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EricHerboso comments on Setting our salary based on the world’s average GDP per capita - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: EricHerboso  (EA Profile) 28 August 2017 03:45:41PM 7 points [-]

While I certainly don't want to argue against other EAs taking up this example and choosing to live more frugally in order to achieve more overall good, I nevertheless want to remind the EA community that marketing EA to the public requires that we spend our idiosyncrasy credits wisely.

We only have so many weirdness points to spend. When we spend them on particularly extreme things like intentionally living on such a small amount, it makes it more difficult to get EA newcomers into the other aspects of EA that are more important, like strategic cause selection.

I do not want to dissuade anyone from taking the path of giving away everything above $10k/person, so long as they truly are in a position to do this. But doing so requires a social safety net that, as Evan points out elsewhere in this thread, is generally only available to those in good health and fully able-bodied. I will add that this kind of thing is also generally available only when one is from a certain socio-economic background, and that this kind of messaging may be somewhat antithetical to the goal of inclusion that some of us in the movement are attempting with diversity initiatives.

If living extremely frugally were extremely effective, then maybe we'd want to pursue it more generally despite the above arguments. But the marginal value of giving everything over $10k/person versus the existing EA norm of giving 10-50% isn't that much when you take into account that the former hinders EA outreach by being too demanding. Instead, we should focus on the effectiveness aspect, not the demandingness aspect.

Nevertheless, I think it is important for the EA movement to have heroes that go the distance like this! If you think you may potentially become one of them, then don't let this post discourage you. Even if I believe this aspect of EA culture should be considered supererogatory (or whatever the consequentialist analog is), I nevertheless am proud to be part of a movement that takes sacrifice at this level so seriously.

Comment author: Joey 29 August 2017 05:15:36AM 5 points [-]

I am pretty sympathetic to the weirdness points post, but I am also fairly confident that where people set their moral objectives has a lot to do with examples seen in the community. For example, I would not be surprised if more people posting about the more dedicated side of EA would lead to more people moving from 10% donations to 20% donations or equivalent. I think it's a risky thing to only promote a lighter version of EA for broad appeal reasons as some EA might do less good with lower expectations. Especially since donations, like money in general, is a power law distribution, with the big donations (both percentage-wise and absolute numbers) accounting for a disproportionate effects. These would be things that would have to be weighted off more carefully for an outreach post. By posting this on the EA forum I am more aiming for people who are already involved in the movement.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 29 August 2017 01:55:55AM *  5 points [-]

Instead, we should focus on the effectiveness aspect, not the demandingness aspect.

Nevertheless, I think it is important for the EA movement to have heroes that go the distance like this!

I think EA doesn't have nearly the same amount and same prominence of "heroes of frugality" that it did in 2011-2013. I agree that I don't want "donate everything over $10K or you get kicked out of EA club" to be a thing, but I do want to see a view that celebrates those who can (responsibly, sustainably) donate everything over $10K as something ideal and aspirational.

And I say this recognizing that I am someone who spends ~$54K/yr on myself (not counting tax).

Comment author: zdgroff 29 August 2017 02:52:21AM 1 point [-]

We only have so many weirdness points to spend. When we spend them on particularly extreme things like intentionally living on such a small amount, it makes it more difficult to get EA newcomers into the other aspects of EA that are more important, like strategic cause selection.

Do you think it's any better in this case than, say, the case of a very particular diet or an odd appearance because in this case Joey is doing something that's uncontroversially good? I would wonder if it would make people want to be more like him and trust his judgment more.