Harnessing Cognitive Dissonance

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My feeling of motivation seems to stem, in some cases, from cognitive dissonance. I consider how I may intentionally generate cognitive dissonance for the things I want to be motivated for.


Levels of Moral Cooperation

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What level of cooperation with other activists or general agenty people is optimal? Everyone needs to “pick their battles” to maximize their impact and stay sane, but what does it look like in practice when you interact with those who’ve picked different “battles”? In this article I sketch some initial ideas I’ve had and hope to encourage others to test and refine them. There’s a lot of potential for someone with more knowledge of game theory to make them greatly more rigorous, nuanced, and reliable.


Covid-19 Costs

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A Guesstimate to convert microcovids to dollars. Microcovid.org is the best calculator of Covid-19 risk that I’m aware of, but the microcovids that it returns are unintuitive for me. Peter Hurford’s spreadsheet converts risks to dollars, which are very intuitive for me. My Guesstimate is a probabilistic version of the lower part of that spreadsheet but also includes risk from long-term damage. The Guesstimate allows you to plug in the microcovids range and get a dollar result. The article is password protected because I’m afraid I made mistakes that might kill people (not because it’s old, yet).


Thoughts: The Transparent Newcomb’s Problem

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Writing my summary of Evidence, Decision, and Causality, I got interested in how EDT might be able to succeed by precommitting, and how different simulation schemes that a predictor might run of the transparent Newcomb’s problem might affect the way EDT and CDT reason about the problem. Precommitments hinge on an aspect of sophisticated choice that I haven’t been able to find information on. Indexical (or anthropic) uncertainty seems to do the trick unambiguously. Be warned that these things were probably only new to me, so if you know some decision theory you may end up bored, and I wouldn’t want that.


Thoughts: Dream Time

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Personal thoughts on the idea of the dream time and the related idea of slack, which describe environments with relatively low competitive pressures.






Estimating the Harm North Korea Inflicts on its Citizens

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A quantitative analysis – using Guesstimate – of the harm the North Korean government inflicts on its general population and its prisoner population, and a comparison to the harm from malaria in Mozambique and Angola.


The Redundancy of Quantity

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I’m advocating for a simpler way to think about donations and investments, namely, not to distinguish them.


My Cause Selection: Denis Drescher

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This is my contribution to the EA blogging carnival on cause selection. I compare cause areas and attempt a quantitative comparison between LLIN distributions and advocacy for farmed animals. In short, I will continue to fundraise for the first but but personally donate more to prioritization research within the latter area.


Incentivizing Charity Cooperation

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There is a danger of charities competing when they could cooperate to increase their total impact. I describe the danger and propose a strategy for alleviating it.


Expected Utility Auctions

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I give an explanation for a phenomenon in the effective altruism community (related to this presentation) that might look like the streetlight effect, propose an idea for a software that might help to further optimize this area, and ask you for your input.


Common Misconceptions about Effective Altruism

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Effective altruism has seen much welcome criticism that has helped it refine its strategies for determining how to reach its goal of doing the most good—but it has also seen some criticism that is fallacious.


Effective Altruism 101

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Effective altruism allows donors to make confident, evidence-based giving decisions that turn even small donations into life-changing events for those in need. (Here’s a recent “Introduction to Effective Altruism” that will hopefully continue to be updated in light of new insights.)



Microaggressions

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Microaggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities” (Sue et al., 2007) that are particularly pernicious as attackers are often unaware of the offense and thus unwilling to acknowledge it and apologize. This neglect can communicate further invalidation to the victim.