All of Pat's Comments + Replies

Don't read news

It should be noted that the linked-to article make many claims that lack nuance and justification (e.g., "News is toxic to your body" and "News massively increases cognitive errors").

Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that–because you consumed it—allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career, your business—compared to what you would have known if you hadn’t swallowed that morsel of news.

It's helpful to know some COVID-related things (when is a vaccin... (read more)

2014 Survey of Effective Altruists

Here are my predictions (on Prediction Book):

2tog8yFun site! Once you register, it lets you assign probabilities to predictions others have made.

One reason is that I didn't know they existed—I'd never heard of time banking before. Perhaps participation in existing time-banking communities would allow people to draw on a larger pool of people, and there would be a smaller chance that these communities would disappear. And unless you're traveling to one of a few large cities, you're more likely to find gratis accommodations on Couchsurfing.

On the other hand, I can think of a few advantages specific to having a sharing site targeted at effective altruists. First, it seems that time banks (at least the... (read more)

Collating widely available time/money trades

If you drink coffee, you could buy a fully automatic coffee maker ($800). Or if you do it just for the stimulation, you could use caffeine tablets instead.

Leaving your computer on or in standby mode is often better than turning it on and off. Laptops use about one watt in sleep mode, and desktops typically use no more than five (source). Even if you left your computer in sleep mode for 24 hours a day, the yearly electric bill would be pretty small. If your computer uses

  • 1 watt: 4.3 kWh, $1.05
  • 5 watts: well, it would be five times that, or $5.25

(with an ... (read more)

Collating widely available time/money trades

You could get laser hair removal instead of shaving. Calculations assume a discount rate of 10%.

Financial cost of hair removal

  • $1,500 to $4,000 for initial treatment
  • $300 a year for a touch-up treatment (PV ~ $3,000)

Total financial cost: $4,500 to $7,000

Time cost of hair removal

  • six treatments at 1.5 hours per treatment (.5 hours for the treatment itself, plus commuting, scheduling, waiting, etc.): 9 hours
  • annual touch-up treatments: 1.5 hours/year

Total time cost: 21 hours

Time cost of shaving

  • .25 hours/week = 13 hours/year (PV ~ 130 hours)

Cost per... (read more)

3John_Maxwell8yDoes laser hair removal make it hard to grow a beard ever again even if you want to?
Collating widely available time/money trades

You could install a bidet on your toilet. Disclosure: I've never used a bidet.


  • Bidet: $750
  • Installation: $250 (a guess)

Total: $1,000

Time savings (assuming 1.5 bowel movements/day)

  • Hand washing: 60s per day (40s/BM)
  • Read a book or use your phone instead of wiping: 45s/day (30s/BM)
  • Reduced need to clean backside when showering: 10s/day

Total: 6 hours/year (PV ~ 37 hours, assuming a 10% discount rate and a bidet lifetime of 10 years)

Cost per hour: $27

0gwern9yIt really takes you half a minute per bathroom visit to wipe your bottom, and saves you any time in the shower? (It occurs to me that questioning your time estimates as high sends bad signals about my personal characteristics...)
Collating widely available time/money trades

If you wear glasses, you could get LASIK surgery. (I haven't done this.) According to these speculative calculations, the cost per hour of time saved is somewhere between less than zero (not having to get new glasses saves you money) and $55. But you can get the benefits only once, unfortunately.

Discount rate: 10%

Financial cost of glasses

  • cost of a pair of glasses each year: $15–$400
  • addional cost for updating prescription yearly: $50 (?)

total: $65–$450/year (PV ~ $650–$4500)

Time cost of glasses

  • putting on and taking off glasses: 20s/day
  • cleaning glass
... (read more)
Questions from potential donors to Giving What We Can, 80,000 Hours and EAA

What are the plans for EAA? When will it be spun off? Is there much interest in it from new members of 80k? Is anybody other than Eitan Fischer (who's in school) working on it at the moment?

Are you getting any other emails like this one?

I sent him one, except it had about two questions instead of sixteen. Thanks to Giles for asking all these questions and to Will for agreeing to make the answers public.

1Giles9yI missed out some context here - I sent this email in the context of "I'm thinking of giving you some money but I have a bunch of questions first". So with this point I was more asking whether people were offering money than whether they were asking questions. I've edited the post to clarify. Thanks for asking him questions though!
Questions from potential donors to Giving What We Can, 80,000 Hours and EAA

The donate pages for 80k and GWWC both say "Whichever way you donate, please also notify will.crouch@80000hours/, in order that we can restrict your donation to 80,000 Hours/Giving What We Can." So it seems that they're OK with earmarking.

5EricHerboso9yActually, I think this is a technical problem they have, and should not be construed as a positive endorsement of earmarking. It looks like what they want are separate organizations (80k, GWWC), but the way their org is set up, they can only be tax deductible if you donate to the "Tides Foundation" instead. Although technically this looks like earmarking, the intent seems to be that they wanted to have separate organizations with separate funding but have so far not actually separated them for the purposes of tax deductibility.