G. Ray. Interested in biodefense, existential risk reduction, effective altruism, animal and other minds, and how to be the best we can be.


Some preliminaries and a claim

Right, but "people who are inclined to read many pages worth of material and think deeply on it" very much selects for people who have positive experiences with that material.

The Germy Paradox: An Introduction

I think this is a great point, and I think it's alright here.

The part of the series that I'm about to go into (as of today) contains a panoply of possible explanations for the apparent paradox, none of which are "it wouldn't actually be that bad" or "it just hasn't occurred to anyone."

And this series is pretty mild in terms of the large body of "are we prepared against X type of bioweapon attack" literature and analyses out there (for which the answer is usually "no, we are not prepared).

The series is also more theoretical than concrete, which seems like it should reduce the risk factor.

Does this hit on your concern? If you still have your concerns or have different ones, I'm interested to know.

The Germy Paradox – The empty sky: How close did we get to BW usage?

It seems quite possible. Japan aside (and those largely weren't "accidents"), the anthrax accidentally released at Sverdlovsk by the USSR program is a major one. I think Alibek describes more in his book Biohazard, but I'm not certain, and nothing else on the scale of that incident. It seems possible that there have been more accidental releases to civilian populations, than just these.

Leverage Research: reviewing the basic facts

I had an interview with them under the same circumstances and also had the belief reporting trial. (I forget if I had the Peter Singer question.) I can confirm that it was supremely disconcerting.

At the very least, it's insensitive - they were asking for a huge amount of vulnerability and trust in a situation where we both knew I was trying to impress them in a professional context. I sort of understand why that exercise might have seemed like a good idea, but I really hope nobody does this in interviews anymore.

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

Georgia here - The direct context, "Research also shows that diverse teams are more creative, more innovative, better at problem-solving, and better at decision-making," is true based on what I found.

What I found also seemed pretty clear that diversity doesn't, overall, have a positive or negative effect on performance. Discussing that seems important if you're trying to argue that it'll yield better results, unless you have reason to think that EA is an exception.

(E.g., it seems possible that business teams aren't a good comparison for local groups or nonprofits, or that most teams in an EA context do more research/creative/problem-solving type work than business teams, so the implication "diversity is likely to help your EA team" would be possibly valid - but whatever premise that's based on would need to be justified.)

That said, obviously there are reasons to want diversity other than its effect on team performance, and I generally quite liked this article.