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Michelle_Z comments on Four Focus Areas of Effective Altruism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: lukeprog 09 July 2013 12:59AM

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Comment author: Michelle_Z 08 July 2013 05:40:02PM *  8 points [-]

I was going to post something about this in the open thread, but this post just popped up.

I've been putting together a club for Effective Altruism on my campus (Cavaliers for Effective Altruism), and I'm stuck. I can run fundraisers and donate the money to a charity Givewell supports. My college has a system for donating to charities and fundraising, so that isn't a problem.

The difficulty is getting other people interested in the club and teaching my club-members rationality, so the club continues existing after I graduate. I originally thought teaching people rationality wouldn't be necessary, but the couple friends I mentioned this to have no idea what I'm talking about when I explain how effective altruism works. They don't have the same intuitions that I do, so it sounds odd to them. It was around then I realized that I need my club-members to know some rationality. Are there any resources/guides out there for that kind of thing?

I know LessWrong is one of those resources, but I doubt many people will listen to me if I say "This week's club-homework is to read x post from this blog." I have a couple vague ideas for slipping this information into casual conversation, but they're vague ideas. And it's hard to impart enough information through casual conversation, anyway. I think I could try doing both (have people read specific articles/books and bring it up in casual conversation,) but that brings me back to the original problems: I have no idea how to teach rationality, and people don't respect me enough to listen to me if I tell them they need to know something.

I know some people here have experience in teaching rationality, so I'm fishing for any advice. My two major concerns are: -How to bridge the inference gap between myself and my club members (where do I even start?) and if there are any other ways to teach rationality beyond the two I mentioned.

Comment author: Claire 09 July 2013 01:59:19AM 5 points [-]

Try giving game. http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/blog/2013-06-02/how-giving-games-can-spread-the-word-about-smarter-charity-choices-0

Avoid "teaching" and instead set up conversations and activities that introduce these ideas. Many people resist it their peers try to "educate" them. Look for movie, comics, webshorts, etc. that can start off the conversation in the right direction.

Remember that it will take people time to become comfortable with these ideas. Look to make progress over the course of months and years, not hours.

Good luck!

Comment author: CarlShulman 08 July 2013 10:00:01PM 8 points [-]

Giving What We Can has local chapters. They do a lot of speaker events, social events, games, etc. If you go to the Giving What We Can website they try to keep someone ready to chat with people at all times.

Comment author: Michelle_Z 09 July 2013 01:02:18AM 0 points [-]

Thanks! I'll check that out.

Comment author: jkaufman 08 July 2013 06:41:02PM 8 points [-]

Talking to THINK might be helpful. They coordinate a bunch of EA meetups at various schools. They have a set of "modules" that you could do meetups around.

Comment author: Michelle_Z 08 July 2013 07:39:22PM 1 point [-]

This looks very useful! Thank you!

Comment author: William_Quixote 08 July 2013 05:57:39PM 2 points [-]

I've noticed similar situations as well. The sequences did a pretty good job conveying information to me, but I'm a math guy who grew up reading scif and watching animie so I'm about as close to the target demographic as its possible to be. I've often wished for a less flavorful more generic / corporate version of the content in the sequences that I could point people outside the target demographic towards.

Comment author: Raemon 08 July 2013 08:34:20PM 5 points [-]

At the summit, I gave a talk on community building. One of my main thesis was that I think it's actually better to do a rationality/self-improvement club that is also an Effective Altruism club than an EA club that's also a rationality club. You'll get people who don't just self identify as world savers (and who can, over time, be influenced by the world savers)

The self-imp/rationality group I run begins sessions by talking about our successes from the previous week, and ends with setting goals from the previous week. This means the thing that gets positively reinforced via social pressure is actually doing things, whereas with EA it's easy to simply reward signaling.

Comment author: Michelle_Z 09 July 2013 01:01:49AM *  4 points [-]

That's a good idea. I could try to advertise it that way, since I'm having major issues finding a single person at my college interested in effective altruism. I might be wrong, but do you think it would be harder to get people interested in rationality, or to get them interested in effective altruism? My priors tell me that charity > rationalism in many people's minds, but I'm not sure.

EDIT: I decided to go with the rationality club idea. There's no real advantage in my original plan compared to opening a THINK club, which is basically the same idea except I can do more fun things with it. Thanks for the advice!

Comment author: DubiousTwizzler 12 July 2013 09:25:26PM 0 points [-]

I'm a student interested in building a Rationality/Effective Altruism Club. Was this talk recorded? Because I would be interested in watching/reading it, if you have a YouTube link, etc.

Comment author: Raemon 12 July 2013 11:21:25PM -1 points [-]

It was not recorded, but I plan to write it up soon.