Deborah W.A. Foulkes

Independent Researcher & Global Citizen Governance Activist
79 karmaJoined Working (15+ years)


  • Completed the In-Depth EA Virtual Program
  • Attended an EA Global conference


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Topic contributions

I've just completed this and found it incredibly long-winded and technical. A lot of the questions were just for businesses really. But I persevered and I hope I have done some good for animal welfare. It's about time people's eyes were opened more through transparent labelling to the conditions of animals used to produce meat. For example, when they buy a chicken they need to know whether it has been debeaked. And when they buy pork, they should know whether it comes from castrated pigs or ones that have had their tails removed. Putting more information on labels means that people won't be able to sleepwalk through supermarkets anymore but will be forced to make moral decisions about what they eat. They won't be able to ignore it anymore.

Given my recent experience with nitpicking about linkposts, the new head of communications should devote some time to improving debate on the EA Forum, to make it a more positive and encouraging place. People are just going to leave otherwise. There needs to be a more positive communication culture. And more moderators, perhaps, with a modicum of emotional intelligence. I find the EA forum lacks that.

I thought I was providing a modestly valuable service to EAs by linkposting these things - they seemed relevant to current EA debates, and it's generally good to see what those outside the movement are saying, to prevent it from becoming too inward-looking. But it doesn't really seem to be valued so I'm not going to bother anymore. All these comments are on the level of 'is a linkpost a good thing or not'. No-one is saying what they think about the actual content of the video, which is what would have been interesting to me. I feel alienated. And bored.

What is interesting, though, is that it appears to be an example of 'kill the messenger' syndrome. People don't appear to like negative things being brought to their attention, and instead of dealing with/responding to the problem/content itself (e.g. what this prominent and well-respected YouTuber says about longtermism, the EA movement, Bostrom's early racism and later apology, the conflict between scientists and bureaucrats at FHI, etc.; or the timing of shutting such an institute at a crucial point in the development of AI regulation) they avoid dealing with their discomfort at the problem by deflecting it towards criticising the message-bearer instead.

It's interesting, albeit somewhat dispiriting, to see this psychological principle, known since ancient times, still alive and kicking amongst some 21st members of the EA forum.

"Personally, I find them useful because it's valuable to see what external critics are saying about EA. This helps me either a) learn from their critiques or b) rebut their critiques. Even if they are bad critiques and I don't think it's worth my time rebutting them, I think I should be aware of them because it's valuable to understand how others perceive the movement I am connected to."

This explains my reasons for linkposting exactly. Perhaps the forum designers could improve the rating concept of linkposts accordingly. It needs to be different from other posts. There needs to be a way for readers to be able to indicate, say:

(1) Thanks for posting, glad it was brought to my attention OR This is irrelevant to EA concerns, why are you posting here? (2) Like/Don't like - the actual content

I was/am not aware of any 'quick takes' section of the forum.

Thanks. Done. Didn't have time to earlier.

Have also made my opinion on it clearer in the title, which was previously neutral and minimally descriptive.

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