All of Dale's Comments + Replies

Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

This seems pretty worrying! Have you spoken to the CEA community health team about this? I guess they will probably read this blog post.

The community health team at CEA has been following the situation.

Research suggests BLM protests increase murder overall

I disagree - the point estimate for the increase in murders is well above 0 for the entire time period [figure 6]. The effect possibly fades away a little over time, so the confidence interval extends slightly over zero, but that doesn't mean you can assume it is zero! If you did a statistical test for 'did the increase in killings reduce over time' you would not get a significant result.

2MichaelStJules6moRed is for murder and blue is for property crime, right? Even if it's still above at year 4 , that's as far as the analysis warrants a conclusion for, and 4 years is still the short-term. You could specify "in the 4 years following the first protest" (although does this figure include police killings?). Your title reads to me as saying the rate will settle higher than without the protests or at least the drop in police killings will never make up for the increase in other murders, neither of which follow, and looking at that figure, neither seems more likely than not. How I read the title, it does't even seem more likely to be true than false.
Research suggests BLM protests increase murder overall

I agree it is highly politicized. I feel like this is an asymmetric demand for rigor however. I do not recall many people anyone making this objection last summer when everyone, including EA organizations, was super-keen on BLM. 

Responses and Testimonies on EA Growth

My mental model is that in the early years, a disproportionately large portion of the EA community consisted of the community’s founders and their friends (and friends of friends, etc.) This cohort is likely to be very tolerant of the early members’ idiosyncrasies- it’s even possible some of those friendships were built around those idiosyncrasies. 

That's true, and those friendships also probably reduced conflict as well - much harder to take a very negative view of someone you know well socially.

Progress Open Thread: March 2021

The version of "kind" I'm thinking of doesn't just encompass "not insulting people", but covers other everyday aspects of the word. The relevant one here is: "Don't insinuate that a given member of a certain group is likely to be dangerous, to the point that you don't recommend people interact closely with them.

This seems like quite a strange policy. You're clearly diverging from Scott's policy in a big way: he is talking about being nice to other commenters (form), but you have some major  content-based assumptions baked in. 

Indeed, your approac... (read more)

Please stand with the Asian diaspora

The document is written in legalese, and by a judge who ultimately decided in Harvard's favor, so you have to piece it together from different sections unfortunately:

The personal rating reflects the admissions officer’s assessment of what kind of contribution the applicant would make to the Harvard community based on their personal qualities. [Oct. 17 Tr. 213:22–216:1; Oct. 18 Tr. 39:1–25]. Although the reading procedures have not historically provided detailed guidance on what qualities should be considered in assigning a personal rating, relevant qualiti

... (read more)
Responses and Testimonies on EA Growth

For this to be the explanation presumably intra-EA conflict would not merely need to be driving people away, but driving people away at higher rates than it used to. It's not clear to me why this would be the case.

It's also worth noting that highly engaged EAs are quite close socially. It's possible that many of those 178 people might be thinking of the same people!

For this to be the explanation presumably intra-EA conflict would not merely need to be driving people away, but driving people away at higher rates than it used to. It's not clear to me why this would be the case.

My mental model is that in the early years, a disproportionately large portion of the EA community consisted of the community’s founders and their friends (and friends of friends, etc.) This cohort is likely to be very tolerant of the early members’ idiosyncrasies- it’s even possible some of those friendships were built around those idiosyncrasie... (read more)

Progress Open Thread: March 2021

Thanks for the feedback. While you are a moderator and can of course moderate as you wish, I must admit I found it confusing. I tried looking through the rules to find anything related to this:

The current comment makes unkind assumptions about a group of people without accurate data to back them — so despite the good intentions, it falls afoul of our rules.

The closest I could find was this section:

   Unnecessary rudeness or offensiveness

But this is of course quite different. My comment's tone was not particularly rude (e.g. no swearing, personal ... (read more)

Aaron Gertler7moModerator Comment23

Upvoted. I felt this reply was engaging in good faith, and it's given me a chance to add clarity about the Forum's moderation policy.

I tried looking through the rules to find anything related to this: "The current comment makes unkind assumptions about a group of people without accurate data to back them — so despite the good intentions, it falls afoul of our rules."

Thanks for asking the question — I should have linked to the exact section I was referencing, which was:

This criterion is based on Scott Alexander's moderation policy, which I'll quote here:


... (read more)
Please stand with the Asian diaspora

There is a lot of discrimination that isn't violence. 

This is a good point, and definitely true. One example is the massive discrimination that asians face in college admissions. During the Harvard admissions trial, both sides agreed that asian applicants had generally superior academic and extracurricular credentials to white applicants, and much higher than black applicants, and yet were admitted at significantly lower rates. The university's defence was that on average asians had inferior personalities, a finding which to my knowledge not supported... (read more)

The university's defence was that on average asians had inferior personalities

Can you mention the page number(s) and/or quote the relevant sections somewhere? I tried skimming the 130 page pdf and didn't see anything that alluded to this directly.

Please stand with the Asian diaspora

I am wondering whether you are talking about the US only?

Yes - the US is the country whose data I am most familiar with, and the article is written by someone at Cornell (in America) about an event that took place in America and contains a link to a list of resources by Americans providing advice for Americans. The US also has an unusually high asian population for a non asian majority country, which makes this issue more significant than in e.g. Switzerland  or Japan.

