My own approach i describe as multiobjective optimization but more based on simulated annealing/statistical mechanics) and deals with ‘stopping times’ rather than ‘fail rates’ though they are closely connected. I think maybe many EA affiliated people will not go through that whole paper—at least the few i’ve met. (I was told to get a CS degree either at UCSF where i had a job in theoretical biology or stanford, so i chose the ‘stopping time’ or ‘fail rate’. I was pretty succesful at failing. Completed failing at 4 projects in 4 months. Condoleeza Rice also teaches at Stanford now—she helped win the war in Afghanistsan, Iraq, etc. No, good deed goes unrewarded.
That’s an interesting and the little i skimmed was somewhat straight forward if you can get through the dialect or notation, which is standard in econ papers—which i’d call neoclassical. ( I got up to about page 20 -- discussions of effects of scientists/workers switching to safety production rather than consumption production).
This raises to me a few issues. you have probably seen https://arxiv.org/abs/1410.5787 Given debates about risks of other envirojmental risks like GMOs and nuclear energy, its even unclear what is ‘safety’ or ‘precautionary’ versus consumption production. Its also unclear how much ‘science can come to the rescue’ (discussed many places like AAAS).
There are also the behavioral issues—even if your model (like the Kuznets curve) is basically correct and one can calculate ‘effectively altruistic’ policies, whether they will be supported by the public/government and entice scientists and other workers to switch to ‘green jobs’ (whether technical or, say organic farming ) is a sociopolitical issue.
(Its possible other sorts of models, or variants of yours using some behavioral data, might be able to assess both effects of policies as you do, and include factors describing the plausibility they will be adopted. (I googled you at Columbia and see you also studied public opinion spread via Twitter, etc. and that gives ideas about dynamics of behavioral variables. Presumably these are already implicit in your various parameters beta, epsilon, etc. I guess these are also implicit in the discount factors discussed by Nordhaus and others—but they may have their own dynamics, rather than being constants. )
Alot of current climate activists promote ‘degrowth’ and lifestyle change (diet, transport, etc.) (eg extinction rebellion) , partly because because they think that maybe more important than growth, and don’t trust growth will be applied to ‘safety’ rather than activities that contribute to AGW risks. Also many of them don’t trust economic models, and many if not most people do understand them much (I can can only get a rough understanding partly because going through the math details is both often beyond my competency, and I have other things to do (i’m trying to sketch more simple models that attempt to catch the main ideas which might be comprehensible to and useful for a wider audience. ) As noted, a variant of your model could probably include some of these sociopolitical issues.)
Anyway, thought provoking paper.
My answer would be to split up the donation money into 2 parts—maybe 1⁄2, 1⁄2, or 1/3rd, 2/3rds—and give 1⁄2 or 2/3rds to established people or projects in universities/institutions which have a high probability of having an ‘impact’., and allocate the remaining funds to several smaller ‘startup’ or ‘incubator’ type projects or people who are not in universities/institutions which are riskier but are neglected and may pay off. (the smaller donations should not be too small—e.g. not 1$ for each grantee—but rather should have some ‘threshold level’ sufficient to get the project up and running in ‘1.0’ form. I could also see requiring or asking the ‘startup’ to find ‘donation matching funds’ as a form of peer review for some risky proposal—ie if you will give them say 5G$ or 10G $ , ask them to find the same amount from other sources (who think they have a good idea, and then you will match it.)
I’m biased to the view I see an overcontration of funding towards big and established institutions—‘preferential attachement’ as they say in network theory—rich get richer, poor get poorer, although the ‘rich’ sometimes say their research is devoted to helping the poor. To use an analogy (which may be offensive to vegans, but it can be phrased in vegan terms as well) , too often some well funded research is too weighted to figuring out how to give fish to starving people, rather than giving them a fishing line and hook so they can get their own fish. )
p.s. I just read the article (and comments) in more detail. Its ‘spot on’, though primarily appears be focused on lab researchers in biology. (its also a fairly long and detailed article with many references). the field of biology I was in is much smaller, though i think just about every biology department in a research university has a theoretical/mathematical biologist, or a few—especially in ecology and genetics. however, alot of people have never even heard of this area; and some biologists thinks it mostly irrelevant.
