Comment author: Denkenberger 05 February 2017 10:16:50PM 2 points [-]

There is roughly 0.02-7% chance per year of accidental full-scale nuclear war between US and Russia: source. Since NATO says an attack on one is an attack on all, this could easily spread to the UK. One simple precaution would be for EAs to locate in the suburbs where the risk of being hit his lower (as I have done). The economics of this appear to be favorable because housing prices are typically lower in the suburbs, especially if you can move by rail that is low risk and good potential for multitasking. I would like to formalize this into a paper, but I would need a collaborator.

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 06 February 2017 12:48:05PM *  0 points [-]

Interesting, are you concerned that in a full-scale nuclear war that most places in the northern hemisphere would be unsafe due to military targets outside the cities and fallout?

What do you think about this Q&A on Quora about where it would be safest in the event of a nuclear war? Most of the suggested safe locations are in the southern hemisphere like New Zealand.

Comment author: MattBall  (EA Profile) 28 January 2017 09:01:23PM 0 points [-]

Mr Mather, Sorry for the delay in replying. I'm not sure what UPC does to get a reasonable, actionable message to the general public. One Step for Animals ( ) has a psychologically sound message that they get in front of loads of people. For example, in the past 30 days, they have gotten their ads and videos in front of 1.8 million people on a budget of less than $10,000. Yes, I do think that replacing chicken (with plant or clean meat) is much more important than beef.

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 05 February 2017 10:15:43PM 1 point [-]

Thanks Matt. In theory it sounds possible that your message could have impact for the reasons you gave - though I'd be interested in seeing empirical evidence that people would give up chicken for ethical reasons.

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 05 February 2017 09:53:45PM *  4 points [-]

One possible area for exploration is around Schistosomiasis prevention, as reinfection rates appear to be high after deworming campaigns. PMA2020 has launched an annual survey to measure the impact of Schistosomiasis control programs in Uganda.

Johns Hopkins University/Center for Communication Programs in Uganda will be conducting a mass media campaign to promote Schistosomiasis prevention in fall 2017 before deworming day. The 2017 PMA2020 survey should be able to measure changes in knowledge, attitudes and practices after the mass media campaign. If there is funding in place, the 2018 PMA2020 survey may be able to measure the impact of the mass media campaign on actual infection rates.

Does anyone have ideas for exploration around Schistosomiasis prevention? With the PMA2020 survey, there is a unique opportunity for data collection to help evaluate potential Schistosomiasis prevention programs.

Disclosure: I am helping fund both the data collection and mass media program in Uganda

Comment author: Brian_Tomasik 21 January 2017 02:36:02PM *  0 points [-]

Thanks for the reply. :)

People also have a right not to die, so perhaps one could claim that AMF is as good for human rights as family planning?

As far as future stability, it's plausible that family planning beats AMF, both because of resource shortages and because of the unwanted-children thing you mention. Of course, while future stability has many upsides, it also makes it more likely that (post-)humanity will spread suffering throughout the cosmos.

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 21 January 2017 07:36:21PM 1 point [-]

Absolutely yes, Against Malaria Foundation is very good from a human rights point of view :)

Comment author: Brian_Tomasik 17 January 2017 04:43:08PM 1 point [-]

I'm worried that family planning increases total suffering by allowing for more wild animals to exist. In contrast, life-saving charities like AMF probably reduce wild-animal suffering. If you support AMF and family planning about equally on anti-poverty grounds, I would recommend AMF on wild-animal grounds.

What are your thoughts on how to incorporate wild-animal suffering into these calculations? Unlike with far-future considerations, we have lots of concrete data on impacts of humans on wild-animal population sizes.

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 20 January 2017 02:29:45PM *  1 point [-]

I agree that contraceptives could increase wild-animal suffering in the short run. The challenge I've run into is how to balance the increase in short term wild-animal suffering against the rights of people to plan their pregnancies, as well as considerations around farm animal suffering. I feel a lot of uncertainty around this, and not sure we can definitively answer that question without having a better understanding of how much insects and other wild animals suffer.

I think what tips the balance for me is that I have the intuition that preventing unwanted pregnancies may increase world stability in the long run, which could lead to better outcomes in the future, since we'll have the luxury to be able to tackle stuff like wild animal suffering.

There is some evidence from a study in Europe that suggests that unwanted children have greater proneness to social problems and criminal activity. Another much more speculative consideration is whether there could be future conflicts related to resources such as water tables and topsoil being depleted around the world, depending if technology to produce food continues to keep up with the increasing demand for food.

In summary, I feel uncertain if contraceptives are a net positive or negative from a utilitarian point of view, but I do feel from a human rights point of view, that every pregnancy should be wanted.

