Introducing High Impact Athletes

Hi there, I want to start by saying I certainly don't want anyone here to feel scared to engage in constructive dialogue! And I agree that we should leave room to disagree reasonably with each other in our comments.

With that said, I'm honestly not sure why you feel that Alex and I didn't do that. Quoting from Alex's comment: "it seems worth flagging"; "some discussion of why this might matter"; "I just think it's something to be aware of." Quoting from mine: "I want to voice my support"; "in my opinion"; "I've come to believe"; "of course I don't recommend [extreme version of my view]." Is there something else you would have liked to see?

I don't think this is the right thread for a broader back-and-forth about downvoting behavior for reasons I elaborate on below, so I'll just note for the record that I did not make any claim about the motivations of the downvoters, only an observation about the patterns I've seen over a long period of time (not just in this thread).

The final thing I'll say is that while I think the topic of team selection and diversity is quite important for entrepreneurs in general, I don't wish to see it overshadow the other good conversations about High Impact Athletes that are taking place on this page. For that reason, I've strong-upvoted some of the other top-level comments so that they'll rank higher and hopefully be seen first.

Introducing High Impact Athletes

Re: the downvotes, I wish I could just say not to let them bother you, but the truth is they make me anxious too. Unfortunately there are a handful of EA Forum users who routinely strong-downvote posts and comments that have any whiff of a social/racial justice message.

Introducing High Impact Athletes

Oh sure, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. Lots of people have homogeneous networks through no fault of their own. But if that's the case for you and you're trying to do something for which having a diverse network would be helpful, then it's something you need to budget time and energy towards just as it would be the case for ensuring strong organizational infrastructure, funding, etc. So that's why I thought it was really valuable for you to point that out to Marcus, who seems to be getting an otherwise very promising project off the ground. :)

Introducing High Impact Athletes

Hi Alex, I want to voice my support both for you raising this in the first place and for the gentle, nonconfrontational way in which you did so. This was a good example of "calling in" a well-intentioned colleague, in my opinion.

More generally, as a founder of several initiatives myself I've come to believe that prioritizing diversity, especially racial diversity, in the early stages of growth is quite important for projects that have an outward-facing mission and wide potential audience such as Marcus's. The reason it's more important than people often give it credit for is that the composition of a founding team has follow-on effects for who else it recruits, what networks it builds initial strength in, and even in some cases how it makes decisions about what programming to prioritize. Once those choices are made and the initial history of the organization is written, it becomes much harder (though not impossible) to "diversify" authentically after the fact.

Of course I don't recommend sacrificing things like team cohesion or effectiveness for the sake of demographic diversity, but if that is a real tradeoff that a founder faces in practice, it is nearly always an indication the founder just hasn't bothered to put much time or effort into cultivating a diverse professional network. Again, for some kinds of work it might not be that important. For fundraising and visibility among a diverse worldwide community of athletes, it's essential.

U.S. Executive branch appointments: why you may want to pursue one and tips for how to do so

Thanks, if Aaron's willing to chime in here and vouch for you then I'll consider my concerns moot. :)

U.S. Executive branch appointments: why you may want to pursue one and tips for how to do so

Hi, this seems like a great idea, but I'm a little concerned that readers are being asked to provide lots of personal information in a Google Form on the invitation of an anonymous account with no prior EA Forum posting history. I understand that you may not want to reveal your full identity, but could you perhaps provide some details on who you are in the style of a Reddit AMA to help give us confidence that you have both the intention and ability to follow through on the matchmaking proposal you're outlining in this article?

Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections

Much of this is addressed in the new top-level comment I just posted with our Georgia recommendations, but here are a few specific responses to your questions:

  • We love the People's Action deep canvassing program and agree that it remains as relevant as before. Our understanding is that they are taking a break for now and will be starting up again soon.
  • Working America is running an extension of its program in the Georgia runoffs. We've decided not to give them a top-level recommendation at present, but might in the future.
  • There are several organizations running voter registration programs; the one that we like the most is the site-based one run by the Everybody Votes Campaign. You can donate to that here: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/everybodyvotes. With that said, I expect GOTV efforts will be much more important to the outcome of the election than registration.
Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections

Hi everyone, we've updated our recommendations for the post-election, pre-inauguration period, with a focus on the Georgia Senate runoffs and efforts to reduce polarization and fight disinformation about the election results. Georgia recommendations are below; recommendations for the other category are coming soon.

  • In our pre-election research, we learned a lot about the power of vote tripling, or getting potential or recent voters to remind three friends to vote. BlockPower takes that idea several steps further by combining vote tripling with relational organizing in a paid organizing model with a special focus on Georgia's Black communities. The approach is like a greatest-hits album of evidence-based GOTV techniques, has significant potential to scale productively, and is currently flying well under the radar of fundraisers for the Georgia runoffs. Donate to BlockPower here.
  • Vote.org is accepting donations for a radio advertising buy that will stress the importance of voting in the runoffs on Georgia-based stations with majority youth and/or POC listenership. Radio is a relatively underappreciated tool for getting out the vote, and evidence from past elections suggests the cost-effectiveness of such programs is extremely competitive. And since the outcome in the runoffs is far more likely to be determined by turnout than persuasion (runoffs are typically low-turnout affairs), we think this is a great bet for your money. Please note the funding deadline for this opportunity is Friday, November 20. Donate to this opportunity here (note this is different from the main donate link on the vote.org website).

