Comment author: ChrisCundy 08 July 2016 05:30:16PM 6 points [-]

A week ago I moved to Vancouver for the summer, interning at .impact with Tom Ash and the team.

It's been a fun week, and I've started work on a few ongoing projects, such as analysing the results of this year's EA survey, and getting in contact with local EA groups that wanted some support putting on their first event. These projects are all ongoing, and hopefully we should see some results, such as insightful statistics about the EA community, soon!

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 30 July 2016 10:10:12AM 0 points [-]

Thanks Chris, I just read through the survey. Very interesting stats and inferences. It is certainly making me think about striking a balance between making sure people don't have the "I don't feel EA enough" feeling, but also developing a culture where people are normalising high impact giving.

Comment author: LKor 08 May 2016 08:51:34PM *  3 points [-]

Normally I would not double-post an item, but I'd like to increase the chance people see this, and I don't know if it warrants a front-page posting.

EA Toronto

I just created the Effective Altruism Toronto meetup. I'm already in touch with the organizers of LW Toronto. My goal is to reach a monthly meeting tempo over the next 3 - 6 months with a small core of regulars, and then reach a twice-monthly tempo.

Please spread the word to anyone who might be in the GTA!

Promotion help

If anybody has suggestions about how to best promote/spread the word, that would be super-great. I'm one of those tin-foil hat Facebook holdouts, but I'm willing to blow the dust off my account to do some promo for this. Pointers to FB groups/highly-connected-individuals/whatever, as well as non-FB related ideas would be really appreciated.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 09 May 2016 07:09:29AM 3 points [-]

That is great. I read somewhere on this forum that starting a meetup is supposed to be super impactful! Facebook is very useful... but I have found meetup really good too. My facebook feed also makes me a better EA too - I have joined so many groups and friended loads of lovely EAs so I now get no Latte Art, and only get inspiring stories of people doing wonderful things and thinking interesting ideas, and that keeps me inspired and active.

Comment author: KierenWatkins 07 May 2016 08:45:27AM 7 points [-]

Hey everyone! So at the moment I'm just a student with an earn-to-give attitude and attempt to educate friends (by my estimation those I can have most influence on) on effective altruism so I've got less on the side of action and more on money! I've donated 10% of the money I got from a university scholarship this year and also for last semester to Against-Malaria Foundation (AMF) on the recommendation of Givewell which came to my biggest ever in one donation of $900! Whilst maybe not the most effective of charities, I participated in Live Below the Line last week just gone for the Oaktree Foundation who work to improve education in PNG, Timor-Leste and Cambodia and raised $177. Alright, Sir Bragsalot is over and out.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 09 May 2016 07:05:44AM 2 points [-]

That's an amazing amount for a student! You rule Kieren.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 09 May 2016 07:04:56AM 8 points [-]

You guys are doing great jobs!

I'm getting crazy good-busy with outreach at the moment.

I am working a lot on Students for High Impact Charity (SHIC) http://www.shicschools.org/, working on a high school level Effective Altruismish programme, which is really exciting. I am a teacher so I think that is where my comparative advantage is. After ranting about EA to some of my senior students (when we should have been doing physics) they asked if I could give a course, so they asked management, and now I have a no-credit elective 20 hour course on EA for my seniors (17-18 yo), which I repeat later in the year, and another 10 hour elective course with a 15-16 yo crowd. I've only had one lesson so far, but it went great.

I've also been doing some adult outreach, with a Giving Game for a choir group I know (very receptive and some significant giving changes!) and one to Skeptics (some receptive and some very argumentative, as you would expect). I was also interviewed for the NZ Skeptics podcast - but they have yet to edit out all my mumblings so it is not out yet... I am pretty nervous about hearing it.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 23 April 2016 03:50:32AM 2 points [-]

Thanks Evan, that is a really useful summary.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 21 April 2016 03:21:47PM 2 points [-]

(I'm assuming this open thread is for random EA questions. Yes?)

Yes, all posts of the EA newsletter to the Forum also double as open threads.

A non-EA friend said to me today, that she believes/fears that EA is a small echo chambery group, and so its conclusions are not to be trusted? (And was also concerned that the conclusions of GiveWell are not peer reviewed).

It depends how wide you want to cast a net in defining 'effective altruism'. Effective altruism is now a social movement of several thousand people. This isn't simply based on how the public Facebook group, arguably the most front-facing presence for EA anywhere, has ~10k members. While there are many community members who are students, or aren't necessarily donating tons of money right now, or working for an effective organization full-time, by attendance to EA conferences and membership in local EA clubs and chapters worldwide, there are at least a few thousand people who take EA very seriously.

