Vilfredo's Ghost

466 karmaJoined Dec 2018


  • Attended an EAGx conference
  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group
  • Received career coaching from 80,000 Hours


4 and 7 are not really questions that one can meaningfully develop expertise on. Even politicians, whose jobs depend on understanding public opinion, are worse at this than just running a poll, and depend heavily on polling to assess public opinion when they have the money to run adequate polls. They do bring a useful amount of additional judgment to that process and can give you a sense of when a poll result is likely to not hold up in an adversarial environment, but I don't think you can develop an equivalent skill without actually spending a lot of time talking to the public. I also don't think that would allow you to do much prediction of where public opinion is headed. Hillary Clinton would probably have been elected President in 2008 if she had been able to predict how Dem primary voters' opinions on her Iraq vote would change, and she never lacked access to world-class experts at the time she was making her decision. 


You could spend 30k to run a poll and get a better sense of current public sentiment and specific ways opinions can be pushed given information currently available. A world-expert level pollster could perhaps help you write better questions, and you could review the history of pubic opinion on topics you find to be analogous. I think with all that you'd outperform most unelected policymakers in understanding current public opinion, but only because their condescension toward the average person makes them especially bad at it (see, e.g. their obvious bungling of covid). I'd be extremely skeptical that you'd do any better at predicting what shifts public and elite opinion better than an average swing-district member of Congress who took 10 min to review your poll.

Why run a quixotic Presidential campaign when you could actually elect a bunch of Congresspeople? I don't think you need to rebuild SBF's infrastructure to do that; the average winner of an open House seat only spent $2.2 million in 2020. You wanna talk Senate/serious Presidential races you probably need better infrastructure; House races you could probably fund just from Carrick Flynn's non-SBF donor list plus the connections anyone in position to be a viable candidate already has.

I think this is something that mostly needs to be left up to individual organizations, and the media's framing of "EA has a sexual harassment problem" is really misleading. It should be "Organizations X and Y have a sexual harassment problem"; if people didn't want to name specific orgs then it never should've been published, and if people are going to try to tar others who were uninvolved that should be treated as the dishonest garbage it is. The media coverage and the community debate on this have been like if someone said "Democrats have a sexual harassment problem" and tried to paint Obama as a rapist based on what Clinton did. 

Certainly employers do have an interest in their employees' romantic relationships in the examples you cite and have a right to limit them. But I don't think you can make a blanket rule that works community wide; informal power is often more important than formal power,  especially in a small community, and if you start limiting relationships where there's even informal power dynamics you get either infinite complexity or a total ban on intra-community relationships, neither of which is healthy. Individual employers should make their own decisions about HR policies and people can make their own decisions about how much protection they want. 


Now, on an individual level I think a lot of people should be thinking more about how their relationships/hookups limit their ability to do the most good they could do, and should take a hard look at whether being able to sleep with whoever they want is really worth the losses it may cause in their effectiveness. This is true for all the reasons you cited that an employer may have an interest, but ALSO because public perceptions of them/the community may matter, and for long-term relationships it goes even beyond that because you need to think about the sacrifices people sometimes have to make for their SO. Who is supposed to take the career hit if one of you gets a great job offer far away and the other doesn't have anything comparable to/better than their current job available there? For an EA dating a non-EA, the solution is you demand that your career take precedence and you do everything in your power to make it up to them somehow, but for an EA dating another EA who is approximately their equal in ability and dedication (and presumably you're dating your equal...),  you've created a dilemma that you could have avoided with different relationship choices. 


Side note: "Hookups within a military unit" is an interesting example because those are mostly permitted, and not just in ancient Greece. At least when I was in service, the rule was  no sleeping with anyone in your direct chain of command and no officers sleeping with enlisted even not in chain of command. Now, maybe this is a bad idea; the military does have a sexual assault problem and perhaps you'd reduce that by saying no one in the same platoon/company/whatever can sleep together, period. But that's not the established rule. 

I think you're just playing in to a broader cultural problem here. Too many younger EAs are too invested in getting a job at an EA organization, and/or in having the movement as a part of their identity (as distinct from the underlying ideal). If you think the movement has serious flaws that make it not a good means for doing the most good, then you should not be trying to work for an EA org in the first place, and the access to those opportunities is irrelevant.  


People should not be using the movement for career advancement independent of the goal of doing the most good they can do with their careers (and in most cases, can't do that even if they intend to, because EA org jobs that are high-status within the movement are not similarly high-status outside of it).


I find the EA movement a useful source of ideas and a useful place to find potential collaborators for some of my projects, but I have no interest in working for an EA org because that's not where I expect I'd have the biggest impact. I think the movement as a whole would be more successful, and a lot of younger EAs would be a lot happier, if they approached the movement with this level of detachment. 

I asked for clarification the first time around, in addition to providing copious information about my involvement. There is no further information to provide. At this point they should admit or reject, not ask for further edits. Yes, I am sure it's burdensome for the reviewing team if they are creating extra work for themselves by not just making a decision, but that's a burden created by their poor work process, not by the task itself. 

awkward is pretty mild as far as ways to be emotionally stupid go. If that's all you're running into then EAs probably have higher than average emotional intelligence, but perhaps not as high in relative terms as their more classically defined intelligence

Seems unlikely for these examples. It's not the scientific discovery that really matters; it's the public health program implementing it, which is a lot more sensitive to pre-existing conditions than discovering a fact about the world is. 

why not? smallpox might or might not have died out, but hookworm would still be around

I think this response is fully accounted for by adjusting editing time based on the importance of the work, as stated in the post. 

If it's only ~as important as your normal daily work, and you have to do 5 drafts to make it better than existing work on the topic, it's probably not something you should write at all. Do something that will make a unique contribution on the first draft. 

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