I think that changing our minds and owning up to past mistakes are two of the key virtues of effective altruism. I’d love to acknowledge instances of this and try to collect such stories as examples to follow.

Here are some examples to start with: 

Do you know of others? Please feel free to share examples of yourself doing this.

I think the best examples would have the following properties: 

  • An important error or mind-change
  • A public change of conclusion or explanation of the error
  • In a context or conversation that’s relevant to effective altruism

Also relevant: 

P.S. This is partially prompted by the Criticisms Contest. I’d be excited to see people engage with criticisms or red teaming of their work — especially when this leads to real changes of position or conclusion. 


New Answer
Ask Related Question
New Comment

6 Answers sorted by

Given that Greg trained as an MD because he wanted to do good, this here probably counts: https://80000hours.org/2012/08/how-many-lives-does-a-doctor-save/

(and the many medical doctors and students who read posts like this and then also changed their minds, including me :-) )

Good point, thanks! I'm really impressed, seems like a very hard switch to make. 

A personal example: I wrote Should Global Poverty Donors Give Now or Later? and then later realized my approach was totally wrong.

Thanks a bunch for sharing this! I think this is really cool. 


This doesn't have all of the properties you're most looking for, but one example is this video by YouTuber Justin Helps which is about correcting an error in an earlier video and explaining why he might have made that error. (I don't quite remember what the original error was about – I think something to do with Hamilton's rule in population genetics.)

1 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 7:17 AM

Last week, EA NYC had a lightning talks event themed around "Something I Changed My Mind About" and I'd encourage others to host similar events as a low-key and fun way to encourage this community norm.