Always remember that impact is achieved through direct work...
Even in emerging economies, impact needs funding. (Effective) donations are not mentioned in the post. However, they should be quite central, because of
1) Solidarity: Even little privileged people in EA in LMICs should keep solidarity with large donors: everyone is giving up some ‘next level’ comforts, compared to their norm. Whether that is the smaller Tesla or walking for the hour every day.
That personal commitment can make the community a yet more honorable place to be a part of.
2) Impact: Not only “[s]mall donors can sometimes beat large donors in terms of cost-effectiveness,” for example by identifying the 1 in 10,000 children who would have died from malaria in a community with or without nets and buying them the $4 treatment, but also they can show/test paths for more cost-effective donations.
This will make dialogues with large donors very fruitful, as both parties will be bringing their very significant comparative advantages.
3) Change leverage: People who are invested in finding yet better ways of caring for others whose issues they connect with should enjoy greater community approval than those who waited for instructions and received funding to advance others’ solutions.
People who could be supported in scaling up programs will be the ones who sincerely care. This is necessary for a change to happen.
4) Solutions pressure: For many relatively privileged people in LMICs, it can be common to support many others. For example, it is possible to meet even 5 begging children trying to gain attention every day and donate to some. If one is spending others’ funding, they may seek to just gain the $1,000 GiveDirectly transfer for each of them, which is unrealistic given the scale of poverty.
If one is spending their own funds, they may think twice about a sustainable yet affordable program that would make a decisive impact for the children.
We think it is unlikely that new EAs in LMICs will find comparable charities to existing GiveWell’s recommended charities, particularly in middle income countries. Existing charity evaluators are probably better suited to do this work.On the other hand, engaging in some charity evaluation efforts can be formative for some EAs to help them internalize cost effectiveness evaluation and prioritization.
We think it is unlikely that new EAs in LMICs will find comparable charities to existing GiveWell’s recommended charities, particularly in middle income countries. Existing charity evaluators are probably better suited to do this work.
On the other hand, engaging in some charity evaluation efforts can be formative for some EAs to help them internalize cost effectiveness evaluation and prioritization.
The post suggests to start with values and methodologies used by prominent Western institutions and conduct evaluations of local situations only after these values are internalized.
This can lead to value imposition.
Rather, one can start with local values or value systems and develop/refine/discuss methodologies for their measurement. This can enrich the discourse on the meaning(s) of ‘good.’
Some resources on values presented by local scholars and their measurements include this paper on measuring Ubuntu, this “Buddhist perspective on measuring wellbeing and happiness in sustainable development,” and this page on broad values in Hinduism.
The key can be to discern which values are truly held by the people vs. presented by a scholar but not held as well as which are internalized based on own decisions vs. based on conformation to a previous or an external standard.
I interpret, here, small and large donor as an average-income person in a LIC and a HIC.
I am imagining a person who had only $4 to donate in a month and someone who had $4,000 speaking about effective ways of saving lives. I am not stating a LMICs vs. HICs dichotomy.
based on the presumed origin of the frameworks in the post and the resources sheet
People in different contexts in LMICs (and HICs) can be better informed on various quality values-measurements resources.
Possible loss of the unique prospect to make the world critically thinking and cooperative (extremely high WALY): FTX uniquely uses marketing that motivates critical thinking and cooperation, while Binance (just like almost any other company) uses fear, shame, perception of deprivation, and other negative emotions to attract and keep customers. Assuming the global expansion of the metaverse, whether people are enjoying cooperation and thought processes versus assume an aggressive/hateful environment which they have to pay attention to makes a decisive difference in the global quality of life.
Con: Uncertainty in FTX marketing success: It is uncertain whether FTX would have successfully scaled up this marketing and norms. Possibly, if a prospective trader/NFT collector sees a Binance ad that uses almost subliminal techniques to motivate the impulse to participate (e. g. subconsciously gaining the power to abuse while protecting oneself) and after sees an FTX ad that shows a complex critique on the initial skepticism around well-known innovations, they may just use Binance because, without critical thinking, it is the more powerful/threatening actor.
Con: FTX cannot oversee a decentralized ecosystem: Decentralized ecosystem does not allow for product standardization. Since hundreds of new products emerge, FTX cannot effectively oversee most marketing and product development.
Con: Meta to an extent optimizes for attention so would likely use normal marketing. Since Meta largely optimizes for attention, it is likely that if its stakeholders acquire FTX, the marketing would become normal, similar to that of Binance.
Con: FTX.us is unaffected. The marketing that I was referring to was used in the US. FTX.us is unaffected by the purchase. Thus, it can be argued that the sale does not affect FTX (US) marketing substantially.
Counterfactual investment opportunities for Dustin Moskovitz and SBF: With the sale to Binance, both Dustin Moskovitz and SBF will be able to invest into other ventures. These ventures can be more profitable and/or impactful than FTX. Thus, ‘Profit for Good’ could be maximized.
