Luke_Ilott

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The effective altruists doing Experience Poverty

Great job, everyone!

I'd love to hear more about all your experiences living below the line; is there any central directory of blogs/comments about this (or should there be?)?

The economy of weirdness

Great article addressing an important question. I've had a lot of similar concerns being active in environmental politics - thinking, did you HAVE to wear that to this interview, or did you HAVE to dye your hair that colour? This is, I think, a case of #6, specifically weirdness as a signal of a stereotype.

For environmentalism, the worry is that a potential audience will switch off immediately because they can caricature the activist as part of a particular set of people who are all very alike, and as a group are very different to the audience. If all greens have green, dreadlocked hair and wear oriental patterns on their baggy trousers, the danger is that weirdness doesn't just look like an expression of honest individuality, it's actually quite the opposite - a signal of belonging to a distinct group which has little in common with many of those it ought to be seeking to persuade.

For EA, I'm not sure if the same danger rears its head. I'm sure in ten years it might be possible to stereotype and caricature effective altruists, but the stereotype doesn't exist in the public mentality quite yet. For that reason, it's not so easy simply to switch off and say, "Nah, that stuff is just for altruists", treating altruists as a kind of subculture. And it's fairly unlikely that we will become a subculture - as has been noted, if there's something weird that does unite EAers, it's probably a particular stance on morality, rationality and so on - things which are fairly cerebral and need not have any obvious external presence. The things that are noticeably weird about us tend not to be shared, and so don't contribute to the possibility of stereotyping.

And when you have the occasional weirdness that's just an honest, personal thing, and you're a generally nice person on the whole, it's not weird at all - it's charming, it's eccentric, and it probably does an awful lot more good than being identikit and grey.