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Chriswaterguy

212 karmaJoined Nov 2015

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Will MacAskill appears to be ignoring these questions. E.g. he was interviewed about FTX recently by Sam Harris¹ and made zero mention of any whistleblowing in his account. He also gave the impression that he barely knew SBF, describing only a few fairly shallow interactions (not at all the impression I'd received while SBF was still in favour).

The interview portion of the episode was 80 min, so it wasn't for lack of time.

I've been waiting for a response from Will – a full explanation and (if things are as they seem) a sincere mea culpa. I would expect no less of myself; and I expect more from someone who has held such responsibility.

Based on public information, it seems to me that Will exercised very poor judgement and a lack of moral leadership. And he now appears to be avoiding responsibility with a distorted retelling of events.

I hope and expect that his role in EA in future is restricted to that of a philosopher, and not in any sense that of a leader.

(These arguments might also apply in varying degrees to other leaders who were involved with SBF, or who ignored/hushed whistleblowers – however I'm less familiar with their roles.)

If this continues, and if Will's lack of spine is matched by that of the rest of the EA leadership², I'll sadly continue to drift away from EA.

¹Making Sense podcast, "#361 Sam Bankman-Fried & Effective Altruism", 2 April 2024.

² Edited to add this one note. I'm using EA leadership here as shorthand for leaders of influential EA orgs – of course EA itself is not an organisation. And some/many in leadership are no doubt working or lobbying in ways we can't see – my strongly worded comment isn't intended as a blanket criticism.

Edit: I meant to add that I imagine Will to have acted in the best interests of EA as he saw it. I imagine him not as corrupt himself, but as giving space to corruption through poor judgement. I wouldn't want to expel him from the community, I just wouldn't want to see him in any position of leadership. (And that's all based on the events as I understand them.) I will listen with interest to the new Clearer Thinking episode Will mentions in his comment.

The "«" and "»" suggestion is one that could be done mostly with a search-and-replace – having the more at the top of the appendix is not enough if it also applies to the post itself. This significantly affects how trustworthy I would consider the post to be (and I say that as someone sympathetic to your situation).

Strong agree with Nathan. This is a completely valid use of an anonymous account. I'm glad that you shared. I hope that the answers and support offered here will help you on your path.

Good work. One disagreement:

I assume that if this PPE was developed, it would “catch on”, in the sense that governments would stockpile sufficient quantities and/or commercial producers would be prepared to scale up production sufficiently quickly for this PPE to be effective in a pandemic.

It's very optimistic to assume governments would behave so competently and rationally.

In a more detailed version of the plan it would be good to see strategies for promoting and lobbying.

Upvoted: you're pointing to an important tension (truth-telling vs inclusiveness).

However I don't believe this requires the movement to split. There are more and less skilful ways to tell the truth and there are more and less skilful ways to be inclusive.

Both are important to our mission. We can continue to improve at both.

We can't simply aim to maximise one or the other, though. E.g. Even if someone valued truth-telling above all else, a lack of inclusiveness would keep the movement small, controversial and marginalised.

This post with its comments is a valuable discussion.

The post on its own with its lack of cautions and provisos is potentially harmful to many readers, and high upvotes may lead readers to trust it too much. Strong downvote for these reasons.

I wouldn't want anyone to have the impression that Kathy wasn't given extensive support, or that she wasn't offered appropriate help. She definitely was, repeatedly and over a long period of time.

Could more effective help have been given? I honestly don't know, but it was well beyond my ability and capacity at the time.

It was a painful and heartbreaking situation. I think that's as much as I can say publicly.

For the record, I knew Kathy for several years, initially through a local Less Wrong community, and considered her a friend for some time. I endorse Scott's assessment, but I'll emphasise that I think she believed the accusations she made.

Relevant to this post: Many people tried to help Kathy, from 3 groups that I'm aware of. People gave a lot of time and energy. Speaking for myself and what I observed in our local community, I believe we prioritised helping her over protecting our community and over our own wellbeing.

In the end things went poorly on all three, for the community, other individuals and especially for Kathy. But it wasn't for lack of caring.

If something similar happened today, we would have much more support, through the EA community health team. (I was more involved in LW at the time, and wasn't aware of support available through EA. The team might not have existed yet in a formal capacity.)

I don't take Kathy's letter at face value. However I'm glad to see Julia's comment confirming that Kathy's accusations were investigated (I would expect no less) and in one case acted upon.

As for the analytical vs emotional – it's hard to express my emotions around this in written words. And especially hard to do so without saying more than I think is appropriate.

(This is the first public comment I've made on this subject. I only make it because it's understandably still an issue of concern, and few people have much context for it.)

Perhaps these posts could start with a note on "assumed context", similar to the "epistemic status" notes.

(A downside might be if it discourages someone from reading a post that they actually would have got value from, even if they didn't understand everything. So the choice of wording would be important.)

It's worth noting that being outside in sunshine gives much more intense light exposure than any mainstream SAD treatment. (My personal experience is that it can give a large boost in alertness, and probably helps my sleep significantly. But I'm in Sydney – I can't speak for northern Europe or Canada.)

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