What actually is the argument for effective altruism?

I was actually assuming a welfarist approach too. 

But even under a welfarist approach, it's not obvious how to compare campaigning for criminal justice reform in the US to bednet distribution in developing countries.

Perhaps it's the case that this is not an issue if one accepts longtermism. But that would just mean that the hidden premise is actually longtermism.

80,000 Hours: Where's the best place to volunteer?

The reason many volunteering schemes persist is that volunteers are more likely to donate in the future. For instance, when FORGE cut their volunteering scheme to be more effective, they inadvertently triggered a big drop in donations.

This seems somewhat misleading to me. If you click through to the FORGE blog post, it states that "volunteers were each required to raise a minimum of $5,000." 

I don't think it's reasonable to extrapolate from 'an organization that required each volunteer to raise a substantial sum saw a large decrease in revenue after decreasing the number of volunteers' to 'many volunteering schemes are maintained because volunteers are more likely to donate.'

The way the article phrases the two sentences implies that the second provides support for the first when in fact it does not (at least not without citation to evidence that many volunteering schemes require volunteers to raise substantial sums). 

80,000 Hours: Where's the best place to volunteer?

The criticisms of volunteering in this article seem directed at traditional volunteering: structured opportunities that produce direct impact. Under this definition of volunteering, the criticisms seem reasonable. 

But a person might be interested in a broader sense of volunteering: unpaid, non-job related ways of using their free time to have an impact. Under this definition, there are many worthwhile volunteering opportunities. For example, a person could do one on one video calls with college EAs interested in their field, provide feedback on draft EA content, or run an EA discussion group

The article does note non-traditional ways of volunteering at the end but I think it'd be more likely to leave the reader with an accurate impression of the author's position if it substituted "traditional volunteering" for "volunteering" in the first several paragraphs.

Ranking animal foods based on suffering and GHG emissions

Great work! I think it might be a good idea for you to state on the page that the numbers are per kcal of energy. I clicked the link before reading your post and initially assumed it was the impact of eliminating the category from a standard diet. For what it's worth, I think it could be useful to have "impact of category in a standard diet" as an option on the page.

CHOICE - Creating a memorable acronym for EA principles

I agree that one word is better but I think this factor is less important than other factors like clarity. Because of this, I think "Helping others" would be better than "Helpfulness."

I also think the placement of "Cause prioritization" and "Collaboration" should be switched in the primary proposal so that "Cause prioritization" is next to "Effectiveness."

And in the alternative proposal, I think "Cause prioritization" should be replaced with "Commitment to others."

I strongly prefer "reasoning carefully" to "rationality" to avoid EA being too closely associated with the rationality community and people's perceptions of it. Notably, in his post defining effective altruism, William MacAskill uses "careful reasoning."

As for "greatest impact," I think it works reasonably well in a sentence combining all six values: the EA community uses evidence and careful reasoning to identify causes and approaches that allow for the greatest impact from an altruistic and impartial perspective and pursues those causes and approaches in a collaborative and norm-respecting manner.

CHOICE - Creating a memorable acronym for EA principles

I really like the idea of an acronym! Thank you for taking the time to create one and write a post about it. If I may, I'd like to add another option to the table:



Reasoning carefully


Norms (integrity, inclusion etc.)

Greatest impact

I like the word "caring" because it pushes back against the idea that a highly deliberative approach to altruism is uncaring. 

[Feedback Request] The compound interest of saving lives

Michael Bitton has used this argument as a reductio against longtermism (search "Here's an argument").

It seems it could work as to the medium term but would not work as to the very long term because i) if the fertility rate is above replacement, the initial additional people stop having a population effect after humanity reaches carrying capacity and ii) if the fertility rate is below replacement, the number of additional people in each generation attributable to the initial additional people would eventually reach zero.

A new, cause-general career planning process

Two suggestions for the list of "broad categories of longer-term roles that can offer a lot of leverage" under "Aim at top problems":

  • Under "Direct work", add foundations as one type of organization and grantmaking as one type of skill (or make this a separate category)
  • Under "Government and policy", add international organization to the list of employers to consider

Similar changes could be made to the "Five key categories" in the article "List of high-impact careers". 

What myths or misconceptions prevent people from supporting EA organizations that work on animal welfare or long-termist causes?

Thanks Luke. Do you know why EA Funds excludes ACE Movement Grants? There is substantial overlap between the recipients of ACE Movement Grants and the recipients of EA Animal Welfare Fund grants, which is why I wanted clarification that exclusion is not meant to imply anything negative about ACE Movement Grants.

Forum update: New features (December 2020)

Feature request: Create an option for content in the "Recent Discussion" section to be sorted based on the "Magic (New & Upvoted)" formula used for "Frontpage Posts" instead of based solely on recency. This would allow people without time to go through every single piece of new content to still be able to find and engage with important new comments. 

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