Comment author: MattBall  (EA Profile) 08 January 2017 10:56:10PM 2 points [-]

In addition to the difficulty in measuring small effect sizes, one of the significant problems with trying to evaluate advocacy is the necessary longitudinal nature of any meaningful study. Plenty of studies have shown that ~80% of people who go veg goes back to eating animals. What this doesn't capture is that all those millions of former vegetarians are actively working against others making compassionate choices, telling everyone they found it impossible to be vegetarian, how fanatical vegans are, etc. (Also, we would need to capture the full impact of our argument / advocacy, since most everything we put out there argues strongly for replacing red meat with chickens; IMHO, it is better to simply ask, "Don't eat chickens." Don't say "eat beef" or "eat vegan alternatives" -- just leave the ask as simple and straightforward as possible. More: Thanks for the conversation!

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 20 January 2017 02:11:57PM 0 points [-]

That is a good point about the need for studies to measure the long term impact. What do you think of United Poultry Concerns? Do you know of any people who have given up chicken for ethical reasons but still eat other meat?

Do you think that cultured meat research should focus on developing alternatives to chicken instead of beef?

Comment author: MattBall  (EA Profile) 06 January 2017 09:06:52PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the reply, Thomas. Two things:

  1. Regarding Having Kids: The main idea is to change the conversation from parents or women thinking in isolation, but instead having the rights of the future child and the interests of society be a part of any decision to have a kid. This should lead to smaller families.

I am curious as to why you think male contraceptions are a better means of preventing unwanted pregnancy, compared to empowering women and providing them with better contraception. My admitedly limited experience is such that men in general care much less about preventing pregnancy, and are even inclined to want a woman to get pregnant. As the economists would say, women are the ones who have incentive here.

  1. I am all for the work of The Good Food Institute and Hampton Creek! But I think that there will have to be demand for those products. As that One Step page points out, even with all our efforts and the advances in food technology, per-capita consumption of animals is at an all-time high. That's why I think there is a need for a re-thought demand-side campaign

Thanks again. Down with patent trolls!

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 07 January 2017 02:57:17PM *  0 points [-]

I believe that both contraceptive delivery and research are important, and wouldn't advocate for funding one over the other. I was thinking more in terms of high priority funding gaps for both areas, and because male contraceptive research is so neglected, there appear to be some low hanging fruit. There are scientists who want to work on a clean sheets pill as well as other methods but who haven't been able to for years due to lack of funding. If successful, the clean sheets pill might be able prevent both pregnancy and STDs such as AIDS.

Many men do care about their partners and avoiding unintended pregnancy, and many women struggle to find a contraceptive method that works for them with manageable side effects. Even looking at it just from a purely selfish perspective, many men do want to avoid the responsibility of having kids and having to pay child support.

I completely agree that there is a need for re-thought on the demand side campaign. I'm hoping that with the ACE research fund ( ) we'll learn more about what works on the demand side, the challenge being able to measure small effect sizes. It does seem plausible that advocacy could be more effective if the ask is smaller, e.g. switching from chicken to beef or better yet a tastier meat alternative.

Comment author: MattBall  (EA Profile) 05 January 2017 04:30:53PM 0 points [-]

Thomas, super interesting list, although I don't quite get the Patent stuff in terms of EA. I'd love to talk to you more about Having Kids. But first, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this: Thanks, Matt

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 06 January 2017 02:31:49PM *  0 points [-]

I agree that the patent stuff might not be a top EA cause - the inclusion here was based on my personal experience of being sued by a patent troll.

I have looked at I don't really see their model taking off as it seems difficult to understand and a bit unusual.

I'm currently focused on male contraceptive research in order to help reduce unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Approximately 40% of pregnancies are unwanted worldwide, many of which end in abortion. I'm donating to

I believe that behavior change is very difficult, and it might be more pragmatic to develop technologies that people want and that help animals as a side effect. Examples are better male contraception and tastier meat alternatives.

I think does raise some very good points on why we should focus on reducing chicken consumption, thanks for sharing that!

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 13 December 2016 01:54:46PM *  6 points [-]

This year I'm supporting the Male Contraception Initiative to help fund research into non-hormonal male contraceptives.

The rationale for this is:

  • About 40% of pregnancies worldwide are unintended
  • There are limited contraceptive options for men
  • Male contraceptive research is very underfunded and there appear to be significant funding gaps.
  • Non-hormonal methods may have fewer side effects than hormonal methods.

I got interested in male contraception after reading this post about vasalgel:

Some concerns are:

  • This research is very speculative and likely to fail
  • The cost of bringing a new contraceptive market is on the order of $100 million, and higher if you adjust for the cost of all the failures.
Comment author: cdc482 15 August 2016 10:32:54PM 5 points [-]

Im an EA. I've donated over 50% of my income for over 3 years, and I've been active volunteering (informally and formally) for over 8 years. I rarely felt comfortable at an EA event or meetup.

Ive met a handful of people who donate 10%, and a handful of people who do some volunteer work. I've also met a bunch of people I suspect of being more interested in philosophy and socializing than altruism. EA community building is a huge disappointment.

There is huge potential in EAs working together--the sum of the wholes are greater than the sum of the parts. But after 3 years of trying, I'm about ready to give up.

Comment author: tjmather  (EA Profile) 16 August 2016 01:50:32PM *  2 points [-]

What would an ideal EA event look like to you? Would you like to see more discussion on earning to give and where to donate? Do you feel like earning to give is underappreciated in the EA community?

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