TruePath comments on Saving expected lives at $10 apiece? - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: TruePath 17 December 2016 02:03:21AM 0 points [-]

Lives saved is a very very weird and mostly useless metric. At the very least try and give an estimate in QALYs (quality adjusted life years) since very few people actually value saving life per say (e.g. stopping someone who is about to die of cancer from dying a few minutes earlier).

Given that many non-deaths from food scarcity are probably pretty damn unpleasant this would probably be a more compelling figure.

Comment author: Denkenberger 17 December 2016 01:54:04PM 1 point [-]

I agree that QALYs are more robust, and I guess it was an earlier version of the paper where we noted that using QALYs would likely produce similar comparison of cost-effectiveness to global poverty interventions. But we wanted to keep this analysis simple, and most people (though perhaps not most EAs) think in terms of saving lives. Also, two definitions of a global catastrophic risk are based on number of lives lost (I believe 10 million according to the book Global Catastrophic Risks and 10% of human population according to Open Philanthropy).

Comment author: TruePath 12 January 2017 12:00:29PM 0 points [-]

That is good to know and I understand the motivation to keep the analysis simple.

As far as the definition go that is a reasonable definition of the term (our notion of catastrophe doesn't include an accumulation of many small utility losses) so is a good criteria for classifying the charity objective. I only meant to comment on QALYs as a means to measure effectiveness.

WTF is with the votedown. I nicely and briefly suggested that another metric might be more compelling (though the author's point about mass appeal is a convincing rebuttal). Did the comment come off as simply bitching rather than a suggestion/observation?

Comment author: Denkenberger 17 January 2017 10:16:26PM 1 point [-]

I did not do the vote down, but I did think that calling lives saved a mostly useless metric was a little harsh. :-)