All of Dicentra's Comments + Replies

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

9HaydnBelfield3mo
This is how I've responded to positive funding news before, seems right.
5Linch3mo
Thanks, I like your suggestions!
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 an... (read more)

Thanks, this was a helpful prompt. I agree some of this was pretty muddled. I edited to say some more specific things.

I think there is a chance you're overcomplicating it a bit 😅. I think she is just trying to create a culture where people don't feel socially anxious about leaving EA if it is good for their mental health. Social norms are present everywhere, including EA, and even if we are quite nerdy and prone to rule-binding, the pressure and expectation to do good can conflate against some of the members' mental health.

And then, she is also saying that everyone should feel they are entitled to choose not to sacrifice (a significant portion of) their happiness to impr... (read more)

4JP Addison6mo
I don’t have a lot of the answers about the “best” way to think about it, but +1 to breaking down “it’s fine” or “it’s ok” into component parts. <3 offered for when it feels hard.
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 conno... (read more)

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). 

2Larks8mo
Yes at the time I did; this [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/nSot23sAjoZRgaEwa/2016-ai-risk-literature-review-and-charity-comparison#MIRI] was written just after OpenPhil's first grant, but it reflects an opinion I had held for many years by that point.
5Chris Leong9mo
Someone really needs to disable the Wix banner
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. 

5WSCFriedman9mo
That is 100% reasonable and I am probably not behaving reasonably! But I think the fact that I did freak out suggests that the way I read the story is at least plausible and that people having my reaction is a risk?
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 produ... (read more)

2Jonas Vollmer1y
Yeah, I agree with Dicentra. Basically I'm fine if donors don't donate to the EA Funds for these reasons; I think it's not worth bothering (time cost is small, but benefit even smaller). There's also a whole host of other issues; Max Daniel is planning to post a comment reply to Larks' above comment that mentions those as well. Basically it's not really possible to clearly define the scope in a mutually exclusive way.
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? 

4David_Moss1y
The graph isn't accounting for groups which disbanded before the 2020 survey, because we don't have direct access to how many groups came into existence and then stopped existing before the survey (although we do have good information about this for recent years, since CEA are aware of almost every active group (I assume- it seems unlikely there are a lot of secret groups)). That said, as discussed here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/dRkGXHxKGWwWY6AqP/why-hasn-t-effective-altruism-grown-since-2015-1?commentId=vJZuQ7WBKk96YhR9R] , when we compare cross year data, we don't see evidence of much attrition on a yearly basis.
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 u... (read more)

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. 

1konrad1y
Thanks for the feedback! I gave it another pass. Is there anything concrete that threw you off or still does? I'd appreciate pointers as I had other people look at it before.
AMA: Tom Chivers, science writer, science editor at UnHerd

What are the best changes (in terms of tractability and importance) that you think could take place in the journalism industry in the next 20 years, and how can people help make them happen? 

What's the biggest bottleneck on the positive impact of your work?

How did you make the choice to go freelance? 

7Tom Chivers1y
I'll answer the last question first, because it's easiest: BuzzFeed UK had a load of cuts in late 2017, they offered voluntary redundancy to anyone who wanted it, and I took it because I had a book to write (and because I may well have ended up losing the job anyway). After that it turned out to be pretty straightforward to get people to give me money to write things and I'm really glad I did it, but it was a half-jump half-push situation. Biggest bottleneck: sheesh. Honestly it's probably coming up with interesting, worthwhile ideas fast enough. But then it's also having the time to write about them all, so there's a tension there. I feel like I'm always desperately trying to think of the next piece, while also somehow not having time to do the longer-term projects. So, and this sounds like I'm being flippant, but I think honestly the biggest bottleneck is my own tendency to procrastinate. HANG ON. I'm going to leave that paragraph up because I think it's interesting, but I've just realised it doesn't quite answer your question. The biggest bottleneck on IMPACT is probably readership. I can get a few tens of thousands to read a piece; a few hundreds of thousands if it goes really, really well. Assuming that piece is something I think is really important and I want to change some minds with it, what percentage of people actually will change minds? Is it double-digits? Is it even greater than one? I don't know. So I suppose that's the most important thing. How do I write something that is 1) about something super important 2) persuasive enough to change minds and 3) exciting enough to be widely read? there are trade-offs there. The best changes: Hmmmmmmmmm. I am sorry, I really don't know. I think the lack of numeracy among journalists is a real problem, and that's why I've just written a book about how numbers go wrong in the news [https://www.howtoreadnumbers.com/]. I don't know if it's the most important thing, but I think it would make a real difference to pub
Wholehearted choices and "morality as taxes"

I like the reframing, but I don't feel like it centrally addresses the problem of demandingness. With your example (and knowing a man was pinned under machinery) and seeing a drowning child, I imagine wanting to leap into action. If I dragged a child out of a pond, and I imagine being wet and cold but looking at the child and seeing that they're okay, and maybe the parents are grateful and people around me are happy, I feel actively glad I jumped in the pond, and would feel similar regret if I passed by. 

The unpleasant feeling of wondering if I can ge... (read more)

What is the increase in expected value of effective altruist Wayne Hsiung being mayor of Berkeley instead of its current incumbent?

I don't have a quantitative estimate that isn't extremely made up, but right now, I'm in favor of Wayne winning the Berkeley election. I know there were accusations of DxE being culty and fucked up in various ways, and I believe most of them, though I'm not particularly in the know. I also agree that it would have been better if Wayne had handled CEA's reversal on serving meat at EAG more cooperatively. I don't think DxE's strategy is super compelling. I don't think Wayne is a perfect candidate, but I don't thin... (read more)

7DonyChristie2y
Thank you for this answer! I liked how reflectively balanced it was on the different considerations and how it tracked the object-level sentient beings at stake.