While i cannot claim to be (and am almost am not a genius) Every single ‘bad habit’ or ‘trait’ described in the section ‘nobody cares if you are a genius’ applies to me . Sometimes it only takes me once sentence to get ‘downvoted’ (or banned) by people i’m around—sometimes this is because i grew up and often am around people who speak ‘dialect’ (or non-pc speech—though my values are basically pc) and i say something that others find offensive. Also among some academics (and musicians—since that is another of my interests) if you mention the name of a scientist who actually is a sort of arch-rival to the scientist you are talking to, that’s often the end of the conversation (the same is true in music—you better not say you like some musician that the musician you are talking to hates.)
last, to a certain extent its possible my own ‘research program’ is partly meaningless or useless. I know some projects i worked on but never published on (in biology and economics) were basically correct, and the problems were generating many confused papers at the time (and actually still do), but many people have published papers basically saying my points to a large degree (and sometimes with more technical detail—my math skills are not wht they should be for me to say what i want to say). my current project (which is on multiobjective optimization) may be a ‘tangent’ to the main work in that area (most of which involves algorithms). so it may just be a curiosity (i’ve seen papers in math and physics entitled things like ‘my failed proof of the reimman conjecture’, or fermat’s last theorem , or 4 color problem. ) There are whole books on such failed proofs.
Another example of ‘teams’ (eg Feynman and Dyson) is Einstein—who needed someone expert in differential geometry—who he found. Ramanujan needed someone who knew how to turn notes into accepted mathematics and could deal with beurocracy (and he found G H Hardy to help write it up).
(I need someone who knows how to do some basic computer work (eg show me how to use google docs, create PDFs...) and ideally someone who knows a bit more number theory and computer programming than me (i learned C++, but python/R/netlogo may be more relevant and i’m too lazy and incomeptnt to learn them). While theoretical biology projects were mathematical, eventually you had to put them on a computer. My current project is like that.
From an EA view, one is really talking about ‘transaction costs’ and ‘barriers and bounds to rationality’ (name of a book by D Foley and P Albin). If one was a good mathematician this could be phrased in those terms (and Foley has affiliations with SFI and a few people there are familiar with some of the math formalism required.)
While i applied to Tyler Cowan’s grant program (visions) and read some of his blog, papers and other things from Mercatus center (one person there collaborates with a person at SFI who i contacted but got no reply) i think my politics means they would never fund me. (Same with Templeton, and even some more ‘left leaning ’ organizations like IPS and ones in economics. They do fund redundant and incomplete, second rate work so long as the people have credentials, and can pack their books and papers with alot of data (numbers) which are basically meaningless to anyone who is not fluent in things like all the masses of the atomic elements and elementary particles, or exchange rate between dollars, pounds,s euros, yen and bitcoin).
If i was organized one project i have is to write a a reply to a paper from Mercatus .
I see this study was funded by Emergent Ventures (at least in part). I recently applied for funding from them for my own project to create a sort of ‘grassroots’ interdisciplinary think tank in a rural area where science and other academic subjects are scarce. I see it as a low budget version of the Santa Fe Institute, Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies (where Einstein and Godel worked), or Canada’s Perimeter Institute. But my project is not aimed at the ‘cream of the crop’ nor the kind of fancy (or what i call ‘gee whiz’ ) science/arts done at places like MIT’s media lab. It would have computers and WWW , but likely not supercomputers, 3D printers, particle accelerators, astronomical observatories).
I also have some of my own research projects (in biology/ecology/behavioral genetics, economics, applied math, logic etc.). I can relate to Ramanujan (whose biography I read and some of whose theorems I refer to in some of my much less advanced applied math research)---his results were hand written, not published (he just sent letters to mathematicians, only one of whom responded—G H Hardy (one of the top ones of his era). I have found it impossible to really finish anything, or get it into publishable forum (even my resume). (I did submit a few things various places but missed deadlines, had improper formatting etc. --could barely figure out how to get it into PDF document form). I long ago decided to go my own way due to health and other issues so I stayed out of PhD programs—probably a bad decision. I did get into one PhD program but got cold feet and didn’t show up. (Not everyone is a Darwin, Ramanujan, Einstein, or J Barbour and can be independent until they get recognized.)
Also, my stuff in many ways is redundant, somewhat out of the mainstream in approach (i’m basically trying find a very simple math formalism that can approximate what AI does with computers—ie a ‘Fermi calculation’ (back of the envelope calculations which can sort of generically estimate what a supercomputer will find near exactly), and not as useful as other approaches which are in the literature.
