All of Holly_Elmore's Comments + Replies

Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

Seems like others agreed with you. I meant it mostly seriously. 

Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

The more substantial point that I'm trying to make is that the political balance of the EA Forum shouldn't be a big factor in someone's decision to publicize important information about a major charity evaluator, or probably even in how they put the criticism. Many people read posts linked from the EA Forum who never read the comments or don't visit the Forum often for other posts, i.e. they are not aware of the overall balance of political sympathies on the Forum. The tenor of the Forum as a whole is something that should be managed (though I wouldn't adv... (read more)

Are mice or rats (as pests) a potential area of animal welfare improvement?

I have been researching sterilizing rodents instead of killing them to control their populations, and it's much more popular already than I had realized. ContraPest is a bait that sterilizes rats with a few doses. It reduces sperm viability in males and induces aging of ovarian follicles in females, sort of like early menopause. There's a bit of a lag before the population reduces, but it has the benefits of humaneness, not disturbing the rats' territories (because older rats stick around, preventing movement between territories which can spread disease), ... (read more)

6willbradshaw3moWhile I didn't like Khorton's original comment, this comment comes across as spiteful and mean, while contributing little or nothing of value. I strong-downvoted it.
Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior

I think this post is pretty damning of ACE. Are you saying OP shouldn't have posted important information about how ACE is evaluting animal charities because there has been too much anti-SJ/DEI stuff on the forum lately?

8willbradshaw3moI feel I have explained myself fairly well on this thread already, see for example here: Whatever information you want to convey, there are always a very wide range of ways to convey that information, which will vary substantially in their effects. With very controversial stuff like this, it is especially worth putting thought into how to convey that information in the manner that is best for the world. I've actually been quite impressed with Hypatia's behaviour on this point since the post went up, in terms of updating the post based on feedback and moderating its tone. I think my version of this post would try even harder to be nice and sympathetic to pro-SJ EAs than this, but I'm not very unhappy with the current version of the OP. (The ensuing discussion has also brought to light several things that made me update in the direction of ACE's behaviour being even worse than I thought, which makes me more sympathetic to the OP in its original form, though I stand by my original comments.)
Response to Phil Torres’ ‘The Case Against Longtermism’

Are you implying that Larry Summers was wrong or that Texaco's actions were somehow his fault?

0Garrison3moYes I think that Summers was wrong. Extending his logic, companies should take even fewer steps to mitigate pollution in industrial practices in poor countries than they do in rich countries, because the economic costs of doing so are lower in poor countries and because it's probably cheaper and therefore more economically efficient to not mitigate pollution. He even says in the memo that moral reasons and social concerns could be invoked to oppose his line of reasoning, which seems relevant to people who claim to want to do good in the world, not just maximize a narrow understanding of economic productivity. What that can look like in practice is what Texaco did in Ecuador. I'm not claiming a direct causal link between the Summers' memo and Texaco's actions. I'm simply saying that when intellectual elites make arguments that it's okay to pollute more in poor countries, we shouldn't be surprised when they do so.
Response to Phil Torres’ ‘The Case Against Longtermism’

I think it's important for EA to promote high decoupling in intellectual spaces.  You also have to consider that this is a philosophy dissertation, which is an almost maximally decoupling space. 

0Garrison3moAgain, Beckstead could have made the exact same point while offering my parenthetical. It would have communicated the same idea while also acknowledging the real world context. I'm not opposed to decoupling or thought experiments to help clarify our positions on things.
Response to Phil Torres’ ‘The Case Against Longtermism’

I don't understand why thinking like that quote isn't totally passe to EAs. At least to utilitarian EAs. If anyone's allowed to think hypothetically ("divorced from the reality") I would think it would be a philosophy grad student writing a dissertation.

-18Garrison3mo
Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA)
  1. Personally, I’m very self-conscious about my work and tend to wait to long too share it. But the culture of RP seems to fight that tendency— which I think is very productive!
7Denis Drescher8moThanks! This is something I sometimes struggle with I think. Is the culture just all about sharing early and often and helping each other, or are there also other aspects to the culture that I may not anticipate that help you overcome this self-consciousness? :-)
Ask Rethink Priorities Anything (AMA)

I can answer 6, as I’ve been doing it for Wild Animal Welfare since I was hired in September. WAW is a new and small field, so it is relatively easy to learn the field, but there’s still so much! I started by going backwards (into the Welfare Biology movement of the 80s and 90s) and forwards (into the WAW EA orgs we know today) from Brain Tomasik, consulting the primary literature over various specific matters of fact. A great thing about WAW being such a young field (and so concentrated in EA) is that I can reach out to basically anyone who’s published on... (read more)

How bad is coronavirus really?

