Thank you, this is a high-quality contribution. I’m curious if you know how a workshop would be designed to less often trigger mania.
I think this example is misleading; I could fill a water glass by myself one drop at a time, although it would take a long time. But, with many large problems such as pandemics and climate change, there is no feasible scenario where one person’s action makes a difference. Perhaps an example where I try to fill a swimming pool one drop at a time, while hundreds of gallons per minute pour out through the hole in the bottom.
If my action has a zero or infinitesimal positive impact on the relevant problem, while a negative and non-infinitesimal impact on me, cost-benefit analysis concludes I should not do it. I think OP needs to do more work to justify why they think this is not so.
Great article! But don’t read the comments on putanumonit, yeesh.
One estimation is based on the straight extrapolation of the exponential growth of the infected people number, which doubles every two days. This implies that the whole population of Earth will be ill in March. Another view takes into account that many mild cases are not included in the stat, so lethality is small and probably not everybody will be ill at all. We just don’t know yet.
Both of these estimates wildly exaggerate the risk. Why in the world would we expect exponential growth to continue? Rather than “probably not everybody will be ill,” our baseline should be “a few people will be ill,” because that’s what has been the case with almost all other epidemics.
If you don’t live in China and are not planning to go to China soon, the appropriate course of action is to do nothing.
It’s looking at accomplished women dropping out of demanding careers to raise kids as sexism. Could it be that someone may prefer to raise a family to grinding 70 hours a week at the office once they don’t need to worry about money? I certainly would! But if the only thing you count is personal status then it would seem to you that these women are being cheated out of something by the evil patriarchy.
This is a remarkably shallow way of looking at the issue. The fact that some 95%+ of people who drop out of the workforce to raise children are women should put paid to the idea that the patriarchy has nothing to do with it. Sure, work can be stressful—but men feel stress too, and somehow men don’t make this same destructive “choice” to drop out of the workforce in favor of total dependence on their spouses.
The manner in which the belief is expressed is likely more important than the belief itself, especially if the belief itself is...uncommonly true. “I went to an elite Special Forces school,” “I’m going to die in six months,” “The FBI is following me,” “my father is trying to kill me,” are all true for some people, but expressing them with inappropriate affect or in circumstances where those beliefs seem doubtful or irrelevant might make you seem deluded. Scott Alexander wrote about this...
Action cures fear. Stop ruminating and do the thing. Ultrasounds are always expensive IME—still, if you can come up with the money it seems worth it.
In the longer term, one thing that has helped me is to list all my nagging fears, along with their outcomes. I can go back and see how, often, the thing I was afraid of didn’t exist at all or wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared.
Or those who don’t itemize deductions (most non-homeowners).
Explain how this would be better than having the effective altruist himself or herself fund an emergency fund before they start donating to charity.
I understand you are saying that pooling the money could mean less money is kept in the fund and more can be donated, but I’m not sure that benefit outweighs the cost. While the amount of an emergency fund is the subject of some debate, IMO $10,000 per person is a decent ballpark. Say you could get that result with only $5000 per person with your proposed pool. Then does that $5000 difference outweigh 1) administrative costs, 2) cost of litigation over payouts, and 3) cost to the altruist of losing the ability to decide how much money is set aside and what happens to it?
The “tick the box” approach would lead to quickly depleting the fund. Instead, you’d have to set limits on what counts as an “emergency,” and expect a whole lot of debate (and litigation) over that. A medical procedure, new car, home repair, or adopting a child are all examples of things where people might or might not consider “emergencies,” depending on their personal philosophies and circumstances.
Most vaccines are made without (or can be made without) thimerosal. In addition, thimerosal is safe.
Well, there’s a doubtful benefit, but the cost of flossing is very low: less than $10 a year in flossing supplies. The time cost is negligible because you can combine flossing with other activities you’d be spending time on anyway, like reading or watching videos. YMMV, but I don’t find it unpleasant—mildly satisfying in fact.Also, be aware that if you find it unpleasant, that may change as you get used to it. So the cost benefit calculation winds up positive for most people, although maybe not for you if you find it very unpleasant and that doesn’t go away after some time.
Stop talking. Talk quietly. Stop interrupting people.
Why does it matter that “i am sensitive to others’ needs”? If I’m happy being selfish, that shouldn’t matter.
Secondhand smoke is mostly not harmful.
You should probably say at the beginning of this what “paid email” is. I figured it out by the end, but it’s not a well-known term.
What feels most important to me:
1) Having everything I need to remember in one place, not in my brain
2) Being cued to check and add to my system regularly
3) To-do lists consisting of small, actionable steps, not big, diffuse, intimidating tasks
My system is about ten years old; it was inspired by Getting Things Done. I basically write everything down in a notebook. I have weekly, daily, monthly and long-term sections.
Advantages of using paper are that I don’t need to make any conscious effort to check the notebook; having the physical object triggers me to check it regularly. Also, I can use the notebook at times when I don’t want to be distracted by a phone or computer. Disadvantages are that I need to carry more objects, and if I lose the notebook, there is no real backup.
Food is satisficing too. I found it liberating to realize I don’t need to come up with a new meal every day. Food doesn’t have to be exciting or novel or an amazing taste sensation most of the time.
Minor point of disagreement: unless you are actively working to build muscle, you don’t have to worry about protein. The vast majority of people in Western societies already get more than enough protein. Perhaps this is different for vegans, but I’ll let them weigh in if they choose.
I notice a lot of people using programming jargon/codes to discuss things that have nothing to do with programming, and it always makes their point needlessly harder to understand.
This would make a lot more sense with some examples of what it means to fail to “mark most significant personal information about others as salient, unless I’m explicitly told to keep it in mind.”