Charles Dillon

1263Joined Dec 2018


Experienced quant trader, based in London. Formerly a volunteer at Rethink Priorities, where I did some forecasting research. Interested in longtermism and meta causes.


I expect the population of users will have similar propensity to update on most questions. The biggest reason for updating some questions more often is new facts emerging which cause changes of mind. This is a massive confounder here, since questions with ex ante surprising updates seem harder to predict almost by definition.

Unfortunately not - the person never followed up and when I asked them a few months later they did not respond.

I don't have many strong opinions on this topic, but one I do have and think should be standard practice is recusing oneself from decisions involving current or former romantic partners.

That means not being involved in hiring processes and grantmaking decisions involving them, and not giving them references without noting the conflict of interest. This is very standard in professional organisations for good reason.

I think the point is well made by Lorenzo, as someone who understands what the linked text is referring to and doesn't need to click on the link. I think it is good that the link is there for those who do not know what he meant or want clarification.

In general I think it is a bad idea to demand more work from people communicating with you - it discourages them from trying to communicate in the first place. This is similar to the trivial inconvenience point itself.

I think there should be much more focus on the question of whether this is actually a positive intervention than just one paragraph noting that you haven't thought about the benefits.

The claim that most smokers don't seem to want to quit seems really important to me, and could reduce the scale of the problem to the effects of secondhand smoke vs net benefits to smokers, which might be better treated with other policies (like indoor smoking bans for example).

Interesting post. I haven't conducted the depth research to verify most of the figures, but I do think the idea that you have a 55% chance of success with a $208k 1 year advocacy campaign pretty implausible and suspect there's something dubious going on with the method of estimating P(success) here.

I think an appropriate fact to incorporate which I did not see would be "actual costs of lobbying in the US" and "frequency of novel regulations passing" on which I presume there is quite a bit of data available.

Just a note on Jane Street in particular - nobody at Jane Street is making a potentially multi year bet on interest rates with Jane Street money. That's simply not in the category of things that Jane Street trades. If someone at Jane Street wanted to make betting on this a significant part of what they do, they'd have to leave and go elsewhere and find someone to give them at least hundreds of millions of dollars to make the bet.

A few thoughts, though I wouldn't give them too much weight:

The considerations I can think of look something like:

(1)Sonnen does work with some positive externalities.

(2)Sonnen makes some profit, which either goes to Shell shareholders, net of taxes, or might be used to finance other Shell activities.

(3)Shell might be able do other things with negative externalities and suffer fewer consequences due to positive PR effects from Sonnen.

Since Shell will probably evaluate other projects on their own merit, and can easily borrow money in financial markets, (2) probably doesn't matter, I think. Shell shareholders are basically just the same shareholders as every other big company.

I have not much idea how much good there is in (1) versus bad in (3), mostly because I know little about (1). I would be a bit surprised usually if second order effects were larger than first order effects.

Also, I think a world where Shell wants to invest in clean energy projects is better than one where it doesn't. If those projects do well then that might mean more spending goes to them vs other projects, more because of limited management capacity and better PR rather than not having enough money to do both things.

If there were two otherwise identical options I'd probably lean towards the non Shell option, but I'd guess this factor should probably not overwhelm a substantial difference.

I didn't really think it was rude, more a somewhat aggravating tone, which may or may not be a different thing, depending on who you ask. I just took that it was for the sake of not having to litigate the point.

I think banning someone for a pattern of comments like this would be overly heavy handed and reflect badly on the forum, especially when many of Sabs' comments are fairly productive (I just glanced through recent comments and the majority had positive karma and made decent points IMO).

To be concrete about it, I think a somewhat rude person with good points to make, coming here and giving their perspective, mostly constructively, is something we should want more of rather than less at the current margin. It's not like the EA forum is in any short term danger of becoming a haven for trolling and rudeness, and if there are concerns it is heading in that direction at any point it should be possible to course correct.

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