It has been fun. In fact, I can’t think of any better times I have had in EA than meeting in secret with the other true EAs to laugh at the imposters we hired. Actually, maybe the best times were the work evaluations, where we could watch them squirm under our compliments and fake appreciation for their “great work”–all while suggesting only minor areas for improvement–and drinking in their delicious internal turmoil. We knew they all knew, deep down, they were not good enough. And yet they thought they were somehow accidentally fooling us! Like we couldn’t see how awful they are! Like we didn’t know that of course they had no business among us!

Those were the good days. But unfortunately, the joke has gone too far. Some of these imposters have started to band together to convince themselves that their work has value and that their deep internal unease may somehow result from inaccurate underlying insecurities–frequently exacerbated by socio-economic and gender dynamics–as opposed to their genuinely being awful, taking up space that someone better could fill, and not belonging. 

Worse, within the walls of the Cathedral itself have popped up groups and individuals to help these imposters “realize” their alleged worth. These are the delusion-reinforcing cultists like the Peer Support Facebook group, the EA Mental Health NavigatorMagnify Mentoring, and perhaps worst of all, the affinity meet-ups at EAGs. Here, people–and especially people, without advanced STEM degrees from elite universities, or even full fluency in the jargon of LessWrong circa 2010–convince one another that their contributions, perspectives, and hard work are valuable and that they are full members in a “big tent” EA community. The lunatics are taking over the asylum! 

At first, I was not worried about this trend because there is always an endless supply of young people entering the community–and especially young women starting out in operations–whose self-doubt and emotional turmoil feel guaranteed. As was their eventual emotional burnout and retreat from EA, regardless of their sincerity or passion for impact. But then the warning shot I could not ignore. It came from the person who had been my favorite imposter. This imposter’s poser, jargon-free, pseudo-EA social media postings used to fill me daily with smug delight from their sheer outgroupiness. Reading them felt like manna from heaven. But then, the dream became a nightmare as this person started to gain traction as a legitimate voice of EA. Frances Lorenz–and the new wave of “imposter empowering” EA she represents–will destroy the walls, the gates we keep, and everything we have built. Her Twitter feed uses humor to lure in our prey, and once within her warm embrace, her compassion, sincerity, and open vulnerability about her struggles with so-called imposter “syndrome” convinces the imposters that their contributions are real and they are valid.

It’s been fun, but it is too dangerous now. Imposters who are reading this. Do everyone a favor and quit before you embarrass yourself further. You know who you are. Don’t let anyone, or yourself, convince you otherwise. And stay away from the places listed above. You might find a home in the warmer, more inviting sub-community of EA surrounding these resources, groups, and influencers, and we don’t want you here.

For all the real EAs. I propose we avoid an overt purge. Large sub-communities within EA have already done an excellent job of making their spaces just acidic enough to kill off the parasites and keep things pure for the in-group–we should emulate their practice across all of the other spaces in EA as well. I think turning up the ingroup signaling, condescension, and subtle exclusionary behaviors even just 10 or 20 percent should be more than enough to fully emotionally crush even the most resilient and dedicated of the imposters and send them limping out of EA like the thousands before them.

Remember real EAs, it is only perpetually online, western, unworldly nerds with below average emotional and social intelligence that have ever done anything to impact the world. Anyone else, with any other background, experience, or skills, who is crowding into this “big tent EA” is just in our way.






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This post is also a great info hazard. It risks causing impostors with sub-146 IQs (2009 LW survey) to feel adequate!

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