MichaelStJules comments on How to get a new cause into EA - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: MichaelStJules 11 January 2018 05:57:23PM 1 point [-]

One thing that's very useful about having separate cause areas is that it helps people decide what to study and research in depth, e.g. get a PhD in. This probably doesn't need to be illustrated, but I'll do it anyway:

If you consider two fields of study, A and B, such that A has only one promising intervention, and B has two, and all three interventions are roughly equal in expectation (or whatever other measures are important to you); then it would be better to study B, because if one of its two interventions don't pan out, you can more easily switch to the other; with A, you might have to move onto a new field entirely. Studying B actually has higher expected value than studying A, despite all three interventions being equal in expectation.