An important piece of context for these recommendations is that this race is attracting an enormous amount of money and attention from both sides of the aisle. You've probably seen friends donating to or fundraising for well-known entities such as the Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff campaigns, the Democratic Party of Georgia, and the Stacey Abrams-founded organizations Fair Fight and New Georgia Project. These organizations and campaigns do great work, but if they don't achieve their goals on January 5, it's unlikely to be because they didn't raise enough money this fall. By contrast, our recommendations try to hone in on lower-profile efforts that cover an important niche in the overall landscape, yet have a real chance of not meeting their fundraising goals or potential.

For volunteering: Focus 2020

In the final week leading up to the November 3 election, we had the privilege of working closely with our friends at Focus 2020 to direct volunteer efforts focused on Pennsylvania and the Upper Midwest. Focus 2020 operates as a clearinghouse and coordinating body for high-impact volunteering efforts, working in close partnership with local and state-based organizations. The group has now pivoted to the Georgia runoffs and we are pleased to recommend them as our primary partners for Georgia volunteering. In addition to maintaining a curated list of third-party Georgia volunteering opportunities (which Landslide Coalition will be helping to coordinate), Focus 2020 accepts direct volunteers with no minimum time commitment, which is the best way to stay in the loop on an ongoing basis. One of the most critical lessons we learned over the past month is that the landscape of political volunteering needs is constantly shifting, and your efforts are only as impactful as the importance of the gap you're filling. We're recommending Focus 2020 because you're going to get much better information on that front from partnering with them than by working with a single organization or running down a list of random events on Mobilize.

Happy to answer any questions about the above. Thank you!

4 Years Later: President Trump and Global Catastrophic Risk

Since I was one of the commenters on the original post, I thought I would take a moment to look back at my own analysis and predictions from four years ago. In the order of the points I brought up then:

  1. I was pleasantly surprised by how well US institutions held up in the first two years of Trump's presidency, but he has steadily eroded the federal government's independence and the power of factions on the center-right who oppose him, and is poised to dramatically accelerate that erosion if he is able to stay in office for a second term. The most worrying development has been the appointment of partisan enablers in key positions at the Department of Justice (Bill Barr) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (John Ratcliffe), which has given Trump some ability to twist the national security apparatus for his personal gain. Reportedly Trump wants to fire FBI director Chris Wray, CIA director Gina Haspel, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper after the election for not being sufficiently loyal to him, which will cement his grip on those agencies and make it possible for him to directly order persecution of political opponents.
  2. My biggest whiff of the past four years was not seeing the House of Representatives as winnable for Democrats in 2018. The national suburban realignment in voting patterns caught me by surprise, and I also expected to see more foreign interference in the 2018 midterms than apparently took place. However, having Democratic control of the House turned out not to be as much of a check on Trump as I'd hoped since he successfully used the previous two years to consolidate his control over Republican elected officials, expand his base within the party, and purge disloyal aides from his inner circle. These factors made it possible for him to survive impeachment and showed him that he could pretty much do whatever he wanted going forward and not get punished for it.
  3. I correctly predicted that Senate Republicans would end the filibuster, although they did so only for judicial nominees.
  4. Since 2016, there has been a big increase in focus on state legislative races on the progressive organizing side, in line with my recommendation. Democrats have made significant gains since then at the state level.
  5. There has actually been a big decline in rural,  white working-class support for Trump since 2016, although this seems to be more the result of Trump's policy failures, especially on healthcare and COVID, than progressive organizing. I consider this a failure on the part of the left (although not so much on the part of Democrats) since we have allowed ourselves to be used as propaganda by bad faith actors on the right time and again rather than seeking to bridge differences and create understanding back when it wasn't too late.

Overall, for me descent into authoritarianism and climate change are the two biggest reasons to resist a second Trump term, and I think Haydn underestimates both of these. On authoritarianism, while I agree that a military coup is unlikely, I think that abuses of power to punish political opponents in a second term are a virtual certainty, leading to greatly increased chance of sustained civil unrest in the short term and long-term damage to the the quality of governance and discourse in the United States. And on climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior under Trump have not simply been inactive, they have been feverishly rolling back regulations designed to control air pollution and preserve forested lands. There are other issues (like Supreme Court nominees) where Trump's positions are not appreciably different from what a generic Republican's would be, but on those two fronts in particular I see him as dramatically, uniquely bad for the US and the world and meriting the GCR label.

Recommendations for prioritizing political engagement in the 2020 US elections

My experience has been that across most domains, there is kind of a Pareto-optimality to coming in as an outsider and trying to find superior giving or intervention opportunities. It usually takes only a few hours of research to determine an approach that will be above average. It may take a couple hundred hours to find opportunities that will be in the top 10-20%. And unless you get lucky early on, it can easily take more like the 4k  you're describing to find the very best that's out there. So it depends on what your standard for excellence is and the opportunity cost of the time you're willing to put in.

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