Comment author: Alex_Barry 06 January 2018 02:54:33AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for writing this - it fits well with my experience of how a lot of people get increasingly involved with EA, bouncing between disparate programs by different orgs. This does unfortunately make evaluating impact much harder, but I think it is important to bear in mind when when designing resources for EA outreach or similar projects.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 03 December 2017 04:29:31PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the post, as a minor nitpick, shouldn't the maximal DALY cost of doing something for an hour a day be 1/16, since there are only 16 waking hours in a day and presumably the period whilst asleep does not contribute?

Comment author: Owen_Cotton-Barratt 23 November 2017 11:15:36PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the write-up!

I found the figures for existential-risk-reduced-per-$ with your default values a bit suspiciously high. I wonder if the reason for this is in endnote [2], where you say:

say one researcher year costs $50,000

I think this is too low as the figure to use in this calculation, perhaps by around an order of magnitude.

Firstly, that is a very cheap researcher-year even just paying costs. Many researcher salaries are straight-up higher, and costs should include overheads.

A second factor is that having twice as much money doesn't come close to buying you twice as much (quality-adjusted) research. In general it is hard to simply pay money to produce more of some of these specialised forms of labour. For instance see the recent 80k survey of willingness to pay of EA orgs to bring forward recent hires, where the average willingness to forgo donations to move a senior hire forward by three years was around $4 million.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 24 November 2017 05:58:45PM 1 point [-]

Ah good point on the researcher salary, it was definitely just eyeballed and should be higher.

I think a reason I was happy to leave it low was as a fudge to take into account that the marginal impact of a researcher now is likely to be far greater than the average impact if there were 10,000 working on x-risk, but I should have clarified that as a separate factor.

In any case, even adjusting the cost of a researcher up to $500,000 a year and leaving the rest unchanged does not significantly change the conclusion, with the very rough calculation still giving ~$10 per QALY (but obviously leaves less wiggle room for skepticism about the efficacy of research etc.)

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 12 November 2017 11:45:17PM *  -1 points [-]

The reason is because the topic is simply too complicated, there is too much ignorance, and there are too many myths. If I published anything shorter it would seem to be full of holes to the reader.

I hope to have the time to write a series of shorter articles in the future. Even if I don't do this, I bet other people will. People have already begun expressing interest in this.

The ball is rolling. The short articles will come.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 13 November 2017 04:55:20AM 3 points [-]

This still does not obviously ring true to me as an advantage over one long article vs a series covering the same content. Still, it is written up now, and I think you will have your hands full replying to the other comments, so I am happy to let it be :)

Comment author: Robin_Green 12 November 2017 10:19:24PM 2 points [-]

I find your comment slightly confusing, as it suggests - even on the most charitable reading of your comment I can muster - that if a sex partner is not enthusiastic, the sex must be ipso facto rape. Where does this leave men who start having sex and then lose their enthusiasm for whatever reason, whether physical or psychological hangups, I wonder... or does your definition of rape only apply to the woman's enthusiasm?

Comment author: Alex_Barry 13 November 2017 12:00:51AM 1 point [-]

I am very confused by this reading, it was not what I got from the comment at all.

Comment author: Zeke_Sherman 12 November 2017 01:31:34AM 0 points [-]

It mentions them, but does it make any points based on the assumption that there are too few of them?

Comment author: Alex_Barry 12 November 2017 03:11:33PM 3 points [-]

The 'Strike a balance between dismissing accusations and witch-hunting people' is about how to act given that accusations have some small (but non-negligible) chance of being false. If we instead learned that the true rate differed strongly from this, it seems reasonable that the advice would also change. (E.g. if it turned out that there were never any false accusations, we could act much more strongly on the basis of accusations).

I also think generally if a piece of writing states a fact you think is false, it is reasonable and should be encouraged to bring it up in the comments, even if it is not central to the argument's conclusion.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 12 November 2017 02:38:38AM *  0 points [-]

This post is long because there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about sexual violence. To have accurate ideas about the effective altruism potential of sexual violence reduction as a cause, one needs to be informed about a bunch of things at once. Given the complexity of the issue and the number of common misconceptions, a long length was the only way to do this topic justice.

This is a foundation article. Now that it exists, a series of short articles can be written based on the information and context contained in it to help raise awareness.

(As explained to Denise.)

So, yes, it's a long and complicated post, and there are certain downsides to that, which you have described pretty clearly. I'm sorry about the post formatting. It didn't paste over very well from Google Docs. I'm currently working on editing the HTML version to fix all the formatting issues, so at least that should be improved soon. :)

Comment author: Alex_Barry 12 November 2017 12:57:03PM 7 points [-]

I am not sure I understand your reasoning for having this as one long post instead of (say) a series of three posts, still covering all the content. This would still allow people to be linked back to it as a foundational resource (either by linking to the most relevant post for them, or just to the start of the series, telling them to read them all).

Glad to hear about the formatting :)

Comment author: Zeke_Sherman 12 November 2017 12:08:09AM *  1 point [-]

The second point is irrelevant - what statistic is changed by the prevalence of false rape accusations? The Lisak and Miller study cited for the 6% figure do a survey of self-reports among men on campus.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 12 November 2017 01:29:14AM 2 points [-]

The post explicitly talks about false rape accusations, so his second point does not seem irrelevant to me? (Although it is clearly irrelevant to the 6% figure).

Comment author: Alex_Barry 12 November 2017 01:22:05AM *  13 points [-]

Thanks for writing this, I had not seen any public posts on this topic before, and the loss of productivity considerations etc. are novel arguments to me.

I have no object level comments, but a few meta level ones:

  1. As Denise mentioned, this post is very long, and I think would probably benefit from being split into multiple shorter posts.

    In particular the two strands of 'preventing sexual violence within EA' and 'preventing sexual violence in the rest of the world' seem suitably different in both arguments for their importance and calls to action that clearly splitting them into two posts might add clarity. (Although they clearly share some backbone in the discussion of the effects and severity of sexual violence).

  2. I found the post structure not especially clear, and on multiple occasions was somewhat confused about what exactly was being discussed (an example of which is the "Observations about sexual violence in the EA network" section). I also found the formatting a bit confusing and this made reading somewhat more challenging.

    I find writing lengthy posts like this very challenging, and I am not trying to claim any objective problems, just that I often found it difficult to keep track. (Note, since I read the post a table of contents has been added, which should help).

  3. Whilst you were very careful to try and discuss the uncertainty when numbers were first introduced, I think you occasionally later used them in more 'soundbite' form without sufficient qualifiers (or at least less than I would feel comfortable with). (Examples are the 'Inside EA: A 1:6 ratio means 7 rapes per 6 women on average.' section and the "rough estimate of 103 - 607 male rapists in EA" quote, when these depend strongly on assumptions about the relationships of demographics and criminality etc.).

    This may just be a matter of taste, as as I said you do already go to lengths to discuss the uncertainty, and I seem to to favour much more discussion/labeling of uncertainty than average.

I think 2&3 might somewhat explain why you seem to have felt that other commenters had not read the post.

In response to S-risk FAQ
Comment author: Alex_Barry 19 September 2017 08:37:16PM 7 points [-]

Thanks for writing this up! Having resources like this explaining ideas seems pretty uncontroversially good.

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