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Larks comments on CEA does not seem to be credibly high impact - Less Wrong Discussion

10 Post author: Jonathan_Lee 21 February 2013 10:29AM

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Comment author: Larks 21 February 2013 11:07:22AM 3 points [-]

Of that, there are around 300 members and a few dozen are coming to each event. By comparison, enterprising college societies in Cambridge (TMS, TCSS) have well in excess of 1000 undergraduates on their mailing lists, and get 80-100 people to their talks. When TCSS advertised an event to 1/3 of Cambridge, upwards of 600 people attended.

I agree that it'd be good to get more people. However, the chapters are operating under a constraint that other socieities are not. Science societies can put on any talk they think will be interesting; GWWC has to put on talks about Effective Altruism that people will find interesting.

And while I don't know about TCSS, when OUSS holds talks, they'll get fewer than 100 people - there's at most a factor of 2 there. Again, I don't know about TCMS, but OUIS get an average of 40 people or so, not suggesting any capacity for improvement. True, they'll get around 150 for the very big names (think Sir Roger Penrose), but there just isn't anyone equivalently famous for GWWC to use, except Peter Singer - and I think when he was invited there was a very big crowd (though I forget how large).

disclaimer: I volunteer for GWWC.

Comment author: Jonathan_Lee 21 February 2013 11:34:41AM -1 points [-]

Talking about effective altruism is a constraint, as is talking about mathematics. Being a subject society makes it easier to get people from that subject to attend; it also makes it harder to convince people from outside that subject to even consider coming.

TMS pulls 80+ people to most of its talks, which are not generally from especially famous mathematicians. TCSS got 600 people for a Pensrose-Rees event. Both TCSS and TMS have grown rapidly in 18-24 months, having existed for far longer. This seems to indicate that randomly selected student societies have low hanging fruit. It doesn't seem incongruous to suggest that OUIS, OUSS and GWWC have the capacity to at least double their attendances -- the TMS did in one term, and doubled the number of events (so a x4 in person-talks).

Comment author: Larks 21 February 2013 11:39:06AM 5 points [-]

Talking about effective altruism is a constraint, as is talking about mathematics.

One constrains you to a subject with thousands of high-status practitioners and hundreds of students - the other restricts you to a subject with one high-status practitioner and no students.

Comment author: Jonathan_Lee 21 February 2013 11:45:18AM 0 points [-]

Whose status ordering are you using? Getting someone who is not a mathematician to TMS is harder; within the Natural Sciences it is possible, and there are O(1) Computer Scientists, philosophers or others. For the historians, classicists or other subjects, mathmos are not high status. In terms of EtG, these groups are valuable - most traders are not quants.