Charlie Dougherty

172Joined Jul 2021


Hi! My name is Charlie, and I am the new executive director of Effective Altruism Norway. I was born and raised in the USA, but I have lived in Norway now for the last 10 years and have dual citizenship.

My interests include animal welfare, future history, politics, and meta-EA questions


Could you elaborate? I would be interested in hearing what you mean by inquisition-y and what parts you are referring to.

Sure! My post definitely refers to Bostrom, and I think your original question does as well, if I am not mistaken. 

Which part of his statement do you think he disliked? If he disliked the whole thing and was embarrassed by it, why do include a paragraph making sure everyone understands that you are uncertain of the scientific state of whether or not black people have a genetic disposition to be less intelligent than white people? Why ask that at all, in any circumstances, let alone an apology where it appears that you are apologizing for saying black people are less intelligent than white people, do you ask if there might be a genetic disposition to inferior intelligence?  

If he truly believes that was just the epistemically right thing to do, then he needs to check his privilege and reflect on whether that was the appropriate place to have the debate and also consider what I write below:

 I would suggest looking at  his statement as:

1. I regret what I said.
2. I actually care a lot for the group that I wrote offensive things about.
3. But was I right in the first place? I don't know, I am not an expert. 

This is exactly a type of "apology" that Donald Trump or any other variety of  "anti-authority" sceptics provide when making a pseudo-scientific claim. There is no epistemic integrity here, there is an attempt to create ambiguity to deflect criticism, blow a dogwhistle, or to make sure that the question remains in the public debate. 

Posing the question is not an intellectual triumph, it is a rhetorical  tool. 

This is all true even if he does not do so with overt intent. You can be racist even if you do not intend to be racist or see yourself as racist.

Does Donald Trump have epistemic integrity because he doesn't back down when presented with facts or arguments that show his beliefs to be incorrect? No, he typically retreats into a position where he and his supporters claim that the science is more complicated than it really is and he is being silenced by a mysterious authority (greater than POTUS, somehow) and that they need to hold fast in the face of adversity so that the truth can prevail. 

That is doubling down on pseudoscience, not epistemic integrity. Bostrom is not Galileo here, he is not being imprisoned for his science, he is being criticised for defending racism a, pointedly pseudo-scientific concept.


There is no room for racism in EA. 



Some people are good at noticing when the authorities around them and their social community and the people on their side are making bad arguments. These people are valuable. They notice important things. They point out when the emperor has no clothes. And they literally built the EA movement."

Just so I understand,
1. Part of your suspicion of the "racism is both bad and a pseudoscience" is that there is a consensus around this that includes "authorities";
2. Yes there were bad actors but we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water;
 3. Those arguing for using race to measure people are comparable to early EAers developing the INT criteria for measuring the impact of health and wellbeing interventions?

Also, could you further develop, "Opinions that are stupid are going to be clearly stupid." and criteria for this? 

Where do you draw the line at epistemically indefensible? Is there anything that is not epistemically indefensible? 

Also just so I understand, is doubling down on pseudoscience like, for example, race and intelligence, is being epistemically....bold? Integral? Are you willing to make space in EA for flat earth theory? For lizard people in the center of the earth? Anti-semitism? Phrenology? 


How can CEA be a leader if it isolates itself from the very community  it wants to lead when things get difficult and complicated?

Hi Thanks for the reply! I am not a phage expert myself, there is just some interest in this field in Norway as well right now. If there are any further developments I will try to keep you in the loop!

I would have also suggested a prize that generally confirms your views, but with an argument that you consider superior to your previous beliefs. 

 This prize is similar to the bias of printing research that claims something new rather than confirming previous research. 

That would also resolve any particular bias baked into the process that compels people to convince you that you have to update instead of actually figuring out what they actually think is right.

Could you provide a deeper idea of what you mean by "misaligned"?

Thank you for writing this. While recognizing the important role religion plays in society, I feel that even though you take your preferences seriously, you did not consider the religious world-view and the consequences of it.

 What if, in fact, there is a God? What if a religion is correct? What if there is meaning to the universe? Unless you ask those questions, in my opinion, you are just using religion as a weathervane to determine human values, not actually addressing the religious experience. You are not explaining why religion is so prominent or why it is so profoundly different than a materialist world view.

To prompt some thinking on this:

Why, in fact, are people religious? What if an AGI began to believe in God, or had a transcendental experience of its own that informed its actions? Would you then call it misaligned? How do you think being religious would affect you? 

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