Tuukka_Sarvi

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Potential High-Leverage and Inexpensive Mitigations (which are still feasible) for Pandemics

Thanks for the article. I had an idea related to your category number 2 Triage and manage medical care remotely which I also posted to another forum article as a comment [Please delete this comment in either of the articles if it is unnecessary in two places] :

If it were possible to make a home test kit for COVID, I think that would be helpful. By home test kit I mean an arrangement where people could order these tests by phone or from Internet and they would be mailed to them. Then the person would proceed to take a test sample according to the instructions in the kit and mail it back to the laboratory. The laboratory would test the sample and give the person the results via phone or web.

This kind of arrangement would allow people suspecting that they might have COVID to self-quarantine until they have a certainty (or near certainty since no test is perfect) whether they have the disease or not. Thus, it would lead to less people being exposed to potential early-stage COVID carriers and hinder the disease from spreading. Importantly, it would also protect the health care workers as they would have to come to contact with so many potential COVID carriers.

Are there good EA projects for helping with COVID-19?

If it were possible to make a home test kit for COVID, I think that would be helpful. By home test kit I mean an arrangement where people could order these tests by phone or from Internet and they would be mailed to them. Then the person would proceed to take a test sample according to the instructions in the kit and mail it back to the laboratory. The laboratory would test the sample and give the person the results via phone or web.

This kind of arrangement would allow people suspecting that they might have COVID to self-quarantine until they have a certainty (or near certainty since no test is perfect) whether they have the disease or not. Thus, it would lead to less people being exposed to potential early-stage COVID carriers and hinder the disease from spreading. Importantly, it would also protect the health care workers as they would have to come to contact with so many potential COVID carriers.

Harsanyi's simple “proof” of utilitarianism

I am not an expert in this topic but I believe this recent paper is relevant and may derive a result that is more general than Harsanyi-style utilitarianism https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304406820300045

Insomnia: a promising cure

Agreed. In Why We Sleep, there is also discussion about the lark-night owl -spectrum. The author even suggests that currently society is actively discriminating against night owls because office hours 8-16 are assumed almost everywhere, and thus the population of night owls have poorer health and productivity than other groups.

Insomnia: a promising cure

I am currently listening to an awesome popular science book on sleep called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

I highly recommend this book which summarizes the current state of sleep research and its practical implications to most people since most are spending about a third of their time sleeping. If you care about your learning ability, social skills, recovery, creativity or memory, I think it is likely you will find this book valuable.

A rough estimate of social impact of a psychotherapist in QALYs added

Yes, I agree: probably much of the therapy given is not given according to the protocol and that means the average effectiveness is likely lower than the numbers in the studies indicate. In many cases, I think this might not be due to the psychotherapists or therapists themselves but the organization which they work in, e.g. crowded outpatient clinics where the policy is to meet each client in every 3 weeks or in order to not to make the queues to treatment appear so long.

I think think there might be potential for big impact for somebody with clinical background who is willing to advocate long-term for systemic change within mental health care and psychotherapy: optimal treatment protocols (best value per therapy-hour or so), triage, adherance to protocols etc.

Good point. The choice of moral stance (ie. totalist, person-affecting, "moral uncertanitist" etc) is the biggest factor behind any preference ordering for allocation of resources and courses of action. Thus, it is possible that further rigorous study of ethics, if lesser uncertainty between the competing views or greater agreement among scholars is achieved, could bring very high returns in terms of impact

A rough estimate of social impact of a psychotherapist in QALYs added

Thanks. Yes, many therapists work with people who have mental health problems with weaker treatment response to psychotherapy such as bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders and various personality disorders. This lowers the average impact or effectiveness of psychotherapy over the whole population treated

I haven't tried to make explicit estimate of replaceability. My baseline estimate would be the same number as used for doctors (0.6 in 80000 hours article) because both occupations are highly skilled.

I think the replaceability is dependent on the specific country system and conditions, ie. the educational system that enables a person to become a psychotherapist and the labour market. In Finland, where I live, anybody who is a licensed psychotherapist can set up their own therapist office (by this I mean a private practice). Considering Finland, my (considerably uncertain) hunch is that number of licensed psychotherapists is most limited by the number of high quality applicants (you need a relevant masters degree and several years of clinical experience to apply) to the psychotherapy training programs. But even if you add a psychotherapist to the pool of people willing and able to work as a psychotherapist, you will not very likely be adding a one full-time therapist worth of therapist-hours to the pool of therapy given because some people (likely those less skilled and/or those who have graduated from less popular schools of psychotherapy) will probably be working less.

How to get a new cause into EA

The people at 80kh etc. probably have their hands full. Therefore, even though your post making the case for mental health was laudable, I can well imagine it might not result in action in the short term on their part because of heavy prioritization.

If one wants to make substantive case and roadmap for possible actions for MH, it might make sense to take the initiative and do it oneself or together with a group of interested people. Given there is enough credence for the case, this effort might lead to formation of a new EA-aligned MH organization. I for one, might be interested in helping out with making the case for MH

Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages

Great points!

I like the book Doing Good Better a lot: it is the single most important source that introduced me to EA and convinced me that it is a remarkable and very exciting idea and movement.

Does having "doing good better" available at stores do more good than bad? -- In my estimation it does more good. It is one of the vehicles of spreading the word about EA.

How much less viable vehicle of spreading word a translation of the book would be given that the translation is distributed in a similar cultural environment as the original book (eg. parts of Europe - Sweden, Norway, Finland, France etc) ? -- If additionally given that translation is done professionally by or commissioned by EA-minded locals, in my estimation he difference to the effect of the original language book would be small. Thus, this option is worth considering in my opinion.

I think a translation of short career guide (a book) summarizing the key content in 80kh could be even more interesting to people. 80kh does a superb job of examining at careers from the perspective of having as much impact as possible. I am not aware of any other career guide that take this perspective rigorously.

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