That fits with what we’re seeing at Effective Altruism New Zealand. The Sam Harris/Will MacAskill podcast is still a common referral source for new donors, and for people requesting copies of Doing Good Better via our book giveaway. So +1 piece of supporting anecdata
Yeah, I can see how that would be helpful—I’m thinking of having a go at it as a decision-making tool myself.
The approach kind of reminds me of internal family systems therapy, actually: trying to reconcile different parts of yourself by imagining them as different people. The main difference being that there’s no trauma in this kind of scenario (hopefully, anyway!), and a lot less psychotherapy jargon :)
I don’t have any answers for you, I’m afraid- but I wanted to say that I really like the way you wrote this up. Framing your inner conflict as a debate between Andy and Drew made it very clear and engaging to read.
...the next step should probably be establishing this person’s moral beliefs/what they want to see in the world (i.e. if they will find meaning in contributing to the problem of global health, animals, long termism etc). What does the person value now, and how is this understanding tied to their sense of identity?
This actually reminds me of a technique that’s used in political campaigning.Back in my pre-EA days, my husband and I were involved with a local political party. People making campaign calls etc. were trained to find something the person they were speaking to valued, and then tie that to one of the party policies. E.g. “oh, you care about child poverty? Our MPs are passionate about that too! We’re working on this policy/proposal etc.”
The idea was to frame voting for the party as a natural extension of the person’s own values: as something they might want to do, rather than as something we were trying to persuade them to do. It can come across a bit scungy/manipulative if the tone isn’t just right, but it seemed to be pretty effective overall.
I don’t know how common the approach is outside of that particular political party, but it seems likely to be a more widespread campaign technique. There’s definitely some precedent for the approach, in any case.
One thing that might be helpful is to set aside specific times to work on job hunting, and to only check job boards, work on applications etc. during those hours. The rest of the time, try to forget about it altogether.
Most tasks are much less overwhelming when you know you only have to work on them for a set amount of time. (Rather than constantly feeling like you should be doing something).
Echoing some of the other answers here, I’m grateful for the EA community itself. I find it very comforting to know that although the world’s problems are too big to be solved alone— and although all my efforts may well come to nothing— there are others out there trying to do as much good as they can.
Specific people I’m particularly grateful for are:
My husband, who has been so supportive of my involvement in EA, and has largely gotten onboard himself, though it wouldn’t necessarily have been his thing otherwise
Catherine (cafelow), who is in many ways the lifeblood of the EA community in NZ. It’s been amazing working with her- she always has things for me to do, and never fails to make me feel like my work is valued and appreciated
Dewi, who did a fantastic job managing my cohort in the EA Oxford fellowship, and has gone above and beyond in maintaining contact with us after the fellowship ended
A big thank you to all of you.
Thanks for sharing these- I’ve added some of them to my playlist.
There’s a somewhat related discussion, including people’s recommendations, over on LessWrong: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/jyDTh9vnmczuNNxgt/rational-humanist-music
Also worth mentioning here, especially with the holidays coming up- Raymond Arnold’s ‘Secular Solstice’ album. I particularly like ‘Brighter than Today’ and ‘Five Billion Years’
Thanks for the rec- I’ve added that one to my EA playlist
This is awesome, thank you! Another song on the X risk / end of the world theme is Tom Lehrer’s ‘We’ll All Go Together When We Go’, though that’s more comedy than inspirational.
Ooh, good question! I have a playlist I sometimes listen to when doing EA work, to keep me going/inspired.Most of the songs aren’t specifically EA related, though, just vaguely… humanist-y? (What my husband calls ‘atheist worship music’).Picking out a few of the more thematically appropriate ones:
‘Every Little Thing’ by Peter Doran. (A nice anticonsumerist/minimalist piece that helps keep me motivated to donate)
‘Oh Virtus Sapientiae’ by Hildegard von Bingen. (A hymn by a medieval nun, extolling the virtues of wisdom)
‘Glory Hallelujah’ by Frank Turner. Not a religious song, despite the name. I particularly like the later verse/s:
″...If we accept that there’s an end game and we haven’t got much time,Then in the here and now we can try and do things right.We’d be our own Salvation Army, and together we’d believeIn all the wondrous things that mere mortals can achieve.”
I’m always on the lookout for more songs for my playlist, so keen to hear everyone’s suggestions.
Thank you :)
I finished my degree! (BA in economics and philosophy). It ended up being quite a challenging final semester, mostly because of COVID and things going on in my personal life, so it’s great to have it done.I also won an award from my college for my performance (highest GPA), which was pretty cool.
Just wanted to say I appreciate the inclusion of good news. EA’s focus on big difficult problems can get a bit depressing/discouraging (at least for me), so it’s nice to have a reminder that good things are happening too.
Oh, awesome! Thanks for [re]posting.I’m basically the kind of person you describe: hadn’t heard of the project, have been wanting to get through EAG lectures but haven’t made the time, like to listen to podcasts while exercising doing housework etc.This will be a great addition to my feed :)
Well done! Progress still counts as progress, even if it takes a while to get there.
I’ve been collecting funeral readings for a while… these aren’t all strictly EA related, but do fit the science-y/humanist bent which seems to be common to EA culture:
‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas- a fairly common/traditional funeral reading that fits in nicely with EA ideas about fighting back against death and metaphorical darkness.
‘If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking’ by Emily Dickinson- doesn’t quite fit the EA focus on having a large impact, but does line up well with the broader idea of doing good being a central focus of your life
‘You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral’ by Aaron Freeman- not obviously EA aligned, but still worth an honourable mention IMO, given the focus on embracing truth and reality
This passage from ‘Unweaving the Rainbow’ also seems appropriate, (though anti-natalists/those who believe human lives are net-negative may not agree with the sentiment):
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia…Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here
There’s been some discussion of the EA-esque themes in George Eliot’s ‘Middlemarch’ on the Forum (here and here). Various quotes from the novel seem as if they could work as readings. I’ll highlight just a few...
For a graduation, there’s this passage about pursuing knowledge/learning/education, not for its own sake, but to help us do good:
It would be a great mistake to suppose that Dorothea would have cared about any share in … learning as mere accomplishment; for though opinion … had pronounced her clever, that epithet would not have described her to circles in whose more precise vocabulary cleverness implies mere aptitude for knowing and doing, apart from character. All her eagerness for acquirement lay within that full current of sympathetic motive in which her ideas and impulses were habitually swept along. She did not want to deck herself with knowledge—to wear it loose from the nerves and blood that fed her action; and if she had written a book she must have done it as Saint Theresa did, under the command of an authority that constrained her conscience. But something she yearned for by which her life might be filled with action at once rational and ardent; and since the time was gone by for guiding visions and spiritual directors, since prayer heightened yearning but not instruction, what lamp was there but knowledge?
For a wedding, or a more general EA event:
What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult to each other?
This passage seems suited to a funeral, though could also be used more generally… it touches on the importance of shaping society to enable people to do good, as well as on celebrating the good we do manage to achieve, even if we don’t have as much impact as we might have liked:
Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. A new Theresa will hardly have the opportunity of reforming a conventual life, any more than a new Antigone will spend her heroic piety in daring all for the sake of a brother’s burial: the medium in which their ardent deeds took shape is forever gone. But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorotheas, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that of the Dorothea whose story we know.
Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
Really enjoyed this, thank you. I especially liked the undertone of ‘uncertainty isn’t a reason not to try, it’s a reason to find out more’. Good life advice in general, I think.