I was lucky enough to be chosen to be the student speaker for my graduation ceremony. Unsurprisingly, I decided to talk about some key ideas emerging from the effective altruist movement, in which I have recently
Wonderful speech Robert. Congratulations on it.
GiveWell recently detailed its re-evaluation of VillageReach's work in Mozambique, which is what led to the $700/life saved figure. http://blog.givewell.org/20...
It was difficult to estimate because, roughly, it is hard to isolate the charity's impact from that of the local government.
This confuses me. Are you saying that the $700 figure is outdated, or that is was always wrong. If the former, Michael's point still applies. If the latter, what were the factors that made it so difficult to estimate?
Congrats on being the student speaker!
Yes, Village Reach is no longer recommended by GiveWell, so that is a bit dated. And I also think meta-charity is likely to be more effective than paying for vaccines (at a first cut: http://www.givingwhatwecan.... , http://www.givingwhatwecan...., but explaining that would have complicated something that most people already struggle to understand. I chose the simplest cause available to avoid distracting folks.
I'm very skeptical of the claim that marginal charitable dollars increase net numbers of vaccinations etc with high efficiency. Too many dollars are available from Gates and other foundations that try to be efficient and lack anywhere near that level of marginal efficacy. Why think you can do much better than they can? If they are so far short of optimal, isn't it most efficient to try to help them to be optimal given their existing effort and funds?
It sounds like you've got across the message that one shouldn't be deceived by direct impact and expect more of donations, but didn't provide enough warning against inefficient charities.