Topic Contributions


My experience with imposter syndrome — and how to (partly) overcome it

Thanks so much for writing this! It's really good to hear from other members of the community who have struggled with this. It sounds like there are a lot of shared elements, and I think talking about it openly makes it easier for other people to do so. It's certainly been easier for me to bring up my imposter syndrome now that it's widely understood to be a problem in the community and bringing it up helps with recovering from it. 


Some things I find are helping in my case:

- Getting a lot of feedback. I find that my doubts flourish and grow in "the gaps" when I don't have much feedback. I sort of automatically convince myself that my work is terrible unless there is good positive evidence that it isn't, to reducing the situations where this can happen has been very valuable. This includes what you said about being more open with things like first drafts and the amount of time I spend on tasks. It's difficult because you reflexively want to avoid doing this when you have imposter syndrome because you don't want to be "found out". So imposter syndrome blocks off its own solution.  

– Paying special attention to positive feedback to increase its salience and make it more difficult to rationalize away.

– Psychotherapy for guidance during this process.

Divestment From Animal Agriculture: What Does It Achieve?

Hi James,

Thanks for your deep engagement with the report and thoughtful comment! No, it didn't come across as blunt or rude or anything! :)

I was thinking of something closer to a vegan outreach campaign that was optimized for delegitimizing the industry when I wrote that. We did write that we think that its an institutional focus is more effective, and perhaps its abolitionist focus too, though veganism can also be framed in that way. Perhaps the report should have talked more about how other types of animal  campaigns can (and should) leverage the stigmatization process. 

I don't think veganism is really a quiet act of omission. Generally quite a few other people will come to know that you are vegan and veganism gets plenty of popular press. I don't think this would be happening if there were much fewer vegans. Maybe if veganism only involved dietary choices, but that's not what you're getting with vegan outreach, unless you're really leading with the health arguments. Having said that, I agree that it looks like divestment is better at getting press, though hard to say exactly. We did cite that as the strongest reason for engaging in divestment.

It does still seem to be like basically all animal advocacy campaigns involve stigmatization to some significant extent. It's not much of a jump from meat is immoral to the companies that are creating it are immoral. Legislative campaigns also involve pointing out serious inadequacies in the industry practice that need to be reformed, though the message may not be as strong here.

I think there is something to the idea that divestment hits closer to the pocketbook with the stigmatization that it brings, though I'm not convinced that that makes up for the paucity of direct effects.

I do think there should be people trying divestment in the animal advocacy context and seeing how it goes, but unless the results proved us wrong, based on the arguments in this report, I wouldn't recommend a big shift of resources towards it.

Managing 'Imposters'

It's great to see the subject getting attention!

Getting plenty of honest – but understanding and contextualized – feedback has been particularly useful for me in dealing with imposter syndrome. It lets me worry less that I'm actually making tons of errors but they aren't being caught or that my managers are just being nice about it. It's a counterintuitive thing, so it was great to see it covered in this article.

[Linkpost] Taking on the World's Largest Food Companies | Vicky Bond from The Humane League

This is a topical discussion topic in the movement. See this discussion for example:

Introducing Effective Self-Help

Really looking forward to your articles!

It seems like you have a good strategy for producing high-quality articles (and particularly happy you'll be ordering by effect size).

Have you considered switching countries to save money?

It must be gorgeous, and definitely appealing, but isn't it in the top ten for murder rate per captita?

World's First Octopus Farm - Linkpost

Really unfortunate development. Compassion In World Farming recently released a report on the subject and why it's a terrible idea.

I want to make a couple of points here:

1) Since octopuses are carnivorous, a much larger number of fishes will be used to feed them

2) Since this is such a new development, it's an important time to oppose this and try to nip it in the bud

Countering imposter syndrome

I get quite bad imposter syndrome, and I can take a stab at this.

Here are some general points I'd make here.

1) My imposter syndrome seems to come from a quite separate psychological process. So I could have my rational assessment of the situation (including some beliefs that work against imposter syndrome) but still feel the imposter syndrome quite strongly. Obviously they aren't completely unrelated, but they often do seem quite separate.

2) Imposter syndrome for me isn't just the belief that I am the least competent person in the room/org, it is the belief that I am uniquely  awful at the work or task. The part of me that feels like an imposter might sometimes acknowledge that I can maintain a veneer of competence, but that I have critical faults that undermine any ability to contribute in the end. That appearance of competence feels utterly hollow.

3) It has been valuable for me to imagine (in sober moments) if my worst fears are true and how bad that would really be. But when I am in the grips of imposter syndrome I'm liable to catastrophize and think that it would be absolutely awful and think that those worst fears are true.

When to get off the train to crazy town?

I had a similar journey. I still think that utilitarian is a good description for me, since it seems basically right to me in all non-sci-fi scenarios, but I don't have any confidence in the extreme edge cases.  

New Intuitions for Cultured Meat

Adam Shriver has a few papers on breeding animals with the pain genes knocked out. See this paper for example.

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