MathiasKB

2645Joined Jul 2018

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123

It seems like there is a general trend for public health interventions to look insanely cost-effective wrt. to daly's per dollar. I'd be curious to see a more detailed meta-review of this type of intervention, as they all are likely to share the same pitfalls if there are any.

Government policies I think are harmful tend have some easily measurable upside, at the cost of a much larger but difficult to measure downside. (ie. by making it more costly for firms to fire, employers respond by being much more cautious and discriminatory in their hiring practices)

These public health interventions seem to follow the pattern of an easily quantifiable upside and a difficult to measure downside, which leads me to worry if we are getting mugged by what is measurable.

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion and conflict in the past months over the state of Effective Altruism as a movement. For good reason too. SBF, someone I was once proud to highlight as a shining example of what EA had to bring, looks to have have committed one of history's largest instances of fraud. I would be concerned if we weren't in heated debates over what lessons to take from this!

After spending a few too many hours (this week has not been my most productive) reading through much of the debate, I noticed something: I'm still proud to call myself an effective altruist and my excitement is as high as ever.

If all of EA disappeared tomorrow, I would continue on my merry way trying to make things better. I would continue spending my free time trying to build a community in Denmark of people interested in spending their time and resources to do good as effectively as possible.

What brought me to EA was an intrinsic motivation to do as much good as possible, and nothing any other effective altruist can do is going to change this motivation.

I'm happy to consider anyone who shares that objective to be a friend, even if we don't on the specifics of how exactly one should go about trying to do the most good. "Doing the most good" is a pretty nebulous concept after all. I would find it pretty weird if we all agreed completely on what that implies.

Remember:

- We're all on the same team
- We're all just human beings try to do the best we can
- We're all acting on imperfect information

I think some of us owe FLI an apology for assuming heinous intentions where a simple (albeit dumb) mistake was made.

I can imagine this must have been a very stressful period for the entire team, and I hope we as a community become better at waiting for the entire picture instead of immediately reacting and demanding things left and right.

get absolutely dunked on, Will!

 

In all seriousness, thank you to the many people who contributed with posts and comments in 2022 and a thank you to the forum team for the hard work you put in. Whatever our community's flaws (and there are many!), there are few other places online with a similar breadth of topics discussed in as much depth.

Barring the meta-posts, time spent procrastinating on the EA forum in 2022 was for me time well spent.

We have not done a formal survey yet (unsure if we will, very time intensive!) so I can't guarantee there wasn't a bias in the economists we were able to interview and economists who are supportive of cash-benchmarking. That said, the takeaway from our conversations has been that cash-benchmarking looks promising but unproven.

There are a number of questions on cash-benchmarking that there aren't yet clear answers to. As the DFID¹ article states, aid is spent on a wide range of objectives many of which are difficult to meaningfully benchmark against cash. We're currently evaluating country portfolios to get a sense of what type and percentage of projects can be meaningfully benchmarked and cross-compared.

There are also a great deal of details surrounding implementation, without clear consensus either. The goal of our report is not to create the most compelling case for cash-benchmarking, but to accurately summarize the research, collect the case-studies, and hopefully arrive at a set of general recommendations for how to implement cash-benchmarking well.

My best guess is that most issues facing cash-benchmarking are very solvable, but if that turns out to be wrong then we'll have to find something different to advocate for.

 

¹ Note that DFID has since been replaced with the FCDO, so the article may no longer reflect the UK government's current position.

This looks phenomenal. I think there's a lot of lessons to learn from the do-focused skillset of strategy and management consultancies. Wishing you the best of luck!

Thank you for your thoughtful comment Stephen!

We are incubated through Charity Entrepreneurship, and have gotten our seed funding through their network.

When deciding on our pilot project, we did briefly look into the cost-effectiveness of climate mitigation projects funded by development aid and it was difficult to conclude much with high confidence. While it won't be our initial focus, we would be very excited to see increased measurement and the creation of better metrics for aid projects related to climate change and mitigation.

Traditional aid has benefited tremendously from the increased focus on measurement and evaluation in recent decades. I think it's especially important we don't forget the lessons learned as we start to carry out aid projects in new domains.

Additionally I would add that it is not a depreciative asset and can be sold again at a later date, returning the money spent. Of course you have to deduct the counterfactual returns of investing that money, but my intuition is generally that owning land is a fine investment if it saves you from paying rent.

Man this is one of the best posts I've ever read on the forum. Extremely educational while remaining very engaging (rare to find both). Thank you for writing this, I hope you'll do similar write-ups for other research you do!

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