As far as funding, I do think places like NSF, NIH, NIMH, SFI, AAAS, and even universities etc should have programs and provide support—both financial and technical—for small projects like what I have proposed. Especially given the somewhat low level of cultural and scientific literacy in this country and the world. (The big institutions will build new libraries, labs and arts places (not to mention sports facilities , and fund conference travel) while outside them its a sort of an intellectual desert (lie ‘food deserts’ which exist i areas I know—nothing but liquor , junk food and and conveniance stores (eg ‘family dollar’)). Its no different than funding a local library and giving it some books and computers. Its also possible given the large number of university graduates at all levels, some of these could be similar to community health workers (as opposed to doctors) and provide advice and help to people working on what are basically ‘citizen science’ projects. (Citizen science already exists, but all of what I have seen is professional scientists in insitutions asking for volunteers to work on their projects—they never ask if any citizen might want to work on their own project as well, usually because they are considered unqualified. )
The above article primarily focuses on biology (which I follow a bit—but mostly focus on theoretical and mathematical biology—while biotech and molecular biology seem to be the biggest fields (PNAS (Proceedings of Natl Academy of Science) if i recall when i used to read it had maybe 10-30 pages devoted to fields i studied, while like 1000 pages to laboratory based biology.)
My view is biology research is moving along at the same pace it always has; and same with physics (computer science moved faster, but that was because it was a new field theoretically and technologically).
I personally think some fields in biology are possibly overfunded and others are neglected. Some reminds me of Baroque architecture or current megaprojects in architecture (eg new World Trade center, mile high skyscrapers in the mideast, when there is squalor nearby).
I also read psychology and social since papers, and some history, philosophy and political science. Alot of these to me seem to be a bit like the work of smart elementary school kids—not particularily profund or important (eg there are already say 50 books on Lincoln or Reagen but someone writes another one.) Psychology papers seem to deal often with very trivial things -- eg someone observes human shopping behavior in a store and comes up with a theory for that. )
I don’t think alot of academic work is much more profound than what I read on non-academic blogs, or even hear in conversation—its just published in professional journals, and leads to credentials and cred. .
While the highly technical research (eg mathematical) is not trivial, I sometimes think some of it is redundant, and also when people learn a few techniques they can publish many papers on the same theme, while neglecting approaches based on other techniques and ideas. (Its also known that its common practice for people to break up one paper into 4 smaller ones, and published them in different places—which makes them hard to find at times.) But its hard for me to judge (due to lack of competence) to really say if a technical paper is just an excercize at a much more advanced level but analogous to all the papers produced by a 6th grade class.
I actually sort of support a UBI or basic income (which can be phrased as a ‘Guaranteed Job’ as in the Green New Deal deal). So everyone for example can get funded to do scientific research, art, etc like a professional but at a basic level. If it turns out they produce something of high value, then they get paid for that. I read alot of papers and see books by academics which do not appear to be of higher value than what i do (and some appear to have very low value , unless they are viewed as poetry, creative writing, theology, or mythology.
Also, I think some people who do not get funded nor accepted into academic programs is (as noted above) partly because people find them too eccentric, different, and/or unpleasant . I remember when I was checking into some programs I was turned off because I went there to discuss science, and all the people were talking about who is going to some conference, or how some (possibly trivial) paper they published is a ‘hit’ and ‘talk of the town’ (eg they counted how many plastic bags are the sea, a neccesary chore but not too interesting, or how their fallacious paper on social biology or psychoogy is generating alot of discussion and might even lead to a book contract—because it repeats popular myths.) . Also if your research interests (or paradigm, and even social and political views) conflict with the ones held by prominent people in various institutions , in general you may as well hit the door. Its not like Galileo or Darwin were recognized and canonized as Saints.
Also, especially in my academic field, alot of research is torture both mentally and physically (ie in my case endless debugging of computer programs, which were on interesting problems, but basically discussing the theory of why we were even writing these programs was not encouraged. It was like being told you have to fight a war without being allowed to discuss why one is fighting the war. They say we can discuss that when we have time—after we win. This is also discouraged because if you discuss the theory for the war or computer program, you may realize that is not the optimal approach.)
This seems to be a well thought out article though not the kind of thing I usually read . (I’m the type of person who can sort of read some mid-level academic literature (not quantum field theory or number theory, but not ‘american studies’ either—more like ‘complexity theory’ (though some of that is basically at the ‘high end’ of math) but i can’t even type a resume , tax return , or fill out a college application without help.
