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Big List of Cause Candidates

I am writing on a post about "better/healthier diets" simply due to their effect on human health. I hope it will be out during the next weeks.  - I have to wait for some feedback by experts on this topic.  

Lotteries for everything?

this page/link below is in german, but we know, there are some german-speaking ea´s. it´s an article in an economic newspaper and it´s about the benefit of using lotteries for choosing supervisors/superiors and there seem to be quiet some benefits in some cases. (google translate does a sufficient job here).

my guess is: whether lotteries are great depends on the sample. if it´s tricky to make a good decision -> lotteries may be great/ better (than a complex decision scheme). if it´s easy to make a good decision: lotteries sure are a bad thing. 

example: as long as high skilled workers compete for a promotion: lotteries may be a good way to decide whom to promote. but after some years/ decades of lotteries workers may realize that there is no need to excel at ones job, because promotion does not depend on it. or even low-skilled workers may aplly for a promotion. same might be true for apllying for research grants, etc. 

Thanks for writing this! 

might targeting malnutrition (not undernourishment!) be an important cause area?

Sure. Malnutrition: eating the wrong things as a voluntary choice despite having alternatives. Undernourishment: one does not get enough food, f.e. because there is not enough/because one can‘t afford it. malnutrition seems to be a big problem in middle and high income countries. In low-income countries undernourishment would be a big problem. My post is only about eating the wrong stuff on a „voluntary“ basis. One can afford fruits and veggies, but f.e. still eats red meat, salty chips etc. And those 250 million DALYs they only account for eating the wrong stuff (but not because of scarcity). At least if all those numbers are correct.

might targeting malnutrition (not undernourishment!) be an important cause area?

Thx for commenting. I am not sure, whether I got your point. If you are writing about nutrition-programs - do you mean getting people specific foods or informing them? As to my experience in germany there is no powerful organization or lobby -group trying to promote better nutrition because of the impressive health effects/reduced costs etc.

Some thoughts on EA outreach to high schoolers

Mostly agreeing with this article. Thx. I‘d be hoping, that high schoolers (make better choices on what to study) will find the ea-groups at university faster, if they know about ea already. But even if that „fails“, it‘s not only about “becoming ea“ or not. It‘s not binary. If people don‘t get involved in ea-stuff... but agree to only one concept more (like cause neutrality /animals are capable of suffering, so that should matter too / counterfactual thinking in making career choices / the fact, that donations can have different impacts etc. (maybe even spreading those ideas)) - then it might be worth the time. Thx for the article.

How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration

Sorry, this is just a general comment. And it is only an opinion. I don‘t like the idea of profit-orientated prisons. The aim of a reform might be „good prisons“, „good treatment“, but that‘s not where the money is/get‘s generated? Low reoffending rates, espacially for crimes like murder, sexual assault, etc. are „producing“ the profit. I am afraid, people will find cheaper (but not necessarily better ways) to make the profit. For example: if some of my clients ever stands in court again: I will pay them a really good lawyer: I loose money, if they get convicted... / I will make a really good group-therapy, on how not to get caught and how to act with the police. I‘d have an incentive to work (bribe) the police/ the jury ... I‘d have an incentive to kill my high-risk-people shortly after releasing them, espacially, if their situation worsens... („incentive“ might easily mean millions).

I‘m sure one could get past some of those objections... but not past all of them.

I‘d rather like a public prison system, good statistics and a competition for being a good prison, without going to those extremes. That would mean less competition, sure.

Still, thx for your post, I am extremely interested to more comments and your replies.

How to Fix Private Prisons and Immigration

There is a lot of research done in forensic psychology/psychiatry as to which offenders have which rates of reoffending (and how that rate can be reduced). There are instruments like the HCR20, the Psychopathy Checklist, the SVR20, etc. In Germany there are nice statistics about which released groups do commit the same/different crimes with which rates of recidivism. I am pretty sure, other countries have comparable stats. The rates are well below 50%, but we only have some 80 persons out of a hundred thousand behind bars, in the united states that number is nearly ten times higher, so people get faster into those (mostly private?/ profit orientated?) prisons. My guess would be: get fewer people into prisons (than in the united states), get them therapy if needed (for example reasoning and rehabilitation aka r&r) and most important: give them good aftercare (possibilities).

Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors

applause. thx for this highly interesting (and important) article.

while reading i thought about a lot of commenting, but you already considered most of these things…

still some minor comments:

as to narcissism (maybe (?) the least important "dark tetrad trait"): as for narcistic personality disorder, there is a reason why (some) of these people are trying to gain power. a huge lack of self-esteem etc. and some narcistic people are trying to fill this lack with a successful career etc., still it does not gets filled this way, so (some of them) are trying to become even more successful... a vicious circle. but maybe even more important for narcissism usually has it´s origin in childhood/ growing up. i don´t believe, that genetic (epigenetic?) factors attribute a lot to this trait. (I only found that one here, and I don’t know, whether it is good or representative: - still, it seems, that those twins grew up with the same parents …).

as for scanning for dark tetrad-traits: smart malevolent people might deceive tests/scanning procedures, once they are smart enough, once they know what they want. they usually don´t do so, when still in kindergarten, in elementary school. And it is sure (unprecise) to scan for example for those kids, who torture animals (or peers) etc. i am not saying: “let´s do this”, only saying: “looking at kids might makes sense”.

as for proposing to cut f. e. only the 1% with the highest polygenetic score for dark tetrad-traits: it be interesting, if this would include persons like hitler, stalin, mao, … they sure had some luck with timing, being at the right place, living in instable times, … maybe they would only be in the top 10th percentile? still, it sure be a bad idea, to make big cuts without more reasoning and knowledge.

and: actually, even though (or because) i just read some things about dictators and sadism... i am not convinced. most journalists argue, that being responsible for the deaths of millions makes one a sadist. or because one makes up some torture-routines. but from my understanding, sadism is to gain direct benefit through direct torturing, humuliating (and seeing/getting feedback on their reaction) of humans (or animals). if someone lets millions of people getting killed or tortured - i guess this is for other reasons (economic profit, consolidating power - even if through terror or because someone simply does not care). having a lack of empathy, it might easily sound like a reasonable idea to send millions to deaths, if there are other things to gain. actually my understanding of sadism is not important. but if those dictators haven´t been sadists, then it might be a good idea, to exclude sadism out of this topic.

still: up until now in this comment, there are 3 lines of praise for this article, and some other 20 lines... It should be the other way round. thx again.

Coronavirus Research Ideas for EAs

as for question 21 (reduced donations due to recession):

i guess, we are all pretty sure: donations will go down. many people are loosing their jobs/ their income, some will get huge medical bills, … other people lost money in the stock market, others see their real estate or their pension savings loosing worth… i guess, that many people will “save” some money via donating less.

that might affect many valuable organizations/ employees of those organizations. their work might/will be disrupted.

i think it is a good idea to have a security net for cases like this, some kind of insurance. my best idea (beside having billionairs-pledges to increase donations in recession-times): put- options in the stock market. those gain in value as markets fall. and I don´t think of inidviduals buying a small amount of put-options (that would be pretty expensive, as I expect some costs per trade per person). i think of one or more ea-associated organizations which bundle some money to invest in put-options. this money would be lost in booming times, but it would multiply in bad ones. to be clear: all in all: it would mean loosing some money (the put-options sellers want to make some money too). let´s say “we” loose 2% of the money. but what could we gain? i guess, that having a smooth(er) running of ea- organizations might be of higher worth, than those organizations running constantly on 98%-funding. i guess, that having all those costs which usually come along with shrinking donations (f. e. loosing valuable employees -maybe forever… in better times: costs of time needed to find new fitting employees, to incorporate them… loosing connections, closing organizations, and so on) is higher.

i am not saying, that individual ea-organizations should spent money on a security net (in the stock market). it might seem weird to the broader public, if altruistic organizations would invest money in the stock market. but It would be nice, if those organization would know: there is a back-up, some kind of security for bad times. if one or two organizations would do so, that might be great. they could call themselves: “anticyclical donating” or something like this.

imagine you (=ea) want to drive as far as you can get with a limited amount of energy (=doing the most good with limited ressources). one option might be simply going full throttle (=like us now?). another one might be, to invest some energy in levelling your track (=like investing in a security net for the “bumbs” of a recession?).

actually, I hope that his post is not of worth, because there are no such described downfalls, or because other people already had the same idea. but as i´ve never heard of it. here it is (see above) ;-)

Mind Ease: a promising new mental health intervention

hey there,

it seems to me, that there is a lot of confusion about anxiety as a (recurrent) short-symptom (which your app is targeting) and anxiety as a mental health disorder (coded via icd-10 or dsm-v). you are citing papers about anxiety as health disorders to proof that there is a huge need for targeting anxiety symptoms. sure there is an overlap, but still: that does not fit. (or am i wrong?) i am not even sure, if it´s a good way to use this tool against anxiety symptoms. taking a pain pill against each small short-term feeling of pain would (in the long run) weaken my ability to deal with pain without a pill. the same is true for anxieties or phobias. maybe the same is true for this app (maybe except for the technique of defusion). but maybe people simply learn some techniques and then they won´t need the app anymore... that´d be great! i hope i am wrong about my concerns (and that happens a lot!), and good luck with the app!

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