CZ is in it to donate to charity: According to this video (which is similar to the one with SBF), CZ “plans to donate his wealth to charity.” Thus, this development can be truly seen as ‘competitive cooperation’ rather than ‘taking the money to buy yachts.’
This would suggest that Dustin Moskovitz should not buy FTX. However, that is only a guess.
While I agree that FTX.com has more than enough experience negotiating deals objectively, I also think that this decision considers the fear that CZ is creating.
This is because as long as FTT gains value after Binance’s sell (due to speculation), then there is no need to agree to the deal. Whether FTT gains value is influenced by investor sentiments.
The deal with Binance shows that SBF does not expect FTT to appreciate after Binance’s sell. This would be the case when fear is associated with FTT. This is what CZ is creating.
Based on this line of reasoning, it is not necessary to agree to the deal with Binance, if one can mitigate the fear being caused by CZ.
Market price manipulation is illegal, so, technically, CZ cannot do anything besides influencing investor sentiments. One can argue that mitigating CZ’s ability to threaten can be the key here, because that is the only effective strategy to keep FTT value high.
One way to mitigate one’s ability to threaten is disclosing their techniques, such as deliberate motivation of negative emotions by appeal to biases, possibly using Twitter bots, etc.
On one hand, ignoring Binance’s offer had to be already thoroughly considered by FTX.com. On the other hand, introducing an external motivation to find a solution by ‘making CZ sincerely contribute’ or ignore him could improve the sentiments around FTT value and thus resolve the problem.
Is it a good idea to communicate to Sam that CZ is emotionally manipulating him and that he could be making a suboptimal decision by selling for low cost?
“Losing control” implies something bad has happened in addition to the loss of value of FTX. I’m not sure what else that is.
(also commenting on the sale to Binance rather than deliberation with several potential buyers mentioned by Lukas_Gloor)
I happened to be learning full-time about FTX and its broader ecosystem for the past month or two. (ah, hah, I thought maybe next week I can apply)
CZ is a great diplomat. It can be argued that Binance runs on fear, abuse, and limiting the motivation to leave. (This is juxtaposed with FTX model, which is powered by consideration and support.)
In his announcement to sell FTT, CZ (or the team tweeting as CZ), used emotionally challenging language as well as alluded to social biases. This could have motivated SBF to act impulsively, as if to avoid the prospect of prolonged ‘emotional terror’ of the perception of wrongdoing, uncertainty, powerlessness, etc.
We will try to do so in a way that minimizes market impact. Due to market conditions and limited liquidity, we expect this will take a few months to complete. 2⁄4 [Tweet by CZ]
In context, one can imagine CZ enjoying liquidating FTT bit by bit, for an unknown extended period of time (which may not end), which can seem dreadful to customers and SBF, considering the somewhat ‘sadist’ reputation of CZ. People would just seek to avoid pain (that CZ implies to threaten).
… Our industry is in it’s nascency and every time a project publicly fails it hurts every user and every platform. 3⁄4
This can be read as further appealing to Sam to prevent the ‘hurting’ of vulnerable users (and platforms) (and sell impulsively).
I was out with friends yesterday when the topic of whale alerts came up. Following our principles, I decided to be transparent. So I wrote a thread in 5 mins, and posted it. Little did I know it was going to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” 1⁄4 (Tweet by CZ)
This portrays effortlessness, that may be disempowering to SBF, who is admired for his fast-paced decisionmaking. ‘was out with friends’ can seek to inspire loneliness, ‘whale alerts’ can be considered fatphobic, and the part with the straw broke back can further allude to physical disempowerment and implied physical threat. Thus, SBF can be motivated to feel powerless compared to CZ.
The counterargument to the hypothesis that SBF acted impulsively due to CZ’s threatening is that actually, the assets on FTX and Alameda had little value beyond that assigned to them by buyers. SBF can be thus collecting maximum value possible, greater than that which he would gain if further actors studied FTX/Alameda assets.
I am not sure about the valuation of FTX/Alameda. However, Binance is a very similar business. Thus, it can be that studying Binance can have similarly detrimental effects. I am uncertain about this, but it prima facie can seem that assessing the ‘actual’ value of Binance and estimating that of FTX based on that can provide decisive negotiation leverage to SBF.
One person who seems to be resistant to CZ’s threats is Anatoly Yakovenko (for example, read Binance CEO CZ mused on this very subject on Twitter:. Anatoly could be helpful in negotiating with CZ, creating leverage by seeing through (and shaming) aggression and threats.
This past EA newsletter used only two emojis, a down arrow (⬇️) and an anchor (⚓), while it talked about the AI Worldview Prize (🤖🧠🏆), asteroids (☄️), prize-winning criticisms of effective altruism (🏅❌:ea-bulb:), articles (📃), news(📰), and announcements (📢), among others.
