3457 karmaJoined May 2015



    This sounds like an accusation, when it could so easily have been a compliment. The net effect of comments like this is fewer posts and fewer quick takes. 

    I think we have a lot of agreement in what we want. I want more community infrastructure to exist, recruiting to be labeled as recruiting, and more people figuring out what they think is right rather than deferring to authorities. 

    I don't think any of these need to wait on proving open phil's power is unjustified. People can just want to do them, and then do them. The cloud of deference might make that harder[1], but I don't think arguing about the castle from a position of entitlement makes things better. I think it's more likely to make things worse. 

    Acting as if every EA has standing to direct open phil's money reifies two things I'd rather see weakened. First it reinforces open phil's power, and promotes deference to it (because arguing with someone implies their approval is necessary). But worse, it reinforces the idea that the deciding body is the EA cloud, and not particular people making their own decisions to do particular things[2]. If open phil doesn't get to make its own choices without community ratification, who does?

    1. ^

      I remember reading a post about a graveyard of projects CEA had sniped from other people and then abandoned. I can't find that post and it's a serious accusation so I don't want to make it without evidence, but if it is true, I consider it an extremely serious problem and betrayal of trust. 

    2. ^

      yes, everyone has standing to object to negative externalities

    3. ^

      narrow is meant to be neutral to positive here. No event can be everything to all people, I think it's great they made an explicit decision on trade-offs. They maybe could have marketed it more accurately. They're moving that way now and I wish it had gone farther earlier. But I think even perfectly accurate marketing would have left a lot of people unhappy. 

    This is written as if EA orgs don't currently pay for work trials. My impression is they mostly do, especially the established orgs. Do you disagree?

    To make sure I understand; this is an answer to "what should EA do if it decides OpenPhil's power isn't justified?" And the answer is "defer less, and build a grassroots community structure?" 

    I'm not sure what distinction you're pointing at with structure vs. restructure. They both take money that would have to come from somewhere (although we can debate how much money). Maybe you mean OP wouldn't actively oppose this effort? 

    Do people still care about drowning child analogy? Is it still used in recruiting? I'd feel kind of dumb railing against a point no one actually believed in.

    are you sure GW has charities that meet their bar that they aren't funding as much as they want to? I'm pretty sure that used to not be the case, although maybe it has changed. There's also value to GW behaving predictably, and not wildly varying how much money it gives to particular orgs from year to year. 

    This might be begging the question, if the bar is raised due to  anticipated under funding. But I'm pretty sure at one point they just didn't have anywhere they wanted to give more money to, and I don't know if that has changed. 

    Thanks, that is interesting and feels like it has conversational hooks I haven't heard before.

    What would it mean to say Open Phil was justified or not justified in being the de facto head of the community? I assume you mean morally justified, since it seems pretty logical on a practical level. 

    Supposing a large enough contingent of EA decided it was not justified; what then? I don't think anyone is turning down funding for the hell of it, so giving up open phil money would require a major restructuring. What does that look like? Who drives it? What constitutes large enough?

    • It puts you in a high SNS activation state, which is inimical to the kind of nuanced math good EA requires
    • As Minh says, it's based in avoidance of shame and guilt, which also make people worse at nuanced math.
    • The full parable is "drowning child in a shallow pond", and the shallow pond smuggles in a bunch of assumptions that aren't true for global health and poverty. Such as 
      • "we know what to do", "we know how to implement it",  and "the downside is known and finite", which just don't hold for global health and poverty work. Even if you believe sure fire interventions exist and somehow haven't been fully funded, the average person's ability to recognize them is dismal, and many options make things actively worse. The urgency of drowningchildgottasavethemnow makes people worse as distinguishing good charities from bad. The more accurate analogy would be "drowning child in a fast moving river when you don't know how to swim". 
        • I think Peter Singer believes this so he's not being inconsistent, I just think he's wrong. 
      • "you can fix this with a single action, after which you are done." Solving poverty for even a single child is a marathon.
      • "you are the only person who can solve this". I think there is something good about getting people to feel ownership over the problem and avoiding bystandard effect, but falsely invoking an analogy to a situation where that's true is not the way to do it. 
      • A single drowning child can be fixed via emergency action. A thousand drowning children scattered across my block, replenishing every day, requires a systemic fix. Maybe a fence, or draining the land. And again, the fight or flight mode suitable for saving a single child in a shallow pond is completely inappropriate for figuring out and implementing the systemic solution.
        • EA is much more about saying "sorry actively drowning children, I can more good by putting up this fence and preventing future deaths". 
    • When Singer first made the analogy clothes were much more expensive than they are now, and when I see the argument being made it's typically towards people who care very little about clothes. What was "you'd make a substantial sacrifice if a child's life was on the line" has become "you aren't so petty as to care about your $30 fast fashion shoes, right?". Just switching the analogy to "ruining your cell phone" would get more of the original intent. 

    Addendum: I just checked out Wytham's website, and discovered they list six staff. Even if those people aren't all full-time, several of them supervise teams of contractors. This greatly ups the amount of value the castle would need to provide to be worth the cost. AFAIK they're not overstaffed relative to other venues, but you need higher utilization to break even.

     Additionally, the founder (Owen Cotton-Barrat) has stepped back for reasons that seem merited (history of sexual harassment), but a nice aspect of having someone important and busy in charge was that he had a lot less to lose if it was shut down. The castle seems more likely to be self-perpetuating when the decisions are made by people with fewer outside options.

    I still view this as fundamentally open phil's problem to deal with, but it seemed good to give an update. 

    The sense I get reading this is that you feel I've insulted your friends, who have made a big sacrifice to do impactful work. That wasn't my intention and I'm sorry it came across that way. From my perspective, I am respecting the work people do by suggesting they be paid decently. 

    First, let me take my own advice and specify what I mean by decently: I think people should be able to have kids, have a sub-30 minute commute, live in conditions they don't find painful (people only live with housemates if they like it, not physically dangerous, outdoor space if they need that to feel good. Any of these may come at at trade off with the others, probably no one gets all of them, but you shouldn't be starting out from a position where it's impossible to get reasonable needs met),  save for retirement, have cheap vacations, have reasonably priced hobbies,  pay their student loans, and maintain their health (meaning both things like healthcare, and things like good food and exercise). If they want to own their home, they shouldn't be too many years behind their peers in being able to do so. 

    I think it is both disrespectful to the workers and harmful to the work to say that people don't deserve these things, or should be willing to sacrifice it for the greater good. Why on earth put the pressure on them to accept less[1], and not on high-earners to give more? This goes double for orgs that require elite degrees or designer clothes: if you want those class signals, pay for them. 



    1. ^

      There's an argument here that low payment screens for mission alignment. I think this effect is real, but is insignificant at the level I've laid out. 

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