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David Reinstein

Senior Economist at Rethink Priorities

About

I’m a Senior Economist at Rethink Priorities, a think tank associated with the Effective Altruism movement. As part of the social science ‘survey team’, I work to measure/understand/influence attitudes/beliefs/actions relevant to global priorities. I also engage with other teams to measure the impact of interventions. With the support of independent grants, I am organizing the Unjournal for credible journal-independent peer-evaluation, the EA Market Testing team, and conducting further research into motivators of effective giving.

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Latest posts

2022

  • Citations need explanations

    Citations are used in papers for various purposes, including giving credit to past papers for career points, providing evidence and support for the citing author, claiming that the work is grounded in or contributes to existing literature, and referring readers to previous useful work. However, this can confuse the scientific record, especially when authors do not clearly identify the purpose of their citations and what they argue the cited papers are claiming.

2019

  • An oversimplified argument for why "Virtue Signaling" is a good thing.

    “These people are just virtue signaling”; in the popular internet discourse this has come to mean “these people are just doing a useless activity to impress their friends”. But there is a stronger argument that “virtue signaling” is a good thing… People to do good for a social reward is how our society works (Adam Smith Institute’s Bowman makes a similar point). An oversimplified explanation from Economics/game theory: “Signaling” can only work if the action that sends the signal conveys information about an individual’s type For it to be informative, only those who are virtuous must want to do the action that sends the signal Thus it must be more costly for the baddies to do this action than for the goodies.

  • A corporate skills bake sale?

    Large companies generously offer to support employee ‘pro-bono’ work and volunteer work, offering set-aside days and even donations matching hours; (documented in my “innovationsinfundraising.org” database here). They are in general more willing to do this than to donate directly, or to match employee contributions. However, there is often a skills mismatch; few people can be as productive when volunteering for a charity as they are in their main job (although orgs like BeyondMe try to improve things).

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CV

(Link: full CV) I am a Senior Economist at Rethink Priorities, a think tankassociated with the Effective Altruism movement. As part of the social science ‘survey and movement building team’, I work to measure/understand/influence attitudes/beliefs/actions relevant to global priorities. I also engage with other teams to measure the impact of interventions. My ongoing research into barriers to, and motivators of effective giving and action is funded by an independent grant. I have 25 years of experience in academic research, teaching, and outreach, at UC Berkeley, the University of Essex and the University of Exeter, and in other consulting and teaching roles.

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