It's possible that this is also happening in other countries. Certainly Americans of... (read more)

Please stand with the Asian diaspora

I'm not sure it is clear that the Atlanta shooting was an incidence of anti-asian prejudice. The shooter himself said this was not a significant part of his motivation, and given that he seems willing to confess to killing people for a crazy reason I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt:

Long said his actions were not racially motivated, but claims instead to be driven by sex addiction at odds with his religious beliefs.[9][23][24] According to Sheriff Reynolds, Long wanted to "eliminate the temptation" by targeting day spas.[24][25] Long said h

... (read more)

To the extent that this story causes an emotional toll on readers, we should partly blame the media here for trying to fit a racial narrative to an event where it is not at all clear it fits.

I just came across a great article by Andrew Sullivan about this. His conclusions:

And so it seems to me that the media’s primary role in cases like these is providing some data and perspective on what’s actually happening, to allay irrational fear. Instead they contribute to the distortion by breathlessly hyping one incident without a single provable link to any g

... (read more)

Explanatory note: I gave this a mild downvote because thesis of the OP was "this has been a difficult week for Asian Americans" and I think an appropriate response would acknowledge that. I felt this response was unsympathetic.

Despite the lack of good data, I suspect that it is indeed the case that anti-asian crimes have risen significantly this year. We known that violent crime in general has increased significantly since the BLM protests/riots of last summer, and that attacks on asians are disproportionately caused by blacks (28% for 2018, the last year we have data, vs just 15% for white and hispanic victims). So my guess is that reductions in policing as a result of the protests have left many asians exposed. Most races are primarily victimised by others of the same race (6

... (read more)

However, I'm not sure in practice there is very much we can directly do about the issue.

Maybe it's worth pointing out that the OP doesn't ask us to do anything other than "stand with the Asian diaspora", which doesn't seem very hard. (I'm reminded of that relationship cliche where one partner tells the other partner about a problem they have, and their partner responds by trying to solve the problem, when all that was really desired was a sympathetic ear.)

I stand with the Asian diaspora. Even if the shooting was not motivated by anti-Asian prejudice, ... (read more)

5Pranay K7mo1. I agree with your point that the shooter's motives are uncertain, that there isn't a lot of evidence that it was motivated by racial bias, and that our first impressions tend to be wrong. But it seems plausible to believe that Long was motivated by racial bias. Otherwise, why target Asian dayspas and not, say, strip clubs? " '"Long told investigators that he blames the massage parlors for providing an outlet for his addiction to sex' " (ABC [] ). It seems plausible to me that the fact that Long's sex drive was linked to these spas could have been motivated by the fetishization of Asian people. One of the places Long frequented was named Young's Asian Massage. Also, my impression is that most instances where a white man kills majority non-white people turn out to be racially motivated. Certainly this is by no means a silver bullets, and I agree that many people speak as if it's certain that Long was racially motivated. 2. I disagree with your comment about the media. This is anecdotal, but I've seen many people on social media blast the NYtimes' initial report ("8 people Killed in Atlanta-Area Massage Parlor Shootings [] ") for not asserting racial motivations. Regardless of whether the media emphasized the racial component, I'm quite confident that many people would have seen "white man kills 8 people, 6 of whom are asian women" and associated that with racism. 3. I agree with jsteinhardt's comment [] .

I think one concrete action people could take is to try to listen to the experiences of their Asian friends and colleagues. There is a lot of discrimination that isn't violence. Understanding and solidarity can go a long way, and can also prevent reduce discrimination.

For Chinese immigrants in particular there are also a lot of issues related to immigration and to U.S.-China tensions.

Neither of these is directly related to the Atlanta shootings, but I think it can be a good symbolic moment to better understand others, especially since discrimination agains... (read more)

Progress Open Thread: March 2021

I realize this is a sensitive topic, but as it sounds like you have not yet firmly committed I will go ahead and encourage you to strongly consider not adopting an older child, for several reasons.

Firstly, people significantly over-estimate their ability to change the outcomes for adopted children. This has been well studied with twin adoption studies, which generally find that adopted children's outcomes are closely linked to their biological parents - and not very linked to their adaptive parents. A good (if slightly dated now) introduction to this is Ca... (read more)

I agree with this, and strongly disagree with the decision by Aaron to moderate this comment (as well as with other people deciding to downvote this).  This strikes me as a totally reasonable and well-argued comment.

I've thought about this topic a good amount, and if a friend of mine were to tell me they are planning to adopt a child, I would immediately drop everything I am working on and spend at least 10 hours trying to talk them out of it, and generally be willing to spend a lot of my social capital to preven them from making this choice. 

