Sorted by New


No More Pandemics: a lobbying group?

Yes interested, have messaged.

Another good model is EIA (Environmental Investigations Agency) and their very targeted policy and action work on HCFCs, which led to the ozone-depleting gas emissions being discovered in China recently.

I think World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF, WFP and IMF have a strong incentive to help prevent future pandemics, and they have much more money to deploy than WHO.

CMU Prof  Loh is working on this and has a project: novid.org 

Dignity as alternative EA priority - request for feedback

Thanks for raising this Tom.

"Dignity" is among 9-80 considerations, all of which are highly solvable.

That's 7-80 depending how you list/categorise/boundary them ...

... and Tom I'm sorry if this response appears to complicate what would otherwise be a simple pleasure-dignity duo!

Economist Manfred Max-Neef has 9 which don't translate too well from Spanish but here they are: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, recreation, creation, identity and freedom. In this scheme/categorisation, dignity could be part of identity, protection and freedom.

Psychologist Marshall Rosenberg  has useful categories described well here, and dignity would probably be a part of autonomy, and also respect/self-respect in his "connection" category.

A key distinction is between these values/needs/qualities and the strategies used to satisfy them, with travelling and money being obvious examples of a strategies that can be used to meet some (but not all) needs/values. Money is not essential to meeting any of them i.e. the needs/values/qualities and are universal, the strategies can vary according to circumstance and resources.

In the health care and therapy world, the same broad understanding of needs/values is held by Human Givens therapy.

This broader understanding of needs/values also helps explain why everyone doesn't want to live in Denmark, or be rich, and why people do low paid and "difficult" jobs like California Conservation Corps or being a marine or a circus performer. It also helps explain why the same behaviour or item or circumstance can be very pleasing to one person and anathema to others, and also how the same thing can provoke different responses in the same person at different times.

Someone asked about measurement. Fortunately Rosenberg's needs in practice and communication produce, when met/satisfied, observable reactions, and self rating is often viable. Work has also been done measuring needs satisfaction in the categories used by Maslow in the hierarchy of needs.

No More Pandemics: a lobbying group?

Excellent post, and the timing is great!

It may be possible to support good work by WHO and others with PR as well as cash, highlighting work they do in smaller countries where pandemics could start (Laos, Liberia, LA!)

There must be specific aspects of pandemic prevention which are neglected in some places, and a nonprofit or campaigning group could make the difference?

I can imagine donations/legacies from many who died or were affected by COVID-19, so there's no time to lose!

The growth of ALLFED.info could be a model? My first step was to find an author who wrote a book, and ALSO wanted things to happen, but you could equally pick a report from WHO or Gates or Michael Minha?

This journal could be useful:


No More Pandemics: a lobbying group?

Yes lobbying prevents charity / nonprofit registration in the USA, but advocacy doesn't.

Life Satisfaction and its Discontents

Does this have implications for preference utilitarianism?

I'm fine with external measures of health, income etc. My concern about most wellbeing and life satisfaction theories would be a failure to distinguish between specific desires/wants and universal needs/values. Work in psychology by Abraham Maslow and Marshall Rosenberg points to positive wellbeing coming from satisfying a rather limited but universal list of needs or values. Economist Manfred-Max Neef has assembled these into a list of just 9 needs.

This seems to me much better than a single hedonic scale or global desire rating, and it also avoids the problem of how to deal with long term issues like climate change.

How to Survive the End of the Universe

Hi Alexei - I love it!

I notice I felt happier just seeing the title, so on hedonic grounds you've succeeded already :-)

I'm scared to mention these two additional options, but perhaps they should be there for overall completeness in a brainstorm which isn't immediately requiring proofs on any of the options, and in a post where "Happy minds" is mentioned as an objective:

1. None of these solutions seem highly plausible, so that means we are not too far away from philosophies and concepts about immortality that are historically (but not exclusively) linked to major religions. Cultivating an "immortal soul" and going on to an "afterlife" may be high risk, and thought ridiculous by many, but on the plus side it is at least attemptable, within a single lifetime. The buddhist concept of "clear light" and "rebirth" (rather than reincarnation as in Hinduism) might also be interesting, as it doesn't rely on the concept of a soul. See also Shankara's "nonduality".

NB I'm not asking or recommending anyone to "get religion" or saying religion is "true" but that their concepts sometimes find analogues in science and reality, so can be useful for brainstorming completeness, that's all.

