All of LarissaHeskethRowe's Comments + Replies

I would have so much respect for CEA if they had responded like this. 

I just wanted to say thank you for doing this Jeff. I sympathize with Rockwell Schwartz’s general point, but since Cathleen’s post asks that people not use her full name or name her former colleagues I appreciate you taking this seriously.

(For clarity, I don’t mind people using my full name. It’s my forum username and very easily found e.g. on Leverage’s website. But I currently work at Leverage Research and decided to work there knowing full well how some people in EA react when the topic of Leverage comes up. The same is not true of everyone, and I think individuals who have not chosen to be public figures should be allowed to live in peace should they wish to).

That makes sense and I wasn't familiar with Cathleen's request or the general aims of quasi-anonymity here. I think it is useful to specify that you are intentionally not using full names because otherwise the assumption is likely that these are people one should know and contributes to my above concern.

Larissa from Leverage Research here. I think there might be an interesting discussion to be had about the relationship between feedback loops, external communication (engaging with your main external audiences), and public communication (trying to communicate ideas to the wider public).

For a lot of the history of scientific developments, sharing research, let alone widely distributing it was expensive and rare. Early discoveries in the history of electricity, for example, were nonetheless still made, often by researchers who shared little until they had a ... (read more)

Do you have recommendations for the most enlightening concepts, models, or data produced by Leverage that's not been filtered for public sensibilities? I want to efficiently evaluate whether I wish to dive deeper, and if a write-up is wastefwly optimised for professionalism, I take that as a strong signal against the likelihood that there's significant value here. I'm not interested in whether you produce research that I expect others will expect to be praised for praising me for approving of, I just want to know if it can help me understand stuff.

Hi Casebash,

Thank you for the question; this is an important topic.

We believe that advances in psychology could make improvements to many people's lives by helping with depression, increasing happiness, improving relationships, and helping people think more clearly and rationally. As a result, we're optimistic that the sign can be positive. Our past work was primarily focused on these kinds of upsides, especially self-improvement; developing skills, improving rationality, and helping people solve problems in their lives.

That said, there are po... (read more)

Every time you post these each month, I end up thinking something like "these are so useful, I'm really grateful David does this". I thought this month I should actually tell you that, so thank you so much for posting these!

Hi casebash,

We are conducting psychology research based on the following assumptions:
1) psychology is an important area to understand if you want to improve the world
2) it is possible to make progress in understanding the human mind
3) the current field of psychology lags behind its potential
4) part of the reason psychology is lagging behind its potential is that it has not completed the relevant early stage science steps
5) during Leverage 1.0, we developed some useful tools that could be used by academics in the field to make progress in psychology.

Assu... (read more)

8Chris Leong3y
Greater knowledge of psychology would be powerful, but why should we expect the sign to be positive, instead of say making the world worse by improving propaganda and marketing?

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for taking the time to check out the paper and for sending us your thoughts.

I really like the examples of building new instruments and figuring out how that works versus creating something that’s a refinement of an existing instrument. I think these seem very illustrative of early stage science.

My guess is that the process you were using to work out how your forked brass works, feels similar to how it might feel to be conducting early stage science. One thing that stood out to me was that someone else trying to replicate the instru... (read more)

Yeah this makes sense, thanks for asking for clarification. The communication section is meant to be a mixture of i) and ii). I think in many cases it was the right decision for Leverage not to prioritise publishing a lot of their research where doing so wouldn’t have been particularly useful. However we think it was a mistake to do some public communication and then remove it, and not to figure out how to communicate about more of our work.

I’m not sure what the best post etiquette is here, should I just edit the post to put in your suggestion and note that the post was edited based on comments?

1JP Addison3y
Thanks for the clarification and tolerating the nitpick. I don't know that anyone has an etiquette book for this, but I'd put a footnote with the update.[1] [1] In the fullness of time we'll have built in footnotes in our rich-text editor, but for now you can do hacky footnotes like this.