I am looking for a job but don’t know if this article will help me. (My #1 job qualification I would list as ‘unemployable’. I am sort of planning to apply for a job I saw listed on 80,000 hours but instead of trying to put together a resume I am writing comments on articles like this one. I’d have to link to some ‘google docs’ i have written to include in my resume, but am too lazy or stupid to know how to do it. These are on foundations of physics, alternative economic systems, etc. ---written for essay contests and grant proposals, but were rejected due to poor formatting and missed deadlines.)
I see the options listed are government, advocacy, coordination, technical skills , and consultancy. Only thing i could possibly do is ‘technical skills’ (except my technical skills, if I have any, are not in the mainstream—the mainstream is ‘deep learning’ and other very technical approaches to ‘multiobjective optimization’ (algorithms)).
I guess i could call my technical work ‘consultancy’. (I’ll tell people what to use their ‘deep learning’ algorithm to model—though i can’t write the code.)
I mostly grew up in a government town (half the people worked for the government) so I’m allergic to that kind of beurocratic organization. I deal as little with the government as i can (and most of that is with either US mailperson and the local police, who i just say hello to. I did vote in 2016--for cannabis legalization and green party (my area was 85% democratic so i voted just to keep GP on the ballot—i didn’t like the candidate, though i support GP principles—but i think GP helped Trump get elected).
I’ve participated in some ‘environmental’ and ‘social justice’ advocacy (activism—occassionaly for (low) pay ) --its like being a door to door salesperson and not my style or preference.
I’ve helped ‘coordinate’ some projects in the past (e.g. help put out little magazines (some online) on local environmental and social justice issues (though both of these have global aspects) but too often this is like crowd control so you are a bouncer. And my superiors were also bouncers who disciplined me so i dropped out. (As they said, while our project has a specific mission (usually involving science, ecology, and justice) since there was no way the people involved could agree on any specifics of what to do, they just decided we are not going to discuss that and simply let everyone do want they want and put it together into a product.
Since I was an exception, I was the only one who could not do what they wanted—i had to do what i was told to do, which included promoting the project i was in
Consultancy has similar issues—consultants are brought in to advise you not to worry about the content of your product—just explain how to get the product out from lab to market. (This can be seen in current legal cases involving the US ‘opiate epidemic’. Consultants helped get the product to market, and are long gone—moved onto another consultancy. Others have to deal with the consequenceso of that product. Don’t sweat the small stuff, or details.
Technical research is more difficult to judge—some is highly redundant, some very speculative . (I’ve known people who do field biology cataloging changes in species numbers over time—i’ve done some of that myself. This is often used to make the case that human induced climate change is an issue. My view is to an extent this is already known, so its almost like going to a battlefield, counting casualties, and then using this to say war is a problem.
(another possible technical problem is the question ‘is climate change more complex than global poverty?’ While the answer given above (yes) is reasonable, in a way its like asking if a human, or a society is more complex than a bacteria. Are voting patterns or economic time series (eg the stock market, or income distribution and social mobility ) more complex than time series for global temperature data or ones for biodiversity over millenia? Often the statistical signatures seem similar from what I’ve read.
I’d also say for a flip answer they are the same problem, and modeled by basically the same equations (lorentz equations, Lotka-Volterra , Navier Stokes....) . Turbulence everywhere; at the edge of chaos.
(I sort of dislike the term ‘high impact career’ ---- i view my life as my career even if i’m unemployed as I am—and ‘high impact’ sounds like being a ‘rock star’, major politician, or major scientist—i just want a low profile ‘niche career’. (I also play ‘non-commercial’, ‘niche’ music—it will never make it on the radio or charts, but can bring in a little money, and some such ‘niche music’ eventually turns out to be highly influential or impactful. The musicians who do get on the radio have often studied niche music; most silicon valley billionaires have not studied condensed matter physics, but those often unknown people indirectly had high impacts since they made silicon valley possible. you don’t have to be a star to have some impact. a little asteroid might wipe out the earth. ) Since my background is partly in ecology, in that ‘fairly complex’ field while there are some plants and animals that are seen as ‘high impact’ or important (elephants, lions, polar bears, redwood trees...) there are many often unnoticed species which ecologically are just as important. )
The 4 things that struck me were
1) the essential point that there is a tradeoff between time/energy/effort /resources spent searching for the optimal ‘high impact’ career versus actually doing the work in a career.
This is similar to tradeoffs between searching for your ‘perfect soulmate’ versus deciding that the person you are with is ‘good enough’ or the best you can hope for (even if it wasn’t the ‘match made in heaven’ you expected because you thought you deserved it).
