All of Parker_Whitfill's Comments + Replies

Many Undergrads Should Take Light Courseloads

I'd say it's close and depends on the courses you are missing from an econ minor instead of a major. If those classes are 'economics of x' classes (such as media or public finance), then your time is better spent on research. If those classes are still in the core (intermediate micro, macro, econometrics, maybe game theory) I'd probably take those before research. 

Of course, you are right that admissions care a lot about research experience - but it seems the very best candidates have all those classes AND a lot of research experience. 

Many Undergrads Should Take Light Courseloads

I would say an ideal candidate is a math-econ double major, also taking a few classes in stats and computer science. All put together, that's quite a few classes, but not an unmanageable amount. 

Is your sense that that's better than math major + econ minor + a few classes in stats and computer science + econ research (doing econ research with the time that would have otherwise gone to extra econ classes)? I'd guess this makes sense since I've heard econ grad schools aren't too impressed by econ majors and care a lot about research experience.

Many Undergrads Should Take Light Courseloads

One case where this doesn't seem to apply is an economics Ph.D. For that, it seems taking very difficult classes and doing very well in them is largely a prerequisite for admissions. I am very grateful I took the most difficult classes and spent a large fraction of my time on schoolwork. 

The caveat here is that research experience is very helpful too (working as an RA). 

1Mauricio1moGood point, thanks! Definitely seems like a case where taking hard classes is useful--do you think this is also a case where taking many classes is useful?
Open Philanthropy’s Early-Career Funding for Individuals Interested in Improving the Long-Term Future - New Application Round

Is there a strong reason to close applications in January? 

I'm only familiar with the deadlines for economics graduate school, but for that you get decisions back from graduate school in February-March along with the funding package. Therefore, it would be useful to be able to apply for this depending on the funding package you receive (e.g. if you are fully funded you don't need to apply, but if you are given little or no funding, it would be important to apply) . 

3Bastian_Stern2moThe main reason has to do with capacity/turnaround times. Our experience is that a lot of candidates apply very close to the deadline, and prospective grad students typically have to accept their offers in mid-April, so if we had set our deadline in, say, mid-March instead, this would have given us only c.4 weeks to process these applications (which as it happens is already going to be a busy period for the relevant team members for other reasons). The earlier deadline gives us more wiggle room, although it does come at the cost you highlight. Candidates who don’t apply in time for our deadline and find out in February/March that they’ll require funding may want to consider applying to the Long-Term Future Fund.
Why do content blockers still suck?

I highly recommend cold turkey blocker, link here. It offers many of the features you listed above,  including scheduled blocking, blocking the whole internet, blocking specific URL or search phrases (Moreover, this can be done with regex, so you can make the search terms very general),  password-protected blocks, no current loopholes (if there are ones please don't post them, I don't want to know!) and the loopholes that used to exist (proxies) got fixed. 

Pricing seems better than freedom as it's $40 for lifetime usage. My only complaint is that there is no phone version. 

Effective Altruism and Free Riding
I'd still agree that we should factor in cooperation, but my intuition is then that it's going to be a smaller consideration than neglect of future generations, so more about tilting things around the edges, and not being a jerk, rather than significantly changing the allocation. I'd be up for being convinced otherwise – and maybe the model with log returns you mention later could do that. If you think otherwise, could you explain the intuition behind it?

I think one point worth emphasizing is that if the cooperative portfolio is a p... (read more)

Ask Me Anything!

What piece of advice would you give to you 20 year old self?

Because my life has been a string of lucky breaks, ex post I wouldn’t change anything. (If I’d gotten good advice age 20, my life would have gone worse than it in fact has gone.) But assuming I don’t know how my life would turn out: 

  • Actually think about stuff and look stuff up, including on big-picture questions, like 'what is the most important problem in the world?'
  • Take your career decision really seriously. Think of it as a research project, dedicate serious time to it. Have a timeline for your life-plans that’s much longer than your degree. R
... (read more)
Progress book recommendations

Strong upvote as a find EA book recommendations very useful, and I'd like to encourage more people to post recommendations.

As an aside, it could be worth noting which books are available as audiobooks.

Arguments for moral indefinability

My vague impression is that this is referred to as pluralism in the philosophy literature, and there are a few philosophers at GPI who subscribe to this view.

4richard_ngo3yFrom skimming the SEP article on pluralism, it doesn't quite seem like what I'm talking about. Pluralism + incomparability comes closer, but still seems like a subset of my position, since there are other ways that indefinability could be true (e.g. there's only one type of value, but it's intrinsically vague)
The Ethics of Giving Part Four: Elizabeth Ashford on Justice and Effective Altruism

Thanks for the summary and the entire sequence of posts. I thoroughly enjoyed them. In my survey of the broader literature c) is mostly true and I'd certainly like to see more philosophical engagement on those issues.

The Ethics of Giving Part Four: Elizabeth Ashford on Justice and Effective Altruism

"A pretty standard view of justice is that you don't harm others, and if you are harming them then you should stop and compensate for the harm done. That seems to describe what happens to farmed animals."

I think this only applies to people who are contributing to the harm. But for a vegan for is staunchly opposed to factory farming, they aren't harming the animals, so factory farming is not an issue of justice for them.

The Ethics of Giving Part Four: Elizabeth Ashford on Justice and Effective Altruism

"Whether we seek to alleviate poverty directly or indirectly, we might suppose that such efforts will get a privileged status over very different cause areas if we endorse the justice view. But our other cause priorities deal with injustices too; factory farming is an unjust emergency, and an existential catastrophe would clearly be a massive injustice that might only be prevented if we act now. And just like poverty, both of these problems have been furthered by selfish and corrupt international institutions which have also contributed to our wealth

... (read more)
2bwildi3yIsn't factory farming a clear-cut case of injustice? A pretty standard view of justice is that you don't harm others, and if you are harming them then you should stop and compensate for the harm done. That seems to describe what happens to farmed animals. In fact, as someone who finds justice plausible, I think it creates a decent non-utilitarian argument to care about domestic animal suffering more than wild animal suffering. As my last sentence suggests, I do think that justice views are likely to affect cause prioritisation. I think you're right that justice may lead you to different conclusions about inter-generational issues, and is worth a deeper look.