Your April 2021 EA Newsletter    
Hello, readers!

This month's edition includes: ...and much more, including the usual job listings and event announcements. We hope you enjoy!

— The EA Newsletter Team

News and updates from the world of effective altruism

Two new introductions to EA thinking

Do you want to learn more about effective altruism? Do you want to introduce it to someone else?

In both cases, it can be hard to know where to start. There are a dozen books, hundreds of online talks, and thousands of articles — which ones give an overview of key topics without getting lost in the weeds?

The question just became easier to answer, via new content from 80,000 Hours and the Centre for Effective Altruism (which runs this newsletter).

If you want to move at your own pace, try the Introductory Program. This syllabus was originally developed for student groups, but CEA has adapted it for the EA Forum, so that anyone in the world can read it. In a series of eight “sequences”, it provides a thorough introduction to a variety of cause areas and general principles.

If you prefer listening to reading, try “Effective Altruism: An Introduction”. It features ten episodes of the 80,000 Hours Podcast, chosen because they cover core ideas in effective altruism and explain the nuances of “EA thinking”. The series is mostly focused on work that impacts the long-term future, but 80,000 Hours plans to release a second series that covers a broader set of areas. When they do, we’ll share it here.


How good are randomized controlled trials, really?

In 2019, three economists won the Nobel Prize for their work on randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which have become an important way to study questions in global development. They are also key to many popular charity recommendations; for example, GiveWell chooses their top causes and charities partly based on data from RCTs.

The concept of an RCT is simple: take some test subjects, divide them randomly into groups, treat those groups differently, and see what happens. The existence of a control group lets us compare interventions to a baseline, helping us understand the impact of what we’ve been testing.

Despite their popularity and simplicity, RCTs have drawn criticism from scholars who emphasize their costs and limitations. To what extent should this change the way we think about them? Are some people in EA making a mistake by focusing closely on this type of study?

An excellent new summary of these questions just came out. It exists thanks to Tim Ogden, who wrote a 48-page report on the most common critiques and how RCT supporters have responded, and Karolina Sarek, who organized the report’s main points into something easier to read.

If you’re interested in the methodology of development research, we strongly recommend the post. It sums up both sides of the RCT “debate” without choosing one to support, making it a well-balanced perspective on an issue where people tend to be fiercely opinionated.

The best ways to slow down a pandemic

A mixed group of EA-aligned scholars and other academics recently published a monumental paper: “Inferring the effectiveness of government interventions against COVID-19”.

The authors examine data from 41 countries to figure out which nonpharmaceutical interventions — lockdowns, limits on social gatherings, etc. — have best reduced the spread of coronavirus. This could help governments determine how to react to pandemics while maintaining a balance between public health and economic stability.

We recommend the paper to policymakers, people who advise policymakers, and people who want to show up well-informed to their next argument about stay-at-home orders.

See also this recent Forum post by James Smith, who argues that this work is neglected and ought to be a higher priority for researchers and funders.

In other news

For more stories, try these EA-related email newsletters and podcasts

If you want to discuss effective altruism with others, check out EA Hub's list of relevant Facebook groups.


Global progress on poverty and inequality

This graph isn’t related to our featured stories, but we found it recently and wanted to share. It shows how the world’s income has changed over time, including a steady drop in global inequality and the development of an enormous global middle class. 

(Source: Our World in Data)


Opportunities to work on some of the world's most pressing problems

The 80,000 Hours Job Board features more than 500 positions. We can’t fit them all in the newsletter, so check out the others on their website!

If you’re interested in policy or global development, you may also want to check Tom Wein’s list of social purpose job boards.

If you want to find out about new positions as they arise (or post a position yourself), check out the EA Job Postings group on Facebook.