(totally unrelated to the actual post but how did you include an emoticon JP?)

Winky-. on Windows (That's the windows key + dot) 😊
5JP Addison3y
⌘-^-Space, gets you emoji and unicode on any text field on a Mac. I assume other operating systems have their own versions.

Hi JP,

(Haha, I did wonder about having so many headings, but it just felt so organised that way, you know 😉)

With regards to removing content we published online, I think we hit the obvious failure mode I expect a lot of new researchers and writers run into, which was that we underestimated how time-consuming, but also stressful, posting publicly and then replying to all the questions can be. To be honest, I kind of suspect early and unexpected negative experiences with public engagement led Leverage to be overly sceptical of it being useful and nu... (read more)

(totally unrelated to the actual post but how did you include an emoticon JP?)

Hi Milan, we’re still deciding what, if any, information it seems appropriate to share about our donors publicly. We do expect some Leverage 1.0 donors to continue to support Leverage 2.0. We will also soon start fundraising for Leverage 2.0 and will probably engage with communities that are interested in areas like early stage science and meta science.

That's great! Thanks for sorting that so quickly and for letting me know.

Hi Anonymoose,

I’d like to do two things with my reply here.

  1. First, to try and answer your questions as best I can.
  2. But then second, start to work out how to make future conversations with you about Leverage more productive


I’d recommend first reading my recent reply to Greg because this will give you a lot of relevant context and answers some of your questions.

Questions a, b and d: outputs, resources and future impact

Your Questions:

“(a) are Leverage's outputs truly as they appear?”
“(b) Is its consumption of financial resourc
... (read more)

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the message and for engaging at the level of what has Leverage achieved and what is it doing. The tone of your reply made me more comfortable in replying and more interested in sharing things about their work so thank you!

Leverage are currently working on a series of posts that are aimed at covering what has been happening at Leverage from its inception in 2011 up until a recent restructure this year. I expect this series to cover what Leverage and associated organisations were working on and what they achieved. This means that I expect... (read more)

Leverage are currently working on a series of posts that are aimed at covering what has been happening at Leverage from its inception in 2011 up until a recent restructure this year.


Did this series end up being published?

Just wanted to say I super appreciated this writeup.

Hey JP, don't worry I won't hold you to anything :-) I know you guys have a lot on. I think the feature of setting your own moderation guidelines at a certain karma level is a good one. It encourages top posters and also encourages the whole community to take more responsibility for good quality conversations. If you did get the chance to figure out how this was currently working on the EA Forum (e.g. at what karma level to individuals get what moderation features) and perhaps enact something similar to the LessWrong version that would be cool. Let me know what you end up deciding to do.

3JP Addison3y
I forgot to say this when I deployed it, but own-post moderation is now available. See this part of the LessWrong FAQ for how it works: []

Hi Buck, Ozzie and Greg,

I thought I’d just add some data from my own experience.

For context, I’ve been heavily involved in the EA community, most recently running CEA. After I left CEA, I spent the summer researching what to do next and recently decided to join the Leverage Research team. I’m speaking personally here, not on behalf of Leverage.

I wanted to second Ozzie’s comment. My personal experience at least is that I’ve found the Leverage and Paradigm teams really welcoming.

They do employ people with a wide range of political views with the idea that it

... (read more)

Hello Larissa,

I'd be eager to see anything that speaks to Leverage's past or present research activity: what have they been trying to find out, what have they achieved, and what are they aiming for at the moment (cf).

As you know from our previous conversations re. Leverage, I'm fairly indifferent to 'they're shady!' complaints (I think if people have evidence of significant wrongdoing, they should come forward rather than briefing adversely off the record), but much less so to the concern that Leverage has an has achieved ext... (read more)

Thanks Larissa - the offer to write up posts from Leverage Research is a generous offer. Might it not be a more efficient use of your time, though, to instead answer questions about Leverage the public domain, many of which are fairly straightforward?

