Alright, you finally broke me. No honey, all vinegar.
I have spent close to ten years in EA. Over those ten years, I have worked extremely hard and invested in our community. I have organized and helped newcomers and junior members when I’m exhausted, when I’m facing family crises, when the last thing I want to do is get on the phone or train. Instead of going to the private sector and making money, I have stuck around doing impactful jobs that I largely hate as a way of dedicating myself to helping others and this community to thrive. I don’t regret this. Do FTX or Sam Bankman-Fried's actions change my assessment of my actions? No. Do the reactions I have seen here? Yes, I’m afraid so.
The things that draw me to the EA community are, above anything else, its commitment to supporting one another and *working together as a team* to reduce suffering. Throughout the years, I have held friends as they cried because a project they were doing failed, celebrated their successes, and watched again and again as EAs do the brave thing and are then there for one another. Through this, I have built friendships and relationships that are the joys of my life.
Now the new catechism. Do I condemn fraud? Yes. Of course, I do. This is a stupid question EAs keep performatively asking and answering. Everyone opposes fraud, there is no one on the other side of this issue. Sam’s actions were awful and I condemn them. Do I believe we should circle our wagons and defend Sam? No. However, there is a huge difference between condemning his actions while rallying together to support one another through this awful time and what I see happening here which I believe can best be described as a witch-hunt against everything and everyone that ever intersected with Sam or his beliefs.
Over the last few days, posters on this forum, Twitter, and Facebook have used this scandal to attack and air every single grievance they have ever had against Effective Altruism or associated individuals and organizations. Even imaginary ones. Especially imaginary ones. This has included Will MacAskill and other thought leaders for the grave sin of not magically predicting that someone whose every external action suggested that he wanted to work with us to make the world a better place, would YOLO it and go Bernie Madoff. The hunt has included members of Sam’s family for the grave sin of being related to him. It has included attributing the cause of Sam’s actions to everything from issues with diversity and inclusivity, lack of transparency in EAG admissions, the pitfalls of caring if we all get eviscerated by a nuke or rogue AI, and, of course, our office spaces and dating habits.
Like Stop. There are lessons to be learned here and I would have been fully down for learning them and working together to fix them with *all of you.* But why exactly should I help those in the community who believe that the moral thing to do when someone is on their knees is to jump on them while yelling “I should have been admitted to EAG 2016!”? Why should I expose myself further by doing ambitious things (No I don’t mean fraud- that’s not an ambitious thing that’s a --- criminal--- thing) when if I fail people are going to make everything worse by screaming “I told you so” to signal that they never would have been such a newb? Yeah. No. The circle I’m drawing around who is and is not in my community is getting dramatically redrawn. This is not because one person or company made a series of very bad decisions, it's because so many of your actions are those of people I will not invest in further and who I don't want anywhere near my life or life’s work. I’ll keep the Julia Wises, and Cate Halls- their kindness has blown me away, I’ll keep the people who are working together to fix this. The rest of you, yeah, no thanks.*
If this is a witch hunt, and based on who I’m seeing burnt, and who I’m seeing in the mob to quote Tay-Tay, go ahead and LIGHT.ME.UP.
*(My friends say this is a minority of people in EA. I will reserve judgment until I stop wanting to strip naked and burn my EA- t-shirt in the town square while swigging soylent, amped up on Adderall, and live-steaming it so I can keep up with my polycule. Lizka-- I’m sorry-- I’ll see myself out.)