Ben_Kuhn comments on Students for High Impact Charity: Review and $10K Grant - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Ben_Kuhn 08 October 2016 07:14:15PM *  2 points [-]

Sorry, I'm seeing this late, but this is an area I have some experience in, so I'll ask anyway:

Tee believes that THINK content was written more for people who already know EA.

This was definitely not my impression. For instance, the THINK's Resources page includes, as their first workshop, an "introduction to effective altruism," plus other standard intro-to-EA exercises like "guess which charity is actually effective" and intro-level modules about a number of favorite EA causes.

Has Tee spoken to anyone at THINK about why it went dormant to confirm this impression? Or about any of the other numerous failed student-outreach initiatives?

Additionally, THINK was launched at a time when the EA community was smaller. Now that the EA community has dramatically increased in size, it may be easier to attain critical mass.

Why does the size of the EA community matter if SHIC is not associating themselves with the EA community at all?

As someone who ran a student group that was at one point nominally a THINK group: I suspect the real reason THINK failed was that they didn't actually do very much. I think I met up with a THINK representative once or twice and tried one of their modules once, but other than that, they were completely non-proactive. Maybe they helped other groups more, but if not, the default state of college students is to flake out on everything, and it seemed like THINK was not doing much to avoid having their group leaders fall into that failure mode.

Of course, that's just the proximate cause of failure; there were probably deeper underlying reasons. For instance, maybe THINK stopped being proactive because they got discouraged by how little initiative most of their group leaders took. And maybe the group leaders didn't take much initiative because THINK's resources were too focused on more speculative arguments and cause areas (e.g., their sequence of workshops goes right from "charity assessment" to "intelligence amplification").

To get more speculative, my guess is that the core problem of student group outreach is finding motivated group leaders and keeping them motivated, and I haven't noticed any of the student-group-outreach efforts doing particularly well at this. There's some base rate of highly motivated student group leaders popping up basically by reading things on the Internet and deciding to run a student group, and I haven't yet noticed any focused outreach effort improving on that base rate very much. Although of course I might be missing some.