More thorough evaluation of productivity techniques, particularly those based on some form of group commitment/incentive that couldn’t easily be replicated by a lone practitioner.
One aspect of this: Which forms of “standard” business training actually seem to work well? I’ve heard good things about Toastmasters; what about Getting Things Done training? Cialdini’s courses on influence? People have paid a lot of money for these things for a long time, which is no guarantee of efficacy but still hints that they should be investigated.
Do you have any links to share w/r/t the advocacy groups already working on this? Or the names of particular groups?
I enjoyed reading this!
One note: Having a few more links to basic information (e.g. a general summary of the Spanish Enlightenment, a list of behaviors/actions recommended by General Semantics) would have helped me better understand both writeups. (I can Google this kind of thing, of course, but I might not find sources as good as those you consulted in your own research.)
It would be impossible to summarize my opinion of everything that’s been written here. However, I’ll second some commenters by noting that many of these views, if published, would likely be net-positive for the author (assuming that the full explanation was well-reasoned and specific).
Examples of posts I think could lead to reasonable discussion (there are many others):
“We should evaluate reducing abortions as an EA cause.”
“In the grand scheme of things, chickens don’t really matter.”
“I’m pretty skeptical about polyamory.” (This has limited relevance to EA outside of the Bay Area, so I’m not sure how much sense it makes as a Forum post. That said, if you wanted to try it out, I know someone who might want to be your co-author.)
“There’s a lot of Girardian mimesis going on in EA cause prioritization.” (I’m not sure what you mean by that, but I’d be eager to find out!)
“CEA has been a long-term counterfactual net negative to the movement and might be better off disbanding or radically reforming (except for Julia Wise’s dept, who seem to be doing great work).” (Given that I work at CEA, I’d really like to hear more details about your views; we collect a lot of feedback on our various projects, but we’re always open to more.)
I understand why someone might be reluctant to post about their views; good criticism is hard to write, and it’s hard to predict how Forum users might respond to your ideas.
That’s why I (one of the Forum’s moderators) offer feedback and editing services to anyone who wants to publish a post. I’m not a perfect oracle, but I’ll do my best to predict how people might react to your arguments, and suggest ways you might clarify your points. If you don’t wind up publishing, your views will be safe with me.
(You can also use an anonymous email address or Forum account to send me a Google doc; I will encourage you to use a name, but I’ll provide feedback either way.)
Overall, while collecting anonymous feedback has benefits, it seems much better to me that these points be expressed in full posts that can be discussed in detail, and I’d like to facilitate that process.
(If you’re uncertain about the value of this process, I can refer you to others who have sent me work, and they can give [hopefully] unbiased feedback.)
*Of course, some of the views expressed on that form would invite widespread disapproval without strong evidence (e.g. personal attacks) or seem like trolling and would likely be received in that spirit (e.g. “right wingers should be euthanized”).
Two-letter domain names, even for some extensions more obscure than .org, are typically very expensive. For examples of pricey two-letter .orgs, see ct.org and eb.org from this list; they sold for $22k and $28k, respectively.
(Also, if someone has held onto a two-letter domain name for many years, there’s a good chance they’ve been approached by domain traders — who are numerous and proactive — and refused to sell even for a competitive price.)
I’m a former MyGiving user, and I now use the EA.org dashboard. I remember having more problems with MyGiving than I do with the new dashboard, but I’m not really a “power user” in either case, so I may not notice some of the changes. What specific functionality do you miss?
I downvoted the post for the reason Michelle specified, though I will second that I’m glad Oli took the time to point out the comment.
Haven’t read the full paper, but I’m recording some brief thoughts on cluelessness here for my own records. In a clueless world, the value of having an active EA-style movement that is at least partly longtermist may come from:
Having a group of people watching the world carefully for potential opportunities to reliably improve the long-term future, so that they can alert the wider world when something comes up that might not be seen by people interested in world events for non-longtermist reasons
Having a group of people developing relevant skills (which seems a bit different than “saving resources”) in case such an opportunity appears, so that action can be taken more swiftly
Offering people with a common interest in longtermism a reason to spend time with each other and hang together; perhaps our research isn’t particularly useful in a clueless world, but even people skeptical about their ability to have an impact now might find value in other activities (whether that’s “writing fiction about existential risks” or “spending research effort on short-term causes as a way of having more certain impact, in case we don’t become more clueful within our own lifetimes”)
I’m sure these ideas aren’t original, and (as with anything I write), I’d be glad to see links to places they’ve been expressed in a better way.
