To be clear, from what it looks like this newspaper (that I have not looked at) looks like it has platformed what looks like neo-Nazi views. If Max knew that and held an intention to fund it before deciding against, I find that stupid and harmful that he would even consider it. Neo-Nazism is bad.
because you offer support without conditionalising on how bad the misdeeds are (“however questionable” they are).
I think I may be giving a wrong impression here. I don't offer unconditional support for someone who's, say, funneling millions of dollars to neo-Nazis. Max clearly has not done that, and given the evidence at hand, I support him standing up for himself. That means I am conditioning on having some sense of the evidence, which contradicts my wording. I meant to hedge my words by saying something to the effect of, 'well I'm offering this support even though I don't know very much of the specifics, so don't like judge me if this turns out to be really horrible'. But this is a bit cowardly given that, well, my support is somewhat conditional on having read some about this and seeing his comment, and reflects some anticipation that he has a good chance (50%?) of having not been really in the wrong. That said, yes I think something wrong or really wrong may have happened here, and don't want to be construed as not allowing for that reality.
This is a technicality, but "seeking answers" is describable as inquisitiveness and inquisitional, so I stand by my wording, in that I think it both technically true and carries the vibe I want it to convey, even if it's actually justified on people's part to ask those questions. I meant it to have that double-meaning. Given the karma amounts going on, I don't consider the connotative usage at all hyperbolic, and I'm not including social media discourse that almost certainly exists but which I have not seen.
noun 1. a period of prolonged and intensive questioning or investigation.
I think people's questioning is very valid in this circumstance. I also think Max has a right to stand up for himself if he believes he hasn't done wrong. The fact that he didn't pay out money after investigating seems pretty important to me. But I don't know what that process was with the paperwork and some letter I forget the exact name of, because I am unvirtuously not looking at the actual empirical details very closely. I think Max will provide more details of his intentions, and questioning is a process that will help with that. The fact that his brother was involved strikes me as a conflict-of-interest that should provide pause, though I also know there are many conflicts-of-interest in EA-land. I would guess that it would be pretty hard for someone investigating the newspaper to not catch some whiff that it was problematic early on, if they hadn't heard of the newspaper already (I don't know how well-known it is there). That determines whether a "positive initial impression" on his part would make sense or not, as that's the only wrong thing I have seen so far based on what he said, an initial mistake in doing due diligence fast enough. I think a crux we maybe have here is that I'm basically taking him at his word on that, and assuming he doesn't have like corrupt ties or fascist leanings, which for all I know could be false. My best guess is that the latter is not the case (I hear something about him being center-left?) and that leaves the problem of maybe his brother came pleading to him to save this newspaper and that they would do some longtermist programming in exchange for saving it, I don't know!
It seems as if you find outrage in response to misdeeds more offensive than the misdeeds themselves
If FLI loses hundreds of thousands in funding, or more, for what turns out to have been a mistake in due diligence, that would indeed be a sad consequence to me. Though I agree that it's more important to question institutions if they are acting out of integrity than what the results are (see more below).
“depending on how bad the actions were, FLI should apologise or not apologise, and we should criticise or punish them in proportion to how bad they were”
I agree. I think it's not obvious to me yet that they have besides fucking up on due diligence speed. Again, I will hedge by saying I am not combing carefully over the evidence like others are.
"I would far prefer a world in which people feel entitled to do that, than one where it’s discouraged. When I imagine the alternative, I imagine a world in which we automatically assume good intent on the part of any authority figure alleged to have done something bad, or one in which people are too polite or timid to speak out, etc."
Given what happened with SBF, and the extent to which this type of questioning might have uncovered that sooner, I simply have to agree, even if the results make me uncomfortable. It is extremely important we do more of this (in a sustainable way?).
Edit 1: I really like harfe's questions for Max, and I should also add my original comment was not referring to any specific comments that were made in response to Max's top-level comment, since mine was the first response afaik, though I think I was anticipating him receiving a ton of skepticism, and wanted to express support for what looks like someone in a really hard place right now who likely had mostly good intentions going into this.