This communicated the following message:
‘You have to scroll down, where you have to pay attention (where the anchor is).’
‘There is a lot of interesting content in this newsletter, someone paid attention to make it visually concise and fun for you. But, don’t rely on (visual) oversimplifications, see for yourself.’
The former is more conducive to limited critical thinking, while the latter can stimulate it.
Further, the arrow-anchor setup can be understood as normalizing abuse (as the only viable option) (an arrow can symbolize a direction without the request for or agreement to such and an anchor can symbolize threat of the use of force and limited consideration, since it is a heavy sharp object not related to the topics). The normalization of abuse could worsen epistemics within EA and limit the community’s skills in cooperation on positive impact.
In general, viewers can pay the most attention to the portrayal of threats, even if that is not apparent or they are not consciously aware of it. Under threat/stressed, viewers may be more likely to click on content, seeking to resolve the negative feeling that compels them to action.
Another reason why viewers may be paying attention to content that can be interpreted as abusive but where that is not prima facie apparent is that they seek assurance in the positive intent of/ability to trust the resource (or advertisement). For example, if one feels that an ad is threatening abuse but the text is positive, they can be more likely to read it, to confirm positive intent/seek trust.
These attention captivation techniques motivate impulsive/intuitive decisionmaking (based on chemical/hormonal processes?) and limit reasoning and deep thinking. These techniques can also motivate impulsive sharing of content, because it evolutionarily makes sense to share threats first and because people seek to affirm positive intent when they share the resource with others who will likely not describe the possible abuse.
According to this theory, using setups that can be interpreted as threatening but not at first apparently is the most effective way of growing the EA community.
However, it can be also that the newsletter audience more likely engages with and shares content that is conducive to reasoning and deep thinking.
For instance, the High Impact Professionals newsletter uses descriptive emojis and the organization is popular in EA.
While conducting an RCT on the variety of emojis and readership/click-through rate/thoughtfulness of a response requested by the newsletter can be a bit too much, it is one way to test the hypothesis.
Let me actually also illustrate what I mean on the example of the image used in this post. The image can cause distress but that is not at first apparent.
The image has feminine symbolism, the flowers and possibly the light. The viewer has not requested or agreed to view this symbolism but viewed it (these are prominent). Highlighted is also the figure’s chest. These two aspects can engage the viewer, who may be compelled to pay further attention.
The leaves on the left side of the image resemble reptiles and birds hiding with the possibility of attack. That can cause cognitive dissonance, because birds and reptiles are considered likely (due to evolution and media) to attack than mammal predators by humans. The leaves near the flower in the bottom left corner resemble a bird with its beak directed toward the figure (who does not pay attention to it). The reader can be compelled to look at the leaves to assess for any threat and freeze in the anticipation of/to prevent the bird’s action.
Some of the figure’s fingers can be considered as disfigured. From the perspective of the viewer, the second to the left finger on the figure’s hand near the flower is bent and the thumb on the same hand elongated. The other hand is the one that would ‘confirm’ that there is nothing weird. The hand looks relatively normal, except for the swollen second finger from the top (that also can make one think of literal or metaphorical rotting) and the thumb with the small red pointy end.
That thumb can be considered as a ‘hidden weapon’ of the feminine figure. That can make people think of betrayal by those who are traditionally trusted (females). Another form of betrayal/weapon can be the left flower, which is ‘going’ from the side in the general direction of the viewer, like a snake with an open mouth. The viewer may be compelled to look at it, to make sure that it does not go at them. If you zoom in on the inside of the flower (the violet, purple, yellow, and red shapes), further attention captivation can be analyzed.
A viewer of this image can become aware of their body and consider it vulnerable. That is because of the bent back of the figure but prominent/highlighted chest. The figure’s right side of the chest is the ‘assurance’ of limited prominence, while the left side portrays significant prominence. (This could be vice versa but that perception can be limited.) This is gender neutral, although the shape can allude to male body fat, which is portrayed as something which should be covered, due to vulnerability (often used in advertisement).
The figure looks like an authority which is practically impossible to be convinced by reason and must be obeyed, by the facial expression. One may regret engaging with this environment but can be more compelled to ‘stay’ since seems pointless to ‘argue against.’
The vertical blue stripe on the right side of the image, which coincides with the figure’s sleeve, can be interpreted as AI threat. It is like the flickering of the screen. The figure embodies the ‘appropriate’ reaction to this, which is to do nothing and advance the norms that one cannot argue against.
There are other things that I could and could not analyze.
Of course, one can disagree and simply say that it is a normal image of a lady.
However, I suggest that one stares at the image in peace for a few minutes and observes their emotions and impulses (including motions and intended motions). If the above can be leading, a different DALL-E or prominent advertisement image can be used. One can feel negative emotions/negatively about an environment and physical sensations (such as finger twisting). That is a good reason to understand these techniques rationally but not emotionally and avoid long emotionally focusing on state-of-art AI images (but look e. g. on groups of fashion models where techniques relate mostly to gender norms, body image judgment, and racial stereotypes).
