Comment author: zdgroff 07 September 2018 09:11:47PM 13 points [-]

As I noted on the original post, I am grateful this dialogue is happening so respectfully this time around.

Comment author: zdgroff 07 September 2018 09:11:12PM 12 points [-]

I'm grateful to see this dialogue being had so respectfully and am grateful to both sides for this dialogue.

21

What I Learned from a Year Spent Studying How to Get Policymakers to Use Evidence

Crossposted on zachgroff.com The past year I was a senior research analyst at Northwestern University's Global Poverty Research Lab on a study of evidence-based policy. Specifically, our goal was to work on a question often on researchers' minds: how can I get my ideas acted upon? To do this, I... Read More
Comment author: zdgroff 03 September 2018 07:30:15AM 0 points [-]

I find it interesting that there's apparently more proportional risk in the second half of this century than in this half and the following centuries. I'm guessing that's just a byproduct of numeric heuristics, but I'd be interested in if there's anything more on that. Discussions of climate change seem to center on the 50-100 year time horizon, which seems like a somewhat arbitrary choice by scientists, but I could see it influencing public perceptions.

Comment author: zdgroff 03 September 2018 07:25:09AM 1 point [-]

I talked to two people who said things that indicated they lean EA, asked them about if they identified that way, and then they told me they didn't because they associate EA with Singer-style act utilitarianism and self-imposed poverty through maximizing donated income.

This is interesting. What about them seemed EA-aligned? When I came across EA I was attracted to it because of the Singer-style act utilitarianism, and I've had worries that it's drifting too far from that and losing touch with the moral urgency that I felt in the early days. That said, I do think that actually trying to practice act utilitarianism leads to more mature views that suggest being careful about pushing ourselves too far.

Comment author: zdgroff 03 September 2018 07:14:39AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for sharing this, Michelle. I'm glad my post inspired this! I've been trying to find more positive news these days because I still do think from what I've read that the world is getting better, but it's hard to remind myself of that. I've signed up to positive newsletters, like The New York Times's the Week in Good News and positive.news, and I've been somewhat disappointed, because the stories there are just as anecdotal as the negative ones are! They tend to focus on individual things, often actions that seem frivolously expensive. I think it might be worth someone's time to create a more substantive positive newsletter. Maybe "Positive Trends" or something like that?

Comment author: zdgroff 03 September 2018 06:55:08AM 1 point [-]

I'm curious how you determined how utilitarian/EA people you spoke with were?

I think it's remarkable how much EAA has changed in the past several years. When people first started these effective animal advocacy online discussion spaces, veg outreach was the most-talked about intervention. It's a pretty resounding shift.

Comment author: zdgroff 03 September 2018 06:44:20AM 1 point [-]

I feel your desire for doing at a meet up, because I ran a student group in college where I worried there was a lot of talk and too little action. I think there could be versions of "talking" that are closer to "doing," though—for example, presenting on recent projects or donation decisions, thereby giving members a chance to feel good about good they've done recently and creating a norm of action. This would probably avoid some of the problems with short-term freelancing laid out in other comments. Hope this idea helps!

In response to Open Thread #41
Comment author: zdgroff 03 September 2018 06:40:03AM 11 points [-]

[Did Career Research to Reach a Sense of Conclusion]

About a year ago I left an organization I was closely involved in, and I spent the past year struggling quite a bit with what I wanted to do with my career. I applied to PhD programs in economics and got into a top one, Stanford. I spent several months thinking about what causes I want to focus on and whether this made sense for my career, and I made a pretty ambitious plan of reading up on debates that pertained to crucial considerations I'd longed neglected, such as how RCTs compare to other forms of evidence, what the best theories of consciousness are and their implications, and what the odds of various risks are.

I'm pretty happy with where I am now after doing this. I updated my moral weight for animals downwards (though it was quite high before so it's still pretty high), my probability of machine sentience in the medium-term upwards, and my views on different forms of evidence and seriousness of risk stayed largely the same. Overall, I concluded that most of the things I'm most concerned about have research as their biggest gap, and the PhD is well-suited to that. I like to contemplate my career regularly, but I've reached a place of satisfaction that I had not been in for a while. Meanwhile, I started the PhD and am very happy with it so far.

Comment author: zdgroff 21 June 2018 02:15:55AM 2 points [-]

This is awesome. I suppose this is something anyone could fix, but I'm curious why it seems to deviate from the normal EA division of causes and has animal welfare as a subcause? Animal welfare already has a number of categories under it, and not all policy-related, so seems like maybe it should be its own category.

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