For... (read more)

-1Aaron Gertler7moEdit: I responded to this comment after someone reported it, and hadn't seen Denise's comment at the time. She sums up one of the points I try to make here better than I did. Second edit: I think Habryka's comment [] is a really good example of how to make a similar point to what Dale aimed for, with enough additional supporting evidence to abide by the Forum's rules. Having read Habryka's comment and internalized how probable the risks of adoption can be, I appreciate Dale's comment more in retrospect. While I still don't like the way the argument for high abuse risk was presented, I could have done more to acknowledge that the spirit of the comment was "I'm taking a risk by writing a controversial comment because I see someone doing something I think is dangerous" — execution aside, this type of content is really valuable. ***** Moderator here! While this comment seems to be well-intentioned, it also takes the form of: * "I would like to help someone." * "No, you shouldn't do that. They might be a dangerous person who will hurt someone you love." This kind of argument demands better data than is present in this comment, which takes an (unlinked) statistic and extrapolates it to a fairly different scenario. Please don't use this kind of reasoning to make negative claims about entire groups of people (e.g. teenagers who are available for adoption). ***** Taking the mod hat off in this section, which is just a comment from one user to another: The reasoning "you may not be able to change their outcomes, ergo this isn't worth doing" also seems a bit beside the point. Changing a person's life doesn't have to entail e.g. changing their educational attainment or future income. It can also just entail giving them a stable home and a family of people who care about them. (I don't have statistics on hand, but I think it's very likely that

I strongly disagree with this comment for various reasons, and for the sake of my nerves I won't go through them all. Just one thing:

Usually the argument for adopting an older child is not that you can expect to raise their IQ points a bit or their income in adulthood. But twin adoption studies also show, and Caplan discusses that in his book, that treating your children well is something that will make a difference to them by how they remember and relate to you. The foster system is often a pretty awful experience to children, so you will make their life better by giving them a loving home, even if it will never show on their IQ tests. Feeling loved and cared for matters.

Blameworthiness for Avoidable Psychological Harms

Reminded me of this paper, on a somewhat related topic:

We investigate the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue. In our first three studies, we show that the virtuous victim signal can facilitate nonreciprocal resource transfer from others to the signaler. Next, we develop and validate a victim signaling scale that we combine with an established measure of virtue signaling to operationalize the virtuous victim construct. We show that individuals with Dark Triad traits—Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy—more frequen

... (read more)
Two Inadequate Arguments against Moral Vegetarianism

And then, having not quite forgotten this state of affairs, when they happen to be used by someone, they complain of having being treated like an animal, which of course suggests that animals are treated in a way that we find utterly unacceptable (if they are in fact the sorts of creatures that can be mistreated).

I realize this is not the focus of your argument, but I don't think this holds true:

  •  People subject to paternalism complain about being treated 'like a child', but might still think this behavior is appropriate in the case of children.
  • Those v
... (read more)
1Erich_Grunewald9moWell, I don't disagree! I tried to make up the distance in the parenthetical statement, but I didn't mean to imply that treatment of humans & animals ought to be judged by the exact same standard. What I was getting at was more something like this, quoting [] Christine Korsgaard: That is, there's a kind of tension in that sort of complaint. It implies that animals are mistreated by some standard, but that, whereas humans can be mistreated in that way, animals can't. So I meant to say that, if we do think that animals can be mistreated in that way (& many do, of course) then that sort of complaint is almost contradictory.
(Autistic) visionaries are not natural-born leaders

In general on this forum we seek to encourage people to adopt a 'Scout Mindset':

"The drive not to make one idea win or another lose, but to see what's there as honestly and accurately as you can."

Clarity about what you believe, your reasons for believing it, and what would cause you to change your mind.

Note that this does not require you to have 'definitive' proof of something. This would be an unreasonable standard in general, but especially so here, because even if these individuals had been diagnosed (which many autists are not), there is no particular ... (read more)

3BrianTan9moHi Dale, I agree that we should encourage people here to adopt a scout mindset, and I also agree that this does not require you to have definitive proof of something. My view on whether Jobs, Musk, or Page are actually autistic are in flux as I read other's comments here, like yours, and read more about others' views on them online. I'm not that familiar with autism/Asperger's, but initially I thought that at least 2/3 of them are not autistic. So it's interesting for me to learn that a couple other people on this forum like you agree that there's good evidence of them being autistic / having Asperger's. Anyway, in what you quoted, we want people to write with "Clarity about what you believe, your reasons for believing it, and what would cause you to change your mind." Given that, I just wish that Guzey would have put a caveat near the top of his article that there's no authoritative source saying that these leaders have been formally diagnosed as autistic. I'm not saying that he should caveat all his claims and always be super clear about everything, but for a topic like autism, I think he should have been clearer about his claim in the title. Initially, I thought Guzey should change the article's title. I'm changing my mind now and would be fine if he kept the title as is, but I would slightly prefer it if he added something like this in the article: "Jobs, Musk, or Page have never been formally diagnosed as autistic, but my impression is that they exhibited a host of traits typically associated with autism/Asperger's. This is why I put the title as "(Autistic) visionaries are not natural born leaders"."
Why I'm concerned about Giving Green

I think you have missed one clear downside: that increasing partisanship will make any action that is passed worse. There have been some clear examples historically of where the association of climate change with left  wing politics has been a negative:

  • The demonisation of nuclear, which has lead to an increase in coal usage in Germany.
  • The rejection of a carbon tax in Washington State because it was not 'progressive' enough, and similar moves in many other states.
  • The inclusion of terrible policies in the 'Green New Deal', like banning air travel (which
... (read more)
The Electoral Consequences of Pandemic Failure Project

I agree that 1. is a problem. I think you want to keep things fairly simple for the sake of transparency, which would mean you end up being e.g. unfairly positive towards leaders of asian countries with conscientious populations and strong hygiene norms. One thing you could do would be to add "which is better than other similar countries like X, Y and Z" - but then there is still some subjectivity about which peer countries to include.