If one is quite aware of these techniques, considered using various alternatives in the newsletter, and still choses the arrow-anchor framework, then they have the reasoning for it. However, if one is simply influenced by AI and unknowingly advances an abusive spirit, possible impact of the newsletter should be related to its intended objectives and alternatives considered.
It can also be argued that an arrow and an anchor is nothing like a complex advertisement but that powerful people may like a form of traditional power, while their intents are good. I watched interviews with the 100 top Forbes billionaires and while many enjoy traditional exhibits of power and their intents are good, perhaps only four would actually enjoy abusive newsletter marketing, of which two would not understand it as anything that should be felt or suboptimal for anyone, and one would not seek to advance the abuse further. Two seems vulnerable to being influenced by this marketing, if they happen to be subscribing, which is very unlikely for one and possible but not very likely for the other.
I have also listened to podcasts with prominent EA funders and while impactful work can be a must, abuse is not (rather, positive relationships and impact is). So, using abusive newsletter emoji marketing is unlikely to please EA funders but can motivate them to repeat this ‘tone from the top.’
In conclusion, the EA newsletter emojis can be reviewed.
Thank you. This actually makes a lot of sense. The farming improvements (although could be different in different areas and studies) are astounding. For example, One Acre Fund increases farmers’ annual income by about $100 or 50%, for the cost of about $25/farmer in 2021. Bednets have an equivalent nominal impact for about a fifth ($5) of the price.
Sidenote: the lower % improvement suggests that AMF serves relatively affluent farmers (with average annual incomes of $633 ($76/12%*100%), which can have twice to five times the real value) (unless the $76 is real value).
The agricultural productivity can increase because people are less sick and more productive. Also people could have a greater capacity to seek better farming practice information, livestock could be less ill (if bednets are used to cover livestock), and fishers could have better equipment.
Also, children could be able to help with chores rather than occupy parents or older siblings to care for them. Reduced treatment spending can be also substantial. Assuming that malaria treatment costs $4 and a bednet prevents 2 cases of malaria per year, then a family with 5 children (who would be treated if they get malaria) can save $40/year, which can a substantial proportion of their income.
In terms of attendance, bednets can have limited effects (about an additional week of school per year?).
In Kenya, primary school students were considered to miss 11% of the school year (20 school days missed per child per year) due to malaria, while in Nigeria the figure varied between 2% and 6% of the school year (3 to 12 days per year per student). Kimbi et al. (2005) estimated that in the Muea area in Cameroon, 53 out of 144 (36.8%) malaria-infected children lose 0.5 to 14 days of school (averaging 1.53 schooldays). (Thuilliez, 2009)
That is about 10 days/year. If a bednet prevents half of the cases, that is 5 days or a week.
The impacts on enrollment can be relatively larger due to the increased farming income and reduced treatment cost if education expenses are substantial. For example, if education costs $100/year, then an additional child can be educated. If education expenses are close to zero, then malaria does not affect enrollment.
The quality of education or its relevance to employment is not directly addressed but can be addressed indirectly by enrolling a child in a better (higher paid) school.
Reducing mortality can have positive impact on savings and investments due to the reduction of funeral costs, which can constitute a large proportion of a family’s annual income.
I am not familiar with the research on long-term health improvements. I imagine that early treatment of cases that would be more severe, especially for young children, is a key factor. Prevention reduces the rate when this would be needed.
Ah hah hah, yes, it is “net-positive life” but perhaps not life quality. Let me show you some of these videos:
People in a slum, possible abuse and neglect in spousal relationships, FGM, FGM and family, some parents decide that their child cannot live, and sending family members for life-long shrine work.
These are just arbitrary examples that show abuse, neglect, and addiction, mostly from countries that AMF does not operate in. It is possible that similar situations exist in some areas of countries of AMF operation.
The argument that in these situations, people can feel worse than if they were dead.
On a positive note, there are also very chilled environments where lovers get married as well as officials who support consideration based on reasoning.
Although currently you do not consider life quality factors, you could use these factors to put pressure on governments to advance legislation and governance that prevents dissatisfied lives, such as by banning FGM, forced marriage, or ritual servitude.
Even if additional measures are needed to improve life quality, considering these factors can be a statement that AMF, a large player, communicates. Implementing an somewhat sophisticated metric (such as a weighted average with some exponents) can engage officials in calculating what legislation and agreements would net them the most nets (haha), rather than using blame or other negative motivation to achieve the same result.
Preferring life satisfaction (or its proxies) statistics and expert estimates can have positive effects on governance/institutional decisionmaking of AMF partner countries and regions, such as the development of government networks of people familiar with the concepts (and interested in the improvements) of life quality measures and the government’s interest in quantifiable impact.
