Education and Charity with Uri Bram
52 min

Are universities a cult? Do charitable interventions like de-worming work? How much should we trust the conclusion of well-respected charity evaluators like GiveWell?

Uri is the publisher of The Browser and The Listener, the world's favourite curation newsletters, and the author of Thinking Statistically and The Business of Big Data. Uri can be found at uribram.com or uri@uribram.com.

As we mention in the audio, this episode includes a critique of Givewell. Givewell were kind enough to listen to our recording and send us a reply. Here's their reply:

We're excited to see this level of detailed engagement with our research. As Uri and Spencer note, one of the key reasons we share the full analysis behind our recommendations is precisely this: inviting fresh perspectives and debate on the conclusions we reach.

We operate in an expected value framework when recommending top charities. We recommend deworming programs because of the possibility that deworming may have a large impact on long-term economic well-being. At less than $1 per treatment, we think it's a pretty good bet. We've discussed our views publicly over the years, such as in our blog post titled "Deworming might have huge impact, but might have close to zero impact."

The case for deworming's long-term benefits does rely on a relatively small number of studies. And the mechanisms by which it has long-term impact are unclear. But when we account for these uncertainties in our impact estimates, it still remains promising.

We've also supported research to better understand the impacts of deworming. We funded part of a study that measured the economic welfare of children who received deworming treatments 20 years later. This work was recently published, and at a high level, seems to support the story of deworming's long-term effects.

Thanks again for discussing this topic—it's an important and thorny one!

Givewell also mentioned some corrections to some of the claims made in the episode. They said:

[We] noticed some comments outside of the deworming conversation that didn't reflect our views and flagged a few of the more important ones below.