For example, you mention that Leverage is welcoming to new staff. This sounds positive - at the same time, the way Leverage treated incoming staff is one of the main kinds of fact discussed in the top-level post. Is it still true that: (i) staff still discuss recruitees on individual slack channels, (ii) mind... (read more)

I notice that some writers (e.g. Hauke in his recent post about the cost effectiveness climate change interventions) have something just above the comments section a note about their personal commenting guidelines. This seems like a potentially really useful feature. Not every user seems to have this though.

EDIT: I assume this relates to the feature on LessWrong described here where users can add moderation guidelines to their own posts so that they can treat LessWrong like a personal blog to some degree. This seems like a good way to encourage more peopl... (read more)

1JP Addison3y
Good noticing. One facet of the LessWrong feature is that as users pass a certain amount of karma they gain privileges. I believe that high karma users such as Eliezer (on LW) or Peter Hurford (here) can moderate their own posts, even on the frontpage. I think very low karma users may not be able to moderate posts that remain on their personal blog. Given the EA Forum's differences in how we treat the personal blog / frontpage distinction, we may want to diverge from LW's feature-set here. I haven't touched it since I was initially setting up the Forum, and I'm not sure how I left it. I'm not sure all of the features are there. Certainly we'd want to write up a user's guide for the feature. I appreciate the comment. When we were setting up the Forum it wasn't top priority, but very plausibly the landscape has changed. Without making a public commitment (😛), I wouldn't be surprised if that fix got prioritized – it does seem useful for encouraging people to post.

Thanks so much for this list. It's really helpful.

I'm having a quick look for ones that are on Audible Parker_Whitfill. I'm not checking all of them but using the UK Audible market I found the following ones:

  • The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey
  • The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter by Joseph Henrich
  • Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals by Tyler Cowen
  • The Pursuit of
... (read more)
1Daniel May3y
Thanks for that Larissa! I listened to the UK Audible versions of The Technology Trap, The Pursuit of Power, and The Fate of Rome, and can recommend them!

What was the reason for Matt Fallshaw stepping down?

In his email to us he only mentioned time-constraints (in particular I think his other commitments at Bellroy and helping with MIRI seemed to ramp up around that time, though I also think the fund took more time than he had initially expected).

Hi Khorton,
Thanks for commenting. These are definitely important areas. Improving project management, time management and prioritisation, as well as external communication are a priority of mine for CEA at the moment. We're working on planning projects further in advance with realistic timelines and communicating clearly about their status. We’ve been working on internal systems and training to try and improve this.

I think we made significant improvements to our hiring process this year but there’s still a lot to do. We’re currently beginning a review... (read more)

I think you're probably right on this when it comes to donations as it's less likely that less money would necessarily mean less sleep or time with friends. However, the article seems to be talking more about working, whether that means in a high paid job with long hours, volunteering in all of your spare time or working long hours in an EA role you love. You're still probably right that many people can push themselves more than they currently are. Any suggestions on how to identify where the line is for an individual would be really interesting to discuss.

I think the right way to do it is to try things out and see what you can do. It's well known that we can't easily predict the careers we'll enjoy or the way our interests will change in the future. The same thing applies when thinking about what would be too demanding.

I think these would be great to give to a slightly EA aligned friend but it might feel awkward to buy for someone with little knowledge of or interest in EA for a birthday etc because it wouldn't necessarily be something you could claim they wanted.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to perhaps quantify whether you've made a "significant" career change? Not that that necessarily means you couldn't donate 10%. Hours spent volunteering would be interesting.

I do have difficulty with this "significant" definition. For instance, if someone was already working in an effective career, then they would not qualify. But I guess as long as you could argue they were the best person for the job, they would have some counterfactual impact. Also, effective careers tend to be paid below-market wage, so the worker should get credit for that. These things together could easily equal 10% of the wage, which would then qualify (because we want to give the donor much of the credit for the salary itself).