Economist Herbert Simon called this ‘satisficing’
This is also basically what EA is about—for example how much time do you devote to figuring out what causes or charities are worth supporting or donating to, versus just giving a donation so they can do the work. (One can easily envision a situation in which all donations are spent for research on figuring out what causes are worth donating to.)
Satisficing is a term I learned from a family member with a quite different view and approach to life than me—she learned it in an MBA program, which was paid for by her employer.
One of H Simon’s last papers was on altruism. (Science, 1990 ‘a mechanism for social selection and succesful altruism’) --economists and theoretical biologists—my area—were basically working on same ideas though without much contact.
Since I was in the sciences and have always basically been an ‘environmentalist’ I didn’t get along well with my relative who taught me that term. Her employer (a large company) was involved in some very environmentally destructive activities, and with others i protested against them. I also didn’t have much respect for things like MBA or law degrees. I view those as 50% a mixture of social control theory and rhetoric—itself a form of social control, via hypnotization. (of course science is also somewhat like that).
I became an environmentalist basically because i couldn’t compete in sports like normal boys , and was bullied, so i decided I to hang out by myself in the woods and allied my self with that ‘tribe’ and hence was sort of against sports and many businesses including the one my relative works for. I was in protests against construction of and using taxpayer funds to pay for new sports stadiums in my area (baseball, football, soccer) because some were built on what had been fairly pristine forests and ecosystems, and also because this area has alot of fairly extreme poverty (for USA) so there are continual drives to collect winter coats and school supplies for schoolkids, food donations and other support for seniors and disabled and other needy people, while the taxpayer subsidized sports stadiums make sports players and owners millionaires and billionaires. One of these multimillionaire sports team owners also cut alot of old trees down on National Park service land because they were obstructing his view. He got a 500$ fine.
I saw a few of those articles or summaries. There are some disputes over exactly how much tree planting can ‘offset’ (or reverse) climate change, but the magnitude even in those disputes looks to be similar to cutting back on meat based and industrial agriculture diets . The main problem is political—clearing forests for meat, soy and palm oil, corn and cotton, is a big business.
there are even some people who say ‘habitat preservation’ (eg rainforests) is a bad idea because then you have alot of suffering animals living in them, who would be happier not being born.
i am in contact with a few groups in Africa who apparently quite busy planting trees (since I haven’t been there i can’t verify this, except from what they send me). My view is ‘precautionary’ or ‘prevention’ principles—avoid as much as possible deforestation and consumption of products that rely on it.
I only skimmed part of this, but I would agree that EA is an ideology, and would add that ‘ideology’ is a fairly vague term. I include science and religion as examples of ideological movements, as well as current ‘popular’, ‘social justice’ and ‘environmental’ movements (e.g. extinction rebellion, anti-capitalists, yellow vests, alt-right) . Maybe the 2 best sources for this view might K Mannheim’s ‘Ideology and Utopia’, and H White’s ‘Metahistory’—though both of them are vague and out of date . (I might add Pierre Bourdieu.)
EA has a specific kind of language—based mostly on philosophy, though apparently many people are either into IT or just have ‘regular careers’ (I met a police officer who works in a very rough area at an EA event, as well as an international poverty researcher).
The mathematics I’ve seen associated with EA , though they talk about it, is minimal—the only worthwhile math I’ve seen was a paper cited by a university grad student , and the paper was from a research center with no connection to EA. Most of the math in EA papers is what I call ‘philosophical math’—similar to Godel’s ‘Ontological Proof of God’—just a philosophical paper, which shows ‘God’ can be represented by an ‘Ultrafilter’ (a mathematical term). (I think Godel didn’t think he prove God existed, only that God was already implicit in any discussions of her or it. )
EA ideology is like christianity to me—and I view there to be 2 kinds of Christians who both claim the name—one kind (Episcopalians, MLK Baptists, liberal churches) say they belive love your neighbor as yourself. The iother kind says accept jesus as savior and bible as literal word of god and the rest follows—no LGBTQ+, womyn preachers, abortions, etc.
EA has similar divisions—some EA people have environmentalist sympathies (eg carbon sequestration, saving rainforests); others worry about ‘insect and wild animal suffering’ so they favor destruction of wilderness areas where animals suffer. Some do support both habitat destruction and renewable energy development (which by any basic logical analyses makes exactly zero sense—if they want to reduce wild animal suffering, then they should be against renewable energy and in favor of Canadian tar sand and Arctic oil developement, mountain top removal and strip oal mining , etc—because it destroys more natural habitat where insects and animals suffer).
