Topic Contributions


The FDA demanded my employer bury inconvenient clinical trial data. What should I do?

I'm guessing this was downvoted due to unclarity, maybe expand on what you mean?

[Creative Writing Contest][Referral][Mostly Fiction] - The Parable of the Heartstone

I thought the parable was fine, but I greatly enjoyed the rest of the FAQ. Thanks for sharing.

First vs. last name policies?

Just a note, Michelle has a Ph.D. so in the formal message, "Dr." would be more appropriate than "Ms." People usually have their credentials on Linkedin, so that information might be easy to find.

AMA: We organize EA Anywhere. Ask Us Anything!

I guess it depends on the reason they’re isolated. And the more “expensive” interventions in terms of inconvenience to regulars should be weighted by the excepted gain. A proxy for that might be the number of isolated EAs.
Examples of interventions would be diversifying meetup times/locations if it’s due to time/location conflicts. It might be easier to test this by adding online events and comparing the number of new attendees.

Marisa mentioned that 1-1’s (with the organizers or other members) would also be beneficial and would reduce the awkwardness of joining a meetup where everyone but you knows each other.

Another idea might be to sponsor local groups by providing support or training, like how (I imagine) EA Philippines does to their local chapters. But seems easier for a country group to do this to a city/uni group, rather than a city group “sponsoring” another city.

Is effective altruism growing? An update on the stock of funding vs. people

I think you're right. I guess I took Gwen's comment at face value and tried to figure out how development aid will look different due to the "huge implications", which was hard.

Is effective altruism growing? An update on the stock of funding vs. people

Hey, I thought this discussion could use some data. I also added some personal impressions.

(Edit: a survey on what intelligence researchers think)

These are the results of the 2020 SSC survey.

For the question "How would you describe your opinion of the [sic] the idea of "human biodiversity", eg the belief that races differ genetically in socially relevant ways?"

20.8% answered 4 and 8.7% answered 5.

Where 1 is Very unfavorable and 5 is Very favorable

The answeres look similar for 2019

Taking that at face value, 30% of Scott’s readers think favorably of “HBD”.

(I guess you could look at it as "80% of SSC readers fail to condemn scientific racism". But that doesn't strike me as charitable.)

 From the same survey, 13.6% identified as EAs, and 33.4% answered sorta EA.

I should mention that the survey has some nonsensical answers (IQs of 186, verbal SATs of 30). And it appears that many answers lean liberal (Identifying as liberals, thinking favorably of feminism, and more open borders, while thinking unfavorably of Trump.)

A while ago, Gwern wrote

“... If HBD is true, then all the existing correlational and longitudinal evidence immediately implies that group differences are the major reason why per capita income in the USA are 3-190x per capita income in Africa, that group differences are a major driver of history and the future, that intelligence has enormous spillovers totally ignored in all current analyses. This has huge implications for historical research, immigration policy (regression to the mean), dysgenics discussions (minor to irrelevant from just the individual differences perspective but long-term existential threat from HBD), development aid, welfare programs, education, and pretty much every single topic in the culture wars touching on 'sexism' or 'racism' where the supposedly iron-clad evidence is confounded or based on rational priors.”

I’m trying to imagine what global development charities EAs who believe HBD donate to, and I’m having a hard time.
Assuming this implies that some EAs (1-5%?) believe in this, I would reckon they're more focused on X-risks or animal welfare. It would be helpful to see how the people who identify as EAs answered this question.

Finally, from Scott's email (which I think sharing is a horrible violation of privacy), the last sentence is emblematic of the attitude of lots of people in the community (including myself) have. My Goodreads contains lots of books I expect to disagree with or be offended by (Gyn/Ecology, The Bell Curve), but I still think it's important to look into them.

Valuing new insights sometimes means looking into things no one else would, and that has been very useful for the community (fish/insect welfare, longtermism). But unfortunately, one risk is that at least some people will come out believing (outrageously) wrong things. I think that is worth it.

On a personal note, I’m black, and a community organizer, and I haven't encountered anything but respect and love from the EA community.


Jumping in Front of Bullets vs. Organ Donation

Edited for clarity

I can imagine such a low number if we're talking about posthumous donations. According to this, only 3/1000 people die in such a way that their organs are useful. When you add that to the fact that deceased organs are less good than living ones,  you can get something as low as this.

For example, this says that the QALY's from a deceased kidney is 4.31. If only 3/1000 donors have such kidneys, you get 0.013 QALY's. It will probably get higher when you account for all other organs. I should also mention that it's not clear if all organs are damaged equally, so a less naive estimate would be useful.

Using Subjective Well-Being to Estimate the Moral Weights of Averting Deaths and Reducing Poverty

“Clark notes that while the evidence indicates there is, in general, a relative income effect, it's unclear how large it is and whether it functions differently for those in poverty, a topic which has not received much study.”


Hi Micheal, great post!
A tangential point I’m confused about.

I’m not sure if we should even account for negative community spillovers, especially if for example we had a taxonomy of different emotions that influence well-being, we wouldn’t count all those as part of our felicifc calculus if they are motivated by e.g. Jealousy. They would be “ill-grounded” An example would be whether or not to account for beliefs about women's inferiority in calculating the benefits (and costs) of suffrage, or disgust with blacks sharing pools when we’re deciding on desegregation. In those cases, I’m okay with ignoring ill-being based on these emotions. But I’m not sure how to deal with edge cases like this.

One way to go about it would be to hold a view where we judge emotions on the correctness of the beliefs they are based on. So in the misogyny and racism cases, the beliefs would be something like women being not smart enough to decide their leaders or that blacks are inherently dirty. And in the GiveDirectly case, we would be okay with the emotions if it’s based on the belief that higher wages for others in the community affect your own purchasing power. (I’m assuming this is true, but I’m not sure). But if the reduced SWB is caused by a false belief (e.g. their neighbors are unworthy), then I don't think we should count them. 
Note, that I'm mostly confused about the income spillover effects, the other ones you mention here (e.g. trust) strike me as less problematic.  I can also see how only counting "good" emotions and ignoring less positive ones, even if people spend equal amounts thinking them through, would lead to biased results.

What are things everyone here should (maybe) read?

I might want to add Martha Nussbaum to this list. She is quite systemic and analytical while also engaging with a wide variety of philosophers (e.g. Aristotle, Marx, Mackinnon). Maybe Sex and Social Justice or Frontiers of Justice. (although I  haven't read the latter yet).

What are things everyone here should (maybe) read?

Hey Max, there is no link to the McCloskey paper.

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