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Okay yes, I agree that a driver of bank runs is the knowledge that the bank usually can't cover all deposits, by design. So as long as you keep that fact secret you're much less likely to face a run.

I am now unsure how to reason about the likelihood of a run-like scenario in this case.

The measures you list would have prevented some financial harm to FTXFF grantees, but it seems to me that that is not the harm that people have been most concerned about. I think it's fair for Ben to ask about what would have prevented the bigger harms.

if any charity's rationale for not being at least moderately open and transparent with relevant constituencies and the public is "we are afraid the CC will shut us down," that is a charity most people would run away from fast, and for good reason

I do think a subtext of the reported discussion above is that the CC is not considered to be a necessarily trustworthy or fair arbiter here. "If we do this investigation then the CC may see things and take them the wrong way" means you don't trust the CC to take them the right way. Now, I have no idea whether that is justified in this case, but it's pretty consistent with my impression of government bureaucracies in general. 

So it perhaps comes down to whether you previously considered the charity or the CC more trustworthy. In this case I think I trust EVF more.

He'd need a catastrophic stock/bond market crash, plus almost all depositors wanting out, to be unable to honor withdrawals.

I think this significantly under-estimates the likelihood of "bank run"-type scenarios. It is not uncommon for financial institutions with backing for a substantial fraction of their deposits to still get run out due a simple loss of confidence snowballing.

I feel like "if you get legal advice, follow it" is a pretty widely held and sensible broad principle, and violating it can have very bad personal consequences. I think the bar should be pretty high for someone violating that principle, and I'm not sure "avoiding quite a lot of frustration" meets that bar, especially since the magnitude of the frustration is only obvious in hindsight.

Thanks, I think this is all right. I think I didn't write what I meant. I want more specificity, but I do agree with you that it's wrong to expect full specificity (and that's what I sounded like I was asking for).

What I want something more like "CEA should investigate the staff of EVF for whether they knew about X and Y", not "Alice should investigate Bob and Carol for whether they knew about X and Y".

I do think that specificity raises questions, and that this can be a good thing. I agree that it's not reasonable for someone to work out e.g. exactly where the funding comes from, but I do think it's reasonable for them to think in enough detail about what they are proposing to realise that a) it will need funding, b) possibly quite a lot of funding, c) this trades off against other uses of the money, so d) what does that mean for whether this is a good idea. Whereas if "EA" is going to do it, then we don't need to worry about any of those things. I'm sure someone can just do it, right?

We do of course need to worry about the flip side: plenty of times (especially in political groups) you see people being told not to criticise the group's positions because it will make it less likely that the public in general will buy the overall picture (which the critic probably still agrees with). This can be pretty toxic.

I don't think Richard is advocating for that, but I think it's a risk once you legitimize this kind of argument.

At some point it surely has to be the case that they've done enough.

This doesn't seem true? It makes perfect sense for advocacy groups to continue advocating their position, since a lot of the point is to reach people for whom the message is new. 80k is (or at least was) all about how to use your career for good, I would expect them to always be talking about earning to give as an option.

I think I agree with Hypothetical EA that we basically know the broad picture.

  • Probably nobody was actually complicit or knew there was fraud; and
  • Various people made bad judgement calls and/or didn't listen to useful rumours about Sam

I guess I'm just... satisfied with that? You say:

But there are plenty of people, both within EA and outside of it, who legitimately just want to know what happened, and will be very reassured to have a clearer picture of the basic sequence of events, which orgs did a better or worse job, which processes failed or succeeded.

.. why? None of this seems that important to me? Most of it seems like a matter for the person/org in question to reflect/improve on. Why is it important for "plenty of people" to learn this stuff, given we already know the broad picture above?

I would sum up my personal position as: 

  • We got taken for a ride, so we should take the general lesson to be more cautious of charismatic people with low scruples, especially bearing large sums of money.
  • If you or your org were specifically taken for a ride you should reflect on why that happened to you and why you didn't listen to the people who did spot what was going on.

I'm against doing further investigation. I expressed why I think we have already spent too much time on this here.

I also think your comments are falling into the trap of referring to "EA" like it was an entity. Who specifically should do an investigation, and who specifically should they be investigating? (This less monolithic view of EA is also part of why I don't feel as bothered by the the whole thing: so maybe some people in "senior" positions made some bad judgement calls about Sam. They should maybe feel bad. I'm not sure we should feel much collective guilt about that.)

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