Such an answer is exactly what I am looking for!

How bad is coronavirus really?

I’m curious about people’s evaluations of (2)— how long would that go on? How bad would it really be compared to the losses from shutdown?

Harvard's Agathon Career Fellowship: A Post-mortem

iirc, we actually did prompt them to take the exit survey and give them time to fill it out during the fourth meeting, but clearly not everyone did. But my memory of that is really not clear. We had been in breakout groups most of that session so maybe there was too much disorder when we asked them to take a survey at the end of that. And if we had done that then they wouldn't have had their one-on-one meetings with us yet.

For the 9 month follow-up we just sent them an email.

Only a few people decide about funding for community builders world-wide

Don't forget that a lot of groups have other funding sources available, especially student groups. The EA groups at Harvard make use of CEA, and we wouldn't be able to do as much without money from CEA, but we have plenty of other funding sources (such as Harvard and well-off alum EAs) and many of our events cost only volunteer labor.

Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

Is it really a matter of incorrectness or just that you think that argument is really important and he didn’t include it? There are plenty of innocent reasons he might not have included that argument or many others. He might have thought it was a weak argument or maybe didn’t include it because it wasn’t relevant to his personal objections to NU.

Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

But Peter, he just didn't have time and the CV issue was too unimportant (not to publish-- just too unimportant to verify):

The issue with Bostrom’s CV is a minor thing compared to the other things I write about in this text. For example, if I were to ask Bostrom something, I would rather ask him about the seemingly problematic behaviour of the organisation FHI he leads. There are also many other people that I mention in this text who I could have asked about more important things than a CV before publishing this text. But I doubt I would have t
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Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

What's unacceptable about this in your opinion, anon account?

-8anonymous_ea_2672y
Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

None of the accusations here is shocking, and often they reflect the author's naivete more than any wrongdoing on the part of the accused. Assistants contribute to writing books (however, private correspondence is meant to stay private). Organizations set ethical standards for the conducting and sharing of their research. People present themselves in the best light possible. Will is a co-founder of EA, not of the idea of maximizing social impact, but of the set of ideas and practices that governs this community today.

Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

I don't like Toby's "Why I'm Not a Negative Utilitarian" essay because I think it doesn't engage good arguments in favor of NU (to which I am partial). But I don't think it's in any way dishonest for him to have written an informal essay describing his views on the matter. I found it immensely helpful in understanding Toby's writings about the kind of utilitarianism he endorses.

Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the EffectiveAltruism.org replacement so bad?

I really appreciate this! Thank you! And I feel lucky to get any free tools like this. I was just irked because I didn’t understand the need for the change. I feel much better about the loss of the recurring donations functionality now that I know the old platform was at the end of its life.

Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the EffectiveAltruism.org replacement so bad?

I find it much less intuitive and the aesthetic very cold. I liked the pie chart on my MyGiving dashboard... although I understand how diversifying causes made it easy to break that feature.

Thanks, this kind of specific feedback on features you'd like is more helpful than vaguer comments about it being "so bad."

Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the EffectiveAltruism.org replacement so bad?

Overgeneral though this comment is, it does seem to me like GWWC and donations are really getting the shaft from EA Uber-orgs, and that giving simply not being a priority is probably part of the problem.

What I still don’t understand is why they abandoned a perfectly good platform with MyGiving (imo) in order to make an incomplete move to EA.org.

I thought it was so that it tied in with EA Funds, which is something that made me think CEA was paying much more attention to donations, making a unified system that also allowed people to donate from one platform and automatically record donations.

Although I agree that repeated donations not being an option is quite annoying.


Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the EffectiveAltruism.org replacement so bad?

I’m no power user either. I just want to be able to add and modify recurring reservations, which you can’t do with EA.org. (I just learned you can email them with the details of a recurring reservation to have them add it for you, but come on.) You could do this easily in MyGiving. I also find the EA.org interface very bare, unlike MyGiving. I just don’t understand why they needed to make this move when they weren’t prepared to finish it.

3Cullen_OKeefe2yAgreed that recurring donation support would be good. But I also like the current interface better aesthetically and, on function terms, equally.
'Longtermism'

The only reason I don’t identify as longtermist is tractability. I would appreciate a definition that allowed me to affirm that when a being occurs in time is morally arbitrary without also committing me to focusing my efforts on the long-term.