You would like Alexey Turchin's research into surviving the end of the universe.
I am very confused. Did someone dig this up and then he wrote that in a scramble, or did he proactively come out with this unilaterally? If it's the latter, we should be applauding his courage in forthrightness for apologizing in his current letter and intentionally letting us know, while naturally condemning his words as a student 26 years ago he made on the mailing list. This post currently does not distinguish between these stances; I consider the apology to be a really important social technology if we want to be humans in a functioning community of other humans rather than subject to the vast impersonal forces of ostracism.
My headcanon was that part of the purpose of Wytham was to appeal to Important People people who already feel stuffy and important, who wouldn't go to a cubicle venue.
Additional 25km seems very inconvenient if Oxford proximity is important and depending on public transport. Your financial tradeoff still might make sense, I dunno . At 25km though they might as well optimize along other axes like different counties or countries. That's 12 miles... 10-20 minute drive depending? They could hire a full-time driver (with some temp drivers for events?) to create a world-class drive? I'm getting a bit more convinced. But if anything I would argue for getting a place that's even more amenitied but way cheaper real estate plus amazing transport. Proximity is just a really important variable for these decisionmakers, though.
I think people are underestimating how much the decision was made out of lazy convenience. Most of the bougie vibes are already there just because they're at Oxford to begin with vs some other place. With that in mind, one might ask, "why don't we move the EA hubs from Berkeley and Oxford to a village in India", which while sounding absurd to some I would be happy to consider the move, it being a question exemplifying a more extreme version of anti-bougieness (anti-aristocracism?) logic. If people aren't willing to move from first-world countries, that's also relatively kinda privileged and lazy (in a way that is obviously understandable and doesn't translate exactly to the venue tradeoff situation, to be clear).
The first thing I wanted to share is the poem Good Bones , which encapsulates to me a lot about how we can have hope even when there is so much bad in this world. I really like this poem a lot.
I inverted this poem a few days ago with ChatGPT and a couple of edits, you might say it's from the world we wish to build:
Life is long, and I make sure my children know this. Life is long, and I've lengthened mine in a thousand wise, well-advised ways, a thousand wisely well-advised ways I share with my children. The world is at least fifty percent wonderful, and that's a conservative estimate, which I make sure my children know. For every stone thrown at a bird, there is a bird that still flies. For every child in need, there is a loving caregiver. Life is long and the world is at least half wonderful, and for every cruel stranger, there are scores who would care for you, which I make sure my children know. I am trying to show them the beauty of the world. Any good realtor, showing you a truly wonderful place, talks about its good features: This place is already beautiful, don't you think? It doesn't need any changes.
I agree with the "no", as in EAs shouldn't do it, but I dispute the second sentence. I'd describe it more as paying a protection racket.
I broadly disagree. If a large fraction of EAs are spending hours swiping, and there are tractable ways to reduce that, that could be really useful. This isn't just a random challenge, it's one of the largest productivity-draining ones we face. A lot of the challenges are features of our current environment. If you can scale a solution and create an innovative dating service then that has a good shot at being a billion-dollar company. If anything I think there is motivated reasoning against thinking about it too much because it can easily get controversial. Now, I do think the post is one of many off-topic posts for the forum (maybe an off-topic section can be created).
(Edit: I do also agree that many people engage in various levels of motivated reasoning when they ask "how can my career be of use" vs "how can I change careers", and this may equally apply to anyone solving lifestyle issues for EAs as their meta cause area in a way that can become incestuously divorced from object-level problems. I don't have a principled view on this other than maybe that if a problem really excites someone more than anything else they should probably work on that even if numbers say otherwise.)
I agree and to that end want to block the forum for a week. A problem I see with coming back in a few months and giving a cold take on something is that ~everyone is going to be sick of the topic due to all the hot takes that happened and won't want to talk in a way that will change anything. Emotionality seems needed to motivate change.