All of Peter's Comments + Replies

Proposed tweak to the longtermism pitch

I like the example in the original about the glass bottle, since it's something concrete that people can envision and have likely seen before, so they can relate to. 

I also think it's a good idea to connect caring about the future to existing worldviews since many of them do emphasize it and this could make it seem even more relevant and worth acting on to people. 

What reason is there NOT to accept Pascal's Wager?

I included the wager below for reference since it doesn't seem to be in the original question. 

I think one problem is that belief in the existence of God is probably not sufficient for an infinite payoff (and it's not 100% clear to everyone what is sufficient). My understanding is that most major religions are meant to teach something more complex than that. Usually something to do with helping others and attaining peace by letting go of selfish desires in favor of loving and kind ones. 

But honestly, I think the reason people reject the wager is ... (read more)

Meditation course claims 65% enlightenment rate: my review

That's a great point - I've definitely also noticed a huge difference between a few minutes and an hour. The happiest I was all year was when I was meditating an hour a day. Though for me even 1 minute is also a huge difference compared to 0 minutes.

EA Shouldn't Try to Exercise Direct Political Power

I see what you mean but I wouldn't say it was a total failure. Yes, the ACA overall held on by a single vote from the late John McCain switching sides at the last minute, but Trump did get rid of its main coverage enforcement mechanism - the individual mandate and financial penalty. 

And in terms of its anti-abortion goals, while they certainly weren't the only group working on that, it definitely seems like they've been rather successful with the overturn of Roe vs. Wade due to Republican appointed judges. 

In terms of the size of government, this... (read more)

Why are people so hostile to the idea that sweatshops are a net positive?

Probably because those who say sweatshops are great tend to not work at sweatshops. 

So it seems obvious to others that there are better ways for people to live, yet not everyone has access to those options. And arguments in favor of sweatshops are seen as missing the point or even keeping it that way. 

EA Shouldn't Try to Exercise Direct Political Power

I think there are examples of topics that aren't as polarized and receive bipartisan support at least in part because of the relentless efforts of a small group of policy makers, like the recent bill dealing with sexual assault in the US military, so the "if elected..." case doesn't seem totally hopeless to me.  Of course, that's no guarantee, and what ends up in the bill is likely to change based on who is in power and what they want in it.

Even if you assume a democratic trifecta is necessary, that will probably happen again within the next ~20 years... (read more)

4iamasockpuppet1mo
Repealing Obamacare was arguably its central political goal, and was a total failure. Secondary failures include failing to reduce government spending and failing to reduce government debt. I also would characterize it as failing to reduce the size of the government and failing to reduce government regulation, although I don't know how to measure these. These cases are all dependent on what hypothetical you choose- maybe they reduced the rate of increase.
(Even) More Early-Career EAs Should Try AI Safety Technical Research

This post surprised me because I remember seeing a few comments on the forum recently that expressed sentiments along the lines of "EA is maybe getting too focused on AI" and "too many people are going into AI Safety and we might end up shortstaffed on other useful skills." I don't really remember what they were. I think one mentioned a recent podcast from 80,000 hours. 

But I heard that Redwood's second Alignment focused Machine Learning Bootcamp got over 800 applicants for 40 spots. So I'm wondering if a surge of technical researchers is imminent? Or would make it less valuable for someone like me who has 0 coding or machine learning experience to consider this path?

5Linch1mo
(Maybe obvious point, but) there just aren't that many people doing longtermist EA work, so basically every problem will look understaffed, relative to the scale of the problem.
6Robi Rahman1mo
There are tons of people vaguely considering working on alignment, and not a lot of people actually working on alignment.
Leftism virtue cafe's Shortform

This seems interesting. What methods do you think might be promising to identify former EAs to talk to?

Buddhism and Utilitarianism; EA vs EB

One point I would like to add: whether you take the lay path of incorporating some Buddhist practices into your ordinary daily life, or the monastic path of dedicating yourself full time to Buddhist practice, it can help build the emotional resources necessary to do good for the world and live a life in service of others.  

Considering how difficult it can be to do good - let alone trying to do the most good - and to make sacrifices on behalf of others, and how common burnout and other challenges are, such tools for building emotional resilience, clarity, and compassion can be extremely helpful. 

EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts

Oh cool thank you. I think some audio explaining the podcast could be a good idea. I also post a summary of esch episode in the episode description. Not sure if it would be worth the time to record something for every episode. DM'd you.

EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts

Hey thanks for your reply Ben. I hadn't even considered this. I think someone was doing this for key posts on a podcast called the Effective Altruism Forum Podcast but it hasn't been updated since January.

I have helped do readings for some of the creative writing contest entries. I'm not sure where they will be shared yet but do you think that would fit well on EAradio or be better off on something separate?

I've thought about reading certain newsletters out, like ChinAI, but wasn't sure if it would be a good use of time compared to other possibilities like maybe community building, since these could just be added to the NonLinear Audio Library.

1BenSchifman2mo
I don't know the time it takes or the direct tradeoffs but it seems possible that sharing EA content over an audio medium could be higher impact that other forms of community building, as the reach of a podcast is potentially worldwide. Really depends on the empirics. I am a podcast superuser though so I'm aware that I'm atypical and just because I'd like to listen while i do the dishes rather than read that isn't universal!
An Estimated $4 – $7 Billion in Matching Gift Funds Goes Unclaimed Per Year

Oh that's good news. Yes, that sounds like a good plan I think. There are probably a number companies that use that platform so if some EA charities are added it could result in quite a few new donors over time. 

An Estimated $4 – $7 Billion in Matching Gift Funds Goes Unclaimed Per Year

I did some digging and found this website which seems to focus on this exact problem for institutional donors with $25,000 or more. (Though I don't believe they give people money to donate). The main obstacle they report is that people simply don't know about the donation matching programs at their companies and what charities they can apply them toward. I wonder how many companies will actually match donations to EA charities?

It might be worth either 

  • Reaching out to organizations about accepting matches for EA orgs
  • Reaching out to organizations that t
... (read more)
4Tyler Smith2mo
Thank you for the reply, Peter. Yes, I’ve come across people at my company not knowing the match existed as well so that makes sense. I actually think your concern around how many companies will be willing to match EA organizations will not be a problem. If my experience has any relevance to the rest of the world, which I think it does because my Fortune 500 company is supported by an umbrella donating organization that helps multiple companies, GiveWell organizations were already approved for matching. Even the NTI was already approved for matching. The EA funds themself took a little more effort to get approved though and other AI organizations were not approved. I didn’t put any effort into getting the AI organizations approved though once the funds became available for matching so maybe they would be approved if requested. Your last two points seem good. Maybe the best way would be having CEA or GWWC directly reach out to your attached website so that the contact is more professional? I’ll send CEA/GWWC an email and let them know they should pitch EA organizations to your linked website and consider making a project that incentivizes more matching. Let me know if you think there’s a better way of going about this.
Just Say No to Utilitarianism

I don't think you can easily dismiss the argument that acting virtuously and honestly produces more utility in the long run. If everyone abandons this, then society falls apart and becomes a lot more miserable. 

It seems like a tax system helps solve the problems in all of these hypotheticals by balancing people's needs and desires instead of going to one extreme or the other. Of course, people have different ideas about what the exact numbers should be, and we can have an open and democratic debate about that. And maybe different adjustments make more... (read more)

EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts

Yay, I'm glad to hear it'll be helpful to you! Let me know if you ever have any feedback or suggestions. 

EARadio Returns - Suggest Episodes and Shoutouts

Thanks for the suggestion Hauke. I hadn't even thought about trying to add content with no existing audio to EARadio. I'll definitely have to look into that. It would take significantly  more time but it might be worth doing. 

3BenSchifman2mo
If you're open to adding more content, I would consider reading, say, the most upvoted forum post each month (or even each week if the reaction is positive and you have the time). The EA Forum Podcast is, as far as I know, inactive these days. And nonlinear is doing text to speech but it isn't as good, imo.
Who wants to be hired? (May-September 2022)

Location: Southeast USA

Remote: Yes

Willing to relocate: Yes

Skills: I'm kind of a jack of many trades 

  • Communications
    • Ran Press advisory, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MailChimp, and Wordpress for a winning statewide primary campaign
    • Ranked website #1 on Google and Bing for target keywords
    • Donor outreach & grant writing
  • Organizing & Community Building
    • I've planned and hosted a number of local political events such as door knocking, phone banking, and friend outreach training
    • I'm currently working on organizing some phonebanks for Maxwell Frost, a candi
... (read more)
Most students who would agree with EA ideas haven't heard of EA yet (results of a large-scale survey)

Do you think part of the reason is that they may find it difficult to get into high impact careers, that they lose interest, or that there are other different factors affecting their decisions like pay, where they can live, etc?

