Comment author: RandomEA 12 September 2018 10:59:35PM *  2 points [-]
Comment author: RandomEA 09 September 2018 08:06:45AM 1 point [-]

Would it be possible to introduce a coauthoring feature? Doing so would allow both authors to be notified of new comments. The karma could be split if there are concerns that people would free ride.

In response to Open Thread #41
Comment author: RandomEA 07 September 2018 02:41:34AM *  2 points [-]

[Criminal Justice Reform Donation Recommendations]

I emailed Chloe Cockburn (the Criminal Justice Reform Program Officer for the Open Philanthropy Project) asking what she would recommend to small donors. She told me she recommends Real Justice PAC. Since contributions of $200 or more to PACs are disclosed to the FEC, I asked her what she would recommend to a donor who wants to stay anonymous (and whether her recommendation would be different for someone who could donate significantly more to a 501(c)(3) than a 501(c)(4) for tax reasons). She told me that she would recommend 501(c)(4)s for all donors because it's much harder for 501(c)(4)s to raise money and she specifically recommended the following 501(c)(4)s: Color of Change, Texas Organizing Project, New Virginia Majority, Faith in Action, and People's Action.

I asked for and received her permission to post the above.

(I edited this to add a subject in brackets at the top.)

Comment author: Dan_Keys 26 August 2018 10:18:24PM 2 points [-]

That can be tested on these data, just by looking at the first of the 3 questions that each participant got, since the post says that "Participants were asked about the likelihood of humans going extinct in 50, 100, and 500 years (presented in a random order)."

I expect that there was a fair amount of scope insensitivity. e.g., That people who got the "probability of extinction within 50 years" question first gave larger answers to the other questions than people who got the "probability of extinction within 500 years" question first.

Comment author: RandomEA 26 August 2018 11:23:08PM 1 point [-]

Do you know if this platform allows participants to go back? (I assumed it did, which is why I thought a separate study would be necessary.)

Comment author: RandomEA 26 August 2018 05:16:06PM 1 point [-]

Do you think that asking the same respondents about 50 years, 100 years, and 500 years caused them to scale their answers so that they would be reasonable in relation to each other? Put another way, do you think you would have gotten significantly different answers if you had asked 395 people about 50 years, 395 people about 100 years, and 395 people about 500 years (c.f. scope insensitivity)?

Comment author: RandomEA 25 August 2018 03:22:02AM 2 points [-]

If you add a tag feature, can you make it so that authors can add tags to posts imported from EA Forum 1.0? I think it'd be great if someone interested in animal suffering could easily see all the EA Forum posts related to animal suffering.

And would you be willing to add a feature that allows you to tag individuals? (For this to work, you'd have to provide notifications in a more prominent way than the current 'Messages' system.)

Comment author: RandomEA 22 August 2018 05:00:12PM 0 points [-]

Thank you so much for doing this! Is the total number of reactions just the number of likes and comments or does it also include shares? And if you happen to have more than the top 50 (as you hinted at here), would you be willing to post just the links in a Google doc?

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 15 August 2018 11:50:28PM *  26 points [-]

We would like to hear suggestions from forum users about what else they might like to see from CEA in this area.

Here is my two cents. I hope it is constructive:


The policy is excellent but the challenge lies in implementation.

Firstly I want to say that this post is fantastic. I think you have got the policy correct: that CEA should be cause-impartial, but not cause-agnostic and CEA’s work should be cause-general.

However I do not think it looks, from the outside, like CEA is following this policy. Some examples:

  • EA London staff had concerns that they would need to be more focused on the far future in order to receive funding from CEA.

  • You explicitly say on your website: "We put most of our credence in a worldview that says what happens in the long-term future is most of what matters. We are therefore more optimistic about others who roughly share this worldview."[1]

  • The example you give of the new EA handbook

  • There is a close association with 80000 Hours who are explicitly focusing much of their effort on the far future.

These are all quite subtle things, but collectively they give an impression that CEA is not cause impartial (that it is x-risk focused). Of course this is a difficult thing to get correct. It is difficult to draw the line between saying: 'our staff members believe cause_ is important' (a useful factoid that should definitely be said), whilst also putting across a strong front of cause impartiality.


Suggestion: CEA should actively champion cause impartiality

If you genuinely want to be cause impartial I think most of the solutions to this are around being super vigilant about how CEA comes across. Eg:

  • Have a clear internal style guide that sets out to staff good and bad ways to talk about causes

  • Have 'cause impartiality' as a staff value

  • If you do an action that does not look cause impartial (say EA Grants mostly grants money to far future causes) then just acknowledge this and say that you have noted it and explain why it happened.

