on, by making good-quality pieces in favor of EA and longtermism easier to find.

Demandingness and Time/Money Tradeoffs are Orthogonal

I agree with most of this, but one point on

Also, if employees forgo just some luxury goods and conspicuous consumption in their social reference class (not saying one should never go on holidays or to restaurants), one could afford everything that would make one instrumentally more effective.

This is probably true for people without children, but not necessarily when you're talking about extended hours of good-quality childcare. And once you have children, the costs of leisure like holidays and restaurants also increases.

1Hauke Hillebrandt12d
Yes you're right, some people have very high costs, like people who care for others or also people with health issues. As a matter of public policy I think we should incentivize people to have more children, and also again, maybe EA orgs should give good perks packages (including care benefits, health and disability insurance). But pricing all of this in, I still maintain that in most cases the pay should be slightly under market-rate (recall that I said this should be progressive, where the 'EA pay cut' gets larger as salary increases... I don't have strong opinions about the absolute level). Even if we were to pay slightly above market rate, just like the card charge scenario, problems like the high cost of childcare will persist at many salary levels. Also, again, if we hire someone whose long-term average market rate is $30/h and childcare is $40/h, then maybe it's better to still pay them $29.5/h and their comparative advantage then is to do 'EtG' by watching their children, taking paid-time off and then coming back at a normal working week, rather than artificially inflating their salary to $41/h so that they can take less time off and work longer hours.
Messy personal stuff that affected my cause prioritization (or: how I started to care about AI safety)

Oh, I don't think either conclusion is clearly right. I do worry that me being happy makes it too easy for me to neglect important worries about what things are like for others.

But I think I was sloppy in rounding to "maybe AI ending everything wouldn't be that bad," partly because the world could well get better than it currently is, and partly because unaligned AI could make things worse.

That makes sense, thank you!
Has anyone actually talked to conservatives* about EA?

Another Russ Roberts - EA overlap was his interview with Peter Singer. I first heard him discussing it with another guest who said "Wow, that Peter Singer interview was crazy, you must have really been biting your tongue" and Russ agreed he'd been holding back. Then I went back and listened to the Singer interview and . . . couldn't figure out what the crazy part was supposed to be. So apparently I can't pass an intellectual Turing test as Mike Munger or Russ Roberts.

Messy personal stuff that affected my cause prioritization (or: how I started to care about AI safety)

Yes, the drive to prove you Belong is another one of those under-the-surface things that's surprisingly powerful!

I burnt out at EAG. Let's talk about it.

Hey, I'm sorry you had such a frightening experience! A couple of thoughts, in case they're useful to you or others:

  • panic attacks are a pretty common problem, and it's common to be unsure whether the symptoms are caused by a medical problem or by anxiety. They're common enough at conferences that when I've been the community contact person at EAG it's pretty common that the volunteers or I have helped someone through a panic attack. Historically we've included info on this in the training for our volunteers.
  • with either a medical or a mental health situa
... (read more)
2Luke Chambers23d
Sorry to hear about your experience Joe, and thanks Julia for the heads up on procedures for everyone. Regarding the socioeconomic background community element of EA, I feel the same. I started a blog lately and my first post was a post about my own socioeconomic challenges in EA, as well as some of the socioeconomic bottlenecks we face. It may be interesting to you to see you're not the only one: [] If it helps, reading this let me know I wasn't the only one either. Edit: It's important to note some of this was my fault - eg. not asking for more money, and letting myself get in that situation in the first place. Don't mean for it to be a crit. of EA too much. As Julia mentioned, there was a new socioeconomic diversity meetup at the event which is great news. I'm not sure how it went either because I, ironically, couldn't afford to be in London for both the Friday and Saturday nights. Im hoping that for my next EA conference I can attend one and it'd be great to meet others with similar experiences - perhaps even you! The good news is that EA is actually trying to find ways to better include everyone, which is a lot more than most other places do.
I burnt out at EAG. Let's talk about it.

I've wondered about this many times, but for people traveling a long way it does mean it's practical to attend more events than if they were broken up. It does mean you have to budget your energy differently than people who are only going to one event, though, which isn't obvious when everyone around you is trying to get the most out of a weekend rather than a week-long stretch.

I burnt out at EAG. Let's talk about it.

Thank you for writing up the messy reality! This isn't just a problem for young EAs - the combination of Sunday night afterparty and a retreat starting the next day usually results in Monday morning tears on my part.

Free-spending EA might be a big problem for optics and epistemics

problems like malaria and extreme poverty still exist

I know this isn't the only thing to track here, but it's worth noting that funding to GiveWell-recommended charities is also increasing fast, both from Open Philanthropy and from other donors. Enough so that last year GiveWell had more money to direct than room for more funding at the charities that meet their bar (which is "8x better than cash transfers", though of course money could be donated to things less effective than that). They're aiming to move 1 billion annually by 2025.

