424Joined May 2019


I really appreciated your comment and think it's important to acknowledge and ensure neurodiverse people feel welcome, and I'm coming from a place where I agree with Maya's reflections on emotions within EA and am neurotypical.

Not sure I have time to post my thoughts in depth but I think the rational Vs. intuitive emotional intelligence tension within EA is something worth a lot more thought. It's a tension / trade-off I've picked up on in the EA professional realm: where people aren't getting on in EA organisations, where people aren't feeling heard, and where the working culture becomes one that's more afraid of losing status / threat mindset than supportive, to the detriment of employees.

Maybe as a counter to what you're saying, some of the people who helped me best own and articulate my emotions (in the context of another EA repeatedly undermining me) are bay-area rationalist EAs who you might describe as neurodivergent. Why? I think a lot of people from that community have just done the work on themselves to recognise emotions in themselves, and consequently in others. And this is driven by valuing emotions / internal worlds intrinsically - in that integrating head and heart way you write about - and then getting better in that domain.

So to link this back to Maya's post;

  1. agree with making sure EA is truly inclusive and, in being better at responding to emotions and traumatic experiences, doesn't swing to excluding neurodivergent people,

  2. I think this tension / trade-off goes beyond social realm, and into the professional, and

  3. I would like to play up how many neurodivergent people - especially those who might instinctively behave in a way that creates the culture Maya has highlighted as problematic - can actually be really good at creating an emotionally responsive and caring environment.

Happy to discuss further time permitting (which is sadly not on my side!)

Yeah I had the same thought too. Though when I said priors I personally did not mean updating quantifiably (i.e. 0.05 --> 0.1); more in the folk sense of priors, or base rates.  

Also the examples I gave are more about certain features of a business / company that I should be more sceptical about.

Great post, thank you for writing. Definitely makes me re-evaluate my own priors on fraud, and also think about structural risks inherent in companies where:

  • there is a trading house and fund owned by the same person (as in Bernie Madoff's case)
  • the nature of the business and / or investments may not be a ponzi scheme by nature or have multi-level marketing built in, but where it's growth model in effect looks a bit like that; i.e. growth seems highly driven by enthusiasm, is activated through social networks / word of mouth, and the intrinsic value of the business / commodity is subject to a lot of debate (in contrast with e.g. stock prices of minerals necessary in electronics manufacturing)

Strong upvote from me. I really appreciated the frank sharing of your experience and also that it was playfully written (and more on this forum could be!)

Particularly keen on the policy mandating anonymous donations, and building a receiving organisation to do this and (presumably) pool all different donations for cause / intervention X together and administering them? TBH, it seems like a no-brainer to me to do in the first place if governance was being prioritised. Main reason I think you would keep the close donor-adviser relationship in place would be:

  • historic precedence, this being the expectation in classic philanthroty
  • a belief that if you make a strong relationship with the donor, you can influence their donations to better places and at higher scale (and not an unreasonable belief at that)
  • something something 'donors deserve this for their money' something something 'accountability' and other things which someone might put forward a more earnest argument for that I would

And I'm genuinely curious if people who advise donors 1:1 think that such interventions / policies you list would deter donors? Or if, on the plausible trade-off between anonymity-as-prevention-against-capture Vs. getting donations, they think it's net positive?

Would also be keen to hear views of donors directly on this (even if this thread might not be the most hospitable place given Eigenrobot's unpacking of how these structures necessarily corrupt).

I think seeing it as "just putting two people in touch" is narrow. It's about judgement on whether to get involved in highly controversial commercial deal which was expected to significantly influence discourse norms, and therefore polarisation, in years to come. As far as I can tell, EA overall and Will specifically do not have skills / knowhow in this domain.

Introducing Elon to Sam is not just like making a casual introduction; if everything SBF was doing was based on EA, then this feels like EA wading in on the future of Twitter via the influence of SBFs money.

Introducing Elon to Holden because he wanted to learn more about charity evaluation? Absolutely - that's EA's bread and butter and where we have skills and credibility. But on this commercial deal and subsequent running of Twitter? Not within anyone's toolbox from what I can tell.

I'd like to know the thinking behind this move by Will and anyone else involved. For my part, I think this was unwise, should have had more consultation around it.

I would consider disavowing the community if people start to get more involved in: 1) big potentially world-changing decisions which - to me - it looks like they don't have the wider knowledge or skillset to take on well, or 2) incredibly controversial projects like the Twitter acquisition, and doing so through covert back-channels with limited consultation.

Posting quickly, haven't thought it through but guessing that one of the key benefits of having an independent investigator is that it gives routes for any evidence to be evaluated, thereby preventing a witch-hunt which could happen if no legitimate routes for recourse.


In case wasn't clear from my post, I'm not saying there's a clear action here yet but to still think beyond the EA community.

This seems like an obviously good thing to do, but would challenge us to think of how to take it further.

One further thought - is there something the EA community can do on mental health / helping those affected that goes wider than within the EA community? 

A lot of people will have lost a huge deal of savings, potentially worse than that. Supporting them matters no less than supporting EAs, beyond the fact that it's easier to support other EAs because of established networks. Ironically, that argument leaning into supporting just other EAs is the type of localism that EA rallies against, with it's global wellbeing / all suffering matters approach.

If we are going to set up supports within the community, I would advise start small but think big - think of how it can be scaled up more widely to others in response to this widescale financial ruin.

Yes, but a lot of EAs were those retail investors as well losing their shirts, or will likely lose their jobs now as they were funded via FTX.  Many in our community will be a subset of those affected, who indeed need lots of support, but a reasonable number nonetheless.

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