  • In addition to the groups you listed, our current list of top charities includes Malaria Consortium's seasonal malaria chemoprevention program and Helen Keller International's vitamin A supplementation program. The full list is here: https://www.givewell.org/charities/top-charities.
  • The two outcomes we recommend our current list of top charities for are averting deaths (not improving nutrition) and increasing incomes/consumption. We are open to considering additional outcomes in the future.
  • Uri said the following in regards to cash transfers: "I might be wrong but I think GiveWell doesn't count—if you took the money and spent it on a one-off way that didn't increase your long-term wealth or income—then GiveWell wouldn't count that." This is not accurate. We model short-term as well as longer-term benefits to cash transfers. This is reflected in our cost-effectiveness model and discussed in this blog post.
The Future of Life
The Future of Life
Future of Life Institute
Sean Carroll on Consciousness, Physicalism, and the History of Intellectual Progress
Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech, joins us on this episode of the FLI Podcast to comb through the history of human thought, the strengths and weaknesses of various intellectual movements, and how we are to situate ourselves in the 21st century given progress thus far.  Topics discussed in this episode include: -Important intellectual movements and their merits -The evolution of metaphysical and epistemological views over human history -Consciousness, free will, and philosophical blunders -Lessons for the 21st century You can find the page for this podcast here: https://futureoflife.org/2020/12/01/sean-carroll-on-consciousness-physicalism-and-the-history-of-intellectual-progress/ Timestamps:  0:00 Intro 2:06 The problem of beliefs and the strengths and weaknesses of religion 6:40 The Age of Enlightenment and importance of reason 10:13 The importance of humility and the is--ought gap 17:53 The advantages of religion and mysticism 19:50 Materialism and Newtonianism 28:00 Duality, self, suffering, and philosophical blunders 36:56 Quantum physics as a paradigm shift 39:24 Physicalism, the problem of consciousness, and free will 01:01:50 What does it mean for something to be real? 01:09:40 The hard problem of consciousness 01:14:20 The multiple worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and utilitarianism 01:21:16 The importance of being charitable in conversation 1:24:55 Sean's position in the philosophy of consciousness 01:27:29 Sean's metaethical position 01:29:36 Where to find and follow Sean This podcast is possible because of the support of listeners like you. If you found this conversation to be meaningful or valuable, consider supporting it directly by donating at futureoflife.org/donate. Contributions like yours make these conversations possible.
1 hr 31 min
COMPLEXITY
COMPLEXITY
Santa Fe Institute, Michael Garfield
Peter Dodds on Text-Based Timeline Analysis & New Instruments for The Science of Stories
"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin When human beings saw the first pictures of the Earth from space, the impact was transformative. New instruments for taking in new vistas, for understanding our relationships and contexts at a different scale, have in some ways defined the history of not just science but the evolution of intelligence. And now, thanks to the surfeit of textual data offered up by social media, researchers can peer into the dynamics of human society and analyze the turbulent flows of stories that drive our collective behavior and twist time itself into nonlinear structures. As a species, we are on the cusp of a new epoch in which the body politic reveals itself to us in real-time like a single human body in an MRI. How will these tools change how we think about the world and what it means to be a person in it? Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe. This week we speak with Peter Dodds of the University of Vermont’s Complex Systems Center and Computational Story Lab about how to use Twitter data as a kind of satellite telescope observing the collective mentation of humankind — what it reveals, and what it doesn’t, opening a cornucopia of questions about how we measure sentiment and the power of narrative for social control. Tis the season, so if you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Avid readers take note that SFI Press’ latest volume, Complexity Economics: Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute's 2019 Fall Symposium, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats. Thank you for listening! Follow Peter Dodds at Twitter and read the papers we discuss (and many more) at Google Scholar. And then go play with Hedonometer & Story Wrangler. Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode. Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano. Follow us on social media: Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn
1 hr 30 min
Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking
Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking
The Long Now Foundation
Roman Krznaric: Becoming a Better Ancestor
Tune in at 11:00am PT on 10/28/20 to watch & share the live stream of this talk on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Long Now Live. Human beings have an astonishing evolutionary gift: agile imaginations that can shift in an instant from thinking on a scale of seconds to a scale of years or even centuries. The need to draw on our capacity to think long-term has never been more urgent, whether in areas such as public health care, to deal with technological risks, or to confront the threats of an ecological crisis. What can we do to overcome the tyranny of the now? The drivers of short-termism threaten to drag us over the edge of civilizational breakdown, while ways to think long-term are drawing us towards a culture of longer time horizons and responsibility for the future of humankind. Creating a cognitive toolkit for challenging our obsession with the here and now offers conceptual scaffolding for answering one of the most important questions of our time: How can we be good ancestors? ---Roman Krznaric Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society. His newest book on the history and future of long-term thinking is The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking. Other books include Empathy, The Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, which have been published in more than 20 languages. Krznaric founded the traveling Empathy Museum and is especially interested in the challenges of how we extend empathy to future generations. Roman Krznaric is also a Long Now Research Fellow.
1 hr 24 min
80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin
80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin
The 80000 Hours team
#88 – Tristan Harris on the need to change the incentives of social media companies
