Max Pietsch

59Joined Sep 2022

Comments
16

We should be donating more frequently so we're happier and feel more encouraged to donate

We know we get some happiness and fulfillment from donating money to a cause we care about (for instance see https://www.science.org/content/article/secret-happiness-giving). If we could get even more joy from donating the same amount of money, then it would make us more happy (benefitting ourselves) and encourage us to keep giving more (benefitting others). 

To me, there's a huge difference between donating $10,000 at once to a single charity and donating $100 one hundred times to different charities. Sort of like how our brains aren't great at telling the difference between saving 1,000,000 lives and 10,000,000 lives, even though they are hugely different, is there research saying that the number of times we donate is more conducive to our brains remembering the feeling of happiness, than the amount we donate each time? I think if there is this kind of research then more people should be talking about it, because it could make a big difference for people who are earning to give.

I totally agree that EA can be too elitist, and yes it can arise from a rationalist mindset. You made some good points about how it's not really a grassroots movement, either.

I find it can be helpful to just not identify as EA and instead identify as someone who wants to help others. Then it's just like, who gives a shit about what happens in EA - you can remain true to who you are at your core, which is someone who wants to help others. I'd rather internalize "I want to help others" than "I am someone in EA". The former is not elitist - anyone can try to help others, whereas the latter might be elitist and is also unstable if someone shitty becomes influential in EA (like SBF).

I do hope you continue to want to help others. Glad to have you in the 'helping others' community, still. Thanks for the post - it rang true.

It's a little disappointing that one of the main things you got out of my response was a potential personal attack. Definitely wasn't meant that way. Yeah this conversation isn't really helping either of us. Take care.

Let's say we had one charitable person who has a reputation for being charitable, and another charitable person who has a reputation for hurting others. Someone needing charity avoid the latter, even though the latter is also beneficial.

There's a big difference between trying to represent yourself in an accurate or an inaccurate way. In either case you're caring about what people think about you, but if we assume the perceiver is acting in their self interest, then the accurate representation will benefit them, and the inaccurate representation may harm them.

I'm not disagreeing with what you wrote. I'm adding to it that "caring about optics" can actually be more honest. It's possible to care about optics so that you're represented honestly, too.

SBF caused damage not because he virtue signaled with his cheap car and lack of style, but because he was misrepresenting himself and being a dick.

It makes sense for people to talk about not wanting to be misrepresented, and if I were a new visitor to the forum and I saw people upset about being misrepresented, I'd probably be sympathetic to them. I also might think they were cry babies and too obsessed with their image, which is what you're saying could be the case, and I agree with that.

Also just by the way, I guess the ideal would be to care what other people think but be strong enough to do what one thinks is right. I think there's a psychological element to all this. I've lived in some places where I was looked down on, even though I was working hard for their benefit, and it did suck psychologically. It would've been better for everyone if people had known how much I cared about them, but yeah it can be important to not worry too much about what other people think, as you wrote.

Yeah I totally agree. I'd agree with the statement "it's helpful to take optics into account, but not let it dominate our decision making process". My original comment was in response to the idea that 'actually doing good is more important than looking like doing good' which I would argue is an oversimplification of the real world and not a good principle. I don't think that it's helpful to care entirely about optics or never care about optics. It's more nuanced.

I also think it could help to break down the term "optics" a bit. I think the purchase is bad for first impressions, which is one particular type of optics.

Anyways this whole discussion about optics is kind of a red herring. People will be shocked by the purchase because it was by a charity and was pretty exorbitant, and in fact it was (by that one guy's admission... I'm on a phone and don't want to look up his name in the comment above) purchased for to make conference participants feel inspired and was not made as a cost savings mechanism. Appearance (not being frugal) reflects reality in this case, at least based on that comment I read by that one guy (and if I'm wrong just let me be wrong at this point, I have work to do and don't care to debate this further).

But yeah I agree about let's not wholly concentrate on optics. Of course.

Thanks for your perspective.

You could be right that people argued against my point because I wrote "castle" instead of "manor house" and "owned" instead of "stayed at". To me, those felt like details that are kind of incidental to the main point, even if they did exaggerate the point, and so correcting them was this way to undermine my argument without really engaging with me.

I think we definitely had different opinions. On the whole yeah of course we're both acting in our best faith haha. I'm just a guy who doesn't keep track of details as much as long as the meaning is the same (like mixing up "chicken" with "turkey") and you're someone who places a high value on factual correctness, even when the facts don't change the underlying argument. Are you someone who corrects friends when they're talking? Everyone has a different personality, and yeah we're definitely all acting in good faith.

Kind of regardless of all this I do think that people on the internet upvote what they already believe in, regardless of misuse of words. You haven't totally convinced me there, but you're right I think that misuse of words played some part. It's just that if people (such as you) wanted to engage me in a good faith manner I'd hope they say "hey I understand your point here and here, but you used the terms here and here incorrectly", but instead you corrected me (without addressing my point) and another guy called me pompous and ignorant.

Last thing I do just want to say we both have good intentions and we both felt each other's comments were dismissive. Perhaps we would both rewrite things if we could go back in time. We're not writing books here, we probably aren't proofreading, and we probably just have different ways of looking at the world. I disagree that people are neutral in what they upvote and write online, and I still think that people upvote what they agree with, without giving things substantive thought. You haven't changed my mind on that. But yeah you're right it didn't exactly help things that I used the wrong words.

