Comment author: Benito 12 September 2018 06:24:58AM 1 point [-]

Yeah, this matches my personal experience a bunch. I'm planning to look into this literature sometime soon, but I'd be interested to know if anyone has strong opinions about what first-principles model best fits with the existing work in this area.

Comment author: ToniA 11 September 2018 08:12:09PM 1 point [-]

Hi Jc,

1- Yes, our criteria are different from GiveWell’s. As John alluded to in his original post, our work is quite different from GiveWell’s in a number of ways. For one thing, there is generally much less evidence available about the cost-effectiveness of animal advocacy interventions than about the cost-effectiveness of direct health interventions. As a result, our models of average cost-effectiveness are much less certain than GiveWell’s, which is one reason why we rely more heavily on other indicators of marginal cost-effectiveness. It’s possible that GiveWell could also benefit from considering some of the other criteria we consider, but I’m not enough of an expert on their work to be comfortable drawing that conclusion.

2- We look for charities that emphasize effectively reducing suffering in their mission statement so that we can be confident that their future activities will still align with that goal. Suppose a charity does outstanding work influencing diet change/meat reduction, but they do it with the goal of improving human health. We would be concerned that such a charity could dramatically shift their activities if something caused their mission to be less aligned with ours (for instance, if new research suggested that meat is good for human health). This concern wouldn’t necessarily prevent us from recommending the charity, but it would factor into our decision.

3- As above, this is a concern that would factor into our decision but it wouldn’t necessarily prevent us from recommending a charity.

Best, Toni

In response to Open Thread #41
Comment author: zepedad 11 September 2018 07:59:25PM 0 points [-]

Possibly Highly Effective Ways to Address Climate Change

This thread by Josh Busby gives plenty of examples—

Skip the commentary I’ll add on after this sentence and just read that thread if you’re trying to save time.

As this article ( makes clear, local actions to address climate change that do not scale up to the national or higher level are just feel-good nothingburgers. It’s possible that every local action has a chance to scale to that level, but not all will scale at the speed that we need, and some actions taken to address climate change actually make things worse (see some advertising campaigns from the past.)

Comment author: Jc_Mourrat 11 September 2018 06:11:12PM *  1 point [-]

People at GiveWell state that they base their recommendations on four criteria: evidence of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, room for more funding, and transparency. For ACE, as you reminded us here, there are seven criteria, including:

"6. Does the charity have strong leadership and a well-developed strategic vision? A charity that meets this criterion has leaders who seem competent and well-respected. The charity’s overall mission puts a strong emphasis on effectively reducing suffering, and the charity responds to new evidence with that goal in mind, revisiting their strategic plan regularly to ensure they stay aligned with that mission.

"7. Does the charity have a healthy culture and a sustainable structure? A charity that meets this criterion is stable and sustainable under ordinary conditions, and seems likely to survive the transition should some of the current leadership move on to other projects. The charity acts responsibly to stakeholders including staff, volunteers, donors, and others in the community. In particular, staff and volunteers develop and grow as advocates due to their relationship with the charity."

I have some questions about this.

1) Would you agree that your evaluation criteria are different from those at GiveWell? If so, do you think that one organization should update its criteria? Or is it that the criteria should be different depending on whether we consider human or non-human animals?

2) W.r. to point 6: if a charity does outstanding work, but happens to not emphasize effectively reducing suffering in its mission statement (e.g. they emphasize a proximal goal which turns out to be useful for the reduction of animal suffering), would that be a reason to downgrade its evaluation?

3) W.r. to point 7: if a charity does outstanding work, but staff and volunteers do not become advocates due to their relationship with the charity, would that be a reason to downgrade its evaluation?

Comment author: ToniA 11 September 2018 05:40:45PM 1 point [-]

Hi Avi,

Thanks for your comment!

I think you’re right that some corporations do name organizations in their press releases, and it seems more likely that groups will be named if they are using a more collaborative approach. For what it's worth, in the paragraph you quoted, I now think that I anchored too heavily on my impression that groups such as THL, Mercy For Animals, and Animal Equality are quite rarely (if ever) named in the news or press releases associated with the welfare policy statements, or in the welfare policy statements themselves. As the majority of the organizations we evaluate usually use a less collaborative approach, I think the paragraph you quote will usually hold for the groups that we evaluate.