Applications due soon

IT Officer for Trajan House, University of Oxford, Global Priorities Institute (Oxford, UK) (apply by midday UK time, 30 April)

Research Assistant to Head of Research, Longview Philanthropy (Remote, London, or Oxford, UK) (apply by 4 May)

Research Project and Hiring Manager, Rethink Priorities (Remote) (apply by 13 May)


Other positions

General Application // Grants Associate // Operations Assistant, Open Philanthropy (San Francisco or remote)

Health Research Intern, Center for Effective Global Action (Bay Area)

Philanthropy Advisor // Senior Researchers // Senior Research Associates, GiveWell (Bay Area or remote)

Policy Expert and Legal Researcher // Research Fellow, Invincible Wellbeing (Remote)

Program Officer, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, US Government, National Academies of Sciences (Washington, DC)

Senior Backend Software Engineer, Momentum (Bay Area or remote)

Summer Student Intern, Global Operations, IDinsight (Remote)

Various engineering and software positions, Ought (Bay Area or remote)


Books, events, community projects, and more!

The EA Forum editing festival

The EA Forum recently launched a new wiki, covering hundreds of concepts, organizations, and people connected to effective altruism.

To celebrate, they’re offering prizes to people who edit wiki articles or help out in other ways, as part of an event called the Editing Festival.

The event runs through 7 May. Wiki edits and other activity during that time will be eligible for prizes, in the form of donations to any of the 30+ charities listed on EA Funds. (More details)

It’s easy to get started as an editor — all you need is a Forum account and a bit of knowledge! The Forum has admins who can clean up formatting, so they encourage you to contribute even if you aren’t familiar with wiki style. 

Virtual events on animal advocacy

Next up in the Effective Animal Advocacy event series: Sign up to receive updates on EAA events here, and email Rocky at if you have an idea for an event.

A Slack group for Spanish speakers

If you speak Spanish, and want to get to know other people in EA who also speak the language, you’re in luck! The Altruismo Eficaz y Racionalidad Slack group brings together community members from around the Spanish-speaking world.

A new community for Jews involved in EA

Ben Schifman is working to create an online community for Jewish people in the EA movement, modeled on similar groups that exist for Christians and Buddhists. If you have feedback on his ideas, or want to get involved, please fill out this form.

Essay prize for global priorities research

The Global Priorities Institute (GPI) has launched an essay prize for global priorities research. The prize is intended for graduate students currently pursuing master’s level courses in philosophy. The winning entry will be published as a working paper on GPI’s website and the winner will receive £1,000. The submission deadline is 1 July.

Small grants available for online course proposals

From Clearer Thinking, which offers online critical thinking programs (including several developed with effective altruism in mind):

"Are you interested in improving the world using evidence-based concepts from psychology, behavioural economics, math, effective altruism, or social science? Can you come up with ideas for teaching a skill, concept, framework, or behavior change strategy that would work well in an interactive, digital format?

"Clearer Thinking is awarding micro grants (from $50 to $595 across four stages) for proposals, outlines, and realizations of short, online learning modules that align with our mission. Read our application guide for all the details - applying to the first stage is very simple!"

You’ll need to apply by 17 May.

Timeless Classic

Ideas that have shaped the way we think about doing good

One year after it was published, we think that Animal Ethics’ introduction to wild animal suffering is still an excellent guide, and worth reading for anyone who has considered making animal welfare one of their priority causes.

The notion of focusing on wild animals is strange to many people, which is understandable: it’s often best not to interfere with natural processes, and it can seem more reasonable to focus on problems we’ve created for the animals we raise.

But suffering is suffering, wherever it exists. And there may be ways we can dramatically reduce the amount that takes place in nature — without doing serious harm to animals or their environments. But we won’t be able to find those interventions without further research on the wellbeing of wild animals.

For more on the facts of wild animal suffering, the ethics of caring for wild animals, and the state of current research, read the introduction!
Organizational Updates

You can see updates from a wide range of EA-aligned organizations on the EA Forum. (Organizations submit updates, which we edit for clarity.)
We hope you found this edition useful!

If you’ve taken action because of the Newsletter and haven’t taken our impact survey, please do — it helps us improve future editions.

(Actions we'd love to hear about include donating to charity, applying to a job, or joining a community group.)

Finally, if you have feedback for us, positive or negative, let us know!

– The Effective Altruism Newsletter Team
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A community project of the Centre for Effective Altruism, a registered charity in England and Wales (Charity Number 1149828) – Centre for Effective Altruism, Littlegate House, St Ebbes Street, Oxford
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