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Linch comments on Celebrating All Who Are in Effective Altruism - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Stefan_Schubert 20 January 2016 01:35:24PM 4 points [-]

The difference between donating, say, 10% of one's income and 20% of one's income is effectively just as good as adding another "10%'er" to the movement, but people seem to overlook the significance of this difference.

I disagree with this. All pledgers are likely to increase the chances of new people taking the pledge. For instance, they might make their friends somewhat more likely to take the pledge. Also, I think that the mere fact that Giving What We Can can put one more pledge-taker on their site makes people more likely to take the pledge.

In short, social proof - one of Cialdini's six principles of persuasion - is likely to be much more dependent on the number of donors than on the amount each individual donor gives.

Comment author: Linch 21 January 2016 12:49:48PM 1 point [-]

Stefan: I think I mostly agree with your point, but not entirely.

"All pledgers are likely to increase the chances of new people taking the pledge. For instance, they might make their friends somewhat more likely to take the pledge." Yes, but I think this is also somewhat proportionate to how dedicated people are. In general, I would expect people who are obsessed with effective altruism to do more recruitment than people who are dedicated, but do not consider it to be the driving urge in their life, dedicated people to be better at recruitment than lightly interested people, etc. So expected donations isn't the only metric in which pouring more resources and mental bandwith into will have positive marginal returns (as you would expect!!) I think the bounds Kbog gave -- 3-6x for very dedicated vs. dedicated EAs -- is roughly reasonable for what I expect to be variance from person to person on the grounds of dedication alone (though as the other recent post noted, certain traits other than dedication, especially the ability to generate wealth, can extend the difference from person to person to somewhat beyond 6x).

"Also, I think that the mere fact that Giving What We Can can put one more pledge-taker on their site makes people more likely to take the pledge." Yes I think that's a point that belongs in the other thread as well. Quantity has a quality all on its own, and even anonymous social proof can be incredibly valuable. Anecdotally, a friend of mine is doing significant outreach at a large company mostly by persuading people that EA is a lot bigger than it actually is. :P

Comment author: kastrel  (EA Profile) 21 January 2016 12:56:39PM 4 points [-]

I don't know about dedicated people being better at recruitment. I have found my friends to be more receptive to me as a 'softcore EA' because we can relate to each others' lifestyles easily and they are more likely to make small changes than large ones. If I donated a really high proportion of my income (say 50%), I think I would not talk about that with them as they would find it instinctively off-putting to consider such a large change. I actually don't talk about the pledge at all with them unless they already seem keen for fear of sounding too 'hardcore'.

Of course, maybe if you're super dedicated you're going to try and recruit more often and with more people, so you may have better results. My point is just that I think 'softcore' may be more relatable for non EAs and that can be good to start conversations.

Comment author: Linch 22 January 2016 03:45:00AM *  1 point [-]

Congratulations on having friends who're receptive to you! And thank you so much for sharing, we definitely need more data points as the movement grows. :)

I wrote on Facebook before that I think while being normal and relatable is a good hook to get people interested in EA, I don't think it will actually make it more likely to make your friends interested than if you're very dedicated. In particular, I think there is a confusion between "emulatable" and "marketable" efforts:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/effective.altruists/permalink/933455813377443/?comment_id=934292356627122&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R1%22%7D

Put another way, if Person A, who is truly obsessed with making the world a better place is just as good (or, it sometimes implied, worse) at persuading other people to make the world a better place than Person B, who is only moderately interested in doing so, then this should come across as a huge surprise. It should not be tacitly assumed. Rather, Person A is doing something Very Wrong, and figuring out ways to correct this mistake should become a huge priority in EA.