From my experience with running EA at Georgia Tech, I think the main factors are:

  • not prioritizing high-impact causes
  • not being interested in changing their career plans
  • lack of high-impact career opportunities that fit their career interests, or not knowing about them
  • not having the skills to get high-impact internships or jobs
1Abby Hoskin3mo
Great question! We need more research ;)
Carrick Flynn Results and Additional Ideas for Passing Pandemic Prevention Policy

Yeah overall sounds right to me. Maybe be careful about using phrases like "pay for a house seat." I think something like "$50 million to raise awareness of Biden's Pandemic Prevention Plan until it becomes a top priority for a representative" gets the same point across more clearly, whether it's done by convincing voters to elect a champion of it or winning over existing reps.

Also I think 30% is probably too high for new candidates in races with party backed state reps who already represent most of the voters in the race.

[$20K In Prizes] AI Safety Arguments Competition

Investing in AI Safety today is like investing in mRNA vaccines before 2019, antibiotics before the plague, and peace treaties before WW3. 

[$20K In Prizes] AI Safety Arguments Competition

It took millions of years to create a species as smart as humans. It has only been 50 years and we already have AIs that can create art and solve scientific problems better than most people. What do you think will happen in the next 50 years?

Go Republican, Young EA!

Isn't saying to support a worse party in hopes that it becomes better like saying you should support a worse business in hopes that it becomes better? If they already have your vote/money/support why would they change? 

Repeatedly losing elections seems like it would be more likely to cause the Republican party to change. 

-3G Gordon Worley III4mo
Two thoughts: 1. We should be careful about claiming the GOP is the "worse party". Worse for whom? Maybe they are doing things you don't like, but half the country thinks the Democrats are the worse party. We should be wise to the state of normative uncertainty we are in. Neither party is really worse except by some measure, and because of how they are structured against each other one party being worse means the other is better by that measure. If you wanted to make a case that one party or the other is better for EA and then frame the claim that way I think it'd be fine. 2. Yes, causing a party to lose its base is a great way to force the party to change, though note that this isn't an isolated system, changing the GOP will also change the Democratic Party and that might not actually be for the better. Some might argue we were better off before Southern white voters were "betrayed" by the Democratic Party on civil rights legislation and abortion, since my understanding is that that caused the shift to the current party alignment structure and ended a long era of bipartisanship. Looking back, many have said they would have moved slower to avoid the long term negative consequences caused by moving fast and then not really getting the desired outcome due to reactionary pushback. This suggests we might be better off trying for slow change given uncertain effects of what will happen in a dynamic system.
Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy

I think if Dems had done more spending to keep stuff like keep the Expanded Child Tax Credit going and maintained their huge advantage among parents/recipients then maybe they would have a chance, but their 12-point lead among this group evaporated as soon as they allowed the monthly support to expire. 

When you say spread out, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean something akin to four stimulus checks of $350 every three months instead of one check for $1400? Or that they should have been smaller - say $700 - even if more people would have lost their... (read more)

2Hauke Hillebrandt4mo
I really like this policy and also the earned income tax credit, and we can talk about different policies like the stimulus checks as well, which I don't necessarily oppose. I also agree that they can help during elections. However, the point I'm making is not about what to spend on, nor the overall size of spending over time, but about timing... spending too much at once- be it on right wing issue (military, corporate tax cuts) or left wing (welfare, education, health) ... I don't have strong opinions on what the US should spend more on... maybe they should spend more (or less) on the military and more (cf. left) or less on health (cf. Robin Hanson) and/or education (cf. Bryan Caplan). As Obama's former advisor Furman says: The first $1T of stimulus led to a great recovery, but the last $0.5T of stimulus caused a lot of inflation but only few jobs. In other words, the marginal cost-effectiveness of looser policy was bad and the stimulus should have been smaller—maybe $1 trillion instead of 2. I don't have strong opinions on the exact implementation of spreading things out more, I was arguing that this should probably be done using econometric models that take into account the current macroenvironment, and not just based the discussion 'on casual observation rather than econometrics' i.e. 'We need to spend more on health, climate, etc. $X.0T is a nice round number'.
Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy

Hey thanks for your response. 