Let's just move on. Thanks for your thoughts! We both have a lot of effective altruisming to do and I'm not sure this is it.

edit: I think there's also potentially a trend on this forum to be positive about EA, regardless of all the talk about red teaming. So it's very possible that one explanation of why everyone in disagreement to this and other comments I've written is that they go against EA decisions somehow. There's also a lot of comments here which support the decision to buy the manor house. Honestly, when I compare this to my experience on reddit.com/r/effectivealtruism where everyone was like WTF this purchase is terrible and the one negative comment I made there, someone else agreed with me. So yeah overall just seems a bit of dogpiling and cliquish, which isn't too surprising because that's how the internet works. I think upvoting and downvoting is a terrible terrible idea for listening to others and having independent thoughts.

I'd be curious about why you think my comment about optics was also heavily downvoted (well, first it was upvoted, then downvoted). There weren't any word mixups in that case. So to me it seems like there's some explanation besides word mixups, which you are claiming is the main reason. (Indeed I think that may have been your main reason for not agreeing with my comment, but there isn't much evidence that it's the reason for negative reaction in general to that comment. I mean even in your comment you said you think that's why, but don't provide much evidence (other than people upvoting your comment, again, but it's sort of weird to think that the evidence for why people are reacting on a forum would be how they react to ideas about why they react a certain way)).

It's not just you. Before I wrote a reply sort of calling out the insults, your post had way more upvotes than any of my comments. I think there's something systemic about the EA forum which doesn't encourage good dialogue (I'm suspicious of the numbers at the top of comments, for starters).

I totally agreed with you when you pointed out that Americans and people from the UK might have different perspectives on this topic. So yeah, there's something real you're gesturing at. It's a cultural difference. People from different economic backgrounds probably also look at this purchase differently.

That said, I don't think this purchase was particularly frugal in any cultural context. Even Owen Cotton-Barratt, who played a big role in getting the manor house purchased, said (in the comment above) he thought the beautiful surroundings would be inspiring and it wasn't done as a cost saving sort of thing.

And yeah, I know I was making a useful point about the real dynamic affecting the conversation! What I wrote wasn't written perfectly, but the fact remains it's a big fancy mansion. 
I made the comment that the average person reading a headline isn't going to think "hey it was actually only $10 million, not $15 million," they're just going to think "hey that's a big fancy mansion where a bunch of rich people stayed, purchased by a charity" - and we've already seen this in headlines (so yeah, of course it's a valid point, however poorly worded) and the fact that my comment was corrected in some ways which largely ignored the main thing I was arguing, and then the comment correcting me was upvoted 27 times compared to my upvote of 7, really says a lot about the lack of this platform for good dialogue and listening to others. I am just saying, it's not you, you don't need to feel bad, but I'm kind of venting that this platform isn't great for dialogue and I wonder who thought that copying reddit (with the upvote, downvote thing) would lead to a good format for intellectual dialogue and an exchange of ideas. Feel free to ignore this paragraph (or whatever you want) but I'm just sort of venting at this point. I mean the counter-argument is that the people who read my comment might have agreed if it had been worded better, but I have a hard time believing that because in addition how much your comment was originally upvoted. I think people just had an opinion, and then read something they agreed with, and then upvoted that, just like they do on every damn forum on the internet, and your comment was no different, and that's cool man I mean lots of people get upset and write mean things on the internet, you shouldn't feel bad, but let's just all go ahead and admit that this forum isn't enlightened or a great place for dialogue or any of that, and it's maybe 20% better than the YouTube comment section, which is the absolute asshole of the earth in terms of intelligent dialogue. Okay, sorry, done with my complete rant.

Yeah my point was that I personally mix up words sometimes. Did I not write that clearly? I didn't mean that everyone does it.

My point isn't really whether it's a castle or not. Sometimes I use words interchangeably, like calling a turkey a chicken. I think my point was about media perception or something... yeah sorry if I'm not super smart.

It's not really nice to call people ignorant and presumptuous, and doesn't lead to super great dialogue. I don't think it really becomes EA to look down on other people, call them ignorant and presumptuous because they didn't use the right words. A lot of people upvoted your comment, which makes me question whether I want to engage with EA more.

Yeah I might be ignorant. The people who hear about this manor house and are turned off from EA might be ignorant. So *** them right? They suck! But then EA is just sort of doomed to be this irrelevant movement that nobody wants to be part of because it is critical of other people and doesn't care about what anybody else thinks or feels.

edit: I spoke with my American friends and they also referred to it as "a castle or whatever", so I guess it's normal for Americans to think in those words.

The average person reading this news in the US on Twitter or a newspaper isn't going to think, "oh well, it's only a manor house, not a castle".

Your point could be totally accurate but I don't think you're addressing the point of how the public will perceive it, which is what I am concerned about. And yeah it's totally unfair that people will form knee jerk reactions and everyone should really investigate claims that they read, but that's not the reality we live in.

(Will Bradshaw made a good point about how perception of this purchase could be different in the UK vs the US. In the US we don't know what a manor house is, but y'all might in the UK or Europe in general.)

Do you think that the perception will be, "meh, no big deal, that's just a manor house," and that people will differentiate between a manor house and a castle, or that they will consider the difference between a resident and owner in a significant way? If so, then yeah there may just be a cultural divide here.

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