Not to bother you anymore, but if a government decides to give its 1 million nets to its worst slum and leaves the people who seem to have all they need (except maybe bednets) uncovered, that’s actually equally great as vice versa, and better if malaria rates in the slum are 10% higher than those in the countryside, because more children will be able to survive and people will have more for daily spending. Right.
a) While in formal writing, there are specific formats of citing others’ citations, in this context, I decided to link the report directly, alongside with this comment thread that reads
I added the 4.5 value from the 2019 World Happiness Report also cited by HLI.
In this comment, the HLI’s Estimating moral weights page (with the footnote) to which I referred several times in this thread is not referenced, because I assumed that those who read this thread carefully are already familiar with the page and those who are quickly skimming do not need to be distracted by that link.
I am keeping in mind that this is the Change Our Mind contest. Citing HLI could be read as an intent to convince GiveWell to implement HLI’s framework, which they are familiar with, by repetition. WHR allows readers to form and update their opinions based on data which does not intend to change GiveWell’s mind. Thus, WHR can change the mind of an evidence-based decisionmaker better.
Further, historically, GiveWell has used top statistical evidence to make its recommendations. WHR enjoys similar level of comprehensiveness as RCT-based research, while HLI’s research is more speculative. Thus, WHR can allow GiveWell to change their mind more consistently with its fundamental values than HLI’s research.
b) I have not checked the Report, but rather deferred to HLI’s standards of citing statistics. I reviewed some papers cited by HLI and did not find inconsistency (other than the vague sample size interpretation as further above in this thread). This can be understood as a form of a spot check.
Nevertheless, I searched for the statistic in the 2019 WHR. (I used the search function for “4.5” and “Kenya”.) “Kenya (4.509)” is cited as the value on p. 29 of the WHR pdf (pp. 26–27 of the document). I added the page reference.
This actually leads me to the methodology of the WHR. It seems like ‘happiness’ is a function of (pp. 26–27):
GDP per capita
Healthy life expectancy
Freedom to make life choices
Perceptions of corruption
Although this can cover many aspects of happiness, other factors which could influence this metric (including by changing its sign), such as the normality of abuse or parental acceptance/rejection, do not seem to be included. WHR ‘happiness’ can thus measure governance quality and public cooperation rather than seek to understand intended beneficiaries’ quality of life. However, further research is needed.
I also added a note on the interpretation of this metric.
This will all else equal favor consumption and growth interventions over lifesaving measures (though of course there are many other considerations in place).
Yup, assuming causality.
[D]oubling consumption corresponds to a 0.42 increase in the life satisfaction score … Our ‘wealthy’ households had anaverage life satisfaction score of 4.3, while the ‘poor’ households had an average life satisfaction of 2.8. (p. 42) … Stevenson and Wolfers (2013) finds a lower coefficient of 0.25 among lower income countries (p. 41)
I would be careful about simply increasing consumption and growth. More marketing (including that which highlights negative/abusive cultural aspects) could enter areas where identities are otherwise based in emotional navigation of relationships, which can be understood as deeply satisfying (these identities would be lost with increased societal attention paid to current globally competitive marketing).
Perhaps, this would start from an income level that would not be reached even with income doubled a few times, but, considering very affordable products, the Belt and Road Initiative, and growing marketing analysis and capacity in rapidly growing countries in Asia, growth without co-interventions can lead to an increased consumption of ‘aggressively’ marketed products, which may not increase one’s life satisfaction.
This paper on cultural combination (‘syncretism’) from the South African University of Pretoria. There is little on the possibility of ‘disturbing’ pictures or arguably sexist bias-based and objectifying/physically judging advertisements becoming popular among some people. It is unlikely that the people affected by the marketing (even non-customers) would be interacting with humans of different cultures (but rather see the ads which do not respond to human emotional expressions).
People could be reporting an ‘objective’ life satisfaction, based on status portrayed in the ads, without emotional introspection. It is possible that they would not report dissatisfaction, because that would mean decreased competitiveness, which, based on some advertisements, could be associated with one’s vulnerability or undesirable situation/identity. This is just a hypothesis.
Also, the lives of the poorer persons can be worse because of the norms that they grow up in (for example, threatening of neighbor’s life for $3, sending children to work or beg from a very young age, defaulting on a group loan, … vs. going to different neighbors for humble meals weekly, trying to put children through school, vetting microfinance firms and contemplating the EV of an income-generating asset lease).
The argument is that if you increase the (for instance) children’s who grew up begging income, it does little for them because of their upbringing (it may be difficult for them to form enjoyable relationships because they are used to a lot of unwelcomingness). A better approach would be education in locally relevant skills so that they can be (considering the situation) welcome since a young age.
An alternative thinking is that the people who had limited opportunities when they were young would be super grateful for the improved opportunities and will educate their children so that they do not experience low life quality rather than approaching them as people would approach a begging child (illustrative example of gratitude of situation improvement—actually life saved—from an island I’ve seen). This suggests that the present adult generation should be targeted with consumption increase programs rather than children educated. Saving lives, at least by caring individuals sincerely interested in the saved people, can be actually also valued.