Yes, it's a bit question-begging to assert that the actions with the highest marginal utility per dollar are those targeting long-term outcomes.

Age-Weighted Voting
one thing to bear in mind is that even using the the weighting scheme I suggested in the post - which seemingly strongly favors young people - that would move the median voter (in the US) from age 55 to age 40.

How do you get this result? Are you just saying with these multipliers applied to the current age distribution of voters, the median US vote would be cast by a 40 yo? Or if this anticipating the response to the multipliers? Like, for example, does this take into account that young people would probably vote more if their votes counted 6x more?


I'... (read more)

'Longtermism'

I downvoted your comments as well, Milan, because I think this is exactly the kind of thing that should go on the EA Forum. The emergence of this term “longtermism” to describe a vaguer philosophy that was already there has been a huge, perhaps the main EA topic for like 2 years. I don’t even subscribe to longtermism (well, at least not to strong longtermism, which I considered to be the definition before reading this post) but the question of whether to hyphenate has come up many times for me. This was all useful information that I’m glad was put up for e

... (read more)
'Longtermism'
An alternative minimal definition, suggested by Hilary Greaves (though the precise wording is my own), is that we could define longtermism as the view that the (intrinsic) value of an outcome is the same no matter what time it occurs. This rules out views on which we should discount the future or that we should ignore the long-run indirect effects of our actions, but would not rule out views on which it’s just empirically intractable to try to improve the long-term future

I’ve referred to this definition as “temporal cosmopolitanism.” Whatever we call it, ... (read more)

Age-Weighted Voting

FWIW, I think the young lacking life experience and crystallized intelligence is pretty clutch. This argument rests on the young having not only a greater stake in future but being able to make sensible decisions about what to do with it. I would at least suggest that 18-25 yo voters not have a multiplier.

I do like reducing the influence of the old who know very well when voting that, for instance, climate change will not really affect them. But I think any vote weighting scheme has to take stakeholding and competence into account.

0cjcorliss2yBryan Caplan's book "The Myth of the Rational Voter" explains that voters being merely ignorant or irrational is not a big issue. The uniformed voters will make random mistakes in voting that cancel each other out, and elections are still decided by the median informed voter. If that is true, younger voters' greater ignorance (/higher intelligence) will cause them to contribute less (/more) to the pool of informed voters. What we should really care about are biases, where people are consistently making mistakes in one direction, that are common across the population (or the age group in this case). Age might be a factor. Caplan proposes four biases: Anti-market bias, Anti-foreign bias, Make-work bias, Pessimistic bias. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_the_Rational_Voter [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_the_Rational_Voter]
2William_MacAskill2yI mentioned this in response to Larks too, but one thing to bear in mind is that even using the the weighting scheme I suggested in the post - which seemingly strongly favors young people - that would move the median voter (in the US) from age 55 to age 40. So, at least assuming the median voter theorem is approximately accurate in this context, the key epistocratic question is about 40yr olds vs 55yr olds. And if I had to choose now, I would also prefer a tapering system, where vote-weight starts off lower, then increases, and then decreases again. A benefit of that system is that you could make the 'voting age' a gradual progression rather than an immediate jump. Perhaps 12yr olds get a very weak vote, which scales up until 25, then scales down after 35.

I would at least suggest that 18-25 yo voters not have a multiplier.

Yes. As a reductio ad absurdum of Will's idea, why not give toddlers an extreme multiplier? Well, we know toddlers don't make good judgements. But it's not like your ability to make good judgments suddenly turns a corner on your 18th birthday. So as long as we're refactoring voting weights for different ages, we should also fix the 18th birthday step function issue, and create a scheme which gradually accounts for a person's increased wisdom as they age.

[Edit: A countervailing consi

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There's Lots More To Do

So you think he's worried about other people being misled?

5Raemon2yAlso worried about the overall epistemic health of EA – if it's reliably misleading people, it's much less useful as a source of information.
8Jeff_Kaufman2yOther people being mislead is how I read "Claims to the contrary are either obvious nonsense, or marketing copy by the same people who brought you the obvious nonsense. Spend money on taking care of yourself and your friends and the people around you and your community and trying specific concrete things that might have specific concrete benefits. And try to fix the underlying systems problems that got you so confused in the first place."
Life history classification

You've done a good job at reporting the trends in thought and terminology here. I'm not directing the following at you, but at the trend in the field you're describing.

