David M

Research Software Engineer @ Imperial College London
1930 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)


Topic contributions

Indeed not. I think that trying to appeal to those who chase prestige selects against truth-seeking and altruism, and I don’t think merely focusing on top unis has that effect. I’m responding to the part of the post about appealing to prestige chasers.

I believe the connection (which might or might not directly pick up on something you are defending?) is that if you go beyond merely starting your student community building with top universities first as a heuristic, and you further concentrate spending on the top universities to extreme degrees, you are in fact assuming a very strong distinction between those universities. David T has described the distinction in an approximate way as saying there are ‘only’ influential/high-earning-potential people at top universities.

The assumption of a strong distinction can be read from how the decision to concentrate implies it takes a huge amount of marginal funding before the diminishing returns of giving the next dollar to top unis is considered less valuable than giving a first dollar to a mid-range uni.

To defend large disparities between funding of different universities, it’s not enough to say ‘well you have to draw the line somewhere as you can only fund so many universities’; you need to further justify the choice to treat top universities as being in another class.

And arguably that’s an elitist worldview which sees a large difference between top unis and the rest — it’s more elitist if it talks about large talent gaps, implying top unis are able to filter students on intelligence very well; and it’s less elitist if it talks only about ‘people who will go on to be influential’, putting the blame of elitism on the society that rewards elite resumes.

That’s how I relate what David T has been saying, to what you said, DavidNash.

I’ve never affiliated with a university group. I’m sad to hear that at least some university groups seem to be trying to appeal to ambitious prestige-chasers, and I hope it’s not something that the CEA Groups team has applied generally. I wonder if it comes from a short-sighted strategy of trying to catch those who are most likely to end up in powerful positions in the future, which would be in line with the reasons there has been a focus on the most prestigious universities. I call it short-sighted because filling the next generation of your movement with people who are light on values and strong on politics seems like a certain way to kill what’s valuable about EA (such as commitments to altruism and truth-seeking).

Many of the questions ask you to pick among 'Strongly disagree' through 'Strongly agree' and most questions are optional. For those likert/select-an-option questions, I guess the survey analysers would do more aggregation among survey-takers, so quantity would matter there.

No. It just has a question ‘Where are you based in the UK?’, with an option to say ‘not UK-based’ and specify where you are.

Grayden comments:

I think generally they are looking for issues to consider rather than doing a straw poll of public opinion, hence quality over quantity

Unfortunately, that's not a viable strategy. Emile is often the source for articles on EA in the media. Here are three examples from the guardian.

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