All of SamiM's Comments + Replies

[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.

1Arepo1moI agree it's a fantastic FAQ! The rest just didn't seem eligible for this contest.
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.

2Mathieu Putz1moRight! Thanks, I've fixed it!
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 joi... (read more)

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.

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... (read more)

7MaxRa3moGreat comment! I don’t totally follow why „the belief that races differ genetically in socially relevant ways“ would leave one to not donate to for example the Against Malaria Foundation, or Give Directly. Assuming that there for example is on average a (slightly?) lower average IQ, it seems to me that less Malaria or more money still will do most one would hope for and what the RCTs say they do, even if you might expect (slightly ?) lower economic growth potential and in the longer term (slightly?) less potential for the regions to become highly-specialized skilled labor places?
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 organ... (read more)

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. T... (read more)

2MichaelPlant5moHello SamiM, It's an interesting position. I'm not sure if it's exactly the same, but it seems similar to desert-adjusted attitudinal hedonism (see here) [,(Feldman%202004%3A%20121).] where certain pleasures/pains don't count if they are(/aren't) accompanied by the right attitudes. I feel the intuitive pull behind it but, on reflection, I don't buy it. One issue is going to be providing a non-question-begging around of why makes certain emotions, but not others, well-grounded. Does the groundedness related to the emotion? If so, why some rather than others? Does it relate to the beliefs? If so, why is my pleasure only good for me if the beliefs that contribute to it are correct? That doesn't seem relevant at all. This isn't my area of expertise, but I'd be surprised if there was any really good way of doing this. It strikes me a more plausible way of accounting for the intuitions is that, as a pragmatic matter, we don't want to reward people for being 'bad' (in some, to be specified, sense) lest it gives them incentives to keep doing it. It's an appeal to deterrence, rather than retribution, c.f locking up criminals to demotivate their activities just to punish them for being bad people. On this understanding, you need to actually inform people of your decision-making, otherwise it will just seem, to them, an arbitrary punishment. In this case, I don't see how deterrence would work here. Would you, um, tell people that you would be giving them lots of money, but now you won't because you've learnt this makes their neighbours jealous? There are some other issues that spring to mind, but hopefully that suffices!
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).

8Max_Daniel5moThanks! I suspect I might enjoy Martha Nussbaum, but Sex and Social Justice never made it from my reading list into my actual bookshelf.
What are things everyone here should (maybe) read?

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

3Max_Daniel5moThanks, fixed :)
Immigration reform

Maybe merge (do we have merging?) with Open Borders.

EDIT: Although, I can see how they would be different in their fully fleshed-out forms.

3Pablo5moEdoArad independently suggested merging the two articles, and I think that makes sense, so I deleted the other entry (which was just a stub).
Open and Welcome Thread: March 2021

Re #4, I found this, but I'm not sure if they're still active. If this doesn't work, you very welcome to join us at EA Anywhere.

A brief look at reducing the efficiency of genocides

Hi, Nice post. I found this article and it had some criticism of the effect of the radio broadcasts.

It will be interesting to estimate the effect of genocide on future outcomes, like economic growth or political stability. For example, Somaliland, where the Isaaqs were killed, is currently more stable than other parts of Somalia, but that could be due to factors completely orthogonal to the genocide.

EDIT: I tried to find studies on the effects of genocide on the economy and a brief glance makes it seem that it's very bad. I also found an interesting report... (read more)

Introducing High Impact Athletes

Hey Marcus, good job on taking the initiative!

I think we should keep in mind that if someone (an athlete in this example) was donating 5% to an average charity, and then was prompted by the pledge to merely give  2%, the difference in impact between charities might be enough to offset that.
Edit: I also endorse the option of giving more than 10%, it doesn't seem to have many downsides, and the benefits were highlighted by Benjamin.

Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has its own playlist: Atomic Songs

3Rowan_Stanley1yThis is awesome, thank you! Another song on the X risk / end of the world theme is Tom Lehrer's 'We'll All Go Together When We Go [] ', though that's more comedy than inspirational.
4evelynciara1yThank you for sharing this playlist! I added some songs from the Linkin Park album A Thousand Suns, which deals with x-risk.
5So-Low Growth1yHaha - 15 hours of end of the world music sounds up my street! Here's one I like, Charles Bradley, "The World is Going Up in Flames." []
What music do you find most inspires you to use your resources (effectively) to help others?

I don't think music affects my behavior a lot, but I really like this song.