I'm an evolutionary biologist and I'm tired of people saying r/K has been discredited. I think what really happened is that people realized r/K was a generalization without realizing that every other useful principle in evolutionary biology is also a generalization.

I use r/K parlance and I never get any complaints from the evolutionary theorists and population gene... (read more)

9kcudding2yYes, I hope I made it plain that r- and K- classification is still in use, and that there were a variety of critiques, not just the fact there were are exception to the generalization. I'm curious tho, some of Pianka's associated traits have opposite relationships to those stated in big taxonomic groups. Notably for insects, reptiles and fish, "generally" reproductive output increases with body size as compared to mammals and birds where it decreases. As an evolutionary biologist what is your take here? I can think of half a dozen explanations, but never found a literature consensus (e.g., Pianka just got the traits wrong for r - and K and now we use...., r and K- not good for these groups, body size relationships within groups not so important etc etc)
There's Lots More To Do

My point is that Ben is in fact able to do whatever legal thing he wants. He doesn't need to make us wrong to do so. It's interesting that he feels the need to. Whether EA or Peter Singer has suggested that it's morally wrong not to give, Ben is free to follow his own conscience/desires and does not need our approval. If his real argument is that he should be respected by EAs for his decision not to give, I think that should be distinguished from a pseudo-factual argument that we're deceived about the need to give money.


There's Lots More To Do
But you seem to be also arguing "you don't need to justify your actions to yourself / at all"

Kinda. More like "nobody can make you act in accordance with your own true values-- you just have to want to."

If people aren't required to live in accordance with even their own values, what's the point in having values?

To fully explain my position would require a lot of unpacking. But, in brief, no-- how could people be required to live in accordance with their own values? Other people might try to enforce value-aligned livi... (read more)

Framing Effective Altruism as Overcoming Indifference

"However, effective altruism really is warm and calculating."

I can't believe I've never thought of this! That's great :)

Great post, too. I think EA has a helpful message for most people who are drawn to it, and for many people that message is overcoming status quo indifference. However, I worry that caring too much, as in overidentifying with or feeling personally responsible for the suffering of the world, is also a major EA failure mode. I have observed that most people assume their natural tendency towards either indifference or overresponsibility is s

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4Denkenberger2y+6 on "warm and calculating"
A vision for anthropocentrism to supplant wild animal suffering

Is this speaking to a concern someone has that terraforming would make a bunch more animals to suffer? What motivated this piece?

3kbog2yYes I've heard a number of people say it. I think it came from here: https://reducing-suffering.org/will-space-colonization-multiply-wild-animal-suffering/ [https://reducing-suffering.org/will-space-colonization-multiply-wild-animal-suffering/]
Considering people’s hidden motives in EA outreach

From the early sections, I thought you were going in the opposite direction-- how already involved EAs can be mindful of their secret motives for being involved. (I think that's super-important, btw.) For outreach, I would have thought the implication was that we should balance the need to appeal to and accomodate the human need for status with the possibility that EA would get diluted by the attempt to market EA in a low-fidelity way. I agree with CEA's emphasis on the high-fidelity model: there's no point in growing EA if it stops being EA... (read more)

There's Lots More To Do

Now that I've made all these comments, I realize I should have just asked Ben if his post was his true rejection of EA-style giving. My comments have all been motivated by suspicion that Ben just isn't convinced by arguments about giving enough to give himself, but he feels like he has to prove them wrong on their own terms instead of just acting as he sees fit. (That's a lot of assumptions on my part.) If that particular scenario happens to be true for him or anyone reading, my message is that you are in charge of these decisions and you do... (read more)

I'm fairly confident, based on reading other stuff Ben Hoffman has written, that this post has much less to do with Ben wanting to justify a rejection of EA style giving, and and much more to do with Ben being frustrated by what he sees as bad arguments/reasoning/deception in the EA sphere.

5BenMillwood2yWhen you say "you don't need to justify your actions to EAs", then I have sympathy with that, because EAs aren't special, we're no particular authority and don't have internal consensus anyway. But you seem to be also arguing "you don't need to justify your actions to yourself / at all". I'm not confident that's what you're saying, but if it is I think you're setting too low a standard. If people aren't required to live in accordance with even their own values, what's the point in having values?
There's Lots More To Do

Singer says it's wrong to spend frivolously on ourselves while there are others in need but he doesn't say it should be illegal. He also doesn't give any hard and fast rules about giving, and he doesn't think people who don't give should be shamed. He simply points out how much more the money could do for others, each of whom matter as much as any of us.