True, but GiveWell doesn't expect funding to grow at the same rate as top quality funding opportunities, so that $1bn/year is going to need further donors. Unless we believe GiveWell's top programmes/charities will never have a funding shortfall again, the point about where EA prioritises its funding still seems relevant.

Donating to AMF still seems like a good benchmark for cost effectiveness. Unlike George, my instinct is that e.g. a team retreat for an EA Group is likely to produce considerably less impact than spending the money on bednets or other GiveWell top charities.

How about we don't all get COVID in London?

I had not heard about nasal sprays being possibly useful. Sounds like there's preliminary in vitro evidence and a couple of case studies: Though I'm confused about why there isn't more evidence either way given the first info came out in 2020.

Perhaps CEA could buy some and have them on offer at check-in?
AFAIK there is one positive, randomized trial [] for a nasal spray containing Iota-Carrageenan (Carragelose): "The incidence of COVID-19 differs significantly between subjects receiving the nasal spray with I-C (2 of 196 [1.0%]) and those receiving placebo (10 of 198 [5.0%]). " It is available at least in Europe, and in the UK I think under the brand name Dual Defence. Why it has not received more attention is beyond me.
Advice to a new EA org employee

I'm sure they're not doing literally nothing to prevent burnout, but it's not a high priority for them, and when it trades off against something else (like taking a break, or using manager capacity on supporting mental health) I expect burnout prevention will often come behind other priorities.

Advice to a new EA org employee

Things like "do you work 40 vs. 60 hours a week" are not obvious choices here - longer hours probably increase risk of burnout, but you also get a lot more work done for as long as it lasts. In fields like corporate law or medical residency, people do long hours for years (though especially in medicine, there are definite quality vs quantity tradeoffs).

I agree that how long you work is not an obvious tradeoff. I was responding to the "[The EA org] is not trying to guard you against burnout" part. A rephrasing of that sentence might be "The EA org is doing nothing to prevent people from burning out", right? I'm quite sceptical that an EA org is making the right call by spending zero effort preventing very common and devastating mental health issues like burnout? This doesn't have to mean to tell the employees to work less, but it might mean * managers should monitor mental health * telling employees to take a break when they are at risk of burnout * providing resources for mental health support, coachings that help with maximizing sustainable productivity
Case for emergency response teams

I'd be really happy to see this get off the ground. I tried to run something a bit like this to work out how individuals and orgs should respond to the risk of nuclear war recently, and was pretty worried about wasting people's time if it didn't turn out to be useful or important, failing to request enough time from people if it turned out to be extremely important, how to find researchers, etc.

I'm also very excited about this. Let me know if I or the community health team can help support this get off the ground!
This is great! Also, I am appreciative to learn you have been working hard on diversity :)

I just linked to that too! I think about it all the time.

Why I am looking for an executive assistant

This isn't quite the same as an executive assistant, but if other people are looking for a personal assistant or interested in working as a personal assistant, Pineapple is trying to do matchmaking there for EAs!

How are you keeping it together?

I'm sorry it's hitting you so hard! I find my dread comes and goes. I went through a more doom-y stage about this a few years ago, and currently I'm able to make practical plans without getting sucked into the dread.

[content: health effects of nuclear exposure]

>planning on ways to end things quickly if we don't

If you mean what I think you do, this part seems really mistaken to me. There are probably some circumstances where I could imagine this being the right call (e.g. if you're definitely dying of radiation poisoning and only have a few days left.) B... (read more)

Thank you, definitely appreciate this perspective--to be clear I was referring only to an extreme situation like obviously, acutely, and painfully dying of radiation poisoning. I absolutely agree that situations that appear hopeless might not be.
How should altruistic blogs be different?

Someone pointed me at this post with blogging advice: I feel like Ben Kuhn wrote something about this, but I can't find it.

How should altruistic blogs be different?

I do like that about Substack! The thing I don't like is that it seems like you can only format the page as a chronological list of posts, and I'd like to have an easy / visible way to find posts in various categories.

How should altruistic blogs be different?

Thanks - I did set up a way to email subscribers when a new post is published, but didn't manage to find one that sends the whole post rather than just a snippet (and didn't have some other downside). But I found the process of sorting through the different email sending plugins surprisingly difficult, so there was likely a service I didn't find or ruled out prematurely.

How should altruistic blogs be different?

Ideas from a brainstorm with someone else:

We need 40,000h or maybe even 20,000h

I don't know if Sendwave has anything like this currently, but it wouldn't surprise me if they do at some point.

Thank you so much! They have nothing for me atm, but I'm adding them to my watchlist.
My experience of returning to work after having a baby

That was also the part that especially resonated with me.

It's ok to leave EA

Thanks, this was a helpful prompt. I agree some of this was pretty muddled. I edited to say some more specific things.

This response feels like it is making unnecessary concessions in an attempt to appease someone who will probably never be satisfied. For example, Habiba says

Of course we should be working on harms of tech right now also!