  • Public posts like this one setting out what CEA believes

  • If you want to do lots of "prescriptive" actions split them off into a sub project or a separate institution.

  • Apply the above retroactively (remove lines from your website that make it look like you are only future focused)

Beyond that, if you really want to champion cause impartiality you may also consider extra things like:

  • More focus on cause prioritisation research.

  • Hiring people who value cause impartiality / cause prioritisation research / community building, above people who have strong views on what causes are important.


Being representative is about making people feel listened too.

Your section on representatives feels like you are trying to pin down a way of finding an exact number so you can say we have this many articles on topic x and this many on topic y and so on. I am not sure this is quite the correct framing.

Things like the EA handbook should (as a lower bound) have enough of a diversity of causes mentioned that the broader EA community does not feel misrepresented but (as an upper bound) not so much that CEA staff [2] feel like it is misrepresenting them. Anything within this range seems fine to me. (Eg. with the EA handbook both groups should feel comfortable handing this book to a friend.) Although I do feel a bit like I have just typed 'just do the thing that makes everyone happy' which is easier said than done.

I also think that "representativeness" is not quite the right issue any way. The important thing is that people in the EA community feel listened too and feel like what CEA is doing represents them. The % of content on different topics is only part of that. The other parts of the solution are:

  • Coming across like you listen: see the aforementioned points on championing cause impartiality. Also expressing uncertainty, mentioning that there are opposing views, giving two sides to a debate, etc.

  • Listening -- ie. consulting publicly (or with trusted parties) wherever possible.

If anything getting these two things correct is more important than getting the exact percentage of your work to be representative.

Sam :-)


[2] Unless you have reason to think that there is a systematic bias in staff, eg if you actively hired people because of the cause they cared about.

Comment author: RandomEA 16 August 2018 02:29:59AM 5 points [-]

If you do an action that does not look cause impartial (say EA Funds mostly grants money to far future causes) then just acknowledge this and say that you have noted it and explain why it happened.

Do you mean EA Grants? The allocation of EA Funds across cause areas is outside of CEA's control since there's a separate fund for each cause area.

Comment author: Carl_Shulman 09 August 2018 07:21:56AM *  3 points [-]

Would it be a good idea to create an EA Fund for U.S. criminal justice?

Open Phil's Chloe Cockburn has a fund for external donors. See Open Phil's recent blog post:

Chloe Cockburn leads our work in this area, and as such has led our outreach to other donors. To date, we estimate that her advice to other donors (i.e., other than Dustin and Cari) has resulted in donations moved (in the same sense as the metric GiveWell tracks) that amount to a reasonable fraction (>25%) of the giving she has managed for Open Philanthropy.

It appears that interest in her recommendations has been growing, and we have recently decided to support the creation of a separate vehicle - the Accountable Justice Action Fund - to make it easier for donors interested in criminal justice reform to make donations to a pool of funds overseen by Chloe. The Fund is organized as a 501(c)(4) organization; those interested in contributing to AJAF should contact us.

Comment author: RandomEA 09 August 2018 01:52:58PM *  1 point [-]

Do you know if it's just a fund for other large donors? It seems unusual to require small donors to send an email in order to donate.

If the fund is open to small donors, I hope CEA will consider mentioning it on the EA Funds website and the GWWC website.

Comment author: baxterb 09 August 2018 01:37:56PM 3 points [-]

We experimented with this model in the early days of SHIC and didn't have much success, but it may have been partly because we didn't have the bandwidth to adequately prepare and support the university students who had volunteered. We are considering a second attempt with a stronger training/support system in place. Some of the limitations we suspect are:

  • As @Khorton mentioned, we place a lot of value on good presentation skills in order to engage the students. Thus we prefer instructors to have some background in teaching or public speaking.

  • Better-than-average knowledge of the relevant topics may also be a key component, as participant questions can be fairly complex. We have been slowly compiling a list of FAQs that future instructors can use in training.

  • As a substantial amount of time and effort goes in to training an instructor, it may only be cost-effective if that instructor is able to commit to running a fair number of workshops. Many university students/local group members are unable to make that commitment.

We believe that these limitations are potentially surmountable, but haven't made any plans as of yet to test this model further.

Comment author: RandomEA 09 August 2018 01:43:56PM 1 point [-]

Could you put together a handbook and/or video that could be sent to all trainees or is it critical that there be interaction between the trainer and trainee?

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