There's plenty in this post that I agree with, in particular "Political organizing is a highly accessible way for many EAs to have a potentially high impact". I also appreciate that many EAs would like to use their spare time effectively, and this may provide a potential avenue for that.
However I question whether "moral obligation" is really right here. When Toby Ord wrote about the Moral Imperative towards cost-effectiveness, he was arguing for actions which I think were almost certain to be right (i.e. almost certain to make the world a better place) - hence the moral imperative.
However there are lots of ways that lobbying or other political actions could have unforeseen consequences, and could lead to net negative outcomes.
I think this will probably be useful to many EAs.
That said, I'm aware something like this has been tried elsewhere and considered unsuccessful (sorry for not mentioning where, I'm not sure whether I was told this in confidence or not, but if you message me privately I can tell you more - it was not an EA context)
The reason appears to be that donors want to have a sense of ownership of the success that they have made happen, whereas putting money into a fund makes the donor's impact even more indirect.
(This is also the reason why I personally would be unlikely to use this facility, despite the fact that I also find it hard, difficult work to find optimal giving opportunities)
This may work if EAs are less glory-seeking donors than non-EAs (and me, for that matter!) I suspect that this is probably the case.
People who are interested in better political systems and policy-making may also be interested in this post: http://effective-altruism.com/ea/147/cause_better_political_systems_and_policy_making/
In Defense of Multiprojecting: "I find that I often have separate energies and that I can be refreshed from switching tasks and draw from time that otherwise would not have been used productively." I think this is a valid point that more people could benefit from considering
How often do people want to see Open Threads? Are they useful?
I think it's useful to have a place to post for those who don't have enough karma for a full post. As for "things that are awesome, but not awesome enough to be full posts", isn't the EA facebook group to be a suitable place for this?
My belief that AMF is a good donation opportunity are based on the belief that a malaria-free world is qualitatively better than one with malaria. It is based on beliefs such as the following (no one of which I probably have hugely rigorous proof for, but I broadly believe to be reasonable beliefs)
Deaths, especially of children, cause some sadness
Where parents have lots of children, there is less capacity to invest in any of them, so those children tend to be less likely to have a basic level of education
To the extent that malaria contributes to adult death, it (somewhat) leads to a society with a surfeit of young men, who are especially prone to be under-educated relative to their potential (see previous point) – this leads to a higher probability of violence and war.
To the extent that malaria contributes to adult death, it stops people from fulfilling long-term life plans to build things of value for society (e.g. companies, civil society)
(Linked to the previous point) Malaria slows economic growth, and economic growth is probably a good thing for the poorest societies
I would be worried about an argument against AMF’s work if I thought it would lead to explosive population growth that was too fast for infrastructure development to keep up – to a certain extent I think there is an element of valid worry here, but there is at least a partial self-regulating element (albeit with a lag) – this is what David Roodman’s post told us (or which we might have guessed by reading, e.g., work by Jeffrey Sachs)
I have reviewed GiveWell’s past CEA analyses with interest, but always imagined that measures like lives saved or QALYs were simply a simplification/proxy to get at the things we really care about – namely the sorts of things I’ve listed above. If my perspective on this is a minority view, this would come as a genuine surprise to me.
Unless I’ve misunderstood, the arguments that Michael has presented shouldn’t update my propensity to donate to AMF. More than happy to be educated if I’ve misunderstood
This post was prompted by some pretty strongly held opinions on a facebook thread. AlyssaVance has posted something here in language I can understand (thank you Alyssa). I would love to see those strongly held opinions from the facebook post shared here
Thanks IanDavidMoss, I (unlike many other commenters here) also support the existence of what you call domain-specific EA.
If this "domain-specific EA" involves supporting existing charities to do good better, I would NOT be in favour of the EA community doing this. Not because it's a bad thing, but because there are already people doing this (here's 3 examples off the top of my head: http://www.thinknpc.org/, https://giving-evidence.com/, http://www.ces-vol.org.uk/)
If "domain-specific EA" involves providing guidance on which charities to donate to in a specific field, I agree that there is a gap in the market for this. I wouldn't call it EA, but I think it would be valuable if it were possible. I even tried to do it - and now I'm doubtful about whether it is feasible. I promise I will write up on thoughts on this and share it here before long.
Thanks for the post. This looks really interesting. I'm going to be making something similar in the next few weeks (an Angular2 web app with a simple RESTful API that tracks personal donation history), just as a personal project, so there could a bit of overlap and I'd love to contribute to the project if there's support for it. If you'd like, just flick me a message and we can talk some more.
Hi Andy, would be great to get in touch with you about what you have in mind - there may be scope for collaboration with SoGive too.
Great to hear from you Mikkel, this is indeed very similar to my project SoGive (as David Nash has already mentioned)
SoGive is a UK-oriented charitable giving app which will enable tracking of donations and allow donors to see the impact of their donations - so very similar to what you've described. A few comments from me:
- I agree with much of your view that there is a need here
- I am possibly more bullish than you are about the value of integration with social media - people are influenced by social norms, so I think there is potential here if it's done right. For example, "nudging" donors to publish their donations could lead to positive feelings of pride, and allowing people to follow the donations of celebrities could be exciting features (if properly handled, of course)
- I found getting buy-in from charities to be mostly easy
- I question whether it makes sense to consider this an app for EAs (not sure if that's what you have in mind) - EAs currently constitute a tiny market, and I personally wouldn't build a project on the assumption that the EA movement will become mainstream
- If you make this app more mainstream, then it will need to cover lots of charities - this is an important challenge. My (incomplete) research suggests that the UK is a better jurisdiction than most for access to charity data (but still not as good as I would like!) I haven't considered Denmark
- I agree with your points about heterogeneities between countries
- You suggest that funding might not be that big a problem. I have not found this to be the case
More than happy to discuss further - I have just tried to connect with you (or someone with the same name as you!) on facebook. There is much I could say to expand on these points, so if you would like to discuss further, let me know.
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