Still, at least some budget should probably be allocated to the “other considerations,” just to make sure that it is not that, for example, men who beat their wives and women who would perpetuate the normalization of beating are not just going to get more colorful washing baskets with ‘women overpowering men by using the product’ for the women. I argued similarly here.
The 4.5 is footnote 30 in the HLI summary.
Detail possible inaccuracy:
IDinsight asked an SWB question in their beneficiary preferences survey; those surveyed in Kenya had an average life satisfaction score of 2.3/10 (n = 1,808, SD = 2.32 ).
While the total study sample size was 1,808 (which is also what the SD refers to), in Kenya 954 respondents were surveyed.
Based on this kind of observation, it seems to me that most people want to live. My personal, subjective, moral view is that it would be wrong to assign a different moral weight to their lives.
Let me challenge you here. Suppose that in a community inspired by Tsangano, Malawi, where people used 71% of nets which they freely received, the quality of life is −0.2 with an SD of 0.3 (normally distributed). 60 km away, in a place visually similar to Namisu, Malawi (where people used 95% of nets), the quality of life is 0.3 with an SD of 0.2. Each community has 2,000 people (who need about 1,000 nets). You have only 500 nets.
Who are you going to give the nets to?
Further challenge: You also have a pre-recorded radio show that improves farmers’ agricultural productivity by coaching them to place only 1 grain 75 cm apart and cover with a few cm of soil rather than scattering the grain. This can increase people’s productivity by an average of 20%. The airtime for the show in one community costs as much as 500 nets.
Are you going to forgo any nets and buy the show?
Are you subjectively assigning equivalent moral weights to the lives of the people in the two hypothetical communities?
I suspect that the key determinant of quality of life after attempting suicide is mental illness, especially depression, and not the suicide attempt itself. But I’m uncertain about this, and even more uncertain given both the literature and my clinical training are based on a high-income country context—things could be very different in low/middle-income countries or those in absolute poverty.
Thank you. I think so. I think that in high-income contexts, depression can relate to one’s loneliness and use of social media that use negative-emotions marketing as well as abusive/neglecting/rejecting family relationships (that the media (and people influenced by them) can draw from (and make one to assume as reality)).
In many low-income contexts, it can be argued that people are not as lonely, because agreements are based on community accountability (which requires mutually enjoyable or overall approved emotional navigation) rather than sound rule of law and business relationships are founded in friendship (gaining customers for undifferentiated goods). Also, in low-income countries family can play a key role. Forced marriage, female and child abuse norms, FGM, limited family planning can all worsen one’s mental health.
The key difference between high- and low-income countries can be that in high-income countries the negative perception of one’s relationship-related situation and limited enjoyment of others is motivated by media, while in low-income countries perceived due to actual and ‘necessary’ abuse (e. g. someone has to be beaten to make bidis because otherwise productivity would not increase).
A related thought is that if (low-paid and unpaid) productive people in low-income contexts suicide, the productivity decreases, ceteris paribus.
An EA who studies India’s media commented that the show of suicide in the TV is banned, because it increases suicide rates.
My small-sample study shows that some people can perceive their life quality below death, wish to live 0 additional years, and still live. I did not research suicide but the local enumerators, an elder, and an educator have not commented on it.
It can be hypothesized that the willingness to suicide is a part of a ‘dialogue’ between the ‘abused’ and the ‘abuser,’ used as a means to argue for more favorable treatment. It can be a statement that it is unacceptable to, for example, beat people for no perceived reason. Related concepts are described in The Wretched of the Earth by the psychiatrist Frantz Fanon.
The ability to suicide can increase people’s willingness to ‘lead this dialogue,’ which would otherwise be unthinkable, and thus (at least ‘during the discussion’) lower their quality of life. It can be assumed that this will have limited benefits, since external education and investment rather than internal redelegation of tasks is needed to highlight enjoyable cultural approaches and enable productivity without (human) abuse.
This would suggest that limiting the use of highly highly hazardous pesticides can improve the mental health of people (there is no need to feel emotions that intend to lead to the improvement of their situation when they can themselves very little about it). However, it can also be argued that once people know about suicide, but are prevented from it, their mental health decreases even more significantly, because they are perceiving the ‘trap’ of having to live in an abusive situation without the ability to affect this for themselves or future generations.
I am actually not describing depression as you may be understanding it: “persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest,” which can occur when (I am not medically trained and am only suggesting ideas rather than intending to describe a medical condition) people feel uncompetitive/without the ability to become competitive, not needed/without unique skills (not considering individuals), or not bought in on the meaningfulness of hobbies/without developed interests.
