James Herbert

Co-director @ Effective Altruism Netherlands
1357 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)Amsterdam, Netherlands
effectiefaltruisme.nl

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I'm currently a co-director at EA Netherlands (with Marieke de Visscher). We're working to build and strengthen the EA community here.

Before this, I worked as a consultant on urban socioeconomic development projects and programmes funded by the EU. Before that, I studied liberal arts (in the UK) and then philosophy (in the Netherlands).

Hit me up if you wanna find out about the Dutch EA community! :)

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I don't think the crux here is whether one ought to micromanage the attendance decisions of external events. It's more about:

  1. "Should one give a platform to Hanania?"
  2. "If forum users think it's wrong to give a platform to Hanania, is it reasonable for them to express displeasure at Manifest for giving him a platform?"
  3. "If someone points out that Hanania has said, by his own admission, horrible things and therefore probably shouldn't be given a platform, is it reasonable to then write a long comment trying to add nuance to the discussion, instead of simply saying, 'yeah, seems right'"

Suggestions for assessing the claim, "forum users are only a subset of the EA community"? Or the claim, "most of them [EAs I know] would think it'd be ridiculous to give a platform to someone like Hanania"?

I don't think there's great evidence for either claim, unfortunately. For the former, I guess we can look at this and observe that forum use is quite unequal between users, which suggests something.

For the latter, I could survey EAs I know with the question, "Do you think it'd be a good idea to invite Hanania to speak at an event?". However, even typing that out feels absurd, which perhaps indicates how confident I am that most EAs I know would think it's a ridiculous idea.

Regarding stigma, my impression is that quite a few people would like to say on the forum, "Giving a platform to Hanania is a ridiculous idea", but don't because they worry the forum will not be receptive to this view. I think this is because people perceive there to be a stigma on the forum against anyone who expresses discomfort at seeing people dispassionately discuss whether it's okay to give a platform to someone like Hanania. 

Maybe this stigma is a good thing. I'm not sure. I like what Isa said: "I want to encourage people not to dismiss that 'wtf' feeling many people have towards him and other speakers as lacking some kind of intellectual rigor or curiosity about the world". 

Regardless, the votes on my quick take suggest the stigma isn't as strong as these people perceive it to be.

I 100% agree with you on your general point, Akash, but I think something slightly different is going on here, and I think it's important to get it right.

To me, it sounds like you're saying, 'Bob is developing a more healthy relationship with EA'. However, I think what's actually happening is more like, 'Bob used to think EA was a cool thing, and it helped him do cool things, but then people associated with it kept doing things Bob found repugnant, and so now Bob does not want anything to do with it'.  

Bob, forgive me for speaking on your behalf, and please correct me if I have misinterpreted things.

If you’re seeing things on the forum right now that boggle your mind, you’re not alone.

Forum users are only a subset of the EA community. As a professional community builder, I’m fortunate enough to know many people in the EA community IRL, and I suspect most of them would think it’d be ridiculous to give a platform to someone like Hanania.

If you’re like most EAs I know, please don’t be dissuaded from contributing to the forum.

I’m very glad CEA handles its events differently.

Cheers for the comment! The Rumelt book is great, highly recommend. Looking forward to seeing EA Finland's strat on the forum when you're ready :) 

Cheers!

Yeah, we're reasonably confident that EAGx events are valuable community-building interventions (as we discussed here) and Rotterdam generated approximately 5k new connections. We're hoping we can use Utrecht to also boost the number of people starting projects (thus helping us meet one of the challenges identified in our diagnosis). 

But you're right that historically they haven't served many people who were not already pretty active in EA, so it's more about deepening the community instead of growing it. Below I've pasted the engagement data for attendees of EAGxRotterdam 2022. 

  • Hours of engagement: 
    • 38% with 100 hours or more
    • 23% with 50-100 hours
    • 23% with 20-50 hours
    • 10% with fewer than 20 hours 
    • 5% with 0 hours 

I'm also uncertain as to whether an EAGx is truly the best use of funds for the EA community in the region at the moment. But (1) we're just generally not sure what the best use of funds would be and (2) it's always a mix of 'what looks good in expectation' vs 'what can we actually get funding for'. 

Non-exhaustive list of things I would like to have in NL that could probably be funded for one year with the money spent on EAGxUtrecht:

  • A large research project
  • A talent development programme 
  • A campaign programme
  • A (small) think tank

Cheaper things:

  • Part-time events programmer
  • Part-time communications officer

What do you think?

Check out organisations such as Effective Giving, Longview Philanthropy, and Founders Pledge. Oh and funding circles such as the Mental Health Funding Circle. Good luck!

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