ClaireZabel

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Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

[As is always the default, but perhaps worth repeating in sensitive situations, my views are my own and by default I'm not speaking on behalf of the Open Phil. I don't do professional grantmaking in this area, haven't been following it closely recently, and others at Open Phil might have different opinions.]

I'm disappointed by ACE's comment (I thought Jakub's comment seemed very polite and even-handed, and not hostile, given the context, nor do I agree with characterizing what seems to me to be sincere concern in the OP just as hostile) and by some of the other instances of ACE behavior documented in the OP. I used to be a board member at ACE, but one of the reasons I didn't seek a second term was because I was concerned about ACE drifting away from focusing on just helping animals as effectively as possible, and towards integrating/compromising between that and human-centered social justice concerns, in a way that I wasn't convinced was based on open-minded analysis or strong and rigorous cause-agnostic reasoning. I worry about this dynamic leading to an unpleasant atmosphere for those with different perspectives, and decreasing the extent to which ACE has a truth-seeking culture that would reliably reach good decisions about how to help as many animals as possible. 

I think one can (hopefully obviously) take a very truth-seeking and clear-minded approach that leads to and involves doing more human-centered social justice activism, but I worry that that isn't what's happening at ACE; instead, I worry that other perspectives (which happen to particularly favor social justice issues and adopt some norms from certain SJ communities) are becoming more influential via processes that aren't particularly truth-tracking. 

Charity evaluators have a lot of power over the norms in the spaces they operate in, and so I think that for the health of the ecosystem it's particularly important for them to model openness in response to feedback, and rigorous, non-partisan, analytical approaches to charity evaluation/research in general, and general encouragement of truth-seeking, open-minded discourse norms. But I tentatively don't think that's what's going on here, and if it is, I more confidently worry that charities looking on may not interpret things that way; I think the natural reaction of a charity (that values a current or future possible ACE Top or Standout charity designation) to the situation with Anima is to feel a lot of pressure to adopt norms, focuses, and diversity goals it may not agree it ought to prioritize, and that don't seem intrinsically connected to the task of helping animals as effectively as possible, and for that charity worry that pushback might be met with aggression and reprisal (even if that's not what would in fact happen). 

This makes me really sad. I think ACE has one of the best missions in the world, and what they do is incredibly important. I really hope I'm wrong about the above and they are making the best possible choices, and are on the path to saving as many animals as possible, and helping the rest of the EAA ecosystem do the same.

What does failure look like?

I like this question :) 

One thing I've found pretty helpful in the context of my failures is to try to separate out (a) my intuitive emotional disappointment, regret, feelings of mourning, etc. (b) the question of what lessons, if any, I can take from my failure, now that I've seen the failure take place (c) the question of whether, ex ante, I should have known the endeavor was doomed, and perhaps something more meta about my decision-making procedure was off and ought to be corrected. 

I think all these things are valid and good to process, but I used to conflate them a lot more, which was especially confusing in the context of risky bets I knew before I started had a substantial chance of failure. 

I also noticed that I sometimes used to flinch away from the question of whether someone else predicted the failure (or seems like they would have), especially when I was feeling sad and vulnerable because of a recent failure. Now I try to do a careful manual scan for anyone that was especially foresightful/outpredicted me in a way that seemed like the product of skill rather than chance, and reflect on that until my emotions shift more towards admiration for their skill and understanding, and curiosity/a desire to understand what they saw that I missed. I try to get in a mood where I feel almost greedy for their models, and feel a deep visceral desire to hear where they're coming from (which reminds me a bit of this talk). I envision how I will be more competent and able to achieve more for the world if I take the best parts of their model and integrate it into my own

I scraped all public "Effective Altruists" Goodreads reading lists

I’ll consider it a big success of this project if some people will have read Julia Galef's The Scout Mindset next time I check.

It's not out yet, so I expect you will get your wish if you check a bit after it's released :) 

Early Alpha Version of the Probably Good Website

The website isn't working for me, screenshot below:

Resources On Mental Health And Finding A Therapist

Just a personal note, in case it's helpful for others: in the past, I thought that medications for mental health issues were likely to be pretty bad, in terms of side effects, and generally associated them with people in situations of pretty extreme suffering.  And so I thought it would only be worth it or appropriate to seek psychiatric help if I were really struggling, e.g. on the brink of a breakdown or full burn-out. So I avoided seeking help, even though I did have some issues that were bothering me.  In my experience, a lot of other people seem to feel similarly to past-Claire.

Now, I also think about things from an upside-focused perspective: even if I'm handling my problems reasonably well, I'm functioning and stable and overall pretty happy, etc., would medication further improve things overall, or help make certain stressful situations go better/give me more affordance to do things I find stressful? Would it cause me to be happier, more productive, more stable? Of course, some medications do have severe side effects and aren't worth it in less severe situations, but I (and some other EAs I know) have been able to improve my life a lot by addressing things that weren't so bad to start with, but still seemed like they could be improved on. So yeah, I tentatively suggest people think about this kind of thing not just for crisis-management, but also in case things are fine but there's still a lot of value on the table.  

Resources On Mental Health And Finding A Therapist

Scott's new practice, Lorien Psychiatry, also has some resources that I (at least) have found helpful. 

Some thoughts on EA outreach to high schoolers

Also, I believe it's much easier to become a teacher for high schoolers at top high schools than a teacher for students at top universities, because most teachers at top unis are professors, or at least lecturers with PhDs, while even at fancy high schools, most teachers don't have PhDs, and I think it's generally just much less selective. So EAs might have an easier time finding positions teaching high schoolers than uni students of a given eliteness level. (Of course, there are other ways to engage people, like student groups, for which different dynamics are at play.) 

Asking for advice

Huh, this is great to know. Personally, I'm the opposite, I find it annoying when people ask to meet and don't  include a calendly link or similar, I am slightly annoyed by the time it takes to write a reply email and generate a calendar invite, and the often greater overall back-and-forth and attention drain from having the issue linger. 

Curious how anti-Calendly people feel about the "include a calendly link + ask people to send timeslots if they prefer" strategy. 

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