My name is Saulius Simcikas. I am a researcher at Rethink Priorities. Previously, I was a research intern at Animal Charity Evaluators, organised Effective Altruism events in the UK and Lithuania, and earned-to-give as a programmer.

saulius's Comments

EA Forum feature suggestion thread

It's not just about ranking. It's also about how much karma individual users have and (most importantly) about how worthy-of-reading a post looks when you open it based on its karma. I think that the situation where all votes made before the new system are worth one karma point is no less confusing than a system where they are worth two karma points.

EA Forum feature suggestion thread

Do you mean to do this to comments written by other people? Because you can already do this for your own comments by editing them and making more comments. But even that is problematic if anyone already voted on the comment.

EA Forum feature suggestion thread

Double the karma weight of votes made before the new karma system was implemented. All votes used to be worth one point. For example, let's take an old post like this. It currently has 43 karma and 43 votes (probably all of them are upvotes). For comparison, my newest post has 53 karma and 16 upvotes. If you think about it, that old post is clearly more endorsed by the community. There were fewer readers when it was posted and a very high percentage of them chose to upvote it and probably many would have strongly upvoted if that was an option. Nowadays, even a regular upvote by high-karma users is worth two points. Posts like that old post do not appear in forum favourites and other places like that but they should. If you doubled the karma of such old posts, the karma for that old one would be 86 instead of 43 - a much better representation of how much the community endorses that post. Ah, maybe you should even triple the karma weight. Posts like this would then actually make forum favourites and I think they should.

saulius's Shortform

There was an interesting discussion on whether EA organizations should reveal the authors of posts they publish here. You may want to check it out if this is relevant to you (not just the linked comment, but also the replies.)

Helping wild animals through vaccination: could this happen for coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2?

Thank you very much for this thoughtful reply. You made some good points that made me think about the question differently.

How much do Europeans care about fish welfare? (An analysis of relevant surveys)

Thanks for this comment, it's very useful. I agree that there are many other factors that determine whether campaign is successful, I just chose to analyze one of them because I've heard people bringing it up and things they were saying disagreed with these survey results. I didn't realize that there was this much effort behind wins for fish in Poland. My impression is that in Lithuania it didn't require nearly as much effort but I don't really know.

Is it suffering or involuntary suffering that's bad, and when is it (involuntary) suffering?

Buddhism would say that if you experience sadness without craving that the sadness go away, you continue to feel sadness but you don't suffer from it. This corresponds to my personal experience. There can actually be richness in the sadness that I enjoy. I know that many other people enjoy it too because there are so many sad songs and movies. When something sad happens to me, I try to prolong it as it is a pleasant and positive experience for me. I think that a Buddhist would say that this is bad as well because I feed a craving and the goal is to get rid of all cravings. But I think it's no worse from the Buddhist perspective than trying to prolong a happy experience. However, I noticed that in the past I (not fully consciously) subtly caused some bad things to happen out of my desire to feel sad. I guess you should look out for that if you start enjoying sadness too much. The things I was doing were bad for me from the long-term perspective.

In contrast, I haven't yet conquered guilt, remorse, and jealousy. When I feel these emotions, I suffer and want them to go away. When a relatable character in a TV show does something predictably bad or cringe-worthy or embarrassing, I hate it and turn off the TV because it causes me suffering. Most people feel more comfortable with these emotions but less comfortable with sadness.

I'm a bit confused about depression though. When you are depressed, maybe you don't want to be happy because you don't remember what it's like to be happy anymore? Or maybe you want to experience calm positive emotions, you just don't want to be artificially cheerful?

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