I'm less concerned about 2. Even if the majority of voters are impossible to persuade, the marginal voter theorem suggests ... (read more)

Guerrilla Foundation Response to EA Forum Discussion

Secondly, we would want them to more precisely calculate the negative externalities caused by their wealth accumulation and engage in direct reparations where possible, or at least commit to contribute a significant amount to prevent further harm in the specific sector where wealth was generated. 

I think you dramatically over-estimate how often it will be possible to identify and make amends to the victims. There are a few cases, e.g.

  • A burglar who keeps detailed records of which houses he broke into.
  • A lawyer who took fees from her client despite knowi
... (read more)
Taking Self-Determination Seriously

I think you are under-estimating the practical difficulties involved in self-determination. A good example is Brexit. On paper, it seems like it should be an ideal case:

  • The UK has experience being a successful independent country for hundreds of years.
  • The UK held a referendum on the subject where everyone could vote, rather than just a few secessionist leaders, proving widespread buy-in.
  • The UK gets relatively little benefit from the EU - it organizes defense, education, police, healthcare etc. all by itself, and is a net payer of funds towards the rest of
... (read more)
4kbog1yI will think more about Brexit (noting that the EU is a supranational organization not a nation-state) but keep in mind that under the principle of self-determination, Scotland, which now would likely prefer to leave the UK and stay in the EU, should be allowed to do so.

Hi Dale. Thanks for your comment.

The gender question and many of the other demographic questions were selected largely to ensure comparability with other surveys run by CEA.

That aside, I think your claim that open comment gender questions are "considered poor survey technique" is over-stated. The literature discusses pros and cons to both formats. From this recent article in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology:

One of the simplest ways to collect data on gender identity is to use an open text box (see Figure 2) which allows participan

... (read more)
Please Take the 2020 EA Survey

I was disappointed to see this. I think there is a strong 'What gets measured gets done" effect, so the fact that some demographic questions (race, sexual preference) are recorded while others (politics, diet, religion) are not is significant. In particular, I think it tends to lead to efforts to reach out to groups which the data shows to be under-represented, while those without data are neglected.

8David_Moss1yThanks for your feedback! It's very useful for us to receive public feedback about what questions are most valued by the community. Your concerns seem entirely reasonable. Unfortunately, we face a lot of tough choices where not dropping any particular question means having to drop others instead. (And many people think that the survey is too long anyway implying that perhaps we should cut more questions as well.) I think running these particular questions every other year (rather than cutting them outright) may have the potential to provide much of the value of including them every year, given that historically the numbers have not changed significantly across years. I would be less inclined to think this if we could perform additional analyses with these variables (e.g. to see whether people with different politics have lower NPS scores), but unfortunately with only ~3% of respondents [] being right-of-centre, there's a limit to how much we can do with the variable. (This doesn't apply to the diet measure which actually was informative in some of our models.)
Questions for Peter Singer's fireside chat in EAGxAPAC this weekend

Has he given any more thought to the argument Tyler gave here that eating wild-caught fish is ethically acceptable, because the alternative to our catching them is a similarly unpleasant natural death?


A brief look at reducing the efficiency of genocides

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest the US shouldn't have intervened - I think quite possibly we should have! I just meant the costs would likely have been higher than you estimated, because it's not just the per-hour cost of the radio jamming plane. Political capital with neighbors is costly, and protecting the plane could have been quite expensive. Wikipedia suggests Rwanda had some (old) Russian fighter jets, so they might have needed to be shot down, and they may also have had SAMs which would require neutralization. 



Yeah, I was thinking a... (read more)

3NLHeath1yYou could (and likely are) correct that the US military intervening would have cost (in cash and political capital) more than the number ($8500) cited by Frank Wisner, the undersecretary of defense for policy. I have no idea what all is covered by his sum, but it does not seem a stretch to me that it was not all-inclusive. Interesting citations regarding firearm ownership. Thanks for sharing. I would not have thought of that one myself. You also made a good point about the difference between military-grade armament and small arms possession. I think there are a few complicating dynamics: 1. Types of Injury 2. Historical Tensions 3. Timeline 4. Long-run spill-over effects 5. Incentive risks Types of Injury There were certainly guns present and used during the Rwandan Genocide, especially by the military/militia groups. That said, the distribution and use of machetes was pervasive and brutal. Dr. Orbinski observes that the Interahamwe utilized machetes for violent acts that would have been near impossible for a gun to inflict. What would a greater prevalence of guns have done to the types of injuries inflicted? Historical Tensions Unfortunately, the Rwandan Genocide was not the first violent tension between the Tutsi and Hutu populations. So it seems unclear to me what effect arming the Tutsi minority would have had. This is also one difference from the African American population. In Rwanda, the Tutsi’s were traditionally the empowered population. Timeline Access (guns or otherwise) requires infrastructure. Infrastructure takes time and coordination. Once the violence started, the bulk of it only lasted 100 days. So any promotion of ownership would have had to have happed in advance. What tensions would that have caused? Long-run spill-over effects Beyond the historical tensions, there would likely be effects of increased gun ownership. How would more prevalent gun ownership affect suicide rates, domestic violence, accidental injury, school vi
A brief look at reducing the efficiency of genocides

Interesting work on a very important topic, good job. I was especially surprised to see that it took two weeks for the US to learn about the genocide; surely the US ambassador should have noticed?