I just get the feeling that Ben isn't comfortable doing what he wants or what he thinks would make most of us (wealthy people) happier without getting us to agree with him first that it's what everyone shou

... (read more)
9Milan_Griffes2yQuoting from Famine, Affluence, and Morality [https://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1972----.htm]: I understand this to mean that while Singer isn't (explicitly) saying we should shame or outlaw people who don't meet the standard he presents, we should morally condemn them (which could be operationalized via shaming, or via the legal system).
There's Lots More To Do

As I commented on Ben's blog, I just think it bears mentioning that we're allowed to focus on our own lives whether or not there are people who could use or money more than us. So if anyone were motivated to undermine the need for donations in order to feel justified in focusing on themselves and their loved ones, they needn't do it. It's already okay to do that, and no one's perfectly moral. Maybe if you don't feel the need to prove EA wrong before taking care of yourself, you'll want to return to giving or other EA activities after giving yourself some tlc, because instead of feeling forced, you know you want to do these things of your own free will.

3Milan_Griffes2yI agree, though it's worth noting that Singer explicitly argues against this in Famine, Affluence, and Morality [https://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1972----.htm], which is a foundational paper for the EA position.

I'd like to propose another group that shouldn't donate: people with a pre-disposition to conditions that require treatment with medication that is hard on the kidneys.

I'm really glad I didn't try to donate my kidney a few years ago before I knew I would need to be taking a med (probably for the rest of my life) that can cause serious renal damage. In fact, kidney damage is a major reason people have to go off this drug and often they don't find an equivalent cocktail for dealing with the disease symptoms.

I imagine getting treate... (read more)

People who are doing direct work, if they expect three weeks of their work to produce more QALYs than donating.
It may be worth considering whether the enforced rest from donating a kidney would have some of the benefits of taking a vacation for you.

This could be turned into a searing satire of EA. "Earn a rest from the work that's too marginally impactful to pause for a few weeks by donating a kidney. To you, post-surgical recovery will seem like a vacation!"

Cash prizes for the best arguments against psychedelics being an EA cause area

The real goal you seem to be advancing, Milan, is spirituality, not psychedelics per se. Based on testimony from people I trust and some slightly dubious research, I think psychedelics can likely be helpful in that, but they shouldn't be our frontline tool. I think meditation is a much better candidate for that.

Sam Harris and Michael Pollan argue that psychedelics are useful for convincing people there's a there there, and that makes sense to me. You have to put a lot of time and blind effort into meditation to get that same assurance. But the struggle, an

... (read more)
I want an ethnography of EA

Haven't had a chance to read much but it's already gold

Complex value & situational awareness

But they have project projects as well as what you're describing.

7Jon_Behar2yA few thoughts on this since I'm used as an example: 1. Very much agree with Holly (strong upvote) that having a main gig is critical (essential?) for situational awareness. In my case, having run Giving Games over the years it’d be really weird for me not to have picked up some situational awareness along the way. I’ve had countless conversations with different EAs (there are hundreds of contacts in the GG CRM which isn’t close to comprehensive), so I’ve met a lot of people and gotten a sense how they think. I also get a sense of how they perform on the narrow task of planning and executing a GG, in an absolute sense and relative to other people/groups. My mental model would look enormously different if I didn’t have all this context. 2. Related to 1, I think it’s been valuable that my role naturally provided vetting opportunities that help me weight information (especially if I see a pattern of behavior). This suggests that if EA is vetting constrained [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/G2Pfpkcwv3bJNF8o9/ea-is-vetting-constrained] , it’ll be less situationally aware. And for the EA community to become situationally aware, that vetting needs to be public. My personal vetting anecdata doesn’t help other people improve their mental models, GiveWell’s research does. 3. To the extent I’m good at situational awareness, a lot of it has to do with learned skills. “Keep your world-model up to date with both social reality & objective, physical reality” was a huge part of the work I used to do in finance. I spent years doing that specific kind of work, got trained by smart people, and trained other people (which helps you learn something deeper). 4. Milan, I think you’re probably reading too much into the situational awareness/strategic advisor relationship, as strategic advisor can cover a lot of different ground.
Complex value & situational awareness

I think this is your strongest point, but the question remains whether you can specialize in situational awareness and adding complex value. Personally, I think you need to have a main hustle to really apply these abilities.