I dought all people who identify with EA will ever have a constant set of beliefs any more than Christians will (one can remember that Martin Luther created the protestants which split from Catholics, yet retained term christian.)
In my area the main issues are economic inequality, social intolerance , immigration, incarceration, drug wars, and huge gaps in power between the ‘meritocracy’ (usually in universities) and those not in that class. (Social intolerance works many ways—you can have homophobes worried about islamaphobia, poor white nationalists worried about ‘people of color’ but not economic inequality , etc.) Then there are issues like trade and tarrifs (eg US vs China and Mexico) , and the environment.
The EA people I have met tend to be either grad students in applied sciences or philosophers, and I guess many in IT—they don’ t speak the language of theoretical sciences.
One could probably do a behavioral genetics type analyses of ‘heritability’ or a cultural transmission model of who identifies with EA. (Most progressive types around this area identify more with what are called ‘socialists’ (eg Bernie Sanders, E. Warren, and AOC—all US politicians). They also tend to think to deal with global poverty and other issues one has to deal with local issues as well. )
There are many excellent reasons why funding research on psychedelics should NOT be a top priority for EA (or any other group either, such as NSF, NIMH, or NIH).
First, as a ‘caveat’ I think its hard to define ‘top priorities’ ----I think there are many priorities, some of which are unknown, overlooked, or the standard EA measures of importance, neglectedness and tractability are not computed (or estimated) correctly. Noone knows what is the top or which ones. Also in my world, funds are always limited, so that means even if one has some good idea of what actions are candidates for being in a list of top rated priorities, one may not be able to fund all of them. And sometimes its better to practice ‘triage’, and just fund a few adequately so they have a chance of success, rather than all of them at such low levels that they will likely all fail.
The best reeasons NOT to fund psychedelic research are economic. There are huge industries in USA based on promoting acoholism, addiction to opiates and other pharmaceuticals, and tobbaco, among other things, as well as ones based on curing people of these addictions or the problems they cause for people. These industries also generate alot of feelings of social well being, because there are many people who gain pleasure either helping people self-medicate to feel better, or curing them when they feel ill. If pschedelics were available, and proved to be an alternative to currently available substances, its possible some jobs would be lost , and alot of social unhappiness would follow. EA generally is against increasing unhappiness (though they might argue for the change, if ‘gross national happiness’ increased. As has been argued for free trade, or any other ‘pareto increasing’ economic reallocation, it is always possible to compensate the ‘losers’ if there is a net gain. For example, produce and sell psychedelics rather than alcoohol, just as may occur with ‘synthetic meat’.)
Other values less recognized is having a whole lot of sick alcoholics and drug addicts around. They are a useful source of social stigma and an often easily recognized ‘underclass’ from which can be gained self-esteem for many not in that class. In past few months I have also heard many experts in the ‘chattering class’ have numerous discussions on radio about the rpbolem of this underclass, and worry they wouldn’t have mmuch to dop if they weren’t around, though perhaps they could find some other group to stigmatize into an underclass. But this issue suggests one may not want to risk eliminating the current underclass should that be an outcome of psychedelic research. Remember the tale of Pandora’s box—the cure may be worse than the disease, at least for some people.
There is some risk that adoption of psychedlics as a legal alternative, should research suggest that is reasonable, could lead to some of the same problems one has with other legal and illegal substances (including food). (Some countries use prescriptions for medical marijuana and opiates to try to control this problem).
Another reason NOT to fund such research is that if they were available it might change the way people look at the world. Their ‘doors of perception’ would be changed, leading to (this) ‘civilizational collapse’. Established institutions like religions, possibly education, views on desirable entertainment (eg sports, TV and talk radio) might face major impacts or ruptures.
