Lauren Maria

889Joined Sep 2022



I helped re-start the UBC EA club in 2022. I'm interested in global health and development and animal welfare. 


I just want to say I really appreciated you providing this first-hand experience, and for discussing what others in the EA community feel about Will's leadership from what you have witnessed in the Bay area. I was just talking to someone about this the other day, and I was really unsure about how people in EA actually felt about Will, since, as you said, he rarely comments on the forum and doesn't seem very engaged with people in the community from what I can see. 

I agree with sharing names publicly. I think this practise will hopefully make it less likely that others will engage in abusive behaviour out of fear of having their reputation damaged. If this major figure is within EA, can you share the name here? I don't know your twitter or facebook so I'm not sure who it is you are referring to. 

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I think so, specifically related to this point from the OP (but would be interested to hear if people don't really think there's any COI in either of these cases):

Consider a case of someone whose job it is to direct funding for a foundation sleeping with one of the people who runs an organization they might recommend funding. And let's further imagine that the grantmaker and grantee both have a sophisticated understanding of power dynamics, great communication, solid introspection, strong self-confidence, and the best of intentions. Even then, this has corrosive effects on the community


See this comment and this comment (below- use rot13) from this post


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I like this :)


In my opinion, we've already found a "third option" which works: the empathy to seek mutual understanding, the philosophical sophistication to critique fashionable ideas, and the willingness to share our perspective even when it seems unpopular.


I'm not "pretending to not know what woke means", I genuinely think it would be constructive for you to define what it is you mean by using it, and by explaining why you think it is a threat to EA. 

Some things I think you could mean:
-People who talk a lot about "positionality"
-People who look at white men distrustfully and assume they have bad intentions
-People who talk about diversity and inclusion and virtue signal about said things
-People who are part of the "culture wars" in the United States 

The problem is that, I genuinely do not know how you define it, and how you think this applies to EA or is some sort of threat to EA. 

Another problem is that you seem to assume you can identify whether or not someone is "woke" without actually defining what that means or really knowing the person. I don't think that's fair. I also think you are doing what I notice people on twitter do, which is look at really superficial things like how someone talks or presents themselves online, and think you can categorize them as "woke" or "not-woke". It's just very polarizing. I actually think you and I agree on a lot more than you would assume but because I disagree with you using "woke" language you assume I am "pro-woke". 

I don’t get notifications for your posts, I saw it when I read the comments on this post and disagreed with it because I personally dislike the use of the word “woke” and see it as divisive in itself. It would be helpful for me if you could define what you mean by woke and explain what it means to EA. I know it is a common term used in the US and in twitter conversations about American politics, but I would prefer to not see US political discourse language in EA unless it’s really illuminating any real issues or threats. You seem to be making a lot of general claims like “Movements and organizations often find it difficult to protect themselves from woke takeover, because they don't understand what's happening, they don't have good counter-arguments, they're too guilt-prone and easily shamed, and they're too conflict-averse. ”, but it’s not clear to me what you’re referring to.

Hey Sonia, I have been trying to see things from your perspective as well. I think it's great you're feeling empathetic for women who might feel differently than you in those situations. I think there's probably still a lot of ways you can get joy having edgy conversations without contributing to this culture within EA itself. I kinda appreciate Will's take on this here. I struggle between feeling like "policing" people's relationships and whatnot is probably bad, while also knowing that not being firm the way I am about professional/personal boundaries likely contributes to a culture where people are taken advantage of. In an ideal world, we could have both your preferences (and the preferences of many others) and a healthy culture, but I don't actually know if that's possible. 


I'm curious if the people who disagree voted my story could explain why? What is it that you disagree with?

 I think the onus needs to be placed on the people who are abusing their power. There are ways to do this. If the community acknowledges that this isn't ok, there can be a shift in the broader culture. People need to be aware these power dynamics exist and speak out against people who abuse them and I don't mean the person on the receiving end of the abuse of power, but their colleagues. 

Some concrete steps I can think of moving forward would be: 

a) Workplace training on power dynamics and professional boundaries. 
b) An external source where complaints can be made where the people receiving the complaints do not have connections to the EA community such as personal friendships/collegial relationships. 

I'm not sure if this answers your question at all, but I am enjoying this discussion and appreciate the way you are approaching our conversation. Thanks! 


I think these points in the OP are similar though (though once again the story is not related):

I should however note that:

  • We had met via EA and spent a good fraction of conversation time talking about EA-relevant topics
  • I was older and more central in the EA community
  • On other occasions, including early in our friendship, we had some professional interactions, and I wasn’t clear about how I was handling the personal/professional boundary
  • I in fact had significant amounts of power
    • This was not very salient to me but very salient to her
  • She consequently felt pressure to match my vibe
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