In response to Red teaming GiveWell
Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 30 May 2017 02:05:50AM 0 points [-]

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) and Evidence Action are deworming programs. GiveWell states there is no evidence deworming improves quality of life. GiveWell treats this absence of evidence as non-evidence of absence (of improving the lives of those in dewormed communities).

But what GiveWell says is:

"We find it highly plausible that deworming has subtle but significant developmental effects that improve quality of later life. The studies we know of on this topic each have substantial limitations, and we do not consider them conclusive evidence for the presence (much less for the size) of these effects even in conditions similar to those in the trials. We do consider them suggestive evidence, enough to take the possibility of developmental effects seriously."

They also say:

"Most GiveWell staff members would agree that deworming programs are more likely than not to have very little or no impact, but there is some possibility that they have a very large impact. (Our cost-effectiveness model implies that most staff members believe there is at most a 1-2% chance that deworming programs conducted today have similar impacts to those directly implied by the randomized controlled trials on which we rely most heavily, which differed from modern-day deworming programs in a number of important ways.)"

These posts articulate a very nuanced view -- not to mention that GiveWell also produced one of the most thorough reviews of deworming evidence currently published. Moreover, the view articulated here is inconsistent with your assessment.

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Deworming is controversial. GiveWell admits deworming may have no impact. In academia, a crude division formed between epidemiologists and economists about whether mass deworming makes sense. This debate was called the 'worm wars' and was visible on Twitter with this and that hashtag. #Wormwars is over. Guess who ‘won’? GiveWell was founded by economists...

Likewise, GiveWell is very aware of the "worm wars" and have written about it.

Also, technically, GiveWell was not founded by economists. Elie has a religion degree and no other schooling. Holden also has no advanced degrees beyond his undergraduate degree from Harvard.

Comment author: arunbharatula 31 May 2017 04:30:39AM *  -1 points [-]

My mistake with the economist claim. It seems some senior GiveWell employees are economists.

However, I don't see how those exerpts defend GiveWell's assessment of deworming.

In response to Red teaming GiveWell
Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 30 May 2017 02:06:31AM 1 point [-]

Did they reinvent the wheel? Their approach to cause prioritisation is remarkably similar to the PAHO-HANLON method.

It's a bit hard to track down how the INT (importance, neglectedness, tractability) method started... it's first mentioned by GiveWell in May 2012 and given the INT names by 80,000 Hours in December 2013. Because GiveWell and OpenPhil don't elaborate on how they came to the INT criteria, it's hard to know who or what they were inspired by (if anything) or what wheels they reinvented.

To avoid personally missing the forest for the trees here, I would like to say that I agree there is a lot to be learned from existing prioritization work done by world governments and pan-governmental bodies, and I'd really like to see someone effectively summarize these, draw comparisons and contrasts with the INT framework, and make conclusions.

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The PAHO-HANLON approach incorporates two additional elements: positioning and equity, the former being a common topic of discussion in the community. The latter being a topic of criticism from other communities. By adopting the World Health Organisation’s framework, could the associated problems have been dulled?

Which problems are you referring to?

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To illustrate the relevance of ‘positioning’, choosing a controversial cause may be tractable, but undermine the movement in the long run because one side of politics, business, the general public or the philanthropic community may be alienated or disdain the Effective Altruism community. For instance, there is a current of disdain for effective altruism (or Singer specifically) from the disability rights community which may have been averted with more careful marketing.

This is a good point, though I disagree. I think there is an important separation between a framework for evaluating causes and a framework for making sure your chosen interventions and marketing methods don't alienate people. I'm skeptical combining the two frameworks would make for a better approach than considering the two separately.

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One opportunity I foresee arising from our short-sightedness of positioning is the fact that the general public thinks self-inflicted ill-health (e.g. cigarette smoking? attempted suicide?) and higher socioeconomic status (if they choose to sabotage their health, do they prefer ill-health?) deserve less help. Could we maximise the impact of our donation recommendation by factoring in the variables that drive the general population of donors.

Do you mean we should follow along with donor interests and avoid focusing on self-inflicted ill-health in order to maybe get more donations?

Or do you mean we should go against donor interests because it means the causes are more likely to be neglected?

Comment author: arunbharatula 31 May 2017 03:25:11AM -1 points [-]

Thanks for elaborating on the history of the INT framework Peter :)

Which problems are you referring to?

I assume you're asking about equity since you noted the example on positioning in my original post. In PAHO's executive committee document they define equity as:

'differential occurrence of disease or access to health programs according to gender, ethnicity, income level, geographic location (urban vs. rural), etc'.

In their scoring system, the more differential the occurrence of a disease (e.g. if a disease overwhelming affects women, or a particular ethnic group, relative to the general population) that more importance that problem is, independent of other prioritization factors.