Finally, as someone with some experience using psychedelics quite awhile ago (2 different wild species, which I found myself by sloggin iles through fields, swamps and deserts ) , another reason NOT to fund research on them that might make them acceptable and legal is because in my case those experiences of finding them made me very (or at least reasonably) healthy, clearminded (at least in my subjective opinion, which is not worth much I have found at least to others) and happy. (After i took those lieteral and figurative trips, i went right back to college and took courses in molecular pharmacology and quantum theory, though i was never a great student partly because i preferred being outside, but did pass.) In this culture where I can’t go out and find them, I can walk a block to a store or corner up the street and get something else which makes me very unhealthy, makes it nearly impossible to think or even walk far, may be unpleasant to others, and often miserable. (And that street can be dangerous to walk on at night or in the day.) There are health and mental health and mental professionals and industries dependent on sick, confused and unhappy people. Also to become such professionals they didn’t have to go through the ‘misery’ of taking quantum theory or pharmacology-just took psychology or counseling where they learn the dangers of psychedelics. I they had to change the expert curriculum to accept new knowledge that could traumatic, so that is another reason NOT to fund psychedelic research. Best not to upset the setup )
I think in a sense choosing a name or ‘brand’—such as EA and 80,000 hours—is a form of central planning, just as a business usually involves central planning within its ‘microenvironment’. But names, brands, religions, businesses all exist in a ‘sea’ or larger environment of others.
In a theoretical sense I think everyone on earth could join EA no matter their situation. Biologists sort of see the world this way—but recognize it may be more like IEA (ineffective altruism) or SEI (sub- or semi-optimal altruism).
I wonder if 80,000 hours has any high impact careers for ‘nonconformists’—eg comedians like Dave Chappelle or writers like Mark Twain . I heard Ukraine just elected a TV comedian to be president—seems like a high impact career, though I dought he identifies as an EA.
I can imagine a high impact career aligned with EA as a ‘central planner’. (I think Stalin and Mao and maye Hitler tried that with mixed results. German and chinese economies I hear are doing pretty well, though they started on an uneven playing field; Russia seems to be a mixed bag especialy outside of Moscow.)
That’s a thought provoking essay alot of which I can relate to (tho learning a new term ‘scrupulosity’ sort of busts my brain if it isn’t already busted or if i even have one—i’ve never checked in there to see). Also i like this term I/mmoral. Similar to ‘i think, thus i exist’ (or at least i think i do).
I’m probably could be diagnosed with OCD—a mental problem or form of insanity. As they say, if people keep doing the same thing over and over, and get no results, that’s insane. But in a way, that’s what alot of math and science is about—you do same thing over and over, with some small perterbations, and see if you get anything. Eventually, as P W Anderson (noble prize physicist) said in his famous essay, ‘more is different’.
I got some of my OCD when i was small and had to walk past some tough corners coming home from school—i started counting my steps and would decide based on whether it was an even or odd number whether when i got to the corner i would run to the right or to the left.
I have experienced both value drift and lifestyle drift (mostly the latter) and this has happenned in the last 3 years—and I first heart heard of EA about 3 years ago. My values are still close to what they always have been . I come from this tradition of environmentalism/nature/voluntary simplicity, social justice, tolerance, anti-authoritarian activism, ‘scientific humanism’or ‘ethical culture’, as well as scientific rationality (math based) as well as musical interests .
While I could live a lifestyle based on those values, I was fairly happy. But I got into some personal and work related environments which meant I had to compromise on many of my values—surrounded by people who variously had no interest in rationality , nature or science, didn’t like the kind of music I enjoyed, sometimes intolerant, and even ‘authoritarians’ though these people considered themselves what are called derogatoritarily ‘SJWs’—people who are ‘never wrong’ and always saving the world. If I was around scientists, not uncommonly they had limited ‘altruistic’ inclinations—much more concerned with their careers and status than with the world around them—so their Focus as used in the EA Framework was on themselves, and viewed that as the best way to better the world.
Also altruism from a biological/scientific view some say technically doesn’t exist—you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself. (Though of course many philanthropists like Carnegie and Mellon have helped others—its a time dependent process. Some historians have argued that ‘British Colonialism’ was a good thing.)
I wrote this because one of my interests are diffusion-drift equations (used in theoretical biology, physics, etc.) though I’m not an expert in them. I was sort of hoping to combine them with the EA framework, but the languages and dialects are so different, i’m thinking its a waste of time. Just as other environments I’ve been in conflict with my values, people I’ve encountered in EA personally or on-line don’t value that approach. So I’m having more value drifts—stop trying to associate with people who don’t share your values—be less tolerant. And for me, maybe stop valuing math reasoning and rationality of the kind humans do so much, because the world is fundamentally irrational.
I am against pet stores—there are at least 5 kinds of wild snakes snakes around here (copperheads, water snakes, green snakes, ringnecks, worm snakes, black rat snakes, black racers, maybe hognose snakes). i have mice right in my apt—i leave them alone. In another place i sometimes stay, there are corn snakes who live right out front, and rattlesnakes 100 feet away. I just look at them.
