it's more worthwhile than 1,000 Africans

This is an implicit rate of $500 per life. GiveWell claims less efficiency than that for their top charities now, more like $1,600 to $4,000 (not including example effects of promoting efficiency or transparency and distant indirect effects).

Their number is probably better than Yvain's for talking about available marginal opportunities.

I noted this in my post, but it's so long it's understandable if one missed it.

Yes, I'm aware that if we just pumped funds into malarial nets it would quickly lose low-hanging fruit to target (in fact, by being givewell's top charity it already passed the marginal point into 2nd place, and IIRC is now hovering around $2000 per life saved but I'm not certain on that so I'll stick with Yvain's numbers)

I'm not sure if malarial nets were never at 500/life efficiency, or if they were at 500/life at the start of their operation, then the charity got so much ... (read more)

3[anonymous]8yAre you nitpicking for nitpicking's sake, or do you really think that what the SIAI does with $500,000 is more worthwhile than 125 or 312 Africans but not as worthwhile as 1000 Africans, so that being off by a factor of 3 to 8 makes that part of Xachariah's argument invalid?

Is Politics the Mindkiller? An Inconclusive Test

by OrphanWilde 1 min read27th Jul 2012277 comments


Or is the convention against discussing politics here silly?

I propose a test.  I'm going to try to lay down some rules on voting on comments for the test here (not that I can force anybody to abide by them):

1.) Top-level comments should introduce arguments (or ridicule me and/or this test); responses should be responses to those arguments.

2.) Upvote and downvote based on whether or not you find an argument convincing in the context in which it was raised.  This means if it's a good argument against the argument it is responding to, not whether or not there's a good/obvious counterargument to it; if you have a good counterargument, raise it.  If it's a convincing argument, and the counterargument is also convincing, upvote both.  If both arguments are unconvincing, downvote both.

3.) Try not to downvote particular comments excessively, if they're legitimate lines of argument.  A faulty line of argument provides opportunity for rebuttal, and so for our test has value even then; that is, I want some faulty lines of argument here.  If you disagree, please downvote me, instead of the faulty comments, because this post is what you want less of, not those comments.  This necessarily implies, for balance, that we not excessively upvote comments.  I'd suggest fairly arbitrary limits of 3/-3?

Edit: 4.) A single argument per comment would be ideal; as MixedNuts points out here, it's otherwise hard to distinguish between one good and one bad argument, which makes the upvoting/downvoting difficult to evaluate.  (My apologies about missing this, folks.)

I'm going to try really hard not to get personally involved, except to lay down a leading comment posing an argument against abortion, a position I don't hold, for the record.  The core of the argument isn't disingenuous, and I hold that this argument is true, it just doesn't lead to my opposing abortion.  I do not hold the moral axiom by which I extend the basic argument to argue against abortion, however; I'm playing the devil's advocate to try to help me from getting sucked into the argument while providing an initial point of discussion.

Which leads me to the next point: If you see a hole in an argument, even if it's an argument for a perspective you agree with, poke through it.  The goal is to see whether we can have a constructive political argument here.

The fact that this is a test, and known to be a test, means this isn't a blind study.  Uh, try to act as if you're not being tested?

After it's gone on a little while, if this post hasn't been hopelessly downvoted and ridiculed (and thus the premise and test discarded as undesirable to begin with), we can put up a poll to see whether people found the political debates helpful, not helpful, and so on.