I am the CEO and co-founder of School of Thinking. Our purpose is to spread Effective Altruist, longtermist, and rationalist values and ideas as much as possible to the general public by leveraging new media. I am an ex-management consultant with a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy of Science and a Master's Degree in Cognitive Science and Decision Theory. I have been a lurker of the EA Forum and LessWrong since 2016.
The best "help" I can receive is to talk with interesting people from all background about how to create the best possible impact on the world.
As a CEO and Founder and an ex management consultant I can give tips on entrepreneurship, startups and project management
As a side and personal comment, I don't like too much the tendency in EA to link to articles when trying to make a point. Years ago I hung out a bit with Objectivists, both in person and online. Something that frustrated me a lot was that, for every question I asked, they linked (if online) or referred (if offline) an article from Ayn Rand or from Leonard Peikoff, saying "read this". Instead of linking articles, I think it's way better to try to explain ourselves in our own words.
P.s. I am referring to this passage
As a minor point, I want to push back a tiny bit on asking native speakers to do things for us.
I'm a bit afraid it would add a trivial inconvenience for native speakers to talk less with non-native speakers, and increase instead of reduce the EA English-native "bias"
I totally agree.
In my couple of years of experience as a fully committed EA, I've noticed IQ signalling is too many times more valued than trying to be clear and socially aware. I think that EA tends to attract a certain type of person (we know the drill: neurodivergent, high IQ, introvert, socially awkward, upper-class, UK/US born) and that's great if this grouping-tendency makes people comfortable to be themselves. But the other side of the story is that a communication culture which is designed to favour a certain kind of person will become unwelcoming for people who are strongly different (e.g. me, an extrovert, neurotypical, socially aware, low-class, street-smart southern European).
So, I love the Mentat-style EA-dialect, I am super into using rationalist jargon in everyday conversations and I too like a bit of IQ signalling from time to time - because why not? But I think that a collective social and cultural awareness skills training would bring great good to EA as a movement.
Thanks for the comment, Lorenzo. A few random counterpoints to what you said, some positive and some critical.
1. On point one I don't share at all your confidence, quite the opposite. I would like that - i.e. that by asking for clarifications I'll look smarter - but my impression is that on a deep and untrained-by-system-2 level, you will be perceived as the dumb foreigner who doesn't understand for a long time, let's say for the first few years in which you interact daily with native English speakers. To find out who's right should we try to test our points in an anonymous survey, by asking native speakers about their actual thoughts in situations like that?
Three things mainly helped me in this sense
A. My baseline self-confidence, especially in social settings, is pretty high, even if I have strong highs and lows. So if I make a mistake and I think I am perceived as dumb for that I will not care too much. This will probably cure my unusual shyness with time. But this is clearly something which is not generalizable and is highly personal
B. Curiously, a meme that I saw actually made a great point. Is the "We Are Not The Same" meme that says "You speak English because it's the only language you know. I speak English because it's the only language you know. We are not the same". It's ironic and not a rationalist treatise about the pragmatics of language, but the point is: why should I feel embarrassed by my linguistic mistakes when I am the one making extremely high cognitive work to learn another language as an adult?
C. On the same note, a more serious argument. By trying to learn another language I am doing at the same time something nice and compassionate and extremely clever: I am trying to be a citizen of the world without being an arrogant prick, escaping the localistic mindset in which I grow up and I am squeezing my brain to his max capacities every day. I am the one who is doing the native speakers a favour by trying to learn their language, not the opposite. By thinking about that the "oh gosh I am a stupid dumbass" sensation doesn't disappear, but it's mitigated a lot.
2. I don't know what an SNR is. And that's what I was talking about: it's great to have internal jargon and all, but assuming too much about how much the other person knows doesn't facilitate the conversations and poses a barrier at the entrance that is too high. Having said that, this definitely helps in formal occasions like EAGs, but I don't think it's particularly valuable in day-to-day interactions, like when you hang out with EAs as a normal human being (e.g. grabbing a coffee/a bear? Going to a party?). But for formal settings in which you can schedule meetings, one-on-ones and using Calendly that's great advice that I subscribe 100%.
3. Totally agree. It's cognitively demanding and a bit frustrating, especially when it seems like you are the only one putting that much effort into being more aware, but it's worthwhile.
4. I am almost alcohol-free and I can't relate that much, since my mental state hardly changes when I drink socially (e.g. a couple of cocktails? Half a bottle of wine?). I might feel a liiiitle bit tipsy, but overall the differences are barely noticeable from the inside. On a general note, I think it's great advice to drink as little as possible in general: all the common sense views about alcohol (e.g. it makes you less shy) are bullshits and not based on actual data. But, I mean, my guess is that changing the brits attitude toward drinking will be a particularly difficult endeavour.