I guess then I'm wondering "if dems will probably lose anyway does it really matter if they lose more because of inflation?" Which I suppose if it leads to Republican supermajorities then it would be significantly worse than the "populist" blowout in 2010 and 2014 by the Tea Party and others taking hundreds of seats in local, state, and federal elections. 

It also seems like even though it's often ideal to introduce changes gradually, they kind of have to cram through a bunch of short-term spending or else nothing get... (read more)

2Hauke Hillebrandt4mo
Good question. R. supermajority would be bad indeed. Also if you model this as Dems definitely losing, then it's indeed bad, but the Dems do have a chance to win, and so you can also model this as inflation decreases the likelihood that Dems will stay in power - then every lost seat counts. I get that, but the stimulus was too much all at once and should have been spread out even more. Also, if you lose elections based on this it might not be the optimal strategy. I'm a bit skeptical of the 'Climate change will affect everything, thus, including conflict and biorisk' and so working on climate change is the best way to reduce biorisk (Compare broad vs. narrow interventions [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/broad-vs-narrow-interventions#:~:text=The%20philosopher%20Nick%20Beckstead%20has,aim%20at%20a%20relatively%20narrow] ). I generally agree with you, and the IPCC needs to say this, but it's not a law of nature that we need reduce emission this year or next in order to stay under 1.5C, it's just makes it more likely, there are different trade-offs. You're right that there's 'irreversible damage' but it's not very large currently as a percentage of global GDP, and certainly much lower than the damage due to underinvestment in biosecurity. Not everyone agrees with this Acemoglu paper, but I find it quite plausible... Scandinavia is also mostly small rich countries, with Norway having lots of oil, and there's this statistical bias where smaller countries / schools / whatever naturally have higher variance in terms of outcomes just by chance, whereas bigger countries regress to the mean. For that reason, I think it's better to compare US vs. France or Germany, which seem to not nearly innovate as much as the US, and I think this is to a large degree due to the economic structure.
Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy
  1. I think you're going to have a hard time making the case for inflation causing Democrats to lose when the incumbent party almost always loses seats in the midterms anyway, seemingly regardless of inflation if I recall correctly.
  2. Wasn't the 2008 stimulus too small, which ended up prolonging the recession recovery time? It seems like Democrats were trying to avoid making the same mistake twice.
  3. I'm probably biased but these kinds of arguments against spending on social needs always rub me the wrong way. It doesn't seem like we're spending enough or efficiently
... (read more)
2Hauke Hillebrandt4mo
This is correct and a well-known effect. I cite evidence suggesting that inflation will have an effect on Democrats losing election over and above this effect.[62] [https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQu_YzjEd8EcVUZ5MNBVDou_bnGTTdxOC-NyOW18oA3tn_GIVyEqQqJW4zmHVK3OlIlytWYx9u0-d0l/pub#ftnt62] ,[63] [https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQu_YzjEd8EcVUZ5MNBVDou_bnGTTdxOC-NyOW18oA3tn_GIVyEqQqJW4zmHVK3OlIlytWYx9u0-d0l/pub#ftnt63] https://www.mischiefsoffaction.com/post/2022-midterm-forecastYes, but it can both be true that the overall impact of OpenPhil’s macroeconomic stabilization program might be positive and the later parts negative. Many agree with OpenPhil (me included) that policy was too tight after '08,[110] [https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQu_YzjEd8EcVUZ5MNBVDou_bnGTTdxOC-NyOW18oA3tn_GIVyEqQqJW4zmHVK3OlIlytWYx9u0-d0l/pub#ftnt110] and that looser policy after covid led to a better recovery. Similar to the discussion above, perhaps a looser environment with more jobs led to less populism. But my ambition here was not to evaluate the program’s all things considered impact, but to single out the '21 grants which might be harmful, which is still useful. In other words, I argued that had the '21 grants not been made, perhaps the program would have been even more effective. My vague sense is that the program would come out net positive on the whole, however, perhaps if there are large negative effects of current high inflation - like lots of populists getting elected and we can causally attribute this to high inflation- then it also doesn't seem inconceivable that the overall impact might be negative. I agree that we should weigh the effects of poor people disproportionately. And you're right that there's a case to be made that looser policy on the '21 margin was good for the poorest 10% Americans (~30m) as it created more jobs and higher wages, but bad for the middle class (~150m) as their real wages went down. The first-order effects fo
AI Risk is like Terminator; Stop Saying it's Not

Spoilers for the Matrix


In Matrix the AI is also acting instrumentally: humans started a war (the Animatrix confirms this) so AIs fought back to defend themselves. 