I think you are a little harsh on the US decision not to use the radio blocking technology. It sounds like money wasn't their only (main?) objection: it was also logistically difficult to use the radio blocking plane, and require a substantial escort. Perhaps keeping it safe might even have required destroying Rwandan SAMs:

It costs approximately $8500 per flight h

... (read more)
5NLHeath1yThanks for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. With regard to any criticism you may have derived from the post, I am assuming you are referring to my choice of the phrase “failed to act.” As an American, I expect my elected representatives to intervene in genocides or other human tragedies. I understand that there are rational limitations to this opinion and that other voters do not agree. (I also have no interest in sparking a political debate here.) I hold no judgment around the process of how to intervene, as it is well beyond my expertise. I do believe that any genocide or event of mass suffering is caused, at least in some part, by a failure on the part of those with the ability to act. In regards to the plane, it very well could have been a poor idea for many reasons. I found it interesting because it was a number offered by a credible source that allowed for a calculation. I agree that Rwanda is certainly an obvious case for intervention. As you mentioned, there would likely have been limited international risk from a global power (save France). It’s recency also allows some benefits from perspective and analysis; familiarity with the context, news coverage, recent UN trials, etc. I came to the same conclusion the protracted conflict with world powers (i.e. the Holocaust) would certainly be more complicated to intervene in. Thoughts on your other possible techniques: * Try to prevent the causes of genocides. * Prevention is certainly the ideal. There are considerable resources poured into global politics, international peacekeeping, the UN, etc. * I would be curious to see what prevention tactics are the most effective. * Working on genocide forecasting, so that vulnerable populations can prepare. * This was one of my original directions with this article actually. As I found a couple of organizations engaging in that exercise (cited in the post) I moved away from that direction. * Promo
What are some EA-aligned statements that almost everyone agrees with?

Yes, and I would also highlight this one:

People are of equal moral value (all people matter: everyone has an equal claim to be happy, healthy, fulfilled and free)

I think many people might disagree, perhaps thinking that actually:

  • Good people have more value than bad people
  • Children matter more than old people
  • Smokers have less of a claim to be healthy than non-smokers
  • Criminals have less of a claim on being free than law-abiding citizens
  • People who work hard have more right to be happy than those who are lazy
  • We have a right to the pursuit of happiness, but not
... (read more)
4 Years Later: President Trump and Global Catastrophic Risk

I like that you went back and reviewed your predictions. However, this piece could have been better if you had also reviewed the ways in which Trump has been better than you expected. 

For example, under 'Authoritarianism' you list the election of some authoritarian and anti-globalist leaders. But equally there are positive cases - in France Macron, a highly globalist and neoliberal candidate, won the election. Similarly in the UK, the relatively authoritarian May was replaced with the much more libertarian Johnson. This is a far cry from your worries ... (read more)

4HaydnBelfield1yHi Dale, Thanks for reading and responding. I certainly tried to review the ways Trump had been better than the worst case scenario: e.g. on nuclear use or bioweapons. Let me respond to a few points you raised (though I think we might continue to disagree!) Authoritarianism and pandemic response - I'll comment on Pablo and Stefan's comments. However just on social progress, my point was just 'one of the reasons authoritarianism around the world is bad is it limits social progress' - I didn't make a prediction about how social progress would fare under Trump. Nuclear use and bioweapons - as I say in the post, there haven't been bioweapons development (that we know of) or nuclear use. However, I don't think its accurate to say this is a 'worry that didn't happen'. My point throughout this post and the last one was that Trump will/has raised risk. An increase from a 10% to a 20% chance is a big deal if what we're talking about is a catastrophe, and that an event did not occur does not show that this risk did not increase. On nuclear proliferation, you said "I am not aware of any of these countries acquiring any nuclear weapons, or even making significant progress", but as I said in this post, North Korea has advanced their nuclear capabilities and Iran resumed uranium enrichment after Trump pulled out of the Iran Deal. Thanks again, Haydn

In some cases Trump has been bad, but for the opposite reason than you were worried about! For example you criticized him for supporting travel bans during Ebola

It's not the opposite reason. The underlying criticism is that Trump's measures were miscalibrated to the magnitude of the problem. If your decision-making process is deeply flawed, as Trump's is, you should expect miscalibration in both directions.

8Stefan_Schubert1yI'm not sure everyone would agree that that leadership was a change in a less authoritarian direction. At any rate, I think the default view would be that it says little about global trends in levels of authoritarianism. Also May seems quite different from the leaders and parties that Haydn discusses in that section. I think it would have been better if you had given an argument for this view, instead of just stating it (since it's likely far from obviously true to most readers).
What is the increase in expected value of effective altruist Wayne Hsiung being mayor of Berkeley instead of its current incumbent?
Answer by DaleOct 08, 202022

Here is a recent newspaper article describing Wayne as using cult-like techniques and abuse with DxE, and also here.

How much does it cost to save a life in the mediterranean sea?

Thanks for the hyperlink! I'm a bit surprised at the argument that these countries are not safe. Obviously all places have some risk, but both Tunisia and Libya have much lower murder rates than the US does, and I wouldn't accept 'it is too dangerous here' as a reason for why the US shouldn't take refugees.

5MaxRa1yHm, I'm surprised you're surprised. It's noteworthy and sad that the murder rate in the US is so high. I'd also guess the overall murder rate is not representative of the safety of refugees, and the murder rates might be underestimations in countries like Libya, a country that is literally in a civil war right now. Have you read the FAQ? Quoting: I unfortunately haven't found numbers when googling "murder rates in refugee camps", but here some more quotes from a DW article last year [] that gave me a strong impression that those places clearly are not safe:
How much does it cost to save a life in the mediterranean sea?

