Comment author: MichaelPlant 09 August 2017 03:26:20PM 0 points [-]

What do you mean by 'super-medicinal'? I mean 'recreational' as opposed to 'medicinal', where it's taken to solve a particularly health problem like depression.

I'm sadly not at EA global; reckoned it was too expensive to come from the UK.

Just messaged you via the facebook.

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 09 August 2017 03:42:47PM *  2 points [-]

By "super-medicinal" I mean beneficial effects in healthy users that go beyond enjoyment of the experience.

e.g. I'd categorize the impacts of the (healthy) participants of Griffiths et al. 2006 as "super-medicinal" because their psilocybin experiences were, according to self-report, among the most meaningful of their lives.

e.g. The benefits reported by some of the (healthy) participants in the Good Friday experiment I'd also consider "super-medicinal" as their psilocybin experiences helped resolve major career and relationship problems.

Calling effects like these "recreational" feels like selling them short.

Cool, I'll follow up with you on facebook :-)

In response to Introducing Enthea
Comment author: JanBrauner 09 August 2017 09:09:13AM 1 point [-]

Seems interesting, how can one stay updated?

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 09 August 2017 02:50:21PM *  1 point [-]

There'll be an RSS feed on once the site is a little more built out, and I'll be cross-posting bigger updates to the EA Forum.

In response to Introducing Enthea
Comment author: ThomasSittler 09 August 2017 11:11:56AM 2 points [-]

Interesting. Why focus on psilocybin and not other psychedelic substances? From reading the abstract, the systematic review you cite seems to claim similar effects for ayahuasca, psilocybin, and LSD.

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 09 August 2017 02:48:56PM *  5 points [-]

If psilocybin still seems promising after a deeper literature review, the next step is to think about how to liberalize psilocybin use.

Psilocybin has several qualities that make it a better candidate for liberalization than other psychedelics:

  • it's somewhat less potent than LSD
  • unlike LSD, it occurs naturally
  • unlike ayahuasca, psychedelic mushrooms grow in the US
  • in the US, there's a somewhat more positive cultural view of psilocybin than LSD (which is considered "bad") and ayahuasca (which is unknown). (This is a weakly held belief.)
In response to Introducing Enthea
Comment author: MichaelPlant 09 August 2017 01:20:06PM 6 points [-]

Hello Milan. I've been working on drug policy reform for the last couple of months and have just put up the 1st of a series of posts on the topic on this forum. I'd be delighted to get your input on this, although the potential recreational benefits of drugs are not really what we're leading with.

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 09 August 2017 02:41:26PM *  0 points [-]

Hi Michael – we should connect, given your post! ( Will you be at EA Global?

I'm interested in assessing both the medicinal and "super-medicinal" effects of psilocybin.

("Recreational" doesn't really capture the kind of effects in the second category, though "super-medicinal" is very jargony & unintuitive; I'm open to suggestions about what to call this second category.)


Introducing Enthea

In advance of EA Global San Francisco, I'm launching Enthea , a research project assessing the humanitarian impact of psilocybin.  All that's on the site so far is a landing page with a statement of intent, which I've cross-posted below. Over the next few months, I'll be updating the site... Read More

Reading recommendations for the problem of consequentialist scope?

Determining which scope of outcomes to consider when making a decision seems like a difficult problem for consequentialism. By "scope of outcomes" I mean how far into the future and how many links in the causal chain to incorporate into decision-making. For example, if I'm assessing the comparative goodness of two... Read More
Comment author: Michael_Wulfsohn 09 November 2016 06:52:33AM 1 point [-]

Sorry, this is going to be a "you're doing it wrong" comment. I will try to criticize constructively!

There are too many arbitrary assumptions. Your chosen numbers, your categorization scheme, your assumption about whether giving now or giving later is better in each scenario, your assumption that there can't be some split between giving now and later, your failure to incorporate any interest rate into the calculations, your assumption that the now/later decision can't influence the scenarios' probabilities. Any of these could have decisive influence over your conclusion.

But there's also a problem with your calculation. Your conclusion is based on the fact that you expect higher utility to result from scenarios in which you believe giving now will be better. That's not actually an argument for deciding to give now, as it doesn't assess whether the world will be happier as a result of the giving decision. You would need to estimate the relative impact of giving now vs. giving later under each of those scenarios, and then weight the relative impacts by the probabilities of the scenarios.

Don't stop trying to quantify things. But remember the pitfalls. In particular, simplicity is paramount. You want to have as few "weak links" in your model as possible; i.e. moving parts that are not supported by evidence and that have significant influence on your conclusion. If it's just one or two numbers or assumptions that are arbitrary, then the model can help you understand the implications of your uncertainty about them, and you might also be able to draw some kind of conclusion after appropriate sensitivity testing. However, if it's 10 or 20, then you're probably going to be led astray by spurious results.

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 14 November 2016 06:20:04AM *  1 point [-]

I basically agree with your critique, though I'd say my assumptions are more naïve than arbitrary (mostly semantic; the issues persist either way). On reflection, I don't think I've arrived at any solid conclusions here, and this exercise's main fruit is a renewed appreciation of how tangled these questions are.

I'm getting hung up on your last paragraph: "However, if it's 10 or 20, then you're probably going to be led astray by spurious results."

This is pretty unsatisfying – thinking about the future is necessarily speculative, so people are going to have to use "arbitrary" inputs in their models for want of empirical data. If they only use a few arbitrary inputs, their models will likely be too simplistic to be meaningful. But if they use many arbitrary inputs, their models will give spurious results? It sort of feels like an impossible bind for the project of modeling the future.

Or maybe I'm misunderstanding your definition of "arbitrary" inputs, and there is another class of speculative input that we should be using for model building.


Should Good Ventures focus on current giving opportunities, or save for future giving opportunities?

Around this time of year, GiveWell  traditionally spends a lot of time thinking about game theoretic considerations – specifically, what funding recommendation it ought to make to Good Ventures  so that Good Ventures allocates its resources wisely. (Here are GiveWell's game theoretic posts from 2014  & 2015 .) The main considerations... Read More
Comment author: Daniel_Dewey 24 October 2016 06:01:47PM *  0 points [-]

Thanks Milan!

I haven't thought a lot about that, and might be making the wrong call. Off the top of my head:

  • There's a community norm toward donating 10%, and I'm following that without thinking too hard.
  • I expect donation effectiveness on the scale of my donations to get worse over time, so giving earlier at the cost of giving a little (?) less over my career seems like it might be better.
  • Giving feels good in a way that paying debt doesn't. This isn't an EA reason :)

I guess I could put my 10% toward debt reduction instead -- if you or anyone else has pointers to info that might cause me to decide to do that, I'd be interested in seeing it, and in promoting it so that other debt-saddled EAs can make better decisions!

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 25 October 2016 11:08:21PM 1 point [-]

I don't have pointers to good info, other than Mr. Money Mustache's blog, which I think was already mentioned.

I'm following in intuition along the lines of "put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you with theirs."

My bet is that my personal impact will be much larger once I'm financially independent. Giving a significant portion of my income now is a drag on reaching financial independence. I'd prefer to accelerate my progress towards financial independence at the expense of doing good today.

We're touching on the "give now vs. give later" debate here; intuitions may diverge.

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 18 October 2016 08:12:23PM 0 points [-]

I enjoyed reading this, though sorry to hear about pledge-related stress!

I'm curious about your reasoning behind donating a big portion while simultaneously paying down debt. My intuition is to focus first on paying off the debt, then ramp up giving once you're debt-free.

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