Still, even in those cases, I think that you’re also right and there should often still be some indirect evidence available from the timeline. That is, evidence of an organization campaigning at t1 and then, usually a short time later, at t2 evidence of a corporation making a commitment to the related welfare standards. For particularly important commitments we do look at this evidence but for the majority of commitments we don’t.

I think that your comment helps provide some important nuance to this discussion and I have left a link to this comment in the piece itself. Thank you again for the comment!

Best, Toni

Comment author: Khorton 11 September 2018 03:45:57PM 5 points [-]

I've attended several co-working sessions with EA London. In my experience, they've been 2-5 people working independently on stuff they need to get done. For example, on a typical day Holly might be responding to messages and emails, David might be writing the EA London newsletter, and I might be doing a literature review for my dissertation. It's nice because we occasionally bounce ideas off of each other, and because eating lunch together is much more pleasant than working and eating alone.

Comment author: markus_over 11 September 2018 02:27:49PM 2 points [-]

Coworking sessions sound interesting. The fact that few groups utilize them, but those that do do it apparently very frequently, seems to suggest that it may be underrated. Could people from groups that do this on a regular basis elaborate on the format? Is it about organizing the group itself, i.e. preparing events etc.? Actively working on research topics? Or just generally people from the group meeting to work on things they personally need to get done? Would you say this specific setup increases productivity substantially?

Comment author: HedvigeSciverit 11 September 2018 09:26:41AM 0 points [-]

Thanks for sharing.

Comment author: pmelchor  (EA Profile) 11 September 2018 07:32:00AM 3 points [-]

I am personally very interested in cause areas like global poverty, so it is great to see more people wanting to discuss the related issues in depth.

Nevertheless, I strongly support the definition of EA as a question (how can we use our resources to help others the most?) and that makes me not want to tag myself as a "[enter category here] EA" (e.g. "near-term EA", "far-future EA"...).

In practical terms, the above leads me to enjoy my views being challenged by people who have come to different conclusions and I tend to favour a "portfolio approach" to doing good, somewhat along the lines of Open Phil's "worldview diversification".

Regarding discussion, there should be great spaces for both the meta topics and the cause-specific ones. Wouldn't it be ideal if we could host all those discussions under the same roof? Maybe this thread can be used as an input for the upcoming EA Forum 2.0. The feature request would be something like "make it easy to host and find worldview-specific discussions".

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 11 September 2018 03:52:35AM 1 point [-]

Yes I second this - tag system please, if possible

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 11 September 2018 02:52:34AM 4 points [-]

Another feature that could help people find old posts is to display a few random old posts on a sidebar. For example, on any of Jeff Kaufman's blog posts, five old posts display on the sidebar. I've found lots of interesting old posts on Jeff's blog via this feature.

Comment author: michaelchen 11 September 2018 02:47:02AM 1 point [-]

For what it's worth, I felt a bit alienated by the other Discord, not because I don't support far-future causes or that it was even discussing the far future, but because I didn't find the conversation interesting. I think this Discord might help me engage more with EAs, because I find the discourse more interesting, and I happen to like the way Thing of Thing discusses things. I think it's good to have a variety of groups with different cultures and conversation styles, to appeal to a broader base of people. That said, I do have some reservations about fragmenting EA along ideological lines.

Comment author: michaelchen 11 September 2018 02:36:40AM 1 point [-]
Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 10:42:28PM *  -1 points [-]

Yeah that's a worthy point, but people are not really making decisions on this basis. It's not like Givewell, which recommends where other people should give. Open Phil has always ultimately been Holden doing what he wants and not caring about what other people think. It's like those "where I donated this year" blogs from the Givewell staff. Yeah, people might well be giving too much credence to their views, but that's a rather secondary thing to worry about.

Comment author: Dunja 10 September 2018 10:39:47PM 1 point [-]

Thanks, Benito, that sums it up nicely!