But this is not at all obvious! There are strong arguments that the contemporary 'harms' of tech are vastly overstated, and even if they were not, it seems unlikely that we should be working on them, given their vastly lower scope/neglectedness/tractability than other issues EAs focus on. I would be very surprised if any credible CBA sugges... (read more)

I really like her response :)
Open Thread: Spring 2022

You're not alone in finding these topics mind-boggling and distressing!

If you'd like to talk to people and there's not an EA group near you, you could join the EA Anywhere group:

There's also the EA Peer Support group:

Why Charities Usually Don't Differ Astronomically in Expected Cost-Effectiveness

This was useful pushback on the details of a claim that is technically true, and was frequently cited at one point, but that isn't as representative of reality as it sounds.

Beware surprising and suspicious convergence

I think of this post often - the pattern comes up in so many areas.

It's OK to feed stray cats

To be clear, this was an indoor foster cat, formerly a stray.

You have more than one goal, and that's fine

Stuff I'd change if I were rewriting this now:

  • not include the reference to "youngish" EAs wanting to govern everything by cost-effectiveness. I think it's more a result of being new to the idea than young.
  • make clearer that I do think significant resources should go toward improving the world. Without context, I don't think that's clear from this post.

This post is pushing against a kind of extremism, but it might push in the wrong direction for some people who aren't devoting many resources to altruism. It's not that I think people in general should be... (read more)

A contact person for the EA community

I’m adding info about some mistakes I’ve made so people can be aware of my track record. While I’ll do my best to keep confidential anything you want to talk to me about privately, I can’t guarantee that I’ll never make a mistake. So far, I know of two situations where I’ve failed to maintain confidentiality.

I tally that in the 6 years I’ve been in this role, I’ve handled about 135 situations where confidentiality was implied or requested by members of the community (not counting more standard situations like internal work emails). Here are the two mistake... (read more)


+1. This was fun, it was a great excuse to bring up some EOY giving by a month — and your instructions were ultra-clear. Thank you, William!

APPLY NOW | EA Global: London (29-31 Oct) | EAGxPrague (3-5 Dec)

It's a good question. For some people who have already considered their plans pretty carefully and who don't expect much benefit from meeting others in the community, it might not be worthwhile. Or just people for whom the travel / time costs would be unusually high (personally, I'm in that category this year).

I expect it to be most valuable for people who are considering some kind of change of plan in how they might have impact. Hearing about projects in the community and getting input from other people on your plans could be really valuable, allowing you... (read more)

What is the closest thing you know to EA that isn't EA?

A couple of historical predecessors:

The scientific charity movement starting in the 1870s:

And John Wesley advocating earning to give in the 1700s:

AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

For me it might be two sides of the same coin (particular to my role on the community health team).

The positive is getting to serve a community I really believe in, and supporting people who feel very much on the same team as me as far as big life goals.

The negative is that there's less separation between work life and community life than there would be in a lot of jobs. I'm not a normal community member in the way I was before I worked here - there are more things I have to try to be neutral on, etc. Facebook is mostly a work space for me.

AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

I have a similar impression to Amy - when I came on almost 6 years ago and for several years after, things were much looser. There was not a particularly consistent strategy, hiring was sometimes very informal, and we were running a lot of projects without always having adequate staffing to do a good job.

Now things are more settled, more formalized (e.g. annual performance reviews, standard hiring process, clearer communication about who is responsible for what). We're less likely to take on big new projects, and we're focused on better performance on our existing projects.

RyanCarey's Shortform

My favorite example of Slate Star Codex translating into Republican is the passage on climate change starting with "In the 1950s":

Small and Vulnerable

I really appreciate both this piece and your drive to leave this world better than you found it!

This made me think about two of my favorite older pieces about EA, which are both about the tie between one's own losses and a drive to do something positive:

Derek Thompson on donating after the death of his mother: "Malaria is not merely the greatest killer of children in the world, but also it is the greatest killer of pregnant women. The disease plunders motherhood from both sides of the equation. The loss of a mother must be quantifiable by some measure of c... (read more)

Being Vocal About What Works

You probably wouldn’t consider yourself an EA if it didn’t improve your life.

I don't think EAs should keep doing things that make them miserable (as with the noisy housing example someone gives below), but I don't think personal benefit is or should be the main reason to do EA. I'm not a fan of the obligation/excitement dichotomy because I feel some of both, but the word that fits best to me is "determination."

I get benefits from being part of EA, like friendships with smart and caring people. But there are other smart and caring people I could have met... (read more)

Julia_Wise's Shortform

Write roundup posts!

The posts I've made that I think yielded the most value for the amount of work I put in were essentially lists of other people's work.

EA Syllabi and teaching materials

Giving now vs. later: a summary

There are other formats that may make sense, like tags for material on this forum, or wikis. But the general principle is that you can do something really useful by making it easy for people to find existing material on a topic.

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