I was confused by this as well. Does “no winners” mean “the backstop funder won”? If not, how can there not be a winner?
Perhaps also edit this EA Forum post to make it clear that it’s easier than people might think?
I share this perception; I think I’d prefer if we didn’t lump these different concerns together as “Intellectual weirdness.”
Update: The counterproposal to the initiative has passed!
Our social media update:
70% of Zurich voters in favor of more effective foreign aid: The counterproposal to the Stiftung für Effektiven Altruismus’s ballot initiative has passed with a very strong majority! The city of Zurich’s development cooperation budget has thus just been increased from $3 million to $8 million per year. It is to be allocated “based on the available scientific research on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness”.
We supported the counterproposal because it contains the key points of our original initiative and had a high chance of success. This seems to be the first time that Swiss legislation on development cooperation mentions effectiveness requirements.
I expect to post a more thorough EA forum update in a couple of weeks.
I find it hard to understand which responses were categorized as “intellectual weirdness” and I’m not sure which lessons to draw. E.g., we might be concerned about being off-putting to people who are most able to contribute to top cause areas by presenting weird ideas too prominently (“don’t talk about electron suffering to newbies”). Or we might think EAs are getting obsessed with weird ideas of little practical relevance and should engage more with what common sense has to say (“don’t spend your time thinking about electron suffering”). Or we might be concerned about PR risk, etc.
Here’s a frequent mistake that’s easy to avoid: If you want to debunk an incorrect myth or preconception about EA, preempt it by clearly stating the opposite (i.e., the true facts). Don’t explain the myth itself and how it’s incorrect, because that will be counterproductive.
Example: Don’t ever say “People sometimes think EA is a cult, but it’s not.” If you say something like that, the journalist will likely think this is a catchy line and print it in the article. This will give readers the impression that EA is not quite a cult, but perhaps almost. This is a real concern – e.g., I’ve seen this in a subheading of an otherwise favorable article.
Instead, say: “There’s a diverse range of perspectives and approaches in the community. Some give 10% of their income, but many don’t. People have different backgrounds, different opinions on which methods to use, and different opinions on which causes are most important. What brings us together is trying to find out how to do good with a scientific mindset.”
Of course, the above statement might not be sufficiently interesting to be printed verbatim in an article, but that’s fine. It still informs a journalist’s overall impression of the community and helps them give a correct description of the community in their piece. Goal achieved!
See also this paper on how debunking myths can make people believe them more, not less: “(…) efforts to retract misinformation can even backfire and, ironically, increase misbelief.” (Disclaimer: I haven’t evaluated the paper or checked for replications, etc.)
Some people have been asking for further details on the Swiss effective foreign aid ballot initiative (“1% initiative” in Zurich) by the Effective Altruism Foundation (EAF). The vote on a counterproposal that preserves the key points of the original initiative will take place on November 17th and I’ll publish an EA forum post afterwards. Feel free to get in touch via PM if you’d like to get access to an early draft.
There’s no need for any additional financial resources for that particular initiative, but I encourage people looking to support potential similar future initiatives (or other efforts to improve Swiss foreign aid policy) with ≥$10k to get in touch with me (firstname dot lastname at ea-foundation.org).
Thanks, I agree. It still seems to me that a) mainstream people probably matter somewhat less than specific groups, b) we should think about how mainstream people would like to be helped, and that may or may not be through offsetting.
I’d be interested in more elaboration on what kinds of grants you may evaluate in the future and more generally your place and comparative advantage in the EA grantmaking ecosystem. E.g., should people with ideas get in touch with you? How could you see yourself collaborating with other grantmakers? How did you decide to look into Donational?
Thanks for putting this together, I think this is an exciting report and project.
I mostly agree with Habryka’s points.
I have another minor point:
We think there is a small-to-moderate chance that CAP would generate several very impactful indirect benefits. For example, the additional donations going to animal-focused charities may reduce the risk of global pandemics caused by antibiotic resistance, and the program may help create a broader culture of effective giving at US workplaces.
I feel like it’s odd to categorize the former example as “indirect benefits”. I think a cost-effectiveness model should aim to capture the overall expected impact of all the charities by applying some “impact-adjusted money moved” metric. (If you’re evaluating from a long-termist perspective, this would mean a long-termist perspective on all supported charities.) Otherwise, any project that involves some amount of leverage on various other organizations will always have high indirect benefits and harms, which makes the overall rating non-informative.
I agree that “help create a broader culture of effective giving at US workplaces” is a good example of an indirect benefit.
For instance, charities that reduce poverty and disease may cause economic growth, which is likely to increase the number of animals raised in factory farms and could contribute to climate change and existential risks.
Again, the same points seem to hold here; I think this should already be factored into the cost-effectiveness estimates.
(I realize my explanation of my view is a bit vague; I have a pretty strong intuition here and it would take me more time to think about it more and really explain it in depth.)
It would be great if the AllPosts page displayed the first ~100 posts instead of just the first ~16. Every few months, I find myself spending several minutes repeatedly clicking the “Load More Days” button.
We would love to have a more diverse team and if you have interested people in mind, please direct them to the survey or our current email address
I’ve sent you a PM with some suggestions! I haven’t been in touch with them lately, so please reach out to them directly.
Thanks for this detailed write-up! I appreciate that you’re taking the initiative, especially considering that EAF has withdrawn from this area.
A few questions / inputs:
1. Have you considered trying to recruit a more demographically diverse team? To my knowledge, there are several women who would make excellent contributions and might be interested.
2. What are your plans for coordinating with the international EA community, especially CEA, and staying up to date with their inputs for community building strategy? My experience has been that important strategic update are often only propagated slowly to national/local groups, so having a very deliberate plan for doing that seems desirable (edit: you also write this in your post – sorry for the initial oversight). (As far as I know, there hasn’t been an attempt to coordinate with EAF yet, which IMO could also be useful. Feel free to reach out if you haven’t yet! – Edit: I stand corrected – there has actually been some coordination in the early stages, so thanks!)
3. I appreciate that you listed concrete metrics to evaluate your impact. Some of the metrics seem much more suitable to me than others – career changes, for example, seem really valuable and impactful, pledges taken seems useful, but money donated by students is unlikely to be significant and can be used as a way of getting people involved and engaged rather than as an outcome metric. Similarly, I’d recommend a stronger effort to track the quality of local groups and local group members rather than the quantities/numbers. These things have been elaborated on in several local group guides.
Thanks for the response!
Strong-upvoted the post, especially because it seems very nuanced.
For example, Wild Animal Suffering Research was previously a project of EAF, though I am not sure of the current relationship between EAF and Wild Animal Initiative, which has replaced WASR.
At this point, WAI is an indepedent US non-profit (see here).
Through Raising for Effective Giving, EAF continues to fundraise >$1m annually for animal charities.
I still don’t understand which claim you’re making, exactly.
Are you saying:
1) “most animals don’t have as many offspring as was previously stated (mistakenly, based on the r-/K-selection model), and therefore we can’t be as sure that most animals live short and gruesome lives,”
or 2) “most animals don’t have as short a life span as was previously stated (mistakenly, based on the r-/K-selection model), and therefore we can’t be as sure that most animals live short and gruesome lives,”
or 3) something else?
I thought the claim about r-/K-selection was always about number of offspring and lifespan, rather than other aspects of the model (competition, body size, etc.), and your article doesn’t seem to suggest that these are very different from what was previously argued.
I’d guess that people would write more detailed bios if the input field was larger.
Here’s another example: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22SHOW%3A+A+framework+for+shaping+your+talent+for+direct+work%22