In its first 28 days on Netflix, the documentary The Social Dilemma — about the possible harms being caused by social media and other technology products — was seen by 38 million households in about 190 countries and in 30 languages. Over the last ten years, the idea that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are degrading political discourse and grabbing and monetizing our attention in an alarming way has gone mainstream to such an extent that it's hard to remember how recently it was a fringe view. It feels intuitively true that our attention spans are shortening, we’re spending more time alone, we’re less productive, there’s more polarization and radicalization, and that we have less trust in our fellow citizens, due to having less of a shared basis of reality. But while it all feels plausible, how strong is the evidence that it's true? In the past, people have worried about every new technological development — often in ways that seem foolish in retrospect. Socrates famously feared that being able to write things down would ruin our memory. At the same time, historians think that the printing press probably generated religious wars across Europe, and that the radio helped Hitler and Stalin maintain power by giving them and them alone the ability to spread propaganda across the whole of Germany and the USSR. Fears about new technologies aren't always misguided. Tristan Harris, leader of the Center for Humane Technology, and *co-host of the Your Undivided Attention podcast*, is arguably the most prominent person working on reducing the harms of social media, and he was happy to engage with Rob’s good-faith critiques. • Links to learn more, summary and full transcript. • FYI, the *2020 Effective Altruism Survey* is closing soon: _https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/EAS80K2_ Tristan and Rob provide a thorough exploration of the merits of possible concrete solutions – something The Social Dilemma didn’t really address. Given that these companies are mostly trying to design their products in the way that makes them the most money, how can we get that incentive to align with what's in our interests as users and citizens? One way is to encourage a shift to a subscription model. One claim in The Social Dilemma is that the machine learning algorithms on these sites try to shift what you believe and what you enjoy in order to make it easier to predict what content recommendations will keep you on the site. But if you paid a yearly fee to Facebook in lieu of seeing ads, their incentive would shift towards making you as satisfied as possible with their service — even if that meant using it for five minutes a day rather than 50. Despite all the negatives, Tristan doesn’t want us to abandon the technologies he's concerned about. He asks us to imagine a social media environment designed to regularly bring our attention back to what each of us can do to improve our lives and the world. Just as we can focus on the positives of nuclear power while remaining vigilant about the threat of nuclear weapons, we could embrace social media and recommendation algorithms as the largest mass-coordination engine we've ever had — tools that could educate and organise people better than anything that has come before. The tricky and open question is how to get there. Rob and Tristan also discuss: • Justified concerns vs. moral panics • The effect of social media on politics in the US and developing countries • Tips for individuals *Get this episode by subscribing: type 80,000 Hours into your podcasting app.* Producer: Keiran Harris. Audio mastering: Ben Cordell. Transcriptions: Sofia Davis-Fogel.
2 hr 36 min
The Dissenter
The Dissenter
Ricardo Lopes
#400 John Hoffecker - Modern Humans: Their African Origin and Global Dispersal
------------------Support the channel------------ Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thedissenter SubscribeStar: https://www.subscribestar.com/the-dissenter PayPal: paypal.me/thedissenter PayPal Subscription 1 Dollar: https://tinyurl.com/yb3acuuy PayPal Subscription 3 Dollars: https://tinyurl.com/ybn6bg9l PayPal Subscription 5 Dollars: https://tinyurl.com/ycmr9gpz PayPal Subscription 10 Dollars: https://tinyurl.com/y9r3fc9m PayPal Subscription 20 Dollars: https://tinyurl.com/y95uvkao ------------------Follow me on--------------------- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedissenteryt/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheDissenterYT Dr. John Hoffecker is Fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). He specializes in archaeology and human paleoecology. His primary research focus is the global dispersal of anatomically modern humans, which began more than 50,000 years ago in Africa. He is the author of several books, including Modern Humans: Their African Origin and Global Dispersal (2017). In this episode, we focus on Dr. Hoffecker’s book. We cover some of the major topics of the book, including: the importance of the human hand and the vocal tract in our evolution, and particularly for the development of culture; what are modern humans; Out of Africa migrations for both species before and after H. sapiens; the technology H. sapiens needed for the migrations to be possible; the evolution and interaction with Neanderthals and Denisovans; the origins of H. sapiens; the reasons behind the migrations; the extinction of megafauna; and human geographic races. -- Follow Dr. Hoffecker’s work: INSTAAR page: https://bit.ly/3mTF9OE ResearchGate profile: https://bit.ly/3j8ymyc Amazon page: https://amzn.to/367EVNW Modern Humans: Their African Origin and Global Dispersal: https://amzn.to/2RZYxeA -- A HUGE THANK YOU TO MY PATRONS/SUPPORTERS: KARIN LIETZCKE, ANN BLANCHETTE, PER HELGE LARSEN, LAU GUERREIRO, JERRY MULLER, HANS FREDRIK SUNDE, BERNARDO SEIXAS, HERBERT GINTIS, RUTGER VOS, RICARDO VLADIMIRO, BO WINEGARD, CRAIG HEALY, OLAF ALEX, PHILIP KURIAN, JONATHAN VISSER, DAVID DIAS, ANJAN KATTA, JAKOB KLINKBY, ADAM KESSEL, MATTHEW WHITINGBIRD, ARNAUD WOLFF, TIM HOLLOSY, HENRIK AHLENIUS, JOHN CONNORS, PAULINA BARREN, FILIP FORS CONNOLLY, DAN DEMETRIOU, ROBERT WINDHAGER, RUI INACIO, ARTHUR KOH, ZOOP, MARCO NEVES, MAX BEILBY, COLIN HOLBROOK, SUSAN PINKER, THOMAS TRUMBLE, PABLO SANTURBANO, SIMON COLUMBUS, PHIL KAVANAGH, JORGE ESPINHA, CORY CLARK, MARK BLYTH, ROBERTO INGUANZO, MIKKEL STORMYR, ERIC NEURMANN, SAMUEL ANDREEFF, FRANCIS FORDE, TIAGO NUNES, BERNARD HUGUENEY, ALEXANDER DANNBAUER, OMARI HICKSON, PHYLICIA STEVENS, FERGAL CUSSEN, YEVHEN BODRENKO, HAL HERZOG, NUNO MACHADO, DON ROSS, JOÃO ALVES DA SILVA, JONATHAN LEIBRANT, JOÃO LINHARES, OZLEM BULUT, NATHAN NGUYEN, STANTON T, SAMUEL CORREA, ERIK HAINES, MARK SMITH, J.W., JOÃO EIRA, TOM HUMMEL, SARDUS FRANCE, DAVID SLOAN WILSON, YACILA DEZA-ARAUJO, IDAN SOLON, ROMAIN ROCH, DMITRY GRIGORYEV, AND DIEGO LONDOÑO CORREA! A SPECIAL THANKS TO MY PRODUCERS, YZAR WEHBE, JIM FRANK, ŁUKASZ STAFINIAK, IAN GILLIGAN, SERGIU CODREANU, LUIS CAYETANO, MATTHEW LAVENDER, TOM VANEGDOM, CURTIS DIXON, BENEDIKT MUELLER, VEGA GIDEY, AND NIRUBAN BALACHANDRAN! AND TO MY EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS, MICHAL RUSIECKI, ROSEY, AND JAMES PRATT!
1 hr 18 min
Stats + Stories
Stats + Stories
The Stats + Stories Team
The Last Legs of Local Journalism | Stats + Stories Episode 166
Cities and small towns across America once woke up to their local newspaper on their doorstep. Over the last several decades, though, those newspapers have begun to disappear a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study showing that disappearance has heralded the rise of news deserts in the United States. That’s the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Penelope Abernathy. Penelope Muse Abernathy is a former executive at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, is the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina. A journalism professional with more than 30 years of experience as a reporter, editor and senior media business executive, she specializes in preserving quality journalism by helping news organizations succeed economically in the digital environment.  Her research focuses on the implications of the digital revolution for news organizations, the information needs of communities and the emergence of news deserts in the United States. She is author of “News Deserts and Ghost Newspapers: Will Local News Survive?” — a major 2020 report that documents the state of local journalism, what is as stake for our democracy, and the possibility of reviving the local news landscape, and she is the lead co-author of “The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur” (Wiley Blackwell: 2018), which explores in-depth the emerging business models of successful media enterprises.
26 min
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