344 karmaJoined Sep 2021


I don't particularly feel it would be a valuable use of anyone's time to get into a drawn out public back-and-forth debate where we both nitpick the implications of various word choices. I'll just say that if your intention was to communicate something other than "We prefer a candidate who is tightly value aligned" then there was a significant failure of communication and you shouldn't have specifically used the phrase "tightly aligned" in the same sentence as the rejection.

>I also think that (some) EA orgs do more to filter for competence than most companies; I've applied to many conventional jobs, and been accepted to some of those, but none of them put me through work testing anywhere near as rigorous and realistic as CEA's.

I want to push back here based on recent experience. I recently applied for a job at CEA and was essentially told that my background and experience was a perfect fit and that I aced the application but that I was not 'tightly value aligned' and thus would not be getting the role. 

CEA certainly had an extensive, rigorous application process. They just proceeded to not value the results of that application process. I expect they will hire someone with demonstrably less competence and experience for the role I applied for, but who is more 'value aligned'.

I would normally hesitate to air this sort of thing in public, but I feel this point needs to be pushed back against. As far as I can tell this sort of thing is fairly endemic within EA orgs - there seems to be a strong, strong preference for valuing ideological purity as opposed to competence. I've heard similar stories from others. My small sample size is not just that this happens, but that it happens *openly*. 

To relate this to the OP's main thesis - this is a problem other areas (for instance, politics) have already seen and confronted and we know how it plays out. It's fairly easy to spot a political campaign staffed with 'true believers' as opposed to one with seasoned, hardened campaign veterans. True Believer campaigns crash and burn at a much higher rate, controlling for other factors, because they don't value basic competence. A common feature of long time pols who win over and over is that they don't staff for agreement, they staff for experience and ability to win. 

EA's going to learn the same lesson at some point, it's just a matter of how painful that learning is going to be. There are things EA as a movement is simply not good at, and they'd be far better off bringing in non-aligned outsiders with extensive experience than hiring internally and trying to re-invent the wheel.

Don't have time to write up the full arguments why, but housing and pandemic preparedness would be my top two. Immigration is less tractable but highly valuable.  This is from a US perspective.


Globally, I think that promoting women's rights in many developing countries is a potentially high impact activity. 

I appreciate this response because I think it's symbolic of something I think is important.

EA has a lot of internal norms, like any group. It seems like on the EA forum one of those is to use more factual, descriptive, neutral titles. But elsewhere, the norm is to be attention getting, provocative, etc.  You could fairly call this 'clickbait' if you'd like. Clickbait exists because it works.  It is startlingly effective, and not just at cheap engagement that dies quickly.  It's effective at prompting deep engagement as well.  One quick example - video essayists on youtube who do incredibly informative deep dives on technical subjects still use clickbait titles, image previews, etc. The big channels literally have consultants that help A/B test which reaction face will get more clicks. It doesn't detract from the quality of their videos or the depth of their communities, it's just part of what you have to do to get people to care.

My experience is more in that world. I'm used to phrasing things with the explicit goal to make people click, draw their eyeballs, cause a stir, etc. By using that kind of title on the EA forum, I've probably committed a minor faux pas.  But it actually does help me illustrate the point that EAs shouldn't be allergic to that kind of thing all the time.

EAs using factual, descriptive, neutral titles on their own forums is an interesting quirk of the community.  But if EAs only ever use factual, descriptive, neutral language in all forums, that's a strategic mistake, and hinders their ability to effectively communicate with the public. This comment is a corollary to the 'Pick a fight' argument - I believe that sometimes EAs need to abandon internal norms in order to win attention for their ideas.

also - the clever sounding title was taken from an obscure academic screed 9 years ago - https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_elitist_philanthropy_of_so_called_effective_altruism

My point is that I think you can often a ton of good by NOT focusing on the highest priority cause.

If you constantly talk about killer AI for a year, you might get 2 people to contribute to it. 

If you constantly talk about improving regular people's regular charitable giving for a year, you might influence dozens or hundreds of people to give more efficiently, even if they're still giving to something that isn't the highest priority cause.

Basically - If your goal is to improve restaurant quality, improving  every McDonald's in the US by 10% does more to improve restaurant quality than opening a handful of Michelin star joints.

There's definitely a set of principles that underpins our policy beliefs.  A lot of this goes all the way back to classical liberalism - to be a neoliberal means first and foremost that you are a liberal and are grounded in liberal political philosophy.  This means we hold the core liberal values of equality before the law, democratic governance, a market economy, freedoms of press/religion/speech/assembly/etc.

Modern neoliberals take that liberalism and add and emphasize a few things.  Neoliberals are internationalist and globalist, which leads to our support for free trade, free immigration, international institutions, etc.  We are social liberals who fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry. We are capitalists who believe in using a relatively free-market economy to make a richer world, but paired with a welfare state to alleviate poverty and suffering.  And we have an emphasis on evidence-based policy.  All of those are relatively base-level beliefs that inform the policies we support.

I'm hesitant to act like I know the One True Answer here because while this is a global phenomenon, I think Trump, Brexit, Bolsonaro, Le Pen, Duterte, Erdogan, Modi, Xi, Putin, Orban, etc etc etc all have their own unique circumstances that makes any kind of general answer impossible. Putin is propelled by unique factors relating to the fall of the USSR and the sense of decline/malaise in Russia.  All American politics is inexorably tied into our race relations. Erdogan's boosted by Turkey's tortured history with 'liberal coups' and its historical dance between Islam and secularism. There's no single thing to address all these guys at once.

I'm honestly unsure that individual action can do much to influence the authoritarian wave. I think there are likely geopolitical solutions, but geopolitics is hard and far more messy and complicated than most casual observers understand.

Initially the name came from wonkish Hillary Clinton supporters getting called '****ing neoliberals' or other angry denunciations by Bernie Sanders supporters in the 2016 Dem primary. We kind of ran with it - if being a Clinton supporter is being a neoliberal, fine, I'm a neoliberal.

Once the name was there, it attracted attention like a lightning rod and the community grew very fast.  At the beginning nobody was trying to make this into anything, it was just a bunch of people memeing about central bankers, globalism and woke capitalism. There wasn't a conscious decision about how This Is The Name That Will Eventually Win Suburban Moms And Create Our Political Moment, it was just a small community having fun that turned into a much larger community. By that point the name was the name.

Moving forward, we have some soft-rebranding where some of our chapters choose to go by 'New Liberals' instead of Neoliberal. We are moving into using different names in different contexts.

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