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RandomEA comments on Please Take the 2018 Effective Altruism Survey! - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: RandomEA 25 April 2018 08:19:31PM 12 points [-]

I was planning to give some feedback on the 2017 survey instrument after the last post in that series, which I had assumed would finish before the 2018 survey was released. Since my assumption was wrong (sorry!), I'll just post my feedback here to be considered for the 2019 survey:

  1. One major aspect of EA is the regularly produced online content on this forum and elsewhere. It might be useful to ask about the average number of hours a week people spend reading EA content as that could help people evaluate the value of producing online content.

  2. You could also ask people whether they've attended an EA Global conference. The responses could be used as a proxy to distinguish more involved and less involved EAs, which could be used in analyzing other issues like cause area preferences.

  3. For the question about career path, you could add advocacy as a fourth option. (80,000 Hours treats it as one of the four broad options.)

  4. For the same reasons that race was included in the 2017 survey, it could be useful to ask about parental education (as a proxy for socioeconomic background).

  5. You could ask people how many of their acquaintances they have seriously attempted to persuade to join EA and how many of those did join. This could provide useful data on the effectiveness of personal outreach.

  6. Another question that may be worth asking: "Have you ever seriously considered leaving EA?" For those that answer yes, you could ask them for their reasons.

  7. I think it could be useful to have data on the percent of EAs who are living organ donors and the percent of EAs who intend to become living organ donors. The major downside is that it may cause people to think that being a living organ donor is part of EA.

  8. Borrowing from Peter Singer, I propose asking: "Has effective altruism given you a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your life?"

  9. You could also ask about systemic change: "How much do you think the EA community currently focuses on systemic change (on a scale of 1 to 10)?" and "How much do you think the EA community should focus on systemic change (on a scale of 1 to 10)?" You could include a box for people to explain their answers.

  10. Lastly, you could ask questions about values. A) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a person living in your own country is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a person living in a different country? Assume that there is no instrumental value to preventing the suffering of either and that in both cases the suffering is being prevented by means other than preventing existence or causing death." B) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a human is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a non-human animal? Assume that there is no instrumental value to preventing the suffering of either and that in both cases the suffering is being prevented by means other than preventing existence or causing death." C) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a person living in the present is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a person living several centuries from now? Assume that there is no instrumental value to preventing the suffering of either and that in both cases the suffering is being prevented by means other than preventing existence or causing death." D) "Do you believe that it is bad if a person who would live a happy life is not brought into existence?"

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2018 09:13:29PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the feedback. We can definitely consider a lot of these for the 2019 Survey. :)

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2018 09:12:44PM 2 points [-]

after the last post in that series, which I had assumed would finish before the 2018 survey was released

Yeah, this is a very fair assumption to make, but our publication kinda fell apart with the December holidays (we're an all volunteer team). This year we're intending to plan out our analysis publication with a lot more dedication and organization.

Comment author: SiebeRozendal 29 April 2018 11:10:47AM 0 points [-]

B) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a human is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a non-human animal?

This is an important question! I have the suspicion that many people value animals at a rate that should make them focus their resources (at least their donations) towards animal charities, but that they are unaware of this.

However, the question is somewhat ambiguous.Some people believe humans can suffer more than animals ever can, such that preventing the suffering of a human may be 100 times more important than that of a non-human animal. On the other hand, with the original question you capture the degree of speciecism. In that case, I would add "assume some non-human animals can suffer as much as humans can" so you're sure they interpret it in the way you want.

Borrowing from Peter Singer, I propose asking: "Has effective altruism given you a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your life?"

Nice one! Relatedly, capturing whether we actually are sacrificing our own utility: "On net, has effective altruism increased or decreased your overall well-being?"

Comment author: number42 26 April 2018 06:04:09PM 0 points [-]

For the same reasons that race was included in the 2017 survey, it could be useful to ask about parental education (as a proxy for socioeconomic background).

Clever idea, seconded.