I don’t have strong opinions on a 4-week fellowship, no! I think my quick take would be that (a) it’s harder to teach the core EA ideas well in 4x1.5h sessions, (b) it’s harder to create a social community/have people become friends in 4 weeks, and (c) the group of people who’d commit to a 4-week program but not an 8-week program is relatively small, at least in a university group context. But I’m not too sure about this. It also seems plausible to me that 4 weeks could be better in contexts like professional or city groups.
I’d be excited to see a group running both and comparing the outcomes (e.g., in terms of retention, later engagement, number of friends made, whether participants say they’d like a shorter/longer program).
Thanks for writing this post! I especially like the concrete alternatives with thoughtful upsides/downsides. As some others have said, I’d guess some of the downsides to the alternatives are quite significant, but would still love to see trials and to chat to anyone who runs trials.
A potentially useful alternative approach (especially for larger groups who can run multiple programs) is to have several alternative intro funnels at once. I.e. run the IF but also have a clear alternative for keen people with more background knowledge or who can quickly get background knowledge on their own, e.g. a retreat, a workshop or shorter version of the fellowship, mentorship, or something else. Organisers could scout for keen people both outside of the fellowship and in the first weeks. This might help preserve the benefits of the IF for those who need the accountability/long-term commitment, while allowing people who find it frustrating to skip through. A key uncertainty is how easy it is to identify keen people. If it’s difficult, it might be worth just running the program that benefits keen people the most (though I’m unsure about that).
Thanks for raising these points! A few of my (personal) reactions:1. We definitely didn't intend for the post to presuppose that democracy is good for the long term. It’s true that most of the potential effects we identity are positive-leaning – but none of these effects, nor the all-things-considered effect, is a settled case. 2. I think the question of what conditions allowed EA to come into existence is interesting, although not sure if that's the main positive impact of liberal democracy (especially given we don’t have super strong evidence that liberal democracy was necessary for EA to arise). As is sort-of mentioned in the post, (inclusive) liberalism might be the feature most directly important to the flourishing of EA. But of course it’s hard to tell and I think it’s plausible that a combination of features reinforcing each other is key.