There is a rogue program who hates humans, though it's an abnormality that even other AIs end up becoming threatened by. It keeps replicating itself and starts taking over humans and other AIs. 

PSA: if you are in Russia, probably move out ASAP

Border could be closed as soon as Friday when the Federation Council hosts a special meeting. 
 

It's important to distinguish between concessions. Removing missiles that can strike a country in exchange for removing missiles that can strike another country is VERY different than helping a dictator to take over parts of a country when they threaten violence. Once you start, where are you going to stop? The problem also isn't just Putin, the problem is every tyrant watching the response here. Most of the world is not part of NATO. If Russia succeeds, China's government may be emboldened to go after Taiwan, for example. 

I'm not sure I would call giving weapons to Ukraine, sanctioning Russia, and hunting down war supporting Oligarchs' assets as appeasement. It's not the maximum response but it is an escalation of response to Putin's attack. It might be enough to scare elites who support Putin without causing further escalation, which is dangerous since we are dealing with a country that has nuclear weapons, which wasn't the case with the Nazi regime in WW2. 

1DavidZhang5mo
That's fair, it's not appeasement, but neither is it what people wanted of Chamberlain in WW2.

I don't think ceding territory would be a viable solution, as this would be the exact same strategy as appeasement of Nazi Germany (though some have recently suggested Chamberlain's appeasement may have been a strategic choice to buy time for British rearmament). It failed to stop tyrants before, and importantly - it's not something you can take back. It's an extreme version of giving a bully your lunch money before they beat you up - you become a repeat target for life. 

With NATO neutrality, you can at least take it back (in theory) if Putin misbehav... (read more)

4AndrewDoris6mo
There are many reasons why appeasement and Neville Chamberlain make a poor comparison for most modern conflicts and are wildly overused as a historical analogy. One of the biggest is that Hitler was dead set on taking over the entire world due to idiosyncrasies of his worldview, era, and national history, and arguably capable of it given the size of his armies and absence of nuclear weapons at the time. There are strong reasons to believe that neither Xi Jinping nor Vladimir Putin has such ambitions or capabilities. Even if the United States had "appeased" Putin's desire to seize Ukraine (which it has not), it is unlikely Putin wants anything to do with further war against NATO countries, that might bring the full force of the American military down upon him. Indeed, part of the reason he's fighting for Ukraine now is that he knows that, were it to ever enter NATO, it would become untouchable to him. As importantly, such a worldview would preclude ANY concessions to rival powers threatening American primacy in an increasingly multipolar world, which seems like a maximalist approach incompatible with the give and take of real diplomacy. There are plenty of historical examples of mature diplomacy that involved concessions to autocratic regimes in response to a threat of force. Take the Cuban missile crisis. The Soviet Union threatened the United States by placing nuclear missiles on Cuba - and in order to defuse the situation, JFK arguably "rewarded" that threat by agreeing to remove American missiles from Turkey. This seems like an EA thing to have done that did not result in a slippery slope of escalating aggression. Instead of a simplistic "never give in" mindset, we should be mindful of the broader balance of power to keep our ambitions in line with our capabilities, and assert ourselves only when and where we can likely improve outcomes by doing so.
2DavidZhang6mo
I think the difference with GB/Germany is that the West is unwilling to provide meaningful military support for Ukraine, in the form of troops on the ground. From Ukraine's perspective I think this is the worst of both worlds, because the West won't actually stand up the bully, but also isn't willing to engage with it. This has resulted in war. This is what I meant by Ukraine being in an unusual position: it is sufficiently West-aligned that it won't give into Putin's demands, and he wants to cause trouble, but its lack of Nato membership means that US, UK etc won't actually provide the support it needs against Russia. Or to put it another way, I think the current outcome is a form of appeasement because we aren't actually willing to fight.
Some thoughts on vegetarianism and veganism

