Comment author: arushigupta 31 August 2017 06:27:13AM 1 point [-]

Interesting results. I personally do like the moral duty option - I think it does have a pretty different connotation than an obligation. Obligation suggest something forced upon you by outside forces, while moral duty suggests something done out of a sense of responsibility, but more joyfully and consciously chosen.

I'm just wondering why Muslim is not an option for the religious beliefs question? This seems like a silly oversight since it is a major religion.

In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: WillPearson 22 August 2017 10:04:51AM 2 points [-]

Drawdown a book on possible climate change solutions seems EA relevant. It is interesting that it only allows peer reviewed data/models in it and systematically surveys all the solutions they could find.

Comment author: arushigupta 29 August 2017 04:13:55PM 0 points [-]

I was also interested in this book - I've ordered a copy and I'm excited for it to arrive! The news that they haven't replied to questions about the data is disappointing but I think there is still value in the book. Particularly, on the "solutions" page on the site, they state: "The list is comprised primarily of “no regrets” solutions—actions that make sense to take regardless of their climate impact since they have intrinsic benefits to communities and economies."

Considering some of the solutions that actively make lives better (such as educating girls, or more effective farming practices) as well as reduce emissions could be a good way for EA to approach climate change. Considering these combined benefits could help us assess the effectiveness of interventions on multiple scales, such as QALY's saved as well as emissions reduced. This could make global warming solutions more attractive across various branches of EA, since many of the solutions overlap with other cause areas, and considering the benefits to both causes might lead us to realize that some interventions are more effective than we previously thought.

In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: William_S 23 August 2017 05:21:43PM 3 points [-]

Any thoughts on individual-level political de-polarization in the United States as a cause area? It seems important, because a functional US government helps with a lot of things, including x-risk. I don't know whether there are tractable/neglected approaches in the space. It seems possible that interventions on individuals that are intended to reduce polarization and promote understanding of other perspectives, as opposed to pushing a particular viewpoint or trying to lobby politicians, could be neglected. seems like a useful study in this area (it seems possible that this approach could be used for issues on the other side of the political spectrum)

In response to comment by William_S on Open Thread #38
Comment author: arushigupta 29 August 2017 05:38:33AM 1 point [-]

I've been thinking about this as well lately, specifically in terms of reducing hatred and prejudice (racism, sexism, etc). For example, this is anecdotal, but one (black) man named Daryl Davis says that he has gotten more than 200 KKK members to disavow the group by simply approaching them and befriending them. Over time they would realize that their views were unfounded, and gave up their KKK membership of their own volition. This is an interview with Davis: and I think there is also a documentary about him.

This is a great Vox article about a study that discusses ways to reduce people's biases: The article title is about reducing racism, though the study discussed is about views on transgender people. It suggests that just a 10-min, open conversation can significantly reduce people's biases, and that these changes persist.

And lastly, another anecdotal story on how Derek Black, the godson of David Duke, and the son another very prominent figure in the alt-right, ended up leaving the alt-right after a group of diverse college classmates befriended him, and he slowly abandoned his previous views over the course of months.

While two of these links are to anecdotal stories, I think they are important in showing that even those with really extreme prejudice (KKK members and a young alt-right leader!) can let go of their prejudices when approached in the right way.

It definitely seems like an intervention that would require lots of grassroots, individual action, I suspect it could be very hard to measure the benefits of it - the amount of lives lost to this kind of prejudice and polarization is pretty low (at least in the US), and the other benefits that would arise are hard to measure. If someone else has good estimates on how impactful this would be, I'd love to hear them! Regardless I'm very excited to see some interventions in reducing prejudice and hatred that do seem to actually work, though more study into this is definitely necessary!