KatieHartman

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Try more things.

I'm much less (emotionally) motivated to try new things/deviate from my routine than I'd like to be, especially when an intervention's purpose is to improve something I'm currently not doing very well at. For example, I feel a lot more motivated to try something that might further improve a project that's already going very well than I am to try something that might turn around a project that's failing. I suspect that this is related to ugh fields. Any suggestions?

Free online course: How to Reason and Argue starting Mon. Any interest in study group?

I'm up for committing to the first week and then continuing if it seems useful. :)

We need new humans, please help

It actually seems pretty difficult to see how having children would, on average, be anywhere near as strong an option if your outcome measures are (1) number of children who would otherwise would not exist/reach adulthood and (2) number of children produced using your (presumably much better than donor-average) genetic material.

There are a lot of factors that influence the cost to raise a child (e.g. family income, number of children in a single household), but the USDA's figures suggest that even a relatively low-income family ($0-60k combined household earnings) will be spending ~$175k per child. It's no question that you could redirect that money toward organizations that would save the lives of many children for less.

Gamete donation looks pretty good, too. If you're donating eggs, you probably won't produce many children - IVF success rates are still fairly low, and most donors only produce 10-15 eggs per cycle (although they can donate several times). On the other hand, screening tends to be a lot less discerning for egg donors compared to sperm donors - physical/hereditary health seems to be the primary concern. So if you're exceptionally intelligent, altruistic, and/or happy, it might be much better for your eggs to be put to use than the typical donor's. You can also net $5-15k per cycle, which you could donate toward saving even more children.

If you're donating sperm, you can potentially produce many more children than you could reasonably support as a caregiver (Cryos, apparently the world's largest sperm bank, claims that the "average donor" can expect to father 25 children), but due to slightly more stringent screening, the difference between the quality of your sperm and the average donor's might be a bit less stark. That said, most banks seem to care about things like education and height, which aren't necessarily great proxies for the things most of us care about.

So, assuming you're accepted as a donor and you actually follow through on donating a substantial amount of money, you can with near certainty cause many more children to reach adulthood than you could possibly raise and likely cause a few (or more) children to be born with your genes. All with a substantially lower time investment than you'd expect to sacrifice for child-rearing.

We need new humans, please help

Is there any good reason for having children you don't particularly want to have rather than (a) donating lots of high-quality gametes and (b) giving some or all of the money you would've spent on child-rearing to an organization that prevents the premature deaths of other children?

TED Prize Nomination

This could be changed by promoting efficient altruism, creating local meetups of efficient altruists, etc. It's not only to find new altruists, but to give some social bonus (= warm fuzzies) to both existing and the new ones.

There's a significant difference between selling effective altruism to non-EAs and selling a specific effective charity to non-EAs. I suspect that the former is both more valuable (in the long term) and more difficult. Upping the warm-fuzzies seems to me like it would work toward both (as well as EA retention, although I know of no significant existing problem with that), which is why I find it surprising that there's not more work being done there (that I'm aware of).

I think we need to be very careful to avoid saying anything along the lines of "Warm-fuzzies? We don't need no warm-fuzzies!" Most people do seem to need them, if they're going to keep giving. And it makes us look pretentious to the uninitiated. (To be clear, I'm not implying you've said anything to indicate you do this or disagree - but it occasionally makes its way into public conversations about effective altruism and seems noteworthy.)

TED Prize Nomination

Yes!

Tangentially related: I've wondered whether there might be high expected value for creating an organization (perhaps a temporary one, or one existing within a larger existing org) dedicated to figuring out how to sell EA charities effectively. There is already a growing body of research on charitable giving, but the opportunities are hardly tapped out. There seems to be an understanding that donating to EA charities tends to provide fewer warm-fuzzies than giving to their (most successful) non-EA counterparts, but few people talking about it seem to consider this very dire or changeable.

[Link] Changelings, Infanticide and Nortwest European Guilt Culture

It's an interesting theory, but I'm hesitant to give much weight to weakly-supported hypotheses intended to explain very broad and inclusive phenomena, like "murders (or a lack thereof) occurring within these arbitrary geographical borders." This is especially true when there's no shortage of plausible theories and a lot of potentially-useful information is missing.

The changeling myths seem to serve the purpose of guilt-relief only insofar as they also aid shame-relief, so I''m not sure they're all that helpful. (Am I missing something?)

Basically, this reads to me like an interesting but not particularly credible just-so story.

Why CFAR?

This seems irresponsible and unwise when you have substantial fixed costs, all necessary for core activities, and not much in the way of back-up resources. I can see it feasibly leading to a bunch of problems, including (a) the incentive to save up financial resources rather than put them to use toward high-EV activities and (b) difficulty hiring staff smart enough to realize that the resources from which their salaries are paid out will be highly variable month-to-month.

Critiquing Gary Taubes, Part 2: Atkins Redux

I just googled it. I suspect that the "refined" in "refined carbohydrates" is a stand-in for "bad, for reasons left unspecified."

Why CFAR?

Having spent a fair amount of time around CFAR staff, in the office and out, I can testify to their almost unbelievable level of self-reflection and creativity. (I recall, several months ago, Julia joking about how much time in meetings was spent discussing the meetings themselves at various levels of meta.) For what it's worth, I can't think of an organization I'd trust to have a greater grasp on its own needs and resources. If they're pushing fundraising, I'd estimate with high confidence that it's because that's where the bottleneck is.

I think donating x hours-worth of income is, with few exceptions, a better route than trying to donate x hours of personal time, especially when you consider that managing external volunteers/having discussions (a perhaps-unpredictable percentage of which will be unproductive) is itself more costly than accepting money.

I'd be willing to guess that the next best thing to donating money would be to pitch CFAR to/offer to set up introductions with high-leverage individuals who might be receptive, but only if that's the sort of thing (you have evidence for believing) you're good at.

Also, sharing information about the fundraising drive via email/Facebook/Twitter/etc. is probably worth the minimal time and effort.

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