Teo Ajantaival

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Why should we be effective in our altruism?

If we want - but cannot afford - to help everyone, we need to prioritize to help as much as we can.

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

Was there some evidence that some psychedelics may have anti-addictive efficacy even at sub-psychedelic doses, or do the anti-addictive effects depend on the psychedelic experience?

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

Is the renewed interest in psychedelic research & psychedelic-assisted therapy happening only in Western countries? Are other countries more worried about these substances for some reason(s)?

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

What would you say to journalists who may (or may not) be:

  1. willing to do accurate reporting on these topics
  2. too time-pressured (or otherwise unable) to read the original research
  3. strongly incentivized to sensationalize these topics? 
AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

MDMA-assisted couples therapy has been studied a bit. Could MDMA also be useful for interpersonal conflict resolution more generally, such as for enabling more constructive conversations between people with very different perspectives?

I scraped all public "Effective Altruists" Goodreads reading lists

Just a readability suggestion: have the column for n (etc.) on the left and book on the right, so that we can read a left-aligned list of book names without the eyes having to jump around so much :)

KantianEA's Shortform

One needs to remove the dot after the URL :)

Why EA groups should not use “Effective Altruism” in their name.

4) The direct translations of Effective Altruism can sound a bit forced. The dutch “Effectief Altruïsme” is a case in point. This can make you seem a bit “out of touch”. We checked with German and Spanish EA’s and they confirm that the direct translations sound rather awkward in their native tongue (a Polish EA we talked to have said that the name actually sounds really positive in Polish, so this point may not be relevant in all languages).

Finnish definitely shares this problem. The two predominant ways to translate 'effective' into Finnish are:

  1. tehokas (efficient)
  2. vaikuttava (impressive or impactful)

Efficient is problematic because it's not the same as impactful. Many people have emotional or ideological problems with the ideals of efficiency, productivity, and optimization, and would have a gut-feeling of resistance against, e.g., this definition (from Google Translate) applied to human behavior:

  • efficient: (especially of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. 

Impressive is even more problematic because an EA group would be wise to actively avoid the air of elitism which you mention. So "vaikuttava altruismi"  is basically equally close to "impressive altruism" as it is to "impactful altruism" — and there is not really a word in Finnish to separately capture the intended meaning of impactful.

The direct translation, efektiivinen, is very forced, and seems to have only rare and technical use in other contexts.

For these reasons (and other points mentioned in the post), I would encourage Finnish groups to consider alternative names!

Why EA groups should not use “Effective Altruism” in their name.

Great post, full of good points!

FWIW, I also love your chosen name of Positive Impact Society Erasmus and find it much more relatable and less problematic than if you had gone with Effective Altruism Erasmus. It also sounds like you have good synergy with that name and the mission of the university.

I also agree that even 'altruism' can be an unfamiliar word (and/or a technical concept) and therefore worth avoiding in some popular contexts. I liked your example of the made-up group 'Effective Marnaism' and how it can sound weird or ideological.

I would support your suggestion of using “part of the EA network”  as a way to communicate the wider context of local groups with locally working names. I'll add that — re: avoiding the unnecessary use of -ism, and re: EA sometimes having an air of elitism — I am decidedly not a part of the informal Goodreads group called Effective Altruists because of the problems I have with its name.

  • Especially in English, it is tempting to use the shorthand (and/or signaling of ingroup membership) of speaking of "EAs" and "Non-EAs", which sounds to me idealistic and exclusive in a negative way.
  • I  don't want to carry a visible badge of identifying as an effective altruist, because to me it sounds like an elitist claim of already being effective, which I see as an empirical and debatable claim. (Many people feel the need to specify their self-identity in the form of "aspiring X" instead of "X".)
  • I would join a group called 'EA network', which sounds entirely unproblematic to me!
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