This is a good point, though I disagree. I think there is an important separation between a framework for evaluating causes and a framework for making sure your chosen interventions and marketing methods don't alienate people. I'm skeptical combining the two frameworks would make for a better approach than considering the two separately.

If we agree that A, B and C variables should be used to evaluate a cause, and that D and E should evaluate the acceptability of that cause, then combining the two frameworks would look like:

A * B * C * D * E

Considering the two seperately would look like:

(A * B * C) (D * E)

Those are mathematically identical.

Do you mean we should follow along with donor interests and avoid focusing on self-inflicted ill-health in order to maybe get more donations? Or do you mean we should go against donor interests because it means the causes are more likely to be neglected?

No, I just raised the topic of popular perceptions of self-inflicted ill-health to illustrate the relevance of positioning. I expect the relative value of leveraging donor interest v.s. neglectedness would vary on a case-by-case basis.

Comment author: arunbharatula 30 May 2017 01:03:48AM 0 points [-]

Outstanding post and comments. Thank you, please keep up the good work.

The only RCT into Give Directly showed their cash transfers had no long-term effect on life satisfaction scores.

I think you mean, the Give Directly RCT did not examine whether cash transfers has a long-term effect on life satisfaction.

Comment author: RyanCarey 22 May 2017 07:30:42PM 5 points [-]

Just personally for me, I would find this easier to read if you linked just a word or a couple of words at a time, rather than a whole paragraph.

Comment author: arunbharatula 24 May 2017 04:24:04AM *  0 points [-]

I try to hyperlink those parts of my writing that are evidenced by a particular source. This avoids the issue that arises in academic writing where it can be unclear what claims a citation relates to. There is a trade-off with the visual appeal of the writing, particularly since my fix for the aforementioned issue is unconventional. However, I believe gain in precision outweighs the stylistic considerations.

Edit: In light of the downvotes and various comments on my pieces recommending I rework my contributions and suggests they may be misleading I am taking down my work till I time I can edit it. Hope this improves things. Thanks for the tips.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 22 May 2017 01:44:43PM 1 point [-]

In the paragraph "What value can employees bring to the table? In terms of work performance" I think one of your links is broken.

Also I don't understand what the tags like "[instructions] [opinion] [text]" on your links mean.

Comment author: arunbharatula 24 May 2017 04:18:01AM *  0 points [-]

Thank you for letting me know about the broken link. I have googled the link (http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1015902-1,00.html) and it has been referenced by others. That suggests Time has taken down the article. Sorry for the inconvenience, I'm not aware of any place where it is mirrored.

I intended to tag each of my hyperlinks so that the evidence could be assessed at a glance.

e.g. cows are cool [meta-analysis]. Some elements I would have liked to include are:

  • Level of evidence
  • Population
  • Side effects
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Effect size
  • Uncertainty (e.g. variability in outcome, confidence intervals, methodological heterogeneity and sample sizes)
  • Instructions for application
  • Construct validity
  • Measurement protocol e.g. [Self-report]
  • Whether there is autoplay auditory content e.g. [Youtube]. Whereas [Wikipedia] and [peer reviewed] are typically text
  • Whether the content is a scientific source e.g. [peer reviewed]
  • Whether the content is a summary of all the relevant evidence on the topic e.g. [evidence summary] or a fragment e.g. [news]. [Peer reviewed] is also [evidence summary] where not otherwise stated
  • Whether the link is Not Safe For Work (NSFW)

    This is quite a large list and each tag would demand of me to scrutinize the primary literature. I abandoned the task as my primary intention was to provide a top-level overview of key conclusions in fields that are rather large but important.

Comment author: arunbharatula 10 November 2016 09:28:24AM *  2 points [-]

Does anyone have questions for or information to give to World Health Organization staff at the Geneva HQ?

I'm doing an internship there and I figure I could set up a meeting to ask EA relevant questions or give EA info if it would be of interest to that staff person too.

Questions/content around country-cooperation are most appropriate, since that's the area of my internship.

Comment author: arunbharatula 10 November 2016 06:04:36AM 0 points [-]

What happened?

Comment author: arunbharatula 10 November 2016 06:03:45AM 1 point [-]

You mentioned that you asked various charities questions. Can you give an indication of how easy or difficult it was to solicit information from various organisations? And, if that appears sensitive to the wording of your messages? Thank you.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 09 November 2016 01:15:18AM 1 point [-]

current giving opportunities have value as training data so that you act correctly when a potentially better opportunity comes along.

Comment author: arunbharatula 10 November 2016 05:59:31AM 0 points [-]

Can you please elaborate? I'm not sure I follow.