Bluefalcon

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Law school vs MPP in Australia for those who have strong verbal skills but are weak at maths

Idk about Australia but in America politics is patronage-based and you're not getting a political job without connections. You might get lucky and have those connections right out of school, through professors, work on a campaign, etc., or you might not. And if your boss leaves office you're probably out of a job. So a lot depends on how long it takes you to get connections that have a job opening you want. Also, if you're not in DC, your state capital, or some other policy hub (i.e. major cities where federal agencies have regional offices), your only route into policy may be running for office yourself, which requires being established in your community. 

 

There is the civil service in theory but even that is political, just in a different way. You won't get a civil service job without experience, and getting experience requires connections. But it's less about having helped your Congressman get elected and more about knowing the DA's cousin so you can get a job as an Assistant DA and then go to work as a fed in 5 years once you have the experience. 

What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard

I am not ideologically opposed to anything. I am opposed on empirical grounds to Marxism, and approximately indifferent between centrist democrats and what most Americans refer to as "socialism" on the merits.  I am also empirically opposed to anyone referring to themself as a "socialist" in American politics, because it's a bad tactic in the elections that actually affect people's lives. Even in dem-supermajority legislatures, self-described socialists don't make up enough of the caucus to be the deciding vote on an issue that has a clean left-right divide. 

 

I voted Sanders in 2016 because my uneducated instinct is "progressive good" and because I thought Clinton a particularly weak candidate.  Then I learned how bad his record is on immigration (well to the right of Joe Biden, for example), and have deeply regretted that vote ever since.  EA has moved me somewhat toward the Dem establishment and away from the Left because it has given me the tools to prioritize effectively between issues I care about. Which was something I always knew I should be doing, but didn't know how to do before. I always noticed a strain of America Only-ism in some quarters of the Left that I was uncomfortable with, but it's complicated, because I didn't know how to weigh that against, e.g. the Left not listening to idiots like Larry Summers on economic policy, or the different version of xenophobia that a lot of centrists espouse.  And it turns out that the answer is that politicians have to be evaluated individually based on their support for the global poor and not based on ideology. On the merits, Bernie Sanders and Jamaal Bowman are pretty bad, Joe Biden meh but better than a Republican, AOC is pretty good, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker great .  Republicans in the Trump era are consistently bad but someone like, idk, Lincoln Chaffee, might have been better than a lot of Dems in the 80s.  And America Only-ism is definitely more common among self-described socialists than among people like Elizabeth Warren who are about as Left ideologically but don't adopt the identity. And at least in my social circles it seems to be even more pronounced among activist types than among politicians. 

What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard

I am not sure there is value in winning over self-described socialists. There is certainly not if the intention is to get them involved in politics, but I suppose they could be valuable contributors in other career paths if they take a more rational approach to their career than their politics. 

Assuming your values are broadly progressive, the net impact of self-declared socialists' political participation is negative. DSA helped get five Congressional candidates elected in safe Dem seats, and nowhere else.  Looking at Wikipedia's list of current DSA members of Congress, the most conservative district any represents is Jamaal Bowman's NY-16, with a Cook PVI of D+24 (meaning a Democrat typically gets 24 percentage points more here than the national average, and would win 74% to 26% in an evenly divided year.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Democratic_Socialists_of_America_members_who_have_held_office_in_the_United_States#United_States_House_of_Representatives. DSA national did not endorse a winning Congressional candidate in any swing district in 2018 or 2020. https://electoral.dsausa.org/past-endorsements/. I'm not going to go look through their locals' endorsements but I'd bet $100 the same holds true there if anyone wants to do the research. 

And their impacts when elected are bad. The Borgen Project, a nonprofit focused on  advocating for the needs of the global poor, rated Eliot Engel one of the top 10 champions of the global poor in Congress. https://borgenproject.org/tag/eliot-engel/. Jamaal Bowman replaced him with a more isolationist, more nationalist foreign policy. AOC spends millions and millions of dollars that could go to winning a swing district seat on social media ads for herself in her safe Dem seat. 

Sanders did not come close to winning the Democratic nomination. He had a temporary lead that was a quirk of the timing of various primaries. Biden wound up with 2.5x as many delegates as Sanders. 

Politics is far too meta

A lot of the ways that politicians deviate from public opinion have much less meta explanations than this Inadequate Equilibria hypothesis. On marijuana legalization, for example, a lot of politicians' opposition is because police get massive overtime from the drug war, and therefore oppose legalization. Police unions tend to be major political players all the way up to the state level, and often the dominant one at the local level because there are a lot of police and if they  vote as one then it's a significant chunk of the total votes you need to get elected mayor or alderman. You don't need some Keynesian beauty contest. Just normal special interest politics where a small group with a concentrated interest in an issue can matter more than a large group with a more diffuse interest, because the small group is more willing to change their votes based on it.  Same basic structure to the problem of reducing police violence. 

 

Or take something less partisan and less in the news: overfishing. Normally pro-environment coastal politicians generally support overfishing, very much against the recommendations of the Very Serious People, because fishermen are a sufficiently concentrated interest group to require courting, and of course their interest is in their income today, not some other person's income in a generation. Attorneys general or other elected insurance regulators in coastal states will often take the added step of climate denialism specifically on the subject of anticipated coastal erosion, because coastal homeowners don't want to pay a fair price for insurance or have their resale value lowered by an unfriendly prediction, and will vote out anyone who makes screws them on that. Again, none of this because the media thinks serious politicians have to do it, and if the media covers it at all they will usually agree that it's wrong. But it's all rational vote-seeking. 

