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haig comments on Purchase Fuzzies and Utilons Separately - Less Wrong

75 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 01 April 2009 09:51AM

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Comment author: haig 02 April 2009 06:22:00AM *  12 points [-]

Kiva.org has the distinct honor of being the only charity that has ensured me maximum utilons for my money with an unexpected bonus of most fuzzies experienced ever. Seeing my money being repaid and knowing that it was possible only because my charity dollars worked, that the recipient of my funds actually put the dollars to effective use enough to thrive and pay back my money, well, goddamn it felt good.

Comment author: MBlume 02 April 2009 07:43:55AM 10 points [-]

kiva feels suspiciously well-optimized on three counts -- there's the utilons (which, given that you're incentivizing industry and entrepreneurship, are pretty darn good), the warm fuzzies you mentioned, and the fact that it seems it could also help me overcome some akrasia with regards to savings. If I loan money out of my paycheck to kiva each month, and reinvest all money repaid, then (assuming a decent repayment rate), the money cycling should tend to increase, meaning that if I need to, say, put a down payment on a house one day, I can take some out, knowing it's already done good.

I feel very suspicious of my mind for being convinced this plan is optimal along one dimension, and extremely strong along two others. It doesn't seem as though it should be so easy. If I'm missing something (along any dimension), please feel free to tell me.

Comment author: Strange7 27 February 2010 08:49:02PM 1 point [-]

I second the suspicious feeling. It boils down to one question: if Kiva is such a great option, why is it not more popular?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 February 2010 09:30:39PM 27 points [-]

if X is such a great option, why is it not more popular?

I begin to suspect that rationalists should simply delete this question from their mental vocabularies. Most popular things are optimized to be popular with an audience that doesn't know how to resist manipulation (but thinks itself invincible, in accordance with the bias blind-spot bias); this gives rise to a case of the majority is always wrong.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 December 2013 09:13:38AM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure that applies here: for QWERTY keyboards network effects are positive -- the more people use them, the better (i.e. in this case, more convenient) it is for me to use them, but for charities they are positive (so long as my social circles aren't hipster enough) for status, but neutral (for me at least -- YMMV) for fuzzies and negative (diminishing returns, finite room for more funding) for utilons.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 April 2009 07:08:17AM 5 points [-]

But - if you were optimizing strictly for fuzzies - could you have gotten even more fuzzies by giving less money to one recipient in person and tracking their outcome in person?