Effective altruism is largely divided among four cause areas: poverty alleviation (in practice, primarily evidence-based global health interventions, and cash-transfers); animal advocacy (in practice, mostly focused on factory farming, with a wide spread of positions from mere animal welfare reform to full-out animal liberation); existential risk mitigation (largely focused on potential future risks from artificial/machine superintelligence); and metacharity (fundraising or raising awareness of effective altruism or its composite causes). From years of personal experience, I can attest there is much informal criticism within and between causes, by a variety of advocates within EA, of different approaches and styles of evaluation within EA.

However, most of this isn't front-facing, and, from the outside, it more or less appears effective altruism is somewhat monolithic. For the record, it seems the community consensus that, other things being equal, Givewell's research is considered top-notch. Within a focus on poverty alleviation itself, there isn't much deviation by other organizations or camps from Givewell's recommendations.

  • One of the first EA organizations was Giving What We Can (GWWC), which, among its other roles, acts as a charity evaluator. It uses a different methodology than Givewell, but largely reaches the same conclusions in its charity recommendations.

  • AidGrade is another charity evaluator which is often associated with effective altruism, and evaluates charities on similar empirical principles to GWWC and Givewell. How they differ is that AidGrade uses statistical meta-analyses, based on its own inclinations, and at the behest of philanthropists with an evidence-based approach, in a way more similar to more in-depth analyses reminiscent of fields like health or development economics. AidGrade works by providing data on various interventions on international aid, but eschews making specific recommendations and prefers to let consumers of their meta-analyses reach their own conclusions.

Much of Givewell's work is focused on determining which organizations are the most competent and efficient at delivering a given intervention. These interventions are usually determined beforehand, by academic researchers, as being the most cost-effective and some of the best ways to increase quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), or some other metric of well-being. Examples include:

While there are criticisms of effective altruism as a narrow and new phenomenon in philanthropy and doing good in general. However, the foundations for all of Givewell's recommended charities, and the interventions they pursue, all have a basis in peer review.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 22 April 2016 12:18:11AM 0 points [-]

Thanks Evan, that was a very thorough and helpful reply. I am now better equipped to answer that question, and feel less uneasy too.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 21 April 2016 10:17:49AM 2 points [-]

(I'm assuming this open thread is for random EA questions. Yes?)

A non-EA friend said to me today, that she believes/fears that EA is a small echo chambery group, and so its conclusions are not to be trusted? (And was also concerned that the conclusions of GiveWell are not peer reviewed).

My response was that while you can't eliminate echo chamber possibilities, EAs are very self-reflective and consider critiques carefully, and that GiveWell is very transparent, and makes recommendations based on scientific evidence from universities and other organisations. I also said that the goals and methodology of EA make a lot of sense to me.

I don't think I did justice to EA there, and I can't say that my response was very convincing to her. The conversation made me very uneasy - partially because I always feel a bit upset by friends criticising what I hold dear. Perhaps she thinks I have joined a cult. Perhaps I have joined a cult!

I would welcome any comments on how you feel about the smallness and reliability of EA, and whether anyone has some different ways of thinking about it.

In response to The great calculator
Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 26 March 2016 07:02:54AM 1 point [-]

Really cool Michael. Totally worth making this a webpage. 1) Is it a pig or a dog? The type of animal would elicit different answers for many people. 2) I think it would be good to have an explanation spelling out how the final numbers are calculated 3) Is there a reason for "if you were the only one who could do so?" I take it is because only we can save the animals we eat? If so, I get the idea. But I think that the statement makes it more emotional. Perhaps that is the idea. I felt that the statement compelled me to put a larger number in than I would have otherwise.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 07 March 2016 09:11:13AM 9 points [-]

I have had a busy EA month, and I feel really good about it.

I ran three giving games in one week - with three very different audiences - which was pretty epic. They went from awesome, to pretty good, to really awesome. The really awesome was with a group of altruistic 15-17 year olds at my school, they didn't find the ideas particularly controversial, but they said they found it fascinating, and later several of them told me that they talked to their family and friends all about it, and asked me to teach a short course on EA.... so that is hopefully happening starting in May.

I also started helping a couple of other people who are going to be running their first giving game in the next wee while.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 05 March 2016 08:25:23AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for that post Michael. I have been musing on that when considering my own effectiveness. I ended up deciding that I don't actually have a problem with the donor and the influencer claiming they caused $100 to be donated. (But I reckon part of this is because it makes feel more effective).

I was amused by Peter Singer suggesting that the vegetarian he sat next to in a university dining hall once upon a time might be able to claim all the good from all the people Singer influenced to be vegetarian, and all the people those people influenced to be vegetarian.... so where might it stop!

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