Interesting idea. Are you trying to evaluate how cost-effective they have been historically, or how cost-effective they might be in the future with additional funding? Presumably they latter will be lower, due to mean reversion. Additionally, the easiest to save people will probably already have been saved, leaving people who are more difficult to access.

I thought the two other comments about downsides were interesting (incentivising a larger number and more risky crossings, and negative reactions from people in Europe), but it seems that there is an easy ... (read more)

3MaxRa1yJust skimmed the FAQ from the discussed organization [] about returning rescued people to Africa: * Sea rescue conventions and international human rights law: People rescued at sea must be brought to a safe place, and African countries clearly disqualify (at least they say so about Tunisia and Libya) * African countries refuse to accept the rescued people, at least Tunisia did that repeatedly * African countries not having a procedure for taking asylum seekers, at least Tunisia doesn't * In Lybia they'd be put in detention centers where they'd lose their money and will return to the Mediterranean again afterwards
Some thoughts on the EA Munich // Robin Hanson incident

I didn't downvote it, though probably I should have. But it seems a stretch to say 'one guy who works for a weird organization that is supposedly EA' implies 'congregation'. I think that would have to imply a large number of people. I would be very disappointed if I had a congregation of less than ten people.

JoshYou also ignores important hedging in the linked comment:

Bennett denies this connection; he says he was trying to make friends with these white nationalists in order to get information on them and white nationalism. I t
... (read more)
6JoshYou1yI also agree that it's ridiculous when left-wingers smear everyone on the right as Nazis, white nationalists, whatever. I'm not talking about conservatives, or the "IDW", or people who don't like the BLM movement or think racism is no big deal. I'd be quite happy for more right-of-center folks to join EA. I do mean literal white nationalists (like on par with the views in Jonah Bennett's leaked emails. I don't think his defense is credible at all, by the way). I don't think it's accurate to see white nationalists in online communities as just the right tail that develops organically from a wide distribution of political views. White nationalists are more organized than that and have their own social networks (precisely because they're not just really conservative conservatives). Regular conservatives outnumber white nationalists by orders of magnitude in the general public, but I don't think that implies that white nationalists will be virtually non-existent in a space just because the majority are left of center.
How have you become more (or less) engaged with EA in the last year?
I've seen a few cases where EAs online say things that are pretty racist or sexist. They'll be defended with comments like "we need to be free to break be intellectual ground and find the truth", but I don't understand how telling me I'm less likely to be a genius because I'm a woman at a social event makes anyone any better at improving the world. It certainly doesn't make me better at improving the world.

I realize this is probably not what you were looking for, but I think I can think of what they might have... (read more)

5Tom_Beggs1yFrom your article on the male variability hypothesis: and These sound like arguments for environment to me, which would mean that "Frank" is still likely correct and "Grace" is misinformed on what the patriarchy is and how it works.

I'd be a lot less annoyed about it in this particular conversation - I've seen it brought up in much less relevant contexts.

This comment is currently at 0 karma and 5 votes. I would appreciate it if someone would tell me why did they downvote. I am not questioning the decision; I am looking for a more nuanced perspective on how to have better norms around sensitive topics.

My uncertain guess is that, while the comment's story could improve discussion on conversational norms, being a devil's advocate in a thread about unpleasant and alienating interactions doesn't contribute much to it?

Some thoughts on the EA Munich // Robin Hanson incident
Surely there exists a line at which we agree on principle. Imagine that, for example, our EA spaces were littered with people making cogent arguments that steel manned holocaust denial, and we were approached by a group of Jewish people saying “We want to become effective altruists because we believe in the stated ideals, but we don’t feel safe participating in a space where so many people commonly and openly argue that the holocaust did not happen.”
In this scenario, I hope that we’d both agree that it would be appropriat
... (read more)
3Elityre1yI think this comment says what I was getting at in my own reply, though more strongly.
2EricHerboso1yIf you’re correct that the harms that come from open debate are only minor harms, then I think I’d agree with most of what you’ve said here (excepting your final paragraph). But the position of bipgms I’ve spoken to is that allowing some types of debate really does do serious harm, and from watching them talk about and experience it, I believe them. My initial intuition was closer to your point of view — it’s just so hard to imagine how open debate on an issue could cause such harm — but, in watching how they deal with some of these issues, I cannot deny that the harm from something like a casual denial of systemic racism caused them significant harm. On a different point, I think I disagree with your final paragraph’s premise. To me, having different moderation rules is a matter of appropriateness, not a fundamental difference. I think that it would not be difficult to say to new EAs that “moderation in one space has different appropriateness rules than in some other space” without hiding the true nature of EA and/or being dishonest about it. This is relevant because one of the main EA Facebook groups is currently deciding how to implement moderation rules with regard to this stuff right now.
EricHerboso's Shortform
I have friends who I have watched first hand having to read through a racist Facebook thread who were subsequently unable to focus for hours afterward.

Wow, that's a shocking thread. This will definitely put off newcomers! I can understand why you might want to ban discussion of woke topics from introductory spaces if that sort of thing will be the result!

