Comment author: MichaelPlant 24 September 2017 04:26:46PM 4 points [-]

Thanks for posting this, it's a really thorough write up of the issue.

I wrote a bit about this about a year ago where I argued effective altruism is overlooking happiness and I'm pleased to see you reached the same conclusions (I also found the the Dolan 2011 paper very persuasive)! I think your analysis was 1. much more substantial than mine and 2. didn't hide the information in an additional document people had to go find (on reflection, that was a mistake on my part). Where I think this criticism of DALYs leads us, in our quest to do the most good, is towards mental health as a substantial cause area and away from physical health.

As a separate point: this post does raise the more general worry about the effectiveness with which information gets shared in EA circles. I'd looked into this before and there's some duplication of effort here: if I'd found a way to make my research better known, the author might have researched something else instead. To be clear, I mean this in no way as a criticism of the author, I think it's just unfortunate. It's not the first time I've come across this phenomenon in the EA world either and I may make a post on the general problem soon.

Comment author: Danae_Arroyos 03 October 2017 03:42:57PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for your comments, Michael!

You raise a good point. I think a possible way of making communication better may be by labelling posts with keywords? That way, everyone could find very easily everything that has been posted about a topic. I am not sure that would have helped in this case, though. My goal with this post was to be comprehensive about what is not so good about DALYs. I did as much reading as I could and wrote more extensively about the factors that seemed more important. Mental health came up as one of these factors (I read your article and I was persuaded, so I decided to dig deeper), so I did not feel that I could leave it out, even if there was already something written about it. You may be right in that this may have been inefficient, and in the future, I think referencing posts rather than writing new ones may be a better alternative. Something definitely worth keeping in mind.


What do DALYs capture?

INTRODUCTION There are many different causes that require our attention, but because our resources are limited, we need to decide which ones should go first. Within health, we use Health-Adjusted Life Years (HALYs) to help us decide which interventions to prioritize. Health is not the only determinant of wellbeing we... Read More