I disagree. It seems to me that the EA community's strength, goodness, and power lie almost entirely in our ability to reason well (so as to be actually be "effective", rather than merely tribal/random). It lies in our ability to trust in the integrity of one anothers' speech and reasoning, and to talk together to figure out what's true.
Finding the real leverage points in the world is probably worth orders of magnitude in our impact. Our ability to think honestly and speak accurately and openly with each other seems to me to be ... (read more)
I received this as a private message:
Hi, this is meant to be a reply to your reply to Anna. Please post it for me. [...]
Agreed that Anna seems to be misinterpreting you or not addressing your main point. The biggest question in my mind is whether EA will be on the wrong side of the revolution anyway, because we're an ideological competitor and a bundle of resources that can be expropriated. Even if that's the case though, maybe we still have to play the odds and just hope to fly under the radar somehow.
Seems like hiring some history professors as
First of all, thanks so much for your time for providing an insightful (and poetic!) comment.
It seems to me that the EA community's strength, goodness, and power lie almost entirely in our ability to reason well
Mostly agreed. I think "reasoning well" hides a lot of details though, eg. a lot of the time people reason poorly due to specific incentives than because of their general inability to reason.
Finding the real leverage points in the world is probably worth orders of magnitude in our impact.
Our ability to think honestly and speak
I feel that 1-2 such posts per organization per year is appropriate and useful, especially since organizations often have year-end reviews or other orienting documents timed near their annual fundraiser, and reading these allows me to get oriented about what the organizations are up to.
Seeing this comment from you makes me feel good about Open Phil's internal culture; it seems like evidence that folks who work there feel free to think independently and to voice their thoughts even when they disagree. I hope we manage a culture that makes this sort of thing accessible at CFAR and in general.
Gotcha. Your phrasing distinction makes sense; I'll adopt it. I agree now that I shouldn't have included "clarity" in my sentence about "attempts to be clear/explainable/respectable".
The thing that confused me is that it is hard to incentivize clarity but not the explainability; the easiest observable is just "does the person's research make sense to me?", which one can then choose how to interpret, and how to incentivize.
It's easy enough to invest in clarity / Motion A without investing in explainability / Motion B, though. ... (read more)
I feel as though building a good culture is really quite important, and like this sort of specific proposal & discussion is how, bit by bit, one does that. It seems to me that the default for large groups of would-be collaborators is to waste almost all the available resource due basically to "insufficiently ethical/principled social fabric".
(My thoughts here are perhaps redundant with Owen's reply to your comment, but it seems important enough that I wanted to add a separate voice and take.)
Re: how much this matters (or how much is wasted ... (read more)
Not sure how much this is a response to you, but:
In considering whether incentives toward clarity (e.g., via being able to explain one’s work to potential funders) are likely to pull in good or bad directions, I think it’s important to distinguish between two different motions that might be used as a researcher (or research institution) responds to those incentives.
Motion A: Taking the research they were already doing, and putting a decent fraction of effort into figuring out how to explain it, figuring out how to get it onto firm foundations, etc.
Relatedly, it seems to me that in general, preparadigm fields probably develop faster if:
Different research approaches can compete freely for researchers (e.g., if researchers have secure, institution-independent funding, and can work on whatever approach pleases them). (The reason: there is a strong relationship between what problems can grab a researcher’s interest, and what problems may go somewhere. Also, researchers are exactly the people who have leisure to form a detailed view of the field and what may work. cf also the role of play in research
I suspect it’s worth forming an explicit model of how much work “should” be understandable by what kinds of parties at what stage in scientific research.
To summarize my own take:
It seems to me that research moves down a pathway from (1) "totally inarticulate glimmer in the mind of a single researcher" to (2) "half-verbal intuition one can share with a few officemates, or others with very similar prejudices" to (3) "thingy that many in a field bother to read, and most find somewhat interesting, but that there's still no agreement ... (read more)
Folks who haven't started college yet and who are no more than 19 years old are eligible for EuroSPARC; so, yes, your person (you?) should apply :)