I think that relevant context for backlash against Davis Kingsley's anti-polyamory views is that he is an orthodox Catholic. His anti-polyamory views are part of a set of fairly extreme views about sexuality, including being opposed to homosexuality, masturbation, contraception, premarital sex, and any sexual intercourse other than PIV. He has also expressed the viewpoint that polyamory should be socially stigmatized and people should be pressured into monogamy. I believe that much, perhaps most, of the backlash he has faced is due to the overall set of his beliefs and that it was disingenuous for him not to include this context. Obviously, I am opposed to sexual harassment and to pressuring people towards any relationship style.[Note: comment edited to use Davis's preferred terminology for his style of Catholicism. The first sentence originally said "traditional". I'm sorry for using terms for his beliefs that he doesn't identify with.]
The Economist article discusses the practice of widespread polygyny: that is, men who have multiple wives and whose wives are only married to them. As a matter of mathematics, polygyny (without polyandry) means that many men will stay unmarried, which makes them less connected to society and more likely to behave violently. That argument seems true to me.
However, the argument hardly seems applicable to the egalitarian polyamory almost always practiced by effective altruists. Poly female effective altruists can and do date multiple people. Further, many poly effective altruists are in same-gender relationships. If anything, polyamory as practiced by most effective altruists seems to reduce relationship inequality. People who have trouble finding a primary relationship can find a secondary relationship and receive many of the benefits of a romantic relationship. (Although not all, of course-- I don't mean to erase the very real loneliness that comes from having a hard time finding a primary partner, even if you have secondaries you love.)
Further, the article discusses polygyny in cultures where women are literally bought from their families by wealthy men. Both polygamy and monogamy are harmful relationship structures when women are sold by their fathers to strangers three times their age. That doesn't mean that either is harmful when freely chosen by an individual in a society with much better protections for human rights in general and women's rights specifically.
Don't worry, I'm robust to bad comments on the EA Forum. :) Fortunately, this doesn't seem to be a norm anywhere close to being adopted.
I don't understand why bad actors who are already willing to harass women wouldn't be willing to cheat on their wives. I also don't understand why we can't just stigmatize people hitting on their employees, if that is the thing we actually care about. Your proposed system has no advantages if the senior men are single or serially monogamous-- both very common.
Your language also strikes me as oddly and unnecessarily gendered. It isn't exactly better if a senior woman is hitting on a younger, vulnerable man! Effective altruists are much more LGBT+ than the general population, and poly effective altruists even more so; it seems to me to be a very incomplete analysis to assume that everyone is heterosexual.
I have been harassed by many monogamous men but if I posted on the LW forum saying "I was harassed by many monogamous men" I would expect a lot of pushback from people who-- very sensibly-- would think I was trying to stigmatize monogamy.
There are places for unendorsed venting. Those places are not the Less Wrong forum.
ETA: I'm guessing from comments of yours I read elsewhere that you didn't mean to come off as anti-poly as you did to me and Amber, and I'm sorry if my comment came off hostile. I know I've definitely written things that came off in ways I didn't intend. :)
As a queer person, it definitely makes me feel unwelcome to hear people suggest that the social movement I'm part of gets to have an opinion on my consensual relationship choices.
An interesting counterexample to some of your points is the Disney Renaissance, generally considered to be the golden age of Disney animation, which started fifty years after Disney began animating films. AIUI, the conventional wisdom is that there happened to be a confluence of incredible talents: in particular, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken were an incredible songwriting duo. The Renaissance was also when the iconic Disney princess line was invented. Before the Renaissance, Disney happened to have made films about princesses, but it wasn't a distinct category, any more than films about talking animals were considered a distinct category. The anecdote I've