I tend to be wary and distrustful when i see articles with titles like this—too often they are long and jargon filled (or made up jargon) and while usually basically coherent, tend to lack much in the way of innovative content—come off as school or university student papers (even if written by professors or professionals
This one is quite good and sort of amusing however. (I am not a fan of Jordan Peterson but i wonder if he goes to the events hosted by the authors of the article since he is in same city. ) I may use this article as a springboard for my own approach based on that.
I try to be in a state of happiness at least several hours a day.
(For example, since yesterday i missed my daily walk, i decided to do it last night—go see the creek—because weather prediction was the rain would start today, not last night.
So, as soon as i got outside about 11 pm it started pouring rain with alot of pretty lightening and thunder but i went anyway. I have 3 places i can sort of stay dry and not get hit by lighting near the creek—a bridge and some cliffs. I went to see the flood. Then i decided to take a dip in that dirty water. (It went from like 3 feet deep to 10 feet deep in 1 hour). I was on borderline of drowning but I can deal with that.)
I heard a radio show with a talk by some womyn who said she had been depressed and unhappy—due to things like global warming, floods, fires, poverty, lots of violence. She got some ‘help’ and medications and then became happier—she could sit in a traffic jam during daily commute and it didn’t bother her. Had a sort of stoic attitude.
I agree with the listed 8 goals in last section of the article, and also think online technologies have a role in (possibly) meeting them.
I am interested in this topic but more from a theoretical perspective (mathematics, data analytics, statistics and probability, psychology and economics—complexity theory).
Partly because of my interest I have participated in several of these online research studies (most recently the SWARM intelligence study conducted by a group in Australia (i think U Melbourne) which was funded by US DoD , and one from a university in New York. I found most of these online studies (which involve answering questions ) too time consuming, so many of them i dropped out of. Hence one ends up with ‘sample selection bias’ problems.This is similar to polling issues—when they only poll people who have smart phone numbers.
Hence i’m interested in how accurate these research studies are----perhaps I (and others like me) are ‘outliers’ (i have a smart phone but dont use it inside). Similar ideas are discussed by Heinrich in his paper W.E.I.R.D people published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences several years ago.
Sorry if this is ‘clutter’ but i will mention CCAN (chesapeake climate action network, based near Wash DC).They do good work mostly on energy conservation, solar power, carbon taxation (which may be feasible politically in this area), , mountain top removal coal ming, and fracking and pipelines in the Appalachian mountains—all very difficult political and social issues. i have disagreed with a few of their policies (ie putting wind farms in Appalachian Mountains; i support offshore wind power rather than turning near wilderness into industrial wind farms—and I think they now mostly support my position),
Its likely CCAN because it operates in an area which has many envrionmentalists and affluent people does not really need more funding (one of the EA concepts—dont put more money where its not needed)---CCAN knows how to raise funds (eg they have a 3 day comedy show benefit this weekend). But I will just put out a plug for them as being an ok group but there may be other groups with higher priority.
This subgroup of EA i find interesting and potentially useful.
This may be off topic, and I’m only connected to EA community from reading online resources, and having attended one EA discussion on ‘diversity and inclusion in EA’, and one EA group hike locally—interesting people, but I didn’t make any real continuing connections, perhaps because I come from a different tradition.
One of my main college and later (independent, mostly WWW based , and continuing fields of study has been ‘evolution of cooperation’ and altruism from a biological and cultural evolutionary perspective which is slightly different from what most people think of as altruism. Also most of my effort devoted towards ‘doing good better’ has been in community groups dealing with poverty , health and substance abuse problems, and the environment. Many of those groups are not very effective. They have lots of goals, but usually at best only achieve a few of them.
I am paired with an accountability buddy and contacted her but really am not expecting anything—if something works out, fine, if it doesn’t , thats the way it is.
One of my goals which I may not achieve is to see what processes are effective and for who (similar to asking what medical treatments are effective and for who, or what college tracks are effective for people having a happy and productive life, and for who—i know people with all kinds of degrees and careers and relationships, and some are happy and some aren’t. This is a ‘matching problem’ as they say in fields like math and computer science.
I wonder if there is a way to find an accountability buddy who is an appropriate match—I think it means one needs to have compatible and complementary goals. (Stalin, Hitler , Churchhill and FDR from a utopian view were not matches made in heaven. )