Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 12 November 2017 05:46:08PM 6 points [-]

There was a project in London where we decided on where to donate £1000. The participants were EAs in London who have non-utilitarian ethical intuitions that equality / justice are intrinsically morally valuable. The result was a sexual violence prevention charity called 'No Means No' that runs education workshops in the developing world, and has a few RCTs that support their claims about impact.

Project written up here:

Someone is also working on a write up of the evidence base behind 'no means no' but this is not ready for publication. If you are interested I can try to loop you in (PM me on Facebook: Samuel Hilton).

(Disclaimer / apologies: I have a lot on and have not read the whole article or the comments, it looks well researched so good job. But I just wanted to make sure you had seen this project as it maybe relevant for your research.)

Comment author: zdgroff 05 October 2017 07:58:22PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for sharing this! Out of curiosity, was there any particular evidence that drove the basic theory of outreach (awareness -> engagement -> behavior change)? This seems like actually a hotly contested empirical area so I'm curious. Thanks!

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 29 October 2017 11:14:37PM *  0 points [-]

It roughly came from the idea of treating movement builidng as a marketing funnel. It is similar to the marketing funnel you'd expect of any other organisation except "buy our junk" is replaced with "behaviour change".

I did not have specific evidence on community building that this was a particularly good theory of change, although nothing I read when looking for data on this suggested it would not be a good theory of change.

What is it that it contested about this?

Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 05 October 2017 01:40:57AM *  11 points [-]

Nice post. A few comments:

i) I'd focus more on the opportunity cost of the people involved than the financial cost.

ii) Being half as cost effective as CEA would still be pretty good! So long as CEA wasn't significantly funding constrained, it would make sense to fund others groups that could do that well. BTW I'd heard of marginal cost of pledge acquisitions as low as a few hundred dollars 3 years ago, but maybe that has gone up. I've also heard concerns the pledge quality could be declining as GWWC has scaled and made it easier to join.

iii) $2,000 for a pledge makes it better than funding AMF just from a fundraising point of view. You only need someone to follow through on giving 10% for an extra 1 year or so to break even. People who are part of a local community are probably above-average quality members as well (likely to donate to better places and for longer). But if you think about the staff's opportunity cost (i.e. their ability to do useful direct work if they weren't doing EA London) maybe it's not so good.

iv) I expect the long-term impact on the people involved to be more valuable again than the 12 pledge-equivalents, but people's mileage varies on that quite a lot.

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 29 October 2017 11:10:19PM *  2 points [-]

Thanks for the feedback Rob

i) The opportunity cost of time has been low.

• For me, there were minimal opportunities to do something higher impact at this stage in my career. For example, I may have stayed in government and I doubt this would have had much impact (also this year out has not significantly damaged my civil service career, I was able to return on a promotion). It is not clear that I had the credibility on any other EA project that I could have found funders willing to cover my costs for the year. I could have worked part time in the civil service and tried to found a different type of other organisation but I think it is unlikely to have gone as well.

• David Nash has invested time but it is helping him move career-wise in a direction he wants to be going in.

• I expect the interns taken on would not have spent time as effectively otherwise.

• Time invested by others was minimal.

ii)-iv) Agree

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 18 October 2017 08:54:48AM 0 points [-]

Quick question: Is your term "disentanglement research" similar to the discipline of "systems thinking" and what are the differences? (Trying to get to grips with what you mean by "disentanglement research" ) (

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 18 October 2017 01:08:36PM 0 points [-]

In fact a more general version of the above question is:

What are the existing research / consultancy / etc disciplines that are most similar to the kind of work you are looking for?

If you can identify that it could help people in local communities direct people to this kind of work.

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 18 October 2017 08:54:48AM 0 points [-]

Quick question: Is your term "disentanglement research" similar to the discipline of "systems thinking" and what are the differences? (Trying to get to grips with what you mean by "disentanglement research" ) (


General lessons on how to build EA communities. Lessons from a full-time movement builder, part 2 of 4

Introduction For the past year I have been funded by the EA community in London to grow, run and support the community. When setting out to write up my findings from the last year I decide to split it into a few parts: This document aims to capture my intuitions... Read More
Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 07 October 2017 01:41:00PM 3 points [-]

I want to add additional thanks to Ellie Karslake for organising these events, finding venues and so on.


