SiebeRozendal comments on To Grow a Healthy Movement, Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: SiebeRozendal 07 June 2018 10:10:53AM 0 points [-]

I really admire that you did a study about this, but I think that this study shows much less than you claim to. First of all, you studied support for effective giving (EG), which is different from effective altruism as a whole. I would suspect at least the following three factors to really be different between EG and EA:

  • Support for cause impartiality, both moral impartiality (measuring each being according to their innate characteristics like sentience or intelligence, rather than personal closeness) and means impartiality (being indifferent between different means to an end, e.g. donating money or choosing a career with direct impact
  • Dedication. I believe that making career changes or pledging at least 10% of your income to donate is quite a high bar and much fewer people would be inclined to that.
  • Involvement in the community. As you wrote the community is quite idiosyncratic. Openness to (some of) its ideas does not imply people will like the movement.

Of course, not all of this implies that the study is worthless, that getting people to donate their 1 or 2% more effectively is useless, or that we shouldn't try to make the movement more diverse and welcoming (if this can be done without compromising core values such as epistemic rigor). I think there is a debate to be held how to differentiate effective giving from EA as a whole, so that we can decide whether or not to promote effective giving seperately and if so, how.

Comment author: arikagan 07 June 2018 02:58:56PM *  3 points [-]

Thanks Siebe - while I certainly agree that we don't take the most extreme form of effective altruism, I don't think it's actually as focused on narrow Effective Giving as you suggest. We used that language in the original write up because we wanted it to be accessible to a non EA audience. But if you look at the language of the actual description (Nick posted it above), we took that from effectivealtruism.org, and it actually focuses pretty broadly on trying to do good, not just on donating.

But as we mention, I think this is just the tip of the iceberg, I don't think this research is at all the end of the story. We've been working on a follow-up study that includes cause neutrality, but it would be great to see people study similar questions on more extreme forms of effective altruism, and maybe even include an element of the community.

Comment author: NickFitz 07 June 2018 11:42:15AM *  1 point [-]

Hi Siebe - it's definitely worth distinguishing effective giving, career choice, x-risk, etc. There's likely a whole host of factors that differ between them. To your point (and Peter's question above), it's worth sorting out how we handle this differentiation.