2So-Low Growth1yHaha - wow!
Things I Learned at the EA Student Summit

Hi Akash, great post. 
The link to the Nanda post isn't working. (It links back to your post)

for more about the benefits of blogging, see this post by Neel Nanda


2Akash1yOops! Here's the correct link: []
SamiM's Shortform

In Debiasing Decisions: Improved Decision Making With A Single Training Intervention they found that a 30-minute video reduced confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, and bias blind spot, by 19%.
The video is super cheesy, and that makes me suspicious.
It should be noted that playing a 60-minute "debiasing" game debiased people more than the video. 

The rest of this short form is random thoughts about debiasing.


I tried finding tests for these biases so that I can do it myself, but I didn't find any. This made me worry ... (read more)

Estimation of probabilities to get tenure track in academia: baseline and publications during the PhD.

This is helpful, thanks.

The information is probably here somewhere, but is that the probability of getting tenure given you finish your Ph.D.? I.e. Does this account for dropping out?

Somewhat tangential, but I think accounting for the chance of working on AI safety (or something comparably effective) outside of academia will help. I think this is more common in Economics (e.g. World Bank). But I guess OpenAI or similar institutions hire CS PhDs and working there possibly has a similar impact to working in academia.

4PabloAMC1yI would say you basically cannot get tenure if you don't get a PhD, so dropouts are not taken into account in any of the previous statistics as far as I understood them. All this metrics are of the kind of: x% of PhD alumni got tenure, or similar. I actually agree that taking into account the private sector could help, but I am much less certain about the freedom they give you to research those topics, beyond the usual suspects. That was why I was focussing on academia.
Tax Havens and the case for Tax Justice

Hey Alex, excellent post.

Two caveats:

(1) You said

Tax Justice Network is a highly effective charity: consider donating.

And then

Tax Justice Network is laying the foundation for developing countries to become self-sufficient. Based on their work on tax havens alone, TJN is a highly-effective charity. Once we consider their role in curbing illicit financial flows, we may see TJN rise to a top charity for poverty alleviation and governance.

I think there is a part missing in the middle, because I couldn't find an argument why TJN is a good place to donat... (read more)

2--alex--1yThanks Sami! Sorry, I should have been a bit clearer on this -- TJN is central to the tax justice community. The policies mentioned would have considerably less traction without TJN: * Automatic Exchange of Information * Universal Beneficial Ownership * Country by Country Reporting Organizations focused on developing countries wouldn't have been created (or created as soon) without TJN: * TJN Africa * Tax Inspectors without Borders I attempted to answer "what would they do with additional funding?" in the future plans section. Concepts like Optimal Tax Theory (thank you again Larks!) are key to advancing the discussion, “tax incentives are important for investment and growth” versus “tax incentives distort markets impairing investment and growth”. Hauke suggested building an expected value model of think tank funding. For example, how much would it cost to have a 10% chance of recouping 20% of the $5B/year in lost tax revenue? I haven't had a chance to do that yet, but if you (or anyone else) has interest in helping to build that, please message me. I did, but the methodology was not very rigorous. After I finish with illicit financial flows, I'll revisit it properly.
Is there a subfield of economics devoted to "fragility vs resilience"?
Answer by SamiMJul 21, 202010

By the way, there also the Adam Rose definition of economic resilience:


In general, static economic resilience refers to the ability or capacity of a system to absorb or cushion against damage or loss... A more general definition that incorporates dynamic considerations, including stability, is the ability of a system to recover from a severe shock. We distinguish two types of resilience:
(1) inherent – ability under normal circumstances (e.g. the ability to substitute other inputs for those curtailed by an external shock, or the ability of mar
... (read more)
3MichaelA1yNice collection of links and abstracts! Minor point: I think you accidentally cut one of the abstracts off slightly early. Where it says "Considering the consequences of increases in the frequency", it should say "Considering the consequences of increases in the frequency of extreme events in a long-differences analysis delivers evidence for a positive effect on conflict."
Announcing the EA Virtual Group*

Hey Ozzie,

The name is perhaps sup-optimal in communicating the purpose of the group, but it was better than the alternatives we considered.

I made this because there wasn’t a space for EAs who don’t t have access to local groups, not for all EAs. And if it gets too large, we could have subgroups.

The attendees will not be homogeneous, but I don’t think we will experience problems re differences in opinions and/or knowledge by a much greater degree than a local group might.

Thank you for taking the time to write this, any other considerations welcome.

5Ozzie Gooen1ySure thing. I'm less concerned with the name than the collection of possibly-too-varied people it brings in, for the sake of the project. I imagine you'll get a better sense though as you start it.