So-Low Growth

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So-Low Growth's Shortform

Thank you Aaron. That's exactly what I was looking for, and additionally I can dig deeper!

So-Low Growth's Shortform

Question: Imagine we could quantify the amount of suffering the average person does by eating meat and the amount of environmental damage that comes from eating this meat. How much would they need to donate to the most effective charities (climate change and animal suffering) in order to off-set their meat-eating habit?

Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants

This makes a lot of sense to me Pablo. You highlighted what I was trying to explain when I was making the comment, that: 1) I was uncertain 2) I didn't want to attack someone. I must admit, my choice of words was rather poor and could come across as "bravery talk", although that was not what I intended.

Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants

All good points Jonas, Ben W, Ben P, and Stefan. Was uncertain at the beginning but am pretty convinced now. Also, side-note, very happy about the nature of all of the comments, in that they understood my POV and engaged with them in a polite manner.

Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants

Thanks for the understanding responses Jonas and Linch. Again, I should clarify, I don't know where I stand here but I'm still not entirely convinced.

So, we have four videos in the last year on his channel, plus three videos on Computerphile, giving seven videos. If I remember correctly, The Alignment Newsletter podcast is just reading Shah's newsletter, which may be useful but I don't think that requires a lot of effort.

I should reiterate that I think what Miles does is not easy. I may also be severely underestimating the time it takes to make a YouTube video!

Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants

Thanks for pointing that out. Will refrain from doing so in the future. What I was trying to make clear was that I didn't want my comment to be seen as a personal attack on an individual. I was uneasy about making the comment on a public platform when I don't know all the details nor know much about the subject matter.

Long-Term Future Fund: September 2020 grants

This is going to sound controversial here (people are probably going to dislike this but I'm genuinely raising this as a concern) but is the Robert Miles $60,000 grant attached to any requirements? I like his content but it seems to me you could find someone with a similar talent level (explaining fairly basic concepts) who could produce many more videos. I'm not well versed in YouTube but four/five videos in the last year doesn't seem substantial. If the $60,000 was instead offered as a one-year job, I think you could find many talented individuals who could produce much more content.

I understand that he's doing other non-directly YouTube related things but if you include support in other forms (Patreon), the output seems pretty low relative to the investment.

Again I should emphasise I'm uncertain about my criticism here and personally have enjoyed watching his videos on occasion.

So-Low Growth's Shortform

I'd like feedback on an idea if possible. I have a longer document with more detail that I'm working on but here's a short summary that sketches out the core idea/motivation:

Potential idea: hosting a competition/experiment to find the most convincing argument for donating to long-termist organisations

Brief summary

Recently, Professor Eric Shwitzgebel and Dr Fiery Cushman conducted a study to find the most convincing philosophical/logical argument for short-term causes. By ‘philosophical/logical argument’ I mean an argument that attempts to persuade readers to donate to short-term causes through reasoning by logic, which often involves basing the arguments on certain philosophical underpinnings, rather than relying on evoking emotion (i.e. pictures of starving children etc.). The authors were motivated by the hypothesis that arguments that appealed to people through logical/philosophical reasoning would not be an effective tool at persuading people to donate, compared to a control condition (reading a passage from a Physics textbook). Shwitzgebel and Cushman ran a competition for submissions from the public. The winners were awarded $1000 ($500 to the author and $500 to the author’s choice of charity).

The authors measured the ‘persuasiveness’ of an argument by the highest average donation given by participants in an experiment to six selected short-termist charities (all of which had a global development/public health focus). Participants in the experiment read different passages of text depending on the experimental condition they were in. They were then informed that they had a 10% chance of receiving a $10 bonus, and that they would be given an opportunity to donate a portion of that bonus to one of the six charities. The winning argument was submitted by Peter Singer and Matthew Lindauer, which had the highest average mean donation amount, beating all the other arguments and the control group.

I found this experiment very intriguing. I suggest here that something similar should be done but for long-termist causes. To my knowledge, something along the lines of this has not been conducted previously. Extending the framework of the Shwitzgebel and Cushman study, I would find the most convincing argument by hosting a competition to elicit submissions for persuasive arguments on long-termism. After narrowing these down, I’d then proceed to run an experiment on participants to see which of the remaining arguments results in the highest average contribution.

Study results: The most convincing argument for effective donations

I wonder if something similar could also be done but with donations to long-term issues instead? I.e. the same set-up but searching for the most convincing long-term arguments. Would this be of interest? (I've been thinking about setting something up along the lines of this).