Tsunayoshi

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EA considerations regarding increasing political polarization

As the post does not focus on assigning blame, it seems objectively relevant to include the alt-right. Of course definitions vary over what exactly the alt-right is but at a very basic level it is indisputable that the election of Trump has increased polarization in a way that I doubt a Mitt Romney (farther away from the far right than Trump) presidency would have.

EA considerations regarding increasing political polarization
I'd be interested to hear some reactions from EAs abroad on this article's characterization of the American "far left."

To me it seems that the focus of the post is on socio-cultural issues rather than economic. To wit, Bernie Sanders may be categorzied as part of the far left, but the focus of his platform and message were economic rather than socio-cultural. Arguably, the culture war is almost entirely focused, well on culture: i.e. the number of people being cancelled over demanding lower taxes is zero.

So from my European perspective: Yes, Bernie Sanders' economic proposals seem moderate (but not all of them: "Break up the big banks" ) but the "social justice oriented liberalism" does not.

EA considerations regarding increasing political polarization

I agree with this trend being very concerning.

One aspect that was not covered much in your post is how the EA community might be affected by increased polarization. Organizations/movements getting caught up and divided over the culture war is a frequent pattern (see e.g. the New Atheists), which would at the very least probably be very bad for trust and discourse norms in the community. Given the low percentage of some minorities in EA and EA's close relationship to academia, it is very conceivable that EA could come under more scrutiny and pressure in the future.

Of course this should be discussed in much more detail, but my intuition is that it would be beneficial to take actions to prevent that by remaining unoffensive to "both sides". Examples could be hiring practices that prevent discrimination and are meritocratic, or policies against sexual harassment that are supportive of the victim and prevent decision-making by outrage.

effektiv-spenden.org: 2019 - Year in Review
working hypothesis that a much broader fraction of the population might be interested in donating effectively compared to becoming full fledged and dedicated EAs

N<10, but I have had some friends approach me asking, I would like to help cause X, how can I do it most effectively. This is also one of the more frequent requests we get in our local EA group.

In general, people should have a much easier time asking the question how to e.g. support climate change most effectively, rather than whether to support climate change vs. long term risk reduction. The latter requires a substantial change of values and therefore also often identity while the former seems like a more practical question.

Therefore, this seems like a very promising and straightforward initiative!

effektiv-spenden.org: 2019 - Year in Review

Sebastian, those two media reports seem rather positive and you outline your cause very well. I also realize that this is something you have less control over, but both of those clips have a clear association with EA. They both talk about William MacAskill as the founder of EA, the second one has a tag calling you "Supporter of Effective Altruism", while the first one has a separate interview with an anonymous person who is being introduced and interviewed as a member of the EA community. Thus at least those two clips *did* have a strong emphasis on the EA brand which seems to be somewhat in opposition to "We do not emphasize the EA brand in our activities and communications".

To be clear, I do not think of this as a net negative, especially if the portrayals are as sympathetic to the cause as the ones you linked.

External evaluation of GiveWell's research

Related to external evaluations: 80000hours used to have a little box at the bottom of an article, indicating a score given to it by internal and external evaluators. Does anybody know, why this is not being done anymore?

How to promote widespread usage of high quality, reusable masks

Point 2 is fair, but do note that I did post this under question, so some degree of uncertainty is implied.


Point 3 seems like addressing a standard that is at the very least not consistently applied. I went back through all question posts of the last 6 months; this seems to be fairly similar in form to this question and does not contain a cost-benefit analysis either. And as already mentioned, it is still part of the question category.

How to promote widespread usage of high quality, reusable masks

1) I was aware of this podcast, and actually contemplated not posting because the superficial similarity between the topics might be a problem. First of all Lewis' criticism is not just slightly different, it's all about EA's discussion of cloth masks. About medical masks, which this post is about, he specifically says "medical masks are pretty good for the general population which I’ll just about lean in favor of, although all of these things are uncertain.". Furthermore I am uncertain whether one very recent expert's opinion should promote a huge shift in EA's consensus on this topic.

Coronavirus Research Ideas for EAs

[Epistemic status: Uncertain]

While working on covid-19 is by no means neglected, working on unconventional solutions is. I would be surprised, if there is a serious organization outside of the EA sphere evaluating just one of these proposals:

Robin Hanson has suggested both variolation, and controlled infection of essential workers.

Distribution of medical knowledge to amateurs. As most people in the third world will not have access to medically trained professionals, they will turn to local sources of treatment. Having some people armed with a bunch of youtube videos and DIY respirators as your sole treatment option is terrible, but might be less terrible than no treatment or herbal remedies.

Research into whether these ideas might be valuable or could cause long term harm to the EA community might be really important.

[Linkpost] - Mitigation versus Supression for COVID-19

Not an expert myself, but the naive calculations that I have seen with regards to herd immunity are incorrect. The precise numbers are just to illustrate the thought process.

"We need 60-70% of people to be immune, people 65 and younger make up 65 % percent of the population, so if they catch it we have achieved herd immunity to protect the elderly".

The flaw with that reasoning is that the immune people need to be essentially randomly distributed in the population. However, the elderly make up a sub population with their own distinct networks, in which the virus can spread after the quarantines are lifted.

It also would probably not work in much (probably the larger part) of the world, where the elderly live together with their families, unless one would relocate them to special made quarantines.

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