patio11, following up on his longer-form article detailing the story of VaccinateCA (linked on LW) posts some observations of interest to the EA community, with some nods at the rationality community.

Hiya folks! I'm Patrick McKenzie, better known on the Internets as patio11. (Proof.) Long-time-listener, first-time-caller; I don't think I would consider myself an EA but I've been reading y'all, and adjacent intellectual spaces, for some time now.


I have minimal background in policy and public health. (The closest professionally relevant experience, and it is a stretch, is that I was the HIPAA Compliance Officer at a two person software company, so that we could sell our things to doctors/dentists as well as other businesses.) We ended up with a team of perhaps two dozen core members, and of that I would say one person had material policy experience and perhaps 2-3 had substantial professional experience adjacent to healthcare. I am unaware of anyone who worked on pandemics or public health prior to working with us.

And yet we were, by a fairly considerable margin, much more effective than many similarly situated charitable and public initiatives which appear to have people who put their skill points into getting good at public health and/or policy engagement.


VaccinateCA was not explicitly an EA project. I believe a few volunteers consider themselves members of your movement/community; I do not consider myself a member and do not know that to be true of any of our organizers. None of our funders, to my knowledge, would be broadly acknowledged as an "EA funder."

But recent events have not been particularly kind to the brand perception of EA, and as someone who cares no small amount about brand perception but a much larger amount for the truth, I think that VaccinateCA would have been unlikely to happen but for the work of this community and some of your one-hop-out intellectual peers.

(If I had to point at any one artifact in particular, Inadequate Equilibria is a good articulation of a larger memeplex that made me comfortable with "If the evidence of a system's operation contradicts what the Efficient Market Hypothesis counsels is the probable functioning of the system, trust the evidence. Thousands of lives savable by one dedicated team of non-specialists is actually not all that low probability.")


Highly recommend reading the article in full, as well as the EA forum post.

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