2. If we take a more reductionist / psychological approach and reduce the problem to ...

(a) despair in the futility of doing anything in an impermanent universe or
(b) fear of death and so a desire for immortality ...

... it might be worth considering despair work, distraction strategies, fear work, anti-depressants and other mind-altering strategies, so that these emotions become less problematic.

If someone suggested that these two strategies could also be psychological evasions, I'd have to agree, but maybe that applies to all of them?

The ultimate truth may turn out to be, "nothing works, and all life is doomed!" So perhaps we need ....

3. Acceptance therapy?

Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics

This has come up a lot, for example I was involved in discussions with Delhi and Seoul airport about installing a UV disinfector for baggage handling. We couldn't get good evidence in favour, whereas the evidence for ventilation was strong. It might be useful in very clean contexts, or changing rooms, or where ventilation/hand washing is not possible. A prime concern is that UV depends on line-of-sight, and sufficient time and proximity to the UV source.

I think there is evidence that wind or ventilation is highly effective both in hospital and domestic/public settings ( see findings tab of covidinfo.info, staff safety section ) as long as not with air lower than 40% relative humidity.

Are you sure hand washing, bleach/cleaning, humidity control and maybe room ionisers wouldn't be more reliable, effective and cheaper, perhaps in combination with ventilation?

Also, for those with high prevalence deficiencies, secondary prophylaxis with Zn, Se, D3 etc and co-factors for absorption from gut (Mg) or into cells (quercetin) could be very cost-effective, as it's already recommended for other health reasons, especially daily vitamin D.

Considering just one of those, humidity, here are two papers and a podcast on the role of humidity in preventing infection and (surprisingly) reducing severity:




Generally, with COVID19 and its virus, whenever an article is confident about a single technical or medical fix, I have found it worth being skeptical, and interrogating the data, and comparing to other options, especially if they seem boring, unglamorous, hard work or expensive by comparison.

What opportunities are there to use data science in global priorities research?

Hello Evelyn

At ALLFED we are wanting to use available data sources from UN, risk agencies and others to highlight vulnerability, exposure, risk and missing recovery capacity in food systems 18-24 months ahead, which gives time to build some capacity on a preparedness basis.

There is other data work to do which Prof David Denkenberger could tell you about.

Would you be interested to have a call about this?

Ray Taylor

The case of the missing cause prioritisation research

>I like the idea of building "resilience" instead of going after specific causes.

That's almost exactly the approach we took in ALLFED, treating the more likely GCR and Xrisk scenarios as a "basket of risks"...
... and then looking at how to build resilience and recovery capacity for all of them, with an initial focus on recovering food supply.
We now have more than 20 EA volunteers at ALLFED, in a range of disciplines from engineering to history, so clearly this makes sense to people.

>For instance, if we spend all of our attention on bio risks, AI risks, and nuclear risks, it's possible that something else weird will cause catastrophe in 15 years.

Most likely a "cascading risk scenario" ... (as covid is, without yet being a GCR) ...
.... or what EA Matthijs Maas calls a "boring apocalypse".

>So experimenting with broad interventions that seem "good no matter what" seems interesting. For example, if we could have effective government infrastructure, or general disaster response, or a more powerful EA movement, those would all be generally useful things.

yes the DRR (disaster risk reduction) discipline gave us structures and processes, and enabled us to bridge across to UNDRR, a profession of disaster people, insights into preparedness-response-recovery which we are scaling up to whole-continent and whole-planet scale, etc
Do research organisations make theory of change diagrams? Should they?

Brilliant to raise this topic, and I like what you wrote but both diagrams are weak. For me a good diagram shows very specifically how a single change will be achieved, and shows if there is too long a chain for success to be likely.

Regardless of diagrams, we all have conscious or unconscious theories of change, and many (especially in climate change) have been useless.

The classic unconscious theory of change is:

brainy guy does research > publishes > civil servants write a policy > wise politicians decide > funds are allocated > policy is implemented well

The main weakness here is that it's a very long chain, with many obstacles in each link.

Compare to coal industry's ToC, which they learned from Big Tobacco:

"create confusion about climate science" + "capture Congress" > block all carbon tax proposals nationally and internationally

Good ToC for EAs involves:

  • selecting good and astute targets of change (whether in real world, movement or metta)
  • smart routes to achieving the change
  • updating appropriately (at a Goldilocks frequently, not too rarely to stay current, not too often to frustrate the teams doing the work)

For "natural conservatives", this may sometimes involve finding ways of opposing harmful change, and proving that some policies are a bad idea, or need fine tuning.

Load More