Blog Prize Digest: October

Read on to hear about the winners of our latest Post Prize, some of our other favorite posts from the month, and the topic of our next Post Prize.

Post Prize #5: 

We’re excited to announce the winners of Post Prize #5. We asked you to write about a big-picture question or confusion about the world that you’re normally embarrassed to ask about. Here are our awards:

Dude, Where’s My Mars Colony by Connor James: Connor asks a simple question, “Why is space hard?” Space seems obviously hard in some respects–it’s a cold, barren wasteland–but sort of easy in others. After all, we went from the first vehicle in Space to a man on the moon in 12 years. So why haven’t we done more after another 50 years? 

Why is being vegan such a focal point in animal advocacy? by a few billion: It might seem obvious that animal welfare advocates should be vegan? But why should it be? Personal consumptive decisions have relatively small implications in the grand scheme of things. Some animals, notably bivalves, don’t seem to be sentient. A few billion investigates. 

Honorable mentions: We enjoyed Khazna Chami on wild animal suffering, Suhan Kacholia’s piece on how names works, and Isabel’s popular piece on why modern dating is hard

Some of our favorites from the blog roll

Georgism… in Space!  

In Progress and Poverty, Sam Harsimony discusses how tax regimes might work in outer space. Looking at useful energy, matter, and physical space, Sam proposes a cosmic land value tax and severance-driven dividends on energy extraction.

“Georgism needs an update. So much has changed since George’s time that talking about land and natural resources is beginning to sound a bit dated. Hopefully, “space Georgism” can compete with the more forward-looking ideologies of today.  Extending the Georgist paradigm into space neatly solves problems with sharing resources and ensures that colonization proceeds at an appropriate pace”

Laurence Newport launches in Pursuit of Progress

Laurence Newport, who blogs at Dangerous Precedents, has started a new Youtube channel. In his first video, he takes account of the current state of the world: how good we have it by historical standards, and what challenges we face. He plans to cover topics related to progress, intellectual history, and effective altruism. 

Does Medical Education Entrench Bad Norms?

Leah Pierson writes on the downside of medical education. She argues that medical school infantalises students, so they don’t feel able to criticize practices. Instead, norms are smuggled in under the guise of “professionalism” which makes them harder to scrutinize. 

Missing women 

Idil writes on “missing women,” the phenomenon of disparate proportions of women to men across the globe: ”If all else was equal, you would expect the ratio of men to women in the world to be about the same everywhere, since biology does not work differently in different corners of the world. But when you look at the figures, you see that this is not the case … Missing women are women who would have been part of the population but are not due to factors such as sex-selective abortions and higher mortality for girls at young ages.”

A case study in pseudoscience brought to you by CNN 

George of Epistemink writes about weight loss ads on the CNN website, breaking down the incentives and perversions that lead to pseudoscience being advertised on major websites, showing how easy it is to promote “harmless” and profitable misinformation.

How (not) to approach controversial genetics research 

David Hugh-Jones argues that decisions to not publish politically sensitive research on genetics lead to poorer science and fail to tackle prejudice: Instead of building up research bureaucracies to evaluate stigma, scientists should “treat the public as intelligent and communicate complexity and nuance.” 

From the judges:

If you are still hungry for more posts

In case you missed it: October updates to the Blog Prize

We have a few updates to the blog prize contest that we shared on social media and our website. We’re adding them here, in case you missed them:

First, we originally announced that we would aim to award prizes within 2022. We now expect to award, at most, two prizes within 2022, and the contest will continue running in 2023. Don’t be afraid to jump in, even if you haven’t started a blog yet.

Second, based on the interest in the contest from young writers, we will be dividing one of the $100,000 prizes into five prizes of $20,000. This will allow us to recognize young writers who show promise but do not meet our bar to be a full prize winner. 

Third, we have some advice on what we would like to see from contestants before the major prizes are awarded:

  • So far, many entries have had insufficient engagement with the topics we think are of utmost importance. These include: the long term trajectory of humanity, preventing existential risk, and the use of reason and evidence to do good. We advise entrants to dive deeper into these topics. 
  • On a similar note, we’re watching for bloggers who generate and develop new, important ideas. 
  • Finally, we are excited to see bloggers cultivate themselves as important voices in the discourse, even becoming public intellectuals. We advise entrants to create a larger conversation about their writing, be that on Twitter, via a podcast, in discussion forums, etc

Post Prize #6: Independent Research

This month, we’re asking contestants to write about methods of independent research. How do you do your independent research? Share your insights about how (now) to do important research as a blogger. Note, this is not strictly a productivity tips or “How I Work” prompt but a combination of tools, methodology, and desired outcomes for research. How do you discover, write, and share ideas or data that are new to you?

Prize: We’ll award $1000 to the most outstanding pieces

Deadline: Opens November 1st, Closes November 30th.

How to submit: When you have finished your piece, tweet a link to it and tag and follow our Twitter, @effective_ideas. If you’re not on Twitter, email it to with the subject line Post Prize #6. Looking forward to reading them!

Interesting meme of the month via Leah Pierson