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Rethink Priorities

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Rethink Priorities is a research organization that conducts critical research to inform policymakers and major foundations about how to best help people and nonhuman animals in both the present and the long-term future.

About this charity

Our research spans everything from animal welfare to the threat of nuclear war. We explore neglected but promising areas to improve the world and try to further build the community of researchers working on understanding how to do this most effectively.

Research Focus Areas

Animal Welfare

Our research in animal welfare includes: 1) Studying the industries that use animals, as well as the basic facts of life for wild animals; 2) Trying to understand difficult questions in interspecies comparisons of value; 3) Working to understand public views about animals and animal welfare. 

Our Projects:

  • Farmed Animals – we study the cost-effectiveness of animal welfare campaigns, new opportunities for animal welfare interventions, as well as the opportunity of plant-based meat alternatives to replace an animal based-food system. 
  • Wild Animals – our work includes studying evolutionary dynamics, looking into human-animal interactions in the wild, and analyzing interventions to improve the lives of wild animals.
  • Moral Weight and Animal Sentience – we explore which animals we should focus on, the evidence for invertebrate sentience, how animal experiences differ from our own, and how we should compare the experiences of different animals.

Effective Altruism (EA) Movement Research

We work on helping the EA community improve its impact by studying the community itself in the annual EA Survey and other projects, as well as providing insight into its composition, attitudes, actions, and how these change over time. 

Our Projects:

  • The EA Survey – an annual project to measure the demographics, behavior, and attitudes of the effective altruism community.
  • EA Local Group Surveys – we survey local EA groups, and try to track the growth of EA in order to understand how the space is changing over time.
  • Effective Messaging for Charitable Giving – we carry on studies on messaging and donor behavior, as well as conduct opinion polling on issues related to effective charitable giving.

Global Health and Development (GHD) Research

Our work in the GHD space focuses on expanding a portfolio of interventions, and working with foundations to identify promising new avenues to save lives and improve wellbeing around the globe.

Our Projects:

  • Global Health Interventions – we work to identify promising interventions that can absorb millions of dollars to help save and improve lives. Our work here has focused on lead exposure reduction, charter cities, and more. We are also working on understanding the most effective interventions for climate change mitigation.

Longtermism Research

Our longtermism research program focuses on methods for understanding the impacts our actions have on the long-term future, and studying potential events that might have consequences over hundreds and thousands of years.

Our research in this area includes looking at events that might cause human extinction or large-scale societal collapse, good decision-making to inform long-term thinking, and the viability of techniques to make predictions over long time horizons. We work in several focus areas, including forecasting and the possibility of existential risks.

Our Projects:

  • Forecasting and Decision-making – our research centers around questions about the extent to which we can meaningfully make predictions about the effects of our actions on these long timelines, and how best train people for, facilitate, and use predictions of both short- and long-term outcomes, in order to guide pertinent decisions.
  • Nuclear War – our research in this area focuses on the probability and consequences of various nuclear war scenarios, and what the most cost-effective interventions for reducing the risks of nuclear war are.
  • Artificial Intelligence Governance and Strategy (AIGS) – we’re conducting research relevant to the questions, such as: “What AI technology development and deployment scenarios may occur in the coming decades? How should firms, governments, and other actors plan for, steer, and respond to these AI developments and deployments, to help ensure they are beneficial for society?” 
  • Other Longtermism Projects – we’re also currently exploring other research directions related to the long-term future and considering topics pertinent to armed conflict and military technology, global cooperation and international relations, improving institutions and policies, and transformative artificial intelligence.

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