To be honest I'm surprised the moderators didn't block Blasian Diezo for being such a bully. It seems like he is clearly violating the group rules:

1) Be civil (e.g. don't insult o
... (read more)

I downvoted this because it seems pretty clear that the author was referencing other aspects of the Facebook thread, and this felt belittling instead of engaging with the author's overall post.

Some thoughts on the EA Munich // Robin Hanson incident
That said, my impression is that, over time, the EA movement has become more attentive to various kinds of diversity, and more cautious about avoiding public discussion of ideas likely to cause offense. This involves trade-offs with other values.

I am skeptical of this. The EA survey shows that one of the most under-represented group in EA is conservatives, and I have seen little sign that EAs in general, and CEA in particular, have become more cautious about public discussion that will offend conservatives.

Similarly, I don't think there is much ... (read more)

Specifically, I would be surprised if there was much evidence of EAs/CEA being more cautious about publicly discussing 'woke' views out of fear of offending liberals or conservatives.

I hear frequently from people who express fear of discussing "woke" views on the Forum or in other EA discussion spaces. They (reasonably) point out that anti-woke views are much more popular, and that woke-adjacent comments are frequently heavily downvoted. All I have is a series of anecdotal statements from different people, but maybe that qualifies as "evidence"?

Should we think more about EA dating?
you implicitly assume that the average effective altruist is a heterosexual man

Over 70% of EAs are men (according to the 2019 survey), and probably most of those are heterosexual (though I don't have the statistics to hand), so that would be an accurate assumption.

More importantly, I think the meaning would likely be altered by changing the sex. The gender imbalance probably means that men have a much harder time finding a girlfriend at EAG than women would finding a boyfriend. Also, my impression is that male EAs have, on average, worse social skil... (read more)

EA Meta Fund Grants – July 2020
I think at least some women would still prefer female mentors.

That makes perfect sense to me. But a co-ed mentoring group would presumably be able to offer female mentors to those who wanted them, leaving it equally good for those who preferred women and superior for those who were open-minded or preferred men. I guess some women might be too shy to specify "and I would like a women" in a mixed group, so having WANBAM allows them to satisfy their preference more discretely.

EA Meta Fund Grants – July 2020
What I would be hesitant to do - but not because I'm afraid but because I think it's a bad idea - is to pitch a mentoring scheme that explicitly emphasizes or discusses at length that it's open to men, or any other audience which is normally included and would be odd to single out.)

In general, the default for most things is that they're open to men.

It is true that most things are open to men, in the sense that (at least in the west) most careers, associations and organisations are open to both men and women. But it seems definitely the ... (read more)

3Chi1ySmall point that's not central to your argument: I had actually also asked WANBAM at some point whether they considered adding male mentors as well but for different reasons. I think at least some women would still prefer female mentors. Anecdotally, I often made the experience that it's easier for other women to relate to some of my work-related struggles and that it's generally easier for me to discuss those struggles with women. This is definitely not true in every case but the hit rate (of connections where talking about work-struggles works really well) among women is much higher than among men and I expect this to be true for many other women as well.
6Max_Daniel1yThanks for the pushback. I think my above comment was in parts quite terse, and in particular the "odd" in "would be odd to single out" does a lot of work. So yes, it agrees with my impression that in a reference class of explicit formalized groups similar to those you mentioned it's more common for men to be excluded than for women to be excluded. The landscape is too diverse to make confident claims about all of it, but I think in most cases I'd basically think it isn't odd to explicitly single out women as target audience while it would be odd to explicitly single out men. I suspect it would require a longer conversation to hash out what determines my assessments of 'oddness' and how appropriate they are relative to various goals one might have. Very briefly, some inputs are whether there was a history of different treatment of some audience, whether that audience still faces specific obstacles, has specific experiences or specific needs, and whether there are imbalances in existing informal groups (e.g. similar to the above point on mentoring being ubiquitous surely a lot of informal networking happens at McKinsey). I think this kind of reasoning is fairly standard and also explains many instances of target audience restriction and specialization other than the ones we've been discussing here. For example, consider the Veterans Administration in the US or Alcoholics Anonymous. I think I don't want to go into much more depth here, partly because it would be a lot of work, partly because I think it would be a quite wide-ranging discussion that would be off-topic here (and possibly the EA Forum in general). I appreciate this may be frustrating, and if you think it would be important or very helpful to you to understand my views in more detail I'd be happy to have a conversation elsewhere (e.g. send me a PM and we can find a time to call). FWIW, while I suspect we have a lot of underlying disagreements in this area, I've appreciated your pushback against orthod
What is the increase in expected value of effective altruist Wayne Hsiung being mayor of Berkeley instead of its current incumbent?

Allowing such a post would totally neuter the rule. All one would have to do is take your draft "Trump is actually the best candidate from an EA perspective" and re-title it "Is Trump actually the best candidate from an EA perspective?" Scatter in a few question marks in the text and you are fully compliant.

4G Gordon Worley III1yI think I agree, but my point is maybe more that the policy as worded now should allow this, so the policy probably needs to be worded more clearly so that a post like this is more clearly excluded.
avacyn's Shortform

I think Gregory_Lewis is referencing the same poor behavior here if you are looking for more sources. Please let me know what the organizers say if you ended up asking them.

2Aaron Gertler1yThat's the kind of source I was looking for; thanks for letting me know when it came up.
avacyn's Shortform
Do you have a source for this claim?

Yes. You are welcome to ask the other people who helped organize the previous EAGs about it. If you like I can try to work out the dates.