What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard

I disagree on socialism being a serious idea in American politics. It's a thing left-wing trolls say to offend right-wingers. Any American who is serious about politics would never call themself a socialist as long as there is room to describe their ideas some other way, even if socialism might fit. Elizabeth Warren has a more left-wing voting record than Bernie Sanders. So you could argue she's a socialist. But she doesn't call herself a socialist, because she's trying to actually get legislation done, and there are other ways to describe her beliefs. 

 

I use the slur example not to be dismissive of social justice, but because it's something a kid at Harvard can understand. No matter how privileged you are you've probably been called mean names at some point, and you can easily see how a racial slur is a worse extension of that.  But that same Harvard kid, while thinking themself a dedicated anti-racist, will generally focus on instances like that over even domestic forms of inequality outside their understanding. I hear a lot of SJ talk about student loans, but not so much about the earned income tax credit, for example. 

What Makes Outreach to Progressives Hard

I think it's because they know women/poc/trans ppl/ppl on whatever fashionable domestic axis of inequality you want to look at, but don't know anyone who lives in Burundi, and because the experience of oppressed people in America is still close enough to their own to actually empathize with. Lot easier to empathize with your friend who got called a slur than with someone dying of malaria in Africa. Both because they are your friend, and because you've probably been called mean names, maybe even by the same type of asshole tossing slurs at them, whereas deadly diseases that affect young healthy people are hard to even imagine. 

Being Inclusive

I don't get this critique. Obviously if you are capable of a high-priority path you should take it, and it needs to be clear to people what those are. If you're not, you do the next best thing. The point is to do the best YOU can do. Not some theoretical person that has your name but a completely different set of abilities. When I was a kid I wanted to be President. Now I am resigned to the fact that that will never happen, but I don't feel excluded when a Presidential election is in the news day after day. 

I also think it's important to be honest with people about their probabilities of success. I could spend all my time running Vermin Supreme-style campaigns for President, because being President is the "best" thing, or I could make use of the more limited political talents I actually have and maybe over my career be pivotal in one or two changes to the law in my area of expertise by a) having an area of expertise, and b) being humble and developing good relationships with my Senators/Congressperson. But I have to understand the ways I fall short of the typical viable Presidential candidate in order to understand why the second option is better for me. 

Judgement as a key need in EA

Good judgment is obviously broader than the narrow "forecasting" Tetlock is studying. But it seems to me that, other than high-level values questions (e.g. average vs aggregate utilitarianism) it all comes down to prediction skill in some sense, as a necessary consequence of consequentialism. If you can think of something that's part of jood judgment and not either part of core values or of prediction in a broad sense I'd like to hear what specifically it is, because I can't think of anything.


"Ultimately actions are good or based solely based on their consequences" necessarily implies your chosen actions will be better if you can predict outcomes better (all else being equal of course, especially your degree of adherence to the plan).


All this description of skills that are supposedly separate from forecasting , e.g."picking the right questions", "deciding which kinds of forecasting errors are more acceptable than others", etc. sounds like a failure to rigorously think through what it means to be good at forecasting. Picking the right questions is just Fermi-izing applied at a higher level than the Superforecasters are doing it. "Picking the right kinds of errors" really seems to be about planning for robustness in the face of catastrophe, arguing against this sort of straw man expected value calculation that I don't think an actually good forecaster would be naive enough to make.


Judgment is more about forecasting the consequences of your own actions/the actions you recommend to others, vs. the counterfactual where you/they don't take the action, than computing a single probability for an event you're not influencing. And you will never be able to calibrate it as well as you can calibrate Tetlockian forecasting because the thing you're really interested in is the marginal change between the choice you made and the best other one you could have made, rather than a yes/no outcome. But it's still forecasting.

What is the best way to earn money outside your career?

You may have higher returns from investing in career advancement. I don't have solid answers on any of this, but my best guess is my highest-value career investments have an annualized return of 60% (all numbers after inflation), while being an angel investor has a return of 35% (and unless you're already rich/high income or work in finance, you're limited to investing $2200/year in America), owning an AirBnB and paying someone else to do the work has a return of 22% (but this is wayyyyy higher than regular landlording, so I may not have properly priced in risks such as the pandemic), and investing broadly in the highest-risk, highest-reward sections of the stock market has an 11.4% return.


Figuring out how to invest money into your career may be tricky. The obvious example is education. But anything that provides skill-building or networking opportunities is potentially worth spending money on. And networking in particular I tend to think about more broadly than most people. Real networking comes mostly from working on shared projects, not going to conferences or whatever. So create those opportunities, and be willing to spend money to do it.


Edit: Returns on the stock market overall average 6.96%. I will consider any of the investments I have listed as circumstances warrant. Main thing to keep in mind is you get higher return, on average, by taking higher risk. But not stupid risks.

A curriculum for Effective Altruists

I remember commenting to an economist friend a few months ago that economists have generally much better ethics than philosophers, precisely because of their consistent application of utilitarianism followed by moving on to the interesting questions, as opposed to philosophers wanting to debate ethics to death. So I concur with the decision to include economics over philosophy.

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