I've thought about a lot of this stuff too, so I understand how the value can seem uncertain. These are some reasons I became [more] vegan. 
1. I don't participate in factory farming suffering - any good impact is good to me, a penny saved is a penny earned. Even a small impact matters to me. 
2. I avoid taking lives 
3. I feel better - probably because of eating healthier and maybe also more in control of my decisions. A mostly or entirely vegan diet might also just be healthier for some reason. Chimps and Bonobos are our closest relatives and... (read more)

Bounty for your best 2 minute answer to an EA 'frequently asked question'

Looks like I missed this, but I wanted to try it out anyway. Maybe it'll be useful to someone. 

That's a great question. Prioritizing is important. There are many problems and we want to fix what affects us. But let's imagine this question differently. 

It's pretty nice having fresh, clean water to drink, right? That's going to be true for you today, tomorrow, and next week. It'll be true in 10 days or 10 years. You wouldn't consider yourself as having less of a right to clean water today than you did 10 years ago, right? And you wouldn't want peop... (read more)

The Case for Rare Chinese Tofus

"A solar panel for the palette" I love it. I think this is a great idea. Creating tasty new cuisines with unique flavors would likely get more people to eat more tofu since some would now have plant based options that meet their taste preferences.  I like the idea of not just trying to replace meat but trying to create something new or even surpass it. Plant based meat projects  are important of course - but I think there's room for other approaches too.  The most successful renewable energy technologies (solar and wind) are ones that do som... (read more)

5George Stiffman6mo
Huh if only we had a "Samuel Adams tofu" to go with the beer! Tofu's history in the States is pretty recent, but there may be something juicy there. Absolutely with you this!
The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention).

Based on what people have said here, I think Carrick sounds like a great candidate who would make a wonderful representative. However, my impression from loosely following primaries from time to time is that local reputation matters a lot. Self funders tend not to do well because they tend not to have real local support. Does Carrick have a strong base of support or message to compete against the likes of a popular progressive state rep like Salinas (I don't believe we have fundraising numbers from her yet)?  If anyone knows of a race where a similar ... (read more)

7RyanCarey6mo
I agree that Carrick loses to Salinas on some dimensions. He also beats her on some dimensions, like story, ads and social media. I think both have reasonably good chances.
The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention).

It's not legal to receive donations directly or indirectly from foreign nationals for any US race, but volunteering and asking people to donate is okay.  

The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention).

Here is a synopsis from Primary School, a newsletter focused on democratic primaries. It's kind of annoying to dig through their posts for the hard to see "see full post" button so I'm copy and pasting them. 

EDIT FEC Update 2/5/2022

Carrick Flynn says he raised $430,000 in the first 10 days. Salinas only raised $174,000 in two months. Money isn't everything in campaigns but that is kind of low for Salinas. 

--
Tl;dr: Salinas seems like a strong candidate and solid progressive who is supported by the local party. I'd be interested in seeing her first... (read more)

Aaron_Scher's Shortform

Yeah when I was reading it I was  thinking "these are high bars to reach" but I think they cover all the concerns I've heard. Oh glad you liked it! I probably could have said that from the start, now that I think about it. 

Aaron_Scher's Shortform

Hey I applied too! Hopefully at least one of us gets it. I think they probably got more than 50 applications, so it almost starts to become a lottery at that point if they only have a few spots and everyone seems like they could do it well. Or maybe that's just easier for me to think haha. 

1nananana.nananana.heyhey.anon2mo
I think conceptualizing job hunts like this for very competitive positions is often accurate and healthy fwiw
Aaron_Scher's Shortform

I think many progressives and others on the left value mutual aid because they see it as more sustainable and genuine and with fewer negative strings attached. I think they are generally fine with aid and helping others as long as they can be shown good evidence that 1) the aid is not going to be used to prevent other positive changes (basically things like exchanging humanitarian aid for continued resource extraction from a region that's worth more than the total aid contributed, or pressuring/requiring a housing justice org to stop organizing tenants to ... (read more)

2Aaron_Scher7mo
Thanks for your response! I don't think I disagree with anything you're saying, but I definitely think it's hard. That is, the burden of proof for 1, 2, and 3 is really high in progressive circles, because the starting assumption is charity does not do 1, 2, or 3. To this end, simplified messages are easily mis-interpreted. I really like this: "The reason being that they redistribute power, not just resources."
Ways of improving one's empathy and emotional intelligence?