Also, I would note that if you allow unsourced positive claims, but not negative claims, this isolated demand for rigor creates a bias and make us vulnerable to hostile actors whose behavior cannot be called out. Though of course you can moderate your forum however you like!

4Aaron Gertler1yIf you see unsourced positive factual claims about people (e.g. things they said or did), you are welcome to ask for sources the same way I did! I think that the average unsourced negative claim is more likely to hurt the Forum's culture than the average unsourced positive claim, but we would ideally have few of either.
Systemic change, global poverty eradication, and a career plan rethink: am I right?
I doubt it will be a fringe view on this forum that Western colonialism tended to cripple poor countries' economies, or that certain European and US interventions (like the Iraq War) led to huge devastation.

You're right that this is not a fringe view, and it is probably one of the more mainstream views Hickel has. However, I do not think that it is obviously true. Poor countries suffered many disadvantages from colonialism, but also gained many advantages, like education, infrastructure, and more advanced legal systems. The earliest western c... (read more)

3NoteworthyTrain1yFascinating. Thanks for this alternative perspective. I certainly need to read more.
Systemic change, global poverty eradication, and a career plan rethink: am I right?

The 'freedom to trade internationally' composite, which is basically not-being-protectionist, saw one of the largest improvements of any of their scores over this time. They are still protectionist relative to many richer countries, like the JV requirements. But they are dramatically less protectionist than they used to be, and this change coincided with / preceded their dramatic growth.

Systemic change, global poverty eradication, and a career plan rethink: am I right?
Hickel claims that China's very non-neoliberal policy enriched its people

China's post-1979 reforms are one of the textbook examples of neoliberalism! They privatized many businesses, allowed the creation of markets for many goods and services, opened up to international trade and reduced capital controls. While there is still a great deal of central control, the level is dramatically lower than it was in the 1970s. Their economic freedom ranking improved from a terrible 3.59 in 1980 to a respectable (though still not great) 6 in 2002, a very ra... (read more)

1NoteworthyTrain1yI think his point was related to development via protection, etc., that was then loosened somewhat. But not sure.
Objections to Value-Alignment between Effective Altruists

Interesting article. I would like to raise one quabble:

Advocates for traditional diversity metrics such as race, gender and class do so precisely because they track different ways of thinking.

I agree this is the stated reason for many corporate diversity advocates, but I think it is not their true reason. In practice many companies recruit using basically a combination of filters whose purpose is to select people with a certain way of thinking (e.g. resumes, interviews, psychological screens) combined with various quotas for desired racial groups. If ge... (read more)

3CarlaZoeC1y1. I never spoke specifically of corporate advocates, so despite the fact that I agree with you that other motives are often at play, my point here was that one reason some advocates support traditional diversity is because they have reason to believe it tracks different views on the world. That's neither mutually exclusive with the reasons you outline nor is this article about corporate motivation. 2. As you cite I state this list is 'non-exhaustive'. If the prominent EAs who are not on this list agree that reverence is not good for a community's epistemic health, then they should not even want to be on the list. After publishing this article I was also notified of prominant female EAs who could have maybe made this list, but since I only listed individuals who I experienced directly as being talked about in a revered manner, they are not listed. My experience won't generalise to all experiences. My two points here are: there are revered individuals and they are mostly male. I agree there are likely a few revered women, but I would be surprised if they are numerous enough to balance out the male bias. 3. Fair point. I find it hard to tell how much things have changed and simply wanted to point out some evidence I found in writing.
Is it possible, and if so how, to arrive at ‘strong’ EA conclusions without the use of utilitarian principles?
Answer by DaleJul 13, 20202

Maybe a deontological version would consist of not merely doing enough to avoid violating moral law, but using evidence to absolutely minimize the risk of violating any such duties. For example, the Center for Effective Deontology might research contracts people commonly sign (like cell phones or insurance) and provide advice on how to avoid accidentally violating them to reduce promise-breaking.

avacyn's Shortform
DxE has been fairly controversial in the animal advocacy world

For anyone who hasn't been following closely, this is quite the understatement! Wayne once threatened to "start a big fight" at EAG in order to generate media attention.

2Aaron Gertler1yDo you have a source for this claim? If not, I'd be wary of repeating it; it's a vague but critical statement that sounds like it could have been taken out of context. (But if there is a source, I'd be curious to see it.) Note that the Forum's rules [] warn against "behavior that interferes with good discourse." Unsourced negative claims about people often fall into that category (though this is a mild example).
EA considerations regarding increasing political polarization
For context, Facebook is the social media company that has been most reluctant to be political, and apparently this is really making them bleed financially.

I added up the numbers in the first article and got around $634m of total 2018 ad spend, vs 2019 facebook revenue of 70700bn - less than 1%. Many of those companies only say they are 'pausing' or 'for July', rather than stopping. Finally, a company that was re-considering its facebook ad spend for unrelated reasons might want to frame it as a moral stance.

Perhaps principle-agent p... (read more)

Will protests lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths?
Who is the 'we' here and by whose yardstick the benefit measured?

Investigations into police brutality that follow viral footage have historically been quite harmful for all involved. The upside is a small reduction in police brutality. The downside is a massive increase in non-police brutality, as found in this recent paper:

all investigations that were preceded by "viral" incidents of deadly force have led to a large and statistically significant increase in homicides and total crime. We estimate that these investigations caused almo
... (read more)
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