Hear directly from Rethink Priorities about its research:
The Rethink Priorities team believes that of the huge range of possible ways to improve the world that deserve to be examined, relatively few of them have been thoroughly examined within the broader effective altruism (EA) movement. And yet despite this restricted range of inquiry, the EA movement is allocating tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours of work each year to improving the world.
The Rethink Priorities team believes they can improve this allocation by trying to find areas that have previously been neglected, thoroughly investigating them, and ensuring that this research is seen and used. All things considered, the team thinks they’re relatively unlikely to convince people of the number one cause, but that they might find something others have not thought about. In addition to investigating areas that lack any investigation, they think they can accomplish this with more high-quality, within-intervention research rather than by directing their efforts to additional cause-ranking work or by identifying more theoretical crucial considerations.
Of the many possible ways to practically conduct this research, Rethink Priorities strives to emphasize quick feedback loops, by seeking tractability in research by looking for questions that team members may be able to make meaningful progress on, and by tracking the impact of their research on an ongoing basis in order to determine whether the project is worth continuing.
Right now, Rethink Priorities’ research agenda is primarily focused on prioritization and research work within interventions aimed at non-human animals (as research progress here looks uniquely tractable compared to other cause areas); work to understand EA movement growth by running the EA Survey; and work to assist the Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN) in gathering evidence about EA movement building (as research here looks tractable and neglected).
The Rethink Priorities research agenda and approach are still in the very early stages and may change significantly as the team grows and learns.