"Essayer is the French verb meaning "to try" and an essai is an attempt. An essay is something you write to try to figure something out... In a real essay, you don't take a position and defend it. You notice a door that's ajar, and you open it and walk in to see what's inside." -- Paul Graham


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How long would you wait to get Moderna/Pfizer vs J&J?

Reasonable; looking at it again, '0 and 1 are not probabilities' was not my true rejection at all. Mostly I was just surprised to see such an extremely good result from the vaccine that everyone seems to agree is worse.

How long would you wait to get Moderna/Pfizer vs J&J?

I jumped at the chance to get J&J even though I'm not a essential worker or anything. I think the disconnect between our intuitions is here:

People who can easily continue to guard against significant COVID risks for several weeks without much downside other than quality of life should wait several weeks for Pfizer or Moderna.

As was discussed a bunch in my post on lockdown, the quality of life & mental health impact can be really massive. A marginal month may not seem like a lot if you are really just doing totally fine in lockdown and don't have anything in particular you want to do, but if you are actively suffering all the time, another month feels like forever. Also, for me, waiting a month would mean that I would see my niece for the first time at 3 months old rather than 2 months, which is quite a big difference at that age.

Furthermore, I'm young and healthy, so getting a slightly less effective vaccine probably just shouldn't matter to me that much, when my risk was already so low to begin with. And I wouldn't be surprised if people who get J&J now can get moar vaccinated later (either a J&J booster shot or stacking an mRNA vaccine on top of J&J), so I'm not convinced that the choice I make right now matters that much.


Also I'm pretty skeptical that J&J provides 100% protection at any point, and your source did very little to convince me. 0 and 1 are not probabilities?

Logan Strohl on exercise norms

Side note, my dance group was entirely made up of nerds. And in general I don't resonate with the nerd/jock dichotomy, like, at all. Though based on my sister's experience (in competitive tae kwon do) that may have to do with competitive vs non-competitive forms of exercise.

Logan Strohl on exercise norms

"Only do it if it's easy and you like it" doesn't seem as obviously wrong to me as it's supposed to sound. During the 6 years of my life when I had dance practice ~twice a week I never just decided I didn't want to show up, because I really liked going! In performances I would get this high where I wanted to just do every song straight through for the full hour (or however long), even though I always scheduled in rests for each person – and a lot of other people had this experience as well. Similarly, when I run on an elliptical I get to a point where I feel like I never want to stop. I push myself but I don't experience it as 'uncomfortable' subjectively – I might get sweaty and out of breath and be sore the next day, but I like that. The sweaty out of breath feeling is an exhilarating glow, and the soreness feels rewarding and kinda nice.

tl;dr exercise genuinely doesn't have to be unpleasant??

Takeaways from one year of lockdown

God, life would have been so much better if I could drive. I could have gone home to my family. I could have done so many things! But extremely unfortunately I spent 2019 and the latter half of 2018 cultivating a pathological fear of cars, and specifically me driving them. Agh.

Anyway I'm glad you're satisfied with what you did, that's really good! Definitely watch out for that agoraphobia – I've heard a lot of people express that same sentiment and I sincerely hope we don't all end up socially crippled for the rest of time. Do you ever have those totally normal dreams where you're.... doing anything at all.... and then you realize that no one is wearing masks and why are you so close to them? Alas.

Responses and Testimonies on EA Growth

Thanks for the post! It's cool to see people updating their beliefs in public :) Also you refer to me as 'he' but I'm a girl.

Why Hasn't Effective Altruism Grown Since 2015?

Other people have already replied well to the central point of this post, so I'll say something different: I think you misunderstand the relationship between Good Ventures and Open Phil. You frame it as:

  • EA finances stopped growing because Good Ventures stopped growing
  • Good Ventures stopped growing because the wills and whims of billionaires are inscrutable?

This isn't how it works. Disclaimer: I have worked for both GiveWell and Open Philanthropy in the past, but it's been more than two years since I was involved at all and also I was mostly, like, an intern-level person the whole time. But to be safe with confidentiality stuff I'll just draw on public information. From Wikipedia:

Good Ventures plans to spend out the majority of its money before the death of Moskovitz and Tuna, rather than be a foundation in perpetuity. Most of the money for the foundation comes from the stock Moskovitz obtained as a Facebook co-founder. They are working closely with charity evaluator GiveWell to determine how to spend their money wisely. At GiveWell's recommendation, Good Ventures is not currently spending a significant share of the couple's wealth, but they plan to up their spending to 5% of the foundation's wealth every year once GiveWell has built sufficient capacity to help allocate that level of money.

The key points here being:

  • Good Ventures is spending at way less than full capacity because GiveWell/Open Phil* told them to. They could clearly be spending more.
  • GiveWell/Open Phil told them not to spend more because they didn't know how to usefully spend that money.
  • Good Ventures is a foundation. This means** it has an endowment funded by Moskovitz's personal fortune, analogous to the Gates Foundation or the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. So it doesn't really make sense to talk about a foundation 'growing'. I guess the endowment can grow if it's accumulating interest faster than it's being spent down, but that's different from what I think you meant.

Bottom line being, funding from Good Ventures has never been the bottleneck when it comes to money moved. The bottleneck is knowing how to usefully allocate that money. It's not as simple as "you can always give more money to bednets", because Open Phil / GiveWell / Good Ventures doesn't like to provide more than 50% of the funding for any organization. (The reason being that there are a bunch of bad things that happen if an organization becomes primarily dependent on any one funder; I didn't find a specific GW/OP blog post on this but I can elaborate if someone asks.)

ETA: Two relevant blog posts by Holden here and here.


*Yes I know GiveWell and Open Phil are separate now but I don't think that's relevant to my point

**I'm not an expert on what exactly a foundation is so this is just my sense; people can correct me if I'm wrong

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