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Some unfun lessons I learned as a junior grantmaker

The weirdness Linch points at makes sense to me.  Other kinds reactions that channel enthusiasm that seem good to me 

"This is very cool, I'm excited other people also see promise in this work, and I can't wait to get started" 

"I'm honored by the trust that's been placed in me, I take it seriously and will strive to live up to it" 

Or/and you could just generally thank everyone in EA who seems to be doing important jobs well

It's ok to leave EA

[Edit: this whole comment makes less sense after Julia's edits. Thanks for helping out with my questions, Julia.]

I'm not trying to be oblivious or facetious, but I don't really understand what it means when Julia and other people say "it's okay to leave EA" or "it's fine to leave if you need to" or conversely for someone else to say, perhaps to themselves "it's not okay to leave EA".  It doesn't feel... concrete enough? For me to make sense of. I want to taboo the words "fine" and "okay" to try to understand better. 

Sometimes EA is hard for me and I want to leave and I'm like "is it fine? Is it okay?" And like, damn,  that seems like a really hard question. 

I directionally agree with "My guess is that if you feel like you’re drowning, you need to disrupt something about your circumstances, and you’ll eventually be more able to do good work (in EA or outside EA) than if you’d continue struggling in the same place.", especially if people have felt like they're drowning for months instead of e.g. hours.

Some things people could interpret this post as meaning:

  • Julia thinks you shouldn't feel bad about yourself if you leave EA (because it wouldn't be healthy or productive). (Idk if this is true, I feel like the fact that I'd be disappointed in myself if I didn't do EA stuff drives me to do actually valuable EA stuff, do we know that self-punishment is always eventually counterproductive?)
  • Julia Wise won't hate you if you leave EA (probably true)
  • Julia Wise wants to send care and warm feelings towards EAs who leave and EAs who are struggling (probably true)
  • Julia Wise thinks that in general, people who want to leave EA probably feel more negative about having that desire than is healthy? Useful? Productive?
  • Julia Wise claims no one will resent you leaving EA if you want to (probably false)
  • Julia Wise thinks EA will be better off if it has a culture of not resenting people who leave EA (probably?)
  • It's guaranteed to not be true that if you leave EA, some sentient beings have a horrible time instead of a good time (probably false)
  • In expectation, more sentient beings will have a good time instead of a horrible time, if you leave EA contingent on you wanting to leave EA (?? sounds like Julia agrees it's unclear)
The phrase “hard-core EAs” does more harm than good

Huh, I don't feel very sold on this point. 

Regarding your (1),   the idea that the term is unwelcoming and hierarchical, it doesn't really seem that way to me (and certainly doesn't seem that way to me). I hear people talk about hardcore gamers, Christians, sports fans, Republicans, rock and roll enthusiasts, and tons of other things, including both the people in these groups and outsiders looking in on them, all without sounding like they think the hardcoreness is necessarily good, admirable, or high-status. So the term doesn't really feel connotated the way you suggest, and thus doesn't really seem unwelcoming or hierarchical  to me. (And this is related to the below point; you seem to think the term is more positive than I think it is so think it does more to make all the different aspects of what people mean by the term sound better than I think it does).  

I think people feel excluded by it being highlighted to them that other people are more hardcore than them (or, if you prefer, any of "Are actually having a significant positive impact on the world" "Are deeply committed to overarching EA principles, e.g. impartiality, cost effectiveness, cause prioritization, etc." "Are deeply embedded in the current EA community, e.g. buying into the community’s specific priorities/frameworks, spending lots of time with other EAs, etc." "Work themselves extremely hard to try to maximize impact") if they don't believe themselves to be the same way and think others see that thing as good.  And you know, it's the case that some people aren't hardcore EAs (or aren't far in the directions you suggest make up the term), and other people in the community maybe think that's worse than if they were more hardcore, but I think getting rid of the term just (somewhat) obscures an important facet of reality (that people vary on these dimensions, that some people think it's good to move farther in one direction on the relevant dimensions), and will only make people feel better inasmuch as it obscures reality from them. 

And on the second point, about distorting thinking... it's always the case that using categories obscures some detail about within-category differences. I guess the relevant thing is whether they are useful/carves nature at its joints. I happen to think "hardcore EA" does (e.g. I think your sub-points 1-4 are pretty correlated), but that's debatable. But just saying that there are different dimensions at play (including positive and negative ones) doesn't mean the category isn't useful.

Finally, sorry, but I kind of don't believe you actually don't think the term "hardcore EA" or the category/cluster it refers to is useful, otherwise it seems weird to suggest alternate terms (“Super bought-in EAs.” or “Drank the kool-aid EAs.”) instead of lobbying for abolishing the category entirely. 

What are some success stories of grantmakers beating the wider EA community?

Do you think MIRI at that time was exciting? Do you think other people should think that? (Genuinely asking, and not even necessarily from a MIRI-skeptical position. It seems possible that MIRI at the time was pretty unproductive and unpromising, and also that MIRI at different times was better, and that funding didn't necessarily help that transition take place). 

Remove An Omnivore's Statue? Debate Ensues Over The Legacy Of Factory Farming

Interesting! I totally didn't interpret the story as being particularly supportive of cancel culture or indicating that the statue should be removed. I read it more as a straightforward meditation on what extrapolating various current trends might look like, without doing much to nudge the readers towards a particular stance on those trends or on that outcome. 

EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations

OTOH my impression is that the Funds aren't very funding-constrained, so it might not make sense to heavily weigh your first two reasons (though all else equal donor satisfaction and increased donation quantity seems good).

I also think there are just a lot of grants that legitimately have both a strong meta/infrastructure and also object-level benefit and it seems kind of unfair to grantees that provide multiple kinds of value that they still can only be considered from one funding perspective/with focus on one value proposition. If a grantee is both producing some kind of non-meta research and also doing movement-building, I think it deserves the chance to maybe get funded based on the merits of either of those value adds. 

EA Groups Survey 2020

In the 'Number of New Groups' chart, and where it says "It appears that growth has stalled since a dramatic surge in 2015, with roughly 30 groups starting per year since 2015.", is this on net/does this take into account old groups disbanding? Or does it assume groups don't disband? 

Please stand with the Asian diaspora

What happened was a terrible tragedy and my heart aches for those involved. That said, I'd prefer if there wasn't much content of this type on the Forum. 8 people died in that horrific shooting. If there was a Forum post about every event that killed 8 people, or even just every time 8 people were killed from acts of violence, that might (unfortunately, because there are ways in which the world is a terrible place) dominate the Forum, and make it harder to find and spend time on content relevant to our collective task of finding the levers that will help us help as many people as possible.

I agree that we should attend especially to members of our community who are in a particularly difficult place at a given time, and extend them support and compassion, but felt uneasy about it in this case because of the above, because of Dale's point that the shooting might not have been racially motivated, because Asian EAs I know don't seem bothered, and I think we should have a high bar for asking everyone in the community to attend to something/asserting that they should (thought, I'm not sure whether you were doing that/intending to do that).

Is pursuing EA entrepreneurship becoming more costly to the individual?

Sorry to say I had difficulty parsing what you were trying to say in the post here. 

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