I liked Cognitively-Based Compassion Training. They do global live sessions with trained instructors 5 times a week over zoom. Let me know what you think if you try it. 

What self-help topics would you like better research/ resources on?

I imagine many of us spend a lot of time sitting and staring at screens. What would make this less bad? What are some alternatives we could do sometimes? What are the health and other costs and benefits compared to possible alternatives? 

For example, doing a phone call and walking vs a zoom meeting. For one on one meetings that seems like it would often be a good idea. For small groups, maybe you need an agenda and do a rotation on everyone's thoughts/updates as you go down each item, to cut down on awkwardness/time wasted not knowing who is about to ... (read more)

How meditation has helped my EA mindset

Meditating is definitely one of the best ways I've found to be happier, kinder, and calmer. Even when I feel like I don't have time,  I can tell there's a difference from doing just 30 seconds or a minute a day. 

The case against degrowth

Thanks! Sometimes I wonder if it's even worth thinking about topics like this since it seems so hard to see how it would even have an impact (and even if it did I could be wrong) so I'm glad you did.

The case against degrowth
  1. I've never heard of anyone proposing 85% wealth reduction so I don't think it's relevant here. But you could absolutely take that wealth and use it to create good standards of living across the board within sustainable limits. That's what everyone wants at the end of the day, right? 
  2. I don't know anything about degrowth people saying we cannot use new technologies even if they don't cause damage to the environment. That sounds more like straight up primitivism, which is a really obscure ideology. I think you're better off responding to the strongest po
... (read more)
The case against degrowth

As you mention, increases in efficiency tend to be followed by equal increases in consumption in society absent other incentives and policies. So it's understandable that some people might think we need some limits on resource extraction. And that some think we might be better off continuing innovation within those sustainable limits, instead of hoping we will always be able to invent technology that allows us to ignore those resource limits and failing to plan for possible limits. 

It does seem intuitively satisfying to just throw my hands up at the p... (read more)

5Stijn7mo
“As you mention,increases in efficiency tend to be followed by equal increases in consumption in society [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox]absent other incentives and policies. So it's understandable that some people might think we need some limits on resource extraction.”>I think it is better to have limits on environmental impact. Price mechanisms such as a carbon tax can be used to counter rebound effects on environmental impacts. “The 40 hour work week was once unthinkable. So were child labor laws. So was a ban on CFCs.”> Economic growth made these policies much more politically feasible. “What if people had just given up?”>Anti-degrowth environmentalists are not saying we should give up. They say we should invest more in technological innovation. “Technology does not develop in a political vacuum, and we would not have seen over 90% cost reductions in technologies like solar during the past 10 years without major investments and support from the Obama administration.”>These are points primarily used by anti-degrowth environmentalists to argue for the importance (effectiveness) of more government funding of clean tech innovation. Degrowth environmentalists, on the other hand, are more skeptical about the importance of such clean tech innovations: they prefer a shrinking economy, where we have less money available for technological research. Looking at degrowth thinkers, organizations, panels and declarations, you don’t see a promotion of increased clean tech innovation funding. It is definitely not a top policy proposal. What you do see, is an explicit rejection (proposal to ban) of some technologies such as genetic modification, nuclear power and nanotechnology, a moratorium on techno-scientific research, an orientation research toward low-tech research and convivial tools, raising awareness about “technological addiction”, opposing digital technologies in education. These are not really helping the acceleration of clean tech innovation.
Two Podcast Opportunities

I would love to help out with these, especially reading!

Rowing, Steering, Anchoring, Equity, Mutiny

This is a really interesting framework. If you're interested in diving into some ideas for more transformative social change I think I can recommend a few, though I'm not that knowledgeable about them.

  1. Participatory Economics or Parecon - if nothing else it does seem pretty detailed from what I can gather. Very theory based in terms of a blueprint for a possible society. Bolo 'bolo is another theoretical but specific example like this, but in a different direction.
  2. Democratic Confederalism in Rojava/the Democratic Forces of Northern Syria. I think this on
... (read more)