Lessons from a full-time community builder. Part 1 of 4. Impact assessment

NOTE: For the past year Sam Hilton has been funded by the EA community in London to grow, run and support the community. This is part 1 of a 4 part write up, broken down as follows: Part 1.   Impact assessment Part 2.   General lessons on how to... Read More
Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 07 September 2017 11:33:52AM *  1 point [-]

Hi, In case helpful for considering the additional Facebook information, I have a bunch of data on EA social media presence to help me compare growth in London to other locations, including a lot of downloaded Sociograph data from 2016.

For example the EA Facebook group size over the last year:

03/06/2016 _ 10263

13/01/2017 _ 12070

10/06/2017 _ 12,953

Obviously you'd expect these things to grow as people join then do not leave (but might ignore it), even if the movement was shrinking.

Comment author: Ajeya 17 July 2017 04:11:39AM 8 points [-]

Views my own, not my employers.

Thanks for writing this up! I agree that it could be a big win if general EA ideas besides cause prioritization (or the idea of scope-limited cause prioritization) spread to the point of being as widely accepted as environmentalism. Some alternatives to this proposal though:

  1. It might be better to spread rationality and numeracy concepts like expected value, opportunity costs, comparative advantage, cognitive biases, etc completely unconnected to altruism than to try to explicitly spread narrow or cause-specific EA. People on average care much more about being productive, making money, having good relationships, finding meaning, etc than about their preferred altruistic causes. And it really would be a big win if they succeeded -- less ambiguously so than with narrow EA I think (see Carl's comment below). The biggest objection to this is probably crowdedness/lack of obvious low-hanging fruit.
  2. Another alternative might be to focus on spreading the prerequisites/correlates of cause-neutral, intense EA: e.g. math education, high levels of caring/empathy, cosmopolitanism, motivation to think systematically about ethics, etc. I'm unsure how difficult this would be.

Both of these alternatives seem to have what is (to me) an advantage: they don't involve the brand and terminology of EA. I think it would be easier to push on the frontiers of cause-neutral/broad EA if the label were a good signal of a large set of pretty unusual beliefs and attitudes, so that people can have high trust collaboration relatively quickly.

FWIW, I think I would be much more excited to evangelize broad low-level EA memes if there were some strong alternative channel to distinguish cause-neutral, super intense/obsessive EAs. Science has a very explicit distinction between science fans and scientists, and a very explicit funnel from one to the other (several years of formal education). EA doesn't have that yet, and may never. My instinct is that we should work on building a really really great "product", then build high and publicly-recognized walls around "practitioners" and "consumers" (a practical division of labor rather than a moral high ground thing), and then market the product hard to consumers.

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 06 September 2017 08:10:40AM *  0 points [-]

I want to suggest a more general version of Ajeya's views which is:

If someone did want to put time and effort into creating the resources to promote something akin to "broad effective altruism" they could focus their effort in two ways:

  1. on research and advocacy that does not add to (and possibly detracts attention from) the "narrow effective altruism" movement.

  2. on research and advocacy that benefits the effective altruism movement.


  1. Eg. Researching what is the best arts charity in the UK. Not useful as it is very unlikely that anyone who does take a cause neutral approach to charity would want to give to a UK arts charity. There is a risk of misleading, for example if you google effective altruism and a bunch of materials on UK arts comes up first.

  2. Eg. Researching general principles of how to evaluate charities. Researching climate change solutions. Researching systemic change charities. These would all expand the scope of EA research and writings, might produce plausible candidates for the best charity/cause, and at the same time act to attract more people into the movement. Consider climate change. It is a problem that at some point this century humanity has to solve (unlike UK arts) and it is also a cause many non-EAs care about strongly


So if there was at least some effort put into any "broad effective altruism" expansion I would strongly recommend starting with finding ways to expand the movement that are simultaneously useful areas for us to be considering in more detail.

(That said, FWIW I am very wary of attempts to expanding to have a "broad effective altruism" for some of the reasons mentioned by others)

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