It's really about the transparency of the criteria, and that's all I'm arguing for. I am also open for changing my views on the standard criteria etc. - I just care we start the discussion with some rigor concerning how best to assess effective research.

As for my papers - crap, that's embarrassing that I've linked paywall versions, I have them on academia page too, but guess those can be accessed also only within that website... have to think of some proper free solution here. But in any case: please don't feel obliged to read my papers, there's for sure lots of other more interesting stuff out there! If you are interested in the topic it's enough the scan to check the criteria I use in these assessments :) I'll email them in any case.

Comment author: Benito 10 September 2018 10:33:54PM 3 points [-]

I don't have the time to join the debate, but I'm pretty sure Dunja's point isn't "I know that OpenPhil's strategy is bad" but "Why does everyone around here act as though it is knowable that their strategy is good, given their lack of transparency?" It seems like people act OpenPhil's strategy is good and aren't massively confused / explicitly clear that they don't have the info that is required to assess the strategy.

Dunja, is that accurate?

(Small note: I'd been meaning to try to read the two papers you linked me to above a couple months ago about continental drift and whatnot, but I couldn't get non-paywalled versions. If you have them, or could send them to me at preceeded by 'benitopace', I'd appreciate that.)

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 10:26:03PM *  0 points [-]

Sure! Which is why I've been exchanging arguments with you.

And, therefore, you would be wise to treat Open Phil in the same manner, i.e. something to disagree with, not something to attack as not being Good Enough for EA.

Now what on earth is that supposed to mean? What are you trying to say with this? You want references, is that it? I have no idea what this claim is supposed to stand for :-/

It means that you haven't argued your point with the sufficient rigor and comprehensiveness that is required for you to convince every reasonable person. (no, stating "experts in my field agree with me" does not count here, even though it's a big part of it)

Sure, and so far you haven't given me a single good reason.

Other people have discussed and linked Open Phil's philosophy, I see no point in rehashing it.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 10:21:49PM *  1 point [-]

I just don't understand why you think that a new space would divide people who anyway aren't on this forum to begin with

I stated the problems in my original comment.

So how are you gonna attract more non-male participants

The same ways that we attract male participants, but perhaps tailored more towards women.

let's say we find out that the majority of non-males have preferences that would be better align with a different type of venue. Isn't that a good enough reason to initiate it?

It depends on the "different type of venue."

Why would it that be conflicting, rather than complementary with this forum?

Because it may entail the problems that I gave in my original comment.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 10 September 2018 10:16:54PM *  1 point [-]

My experience is based on observations of the presence of larger-than-average downvoting without commenting when criticism on these issues is voiced.

I'm not referring to that, I'm questioning whether talking about near-term stuff needs to be anywhere else. This whole thing is not about "where can we argue about cause prioritization and the flaws in Open Phil," it is about "where can we argue about bed nets vs cash distribution". Those are two different things, and just because a forum is bad for one doesn't imply that it's bad for the other. You have been conflating these things in this entire conversation.

And I am replying that i don't need to have done so in order to have an argument concerning the type of venue that would profit from discussions on this topic. I don't even see how I could change my mind on this topic (the good practice when disagreeing) because I don't see why one would engage in a discussion in order to have an opinion on the discussion

The basic premise here, that you should have experience with conversations before opining about the viability of having such a conversation, is not easy to communicate with someone who defers to pure skepticism about it. I leave that to the reader to see why it's a problem that you're inserting yourself as an authority while lacking demonstrable evidence and expertise.

Comment author: Dunja 10 September 2018 10:16:31PM 1 point [-]

Part of being in an intellectual community is being able to accept that you will think that other people are very wrong about things. It's not a matter of opinion, but it is a matter of debate.

Sure! Which is why I've been exchanging arguments with you.

Oh, there have been numerous articles, in your field, claimed by you.

Now what on earth is that supposed to mean? What are you trying to say with this? You want references, is that it? I have no idea what this claim is supposed to stand for :-/

That's all well and good, but it should be clear why people will have reasons for doubts on the topic.

Sure, and so far you haven't given me a single good reason. The only thing you've done is reiterate the lack of transparency on the side of OpenPhil.

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