2Milan_Griffes2yAny "strategic advisor" role is essentially specializing in this. e.g. Jon Behar at The Life You Can Save [https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/about-us/team]; e.g. Howie Lempel at 80,000 Hours [https://80000hours.org/about/meet-the-team/]. Also anyone doing "special projects" is essentially this.
Complex value & situational awareness

Not to be mean, but how much value has Alex actually generated? The size of his network is very impressive, but do we know that making it has had substantial positive outcomes?

(This is mostly a rhetorical question because I know Alex and his activities very well. I know my opinion but perhaps you will disagree. Also, he knows about my skepticism.)

2Milan_Griffes2yI don't know enough to give an exhaustive account here. I can say with high confidence that the 2019 Intercollegiate Psychedelics Summit [http://www.pennpsychedelics.org/] at UPenn would not have happened if not for Alex's networking.

I appreciate this!

Should we consider the sleep loss epidemic an urgent global issue?

Although I don't think it's a likely EA cause area, I definitely think it's good for the world to raise awareness about the costs of sleep deprivation among EAs! I'd love to see norms in our community of respecting sleep, like not having events too late, not making them too overstimulating, not relying on alcohol to make something a social event, rejecting startup-y "always on" culture on by doing business mostly by daylight, etc.

How do we check for flaws in Effective Altruism?

I think I know very well where Nathan is coming from, and I don't think it's invalid, for the reasons you state among others. But after much wrangling with the same issues, my comment is the only summary statement I've ever really been able to make on the matter. He's just left religion and I feel him on not knowing what to trust-- I don't think there's any othe place he could be right now.

I suppose what I really wanted to say is that you can never surrender those doubts to anyone else or some external system. You just have to accept that you will make mistakes, stay alert to new information, and stay in touch with what changes in you over time.

7RobBensinger2yYeah, strong upvote to this too.
If this forum/EA has ethnographic biases, here are some suggestions
First of all, youch, people did not like this post. That's okay.

Aww, I'm sorry-- I didn't mean to sound harsh. I get very sensitive on this forum so I hate that I made you feel that way. I guess I was just really eager to clarify that diversity was not why I wanted an ethnography done and not considerate enough of the position you laid out.

I have a strong reaction against weighted voting on the basis of demographics, but it would definitely be interesting to see how it changed things.

8Nathan Young2yNo need to apologise, I didn't mean my original comment individually, more as a kind of "gee whiz" to how much the blog bombed in general. But as I say, that's okay, noone was unkind, they just didn't like what I wrote. I think it can be easy for communities like this to be very dog-eat-dog so I think a little vulnerability/honesty might go a long way. Recently I have learned when I am insecure enough to be tempted to "man up" it's often better to show vulnerability. What is the issues of things voted against demographics, if I might understand. Let's say tall EAs want a slightly different thing than short EAs. Scaling comments by height as if it were a survey means that if we have a fewer than representative number of tall EAs their votes would get weighed as more. That would mean the top posts/comments would be more likely to contain things which appealed to them, since (if they comprised half the representative population) they would control half the weighted votes. So new tall EAs would visit a site closer in tone/culture to what they would enjoy. I don't see why this would result in a less rational site, but if certain issues it turned out were culturally more important to short EAs, it would be good to notice that, rather than thinking it was about rationality. Frankly, most counter positions seem to lead to "representative voting control by minority groups would lead to a worse site" and I don't understand why that is the case. If they lead to increased growth in EA in minority groups that seems a good thing. So my slightly clunky analogy aside, what do you think?
How do we check for flaws in Effective Altruism?

Just person to person, I don't think there's any substitute for staying awake and alert around your beliefs. I don't mean be tense or reflexively skeptical-- I mean accept that there is always uncertainty, so you have to trust that, if you are being honest with yourself and doing your best, you will notice when discomfort with your professed beliefs arises. You can set up external standards and fact checking, but can't expect some external system to do the job for you of knowing whether you really think this stuff is true. People who don't trust themselves on the latter over-rely on the former.

+1 to this.

I partly agree with Nathan's post, for a few reasons:

  • If Alice believes X because she trusts that Bob looked into it, then it's useful for Alice to note her reason. Otherwise, you can get bad situations like 'Bob did not in fact look into X, but he observes Alice's confidence and concludes that she must have looked into it, so he takes X for granted too and Alice never realizes why'. This isn't a big problem in two-person groups, but can lead to a lot of double-counted evidence in thousand-person groups.
  • It's imp
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