5. Uhm, I understand it's something that may be perceived neutrally by some experienced rationalists EAs, but if we use the average person as a probabilistic base rate to forecast the potential reaction of anyone in a real setting in front of a similar question I am highly confident the reaction would be negative and you'll be perceived as a weirdo, lowering even more your social value in the setting ("foreigner which doesn't understand my language and that waste my time" + "weirdo who wants to record what I say"). So before asking something similar, I would need to be super confident about how much I am calibrated to the other person's mindset. I think too much time in EA we just avoid taking into consideration how normal life is outside our bubble.
On your point regarding the trivial inconveniences, I push back strongly. Honestly, I will probably not feel comfortable in a social context which doesn't have the willingness to adjust its informal rules to become more welcoming of diversity, starting from the use of language. So if by kindly asking EA native speakers to do some small things which would make my life easier I annoy them and if this is not cost-effective for them to at least try to listen to me I would rather keep up hanging out with EAs. I can do my part, do outreach, partecipate a bit, but I will never feel that I am part of the movement. Fortunately my impression is that you might be wrong here and on average EAs will not consider being more inclusive a cost.
I mostly agree with last points, advices and considerations.
Hi Serena. I am the CEO and co-founder of School of Thinking, a fully EA-aligned media project with 25.000 followers across three social media profiles (YouTube, TikTok and Instagram) in two languages (Italian and English). Last month we had 700.000 views on the Italian IG profile only. So I guess we can already qualify as EA micro-influencers.
That's exactly what I need at this exact moment since I am going to establish my company here in the UK. Can I contact you in private to ask more questions?
Hi Baptiste! Not even a single connection to the Continental tradition could be found in School of Thinking :D.
Actually, I have always been pretty clear in defining my approach as strongly analytical/anglo-saxon. Until now, fortunately, I haven't received any particular resistance regarding my approach but mainly positive feedback, probably because most of my followers are into STEM or already into analytical philosophy.
Hi Jack. I am really into cognitive enhancement. In 2020 (right before COVID) I did a two months research period at Bernhard Hommel's cognitive enhancement lab in Leiden. While I was a Cognitive Science student in Milan I did an exam with Roberta Ferrucci and one with Alberto Priori, two prominent TDCS as a cognitive enancher experts. At the last EAxOxford I spoke with Anders Sandberg about cognitive enhancement as an EA cause area. All to say that I am interested in what you are doing and that could be valuable to connect more people that are into "serious" (e.g. non risky and unproved biohacking shit) cognitive enhancement research
I have hang-ups about money in general. For several years after university I lived on about $12k a year (which is low by UK standards, though high by world ones). It's pretty surreal to be able to even consider applying for say 5x this as a salary. It's like going to a fancy restaurant for the first time ("the waiters bring the food to the table?") I just can't shake how surreal this all is.
I grow up in a relatively poor family in Italy. I learned English from scratch at 21. I graduated at 26 (way above the UK/US standards). I was able to survive at uni thanks to scholarships and sacrifices. Exactely one year ago I used to eat everyday in a desolate university canteen in Milan because I didn't have the money to afford to eat out more than twice per month.
Now I am seriously reasoning about 7 digits funds, renting an office for my project's HQ in central London, and having a salary that is much higher than the sum of all my family's salaries.
Long story short: yes, that could definitely make someone pretty anxious.
It's a good question. The contents will not be the same, the strategy will. The idea is to enable different chapters to create content independently following common guidelines and best practices (in terms of graphics, tone of voice, etc).
To be fair mine regarding the link-to-articles tendency is not a well-formed opinion, just something I've felt during some online and offline conversations. Especially from other fellow rationalists, when they quote a Scott's article or an obscure post on the sequences when not absolutely needed.
By the way, I think it's also a bad idea to demand more work from people you are communicating with, like informally requesting them to read a full article instead of trying to explain your point in plain terms.
Let's put it this way: we can have the privilege to link/refer to articles/concepts in our bubble because we kinda know what we're talking about and we are people who like to spend time reading, but what if we have to communicate with someone who is from outside the bubble? We will not have that privilege and we will have to explain ourselves in plain terms. It's not a trivial inconvenience: if we don't exercise our ability to reduce the inferential distance (yes, I am guilty of the same sin) between "us" and "others" starting from ourselves we will always be unable to communicate our ideas properly.
But, again, I haven't thought about this issue properly so I reserve to myself the faculty to take some time to refine or abdicate my arguments.