I am describing ‘depression’ that is based in one’s knowledge of being abused due to one’s identity and inability to do anything about it, having urgent (family) issues that no close ones help with and one cannot resolve (for example, my research suggests that people would give up, on average 78% of their remaining life if ‘people around them cared about each other’s problems’ - but in context, people would give up large fractions of their life even for nutritious food, insurance, etc), cultural limited presence of/training in love, and limited prospects for improvement of one’s family situation.
Perhaps, the anecdotes on the CPSP website can be understood as ‘weird’ by people around the ‘story tellers.’ Most people understand the situation and just go with it. Suicide causes issues to the family.
Thus, the “assumption that people who attempted suicide would lead negative lives” should hold, if one looks at the situation from the perspective of one in the situation who assumes that their emotions can lead to a change or authority/peer understanding or from the perspective of someone not ‘at peace’ with the situation. This assumption would not hold if people are at peace with their roles/situations and depression is defined as the limited need to emotionally negotiate relationships.
I emphasize that I just wrote some ideas, which can be not indicative of anyone’s perceptions, based on my limited understanding of the intended beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries as well as understanding of some resources. Persons and their attitudes are individual. When I hypothesize a commonality, it can not hold true, can apply only to some, be taken out of context, and have other interpretations.
I looked at the graph on page 42 (the bar for Kenya is 2.3), but actually had the statistic from HLI, which cites it. The 2.8 (p. 40) is the survey average. Good catch for HLI (and myself, unless I am further misreading), which can make it seem as if the Kenyan sample was 1,808 and SD=2.32.
OK, I was actually unaware of that (clearly was skimming the HLI page for bias confirmation—or, rather, made a note of an alarming statistic when skimming). I added the 4.5 value from the 2019 World Happiness Report also cited by HLI. This averages closer to 3.9/10, which is the LS estimate for GiveDirectly beneficiaries.
TLDR: Sure, the 30% seems quite high, although if the price of alternative fertilizer is around double, it could be accurate for many subsistence farmers.
I have the 30% from this cited text and the BOTEC. In the sheet, 30% seems to be subtracted from the overall cost-effectiveness that considers qualitative adjustments (E77 in “Calculations”). “Calculations” E58 specifies 70% adjustment due to −30% due to risk of agricultural harm (“Assumptions” E36). This 70% multiplies other qualitative adjustments (E60), which multiply the cost-effectiveness before qualitative adjustments (E76) to get cost-effectiveness after adjustments (E77).
The number does seem high, though, especially considering that substitutes seem available. However, it may also be accurate, if farmers are able to afford less fertilizer due to its higher price. One Acre Fund (OAF) RCT-based analysis cites about 50% improvement in yield (in a different region) when farmers are given a loan to purchase (and trained to use) fertilizer and improved seed variety (fertilizer:seed cost is about 2:1). Based on anecdotes from The Last Hunger Season, some farmers cannot afford fertilizer.
The price difference between the highly hazardous pesticides and alternatives is not stated, although pesticides constitute only 7.5% of input costs. However, the document (pp. A-12 - A-13 or 58-59 in the pdf) cited by GiveWell that gathers statistics on farm inputs considers relatively high costs for farm labor and land rent which in the case of subsistence farmers can be neglected (thus the cost would be much higher than 7.5%). There is also very high variance among states in India. Some states seem to use much less fertilizer (e. g. 2.5% of seed costs in Mizoram) than others (39% of seed costs in Andhra Pradesh). Thus, it is unclear to what extent any increases in fertilizer price affect yield.
Further, GiveWell cites that
[p]esticides commonly used for suicide may be more convenient, or have a different mechanism of application, in which case agricultural workers will incur some costs in learning how to use replacements.
Farmers in “The Last Hunger Season” were not trained in fertilizer use prior to the OAF program. It can be that farmers who pay attention to using fertilizer correctly will do so even if another type is offered and vice versa. India’s growing network of rural e-centers with agricultural information can provide appropriate fertilizer information. In other countries of CPSP operations, farmers may be less informed. Thus, any decrease in agricultural productivity due to unfamiliar fertilizer use can be limited.
A professor conducted research on the substantiation of sentiments on counterfeiting. It could be possible that when a new type is introduced, farmers will be suspicious. This can be temporary or have limited effect (trust in local retailer not brand).
(More costly) fertilizer can also substitute other items that increase life quality, such as food, education, or health. Thus, even if a higher cost does not lower yields, the −30% (or other) adjustment could still be valid due to the effects of counterfactual spending.
I understand that GiveWell is assuming a 0.3 agricultural productivity decrease high estimate and 0 or 0.01 low estimate. The high estimate is used, while numbers with 0 decrease are cited next to the adjusted ones, possibly due to high uncertainty about the complex effects on agriculture.