GiveDirectly really only funds one thing: direct cash transfers. By keeping their operations very simple and streamlined, they’re able to work more efficiently. Your contact might be able to find support from other funders who specialize in projects like his, but GiveDirectly doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to support and monitor a project of that kind (at least, as I understand their functioning).
Regarding Chris Chambers:
The Let’s Fund report linked in the application played a major role in my assessment of the grant, and I probably would not have been comfortable recommending this grant without access to that report.
While you discuss what you believe the positive effects of his work might be, you don’t really get into why you think he is the right person to do this project, or why/whether you think this project is stronger than other meta-science initiatives (maybe it was the only such project that applied? Are there others you’d be interested to see apply?).
I assume that some of this is addressed in the lengthy Let’s Fund report, but would you be open to summarizing which parts of the report you found most compelling in Chris’s favor?
I assigned this the “Personal Blog” category for now, because mind uploading isn’t a common topic of EA conversation and the relevance of this to existing cause areas isn’t entirely clear. Are there organizations you can point to that are working on this problem, and/or a case someone has made for why uploading is a valuable cause area?
On detractors writing: Given some of the comments on the survey, I would be surprised if quite a few answers hadn’t come from people who have no connection to the EA community save as critics. For example:
EA is a waste of money and time. Another example of tech minded people trying to reinvent the wheel.
This doesn’t seem like someone who actually spends time on the EA Forum (or, if they do, I wish they’d do something they found more enjoyable).
This isn’t the thing you were looking for, but this report contains a similar graphic. This other report also has a good list of interventions (p. 35), though it only covers costs rather than cost-effectiveness.
Thanks for writing this! I find that I wind up linking to postmortem assessments like this one quite often when people ask me for advice about their project ideas, and I’d be surprised if I never have cause to share this (as I’ve shared similar Forum writeups from EAGx Boston, SHIC, etc.)
One question: How did you attempt to get responses for your exit survey? 7⁄15 is a pretty low rate, and while I see why it’s not great to bother people too much once they’ve finished your program, I’d be interested whether many of the non-respondents reported “no change”.
(I’ve been at a few EA events where surveys were conducted at the end of the event, everyone filling them out at once, but I don’t know whether that was practical for a program like this, where people may have needed time to think afterward in order to answer with confidence.)
Did you ever hear back from Max Roser? I’d be interested to hear his thoughts, as the donation page on the website is bare-bones, with no information on runway, projects they might pursue or not pursue based on certain funding targets, etc.
Jeff Kaufman and Julia Wise: goal is 50% of pre-tax income; their donations are consistent with this goal
Ben Kuhn: goal is 50% of pre-tax income; donations for 2017 and 2018 have been consistent with this goal
Haseeb Qureshi: goal is 33% of pre-tax income; donation amounts since 2015 are consistent with this goal
Aaron Gertler: goal is 10% of pre-tax income
...for what it’s worth, I think I’ve been pretty consistent, too! :-|
(I haven’t given exactly 10% each year, but since I gave a higher percentage in years when I made more money, the average since I made my 10% pledge is extremely close to 10%.)
Also, this post is really good, serving as the best explainer I know of on this topic, and I’m glad I finally caught up and read the whole thing.
Physical damage which is self-induced is less painful. They give as examples “runner’s high”, cosmetic procedures like hair removal, and self-harm.
I wonder how certain we are that this is about pain levels, rather than the addition of emotions like uncertainty or alarm to pain that comes from others. If I knowingly cut myself with a knife, I’m ready for the pain; I can predict what will happen and steel myself. If someone else cuts me with a knife, I’m not prepared in the same way, and many other negative emotions are going to be flooding my system.
This makes me wonder whether accidental self-harm is more painful than purposeful self-harm (e.g. I cut myself while cutting up vegetables). If not, evidence for social factors mediating pain; if so, evidence for the role of surprise.