So far, I only considered the effects on smallholders. Effects on industrial farms may be much more substantial, even if the price difference is in the order of percent. I assume that in India, most farms are subsistence. That should be 85% (by land holdings?) in Uttar Pradesh. I further assume that industrial productivity is about 5-10x that of subsistence farm (about 1/2-1/3 of land can be used in subsistence compared to commercial and productivity can be about 2-3x lower). This would suggest that commercial farms produce about as much (Fermi estimate) as subsistence farms (15%*5=75%≈85% or (15%*10=150%≈1.8*85%).
In areas where subsistence farmers use little chemical fertilizer, productivity decrease can be negligible (and much lower than that in commercial agriculture). Conversely, in regions where smallholders spend significant proportions on fertilizer, they can be affected disproportionately more than industries. The former suggests that the median would be close to 0 and mean would be the average of the commercial effects and 0 (e. g. 2% if commercial outputs fall by 4%). The latter can suggest a median value of >30% and mean value of the half of that.
The median would be 30% and mean around 0 if few farmers constitute a large majority of output and are relatively unaffected, while the majority of smallholders are affected significantly. This is what makes intuitive sense, upon the assumption that industrial agriculture largely outperforms subsistence in output and can flexibly (with negligible per unit cost) switch to alternative (or is already using it). However, this can be a biased perspective based on the knowledge of US and other developed economies’ agriculture. While the rapidly industrializing India is the largest nation among CPSP partners, other beneficiary countries can be less industrialized.
Secondary effects from forgone commercial agriculture taxation (as well as any decreases in International competitiveness of beneficiary nations) that can support large proportions subsistence farmers could be discussed.
Lower fertilizer use could lead to higher rents accrued to farmers, if their product is sold as organic with a premium.
Another consideration is that CPSP on its previous website cited investigating the possible negative effects on agricultural productivity in Sri Lanka (listing this on the website can suggest a significant concern). This can be considered in conjunction with GiveWell’s cited enthusiasm and great fit of the professor who leads the project/applied for the grant (he could be motivated to gather and interpret evidence in a way that highlights benefits and unhighlights risks).
The effects of highly hazardous pesticides on agricultural productivity (and the impact on populations) will depend on the
Price and effectiveness differences between the currently and newly used fertilizer for smallholders and commercial farmers
Willingness and ability of subsistence farmers to learn any new fertilizer use techniques
Ratio of subsistence and commercial farms
Use of commercial agriculture taxation on smallholder productivity
Price premium for no chemical fertilizer use
Agricultural productivity units (tons, monetary value, % of farmers not experiencing hunger, …)
Guessing these values, measuring productivity in real local currency units and considering effects only on smallholders, based on the above discussion, the decrease can have a mean of 0.04 with SD=0.02 and be normally distributed, with possible other distributions based on country or region.
One Acre Fund provides $75-80 loans for fertilizer and seeds. 10kg of improved corn seeds costs 70,000 UGX. 10-15kg is needed for an acre (used 100,000 UGX or about $25). Based on the book and confirmed by Global Partnerships, the average farm size is about one acre. $25/$75=1/3, so about 1:2.
OK, for now I disagree but the time when I agree can come within a few years.
I think this applies in settings where people know how to spend money to maximize utility and enjoy (money independent) good relationships and people-centered systems.
Let me argue that normative environment matters more than money. People in absolute poverty can be doing great, if they are safe, know that they receive treatment if they need, many friends around them are quite cool, families are loving, and they have always something to learn which makes them better in some way.
Monetarily, this can be achieved with health insurance and maybe textbooks/various informational radio shows. Otherwise, it is the norms. Individuals cannot spend on normative development, because others need to progress with them.
For example, I stayed in a $60/month place and it was cool because of the engineering students’ housemates’ norms (helped me install my bednet, great convos on race and gender, mutual respect for personal space but enjoyment to greet), guard and good padlocks (we had thieves outside of the doors for a few hours one night but they did nothing because they did not have equipment to cut locked iron doors), malaria testing available about 50m away from the door and medicine for $4, and great work environment and caring colleagues.
I also stayed (just for a month) at a $200/month place, where the landlady was complaining in front of her two young daughters that contraception was not popular so she regrets, also gave me incorrect information to make me sign the (vague) lease. Also, apparently her cleaning lady stole her valuables when she was away. I also saw four?-year-olds play with money imitation. The boys took the money from the girl/denied her the money when she was excited to play.
My argument is that a $3/day (rent+food) secure place with cool nice people who normatively enjoy cooperative progress is better than a $10/day place which is less secure, it can be argued that families are not as loving, relationships not as respectful, and mutual support and inspiration to learn is limited.
This is to illustrate how it can be argued that giving individuals money can have limited impact, if the normative environment is not up to speed. (Maybe they can try to make people sign vague lease agreements with higher value, thieves can get better equipment, men can make it a reality that women do not get money, and children can continue to be rejected while receiving more expensive toys.)
We do not know how different normative environments are. The two places which I described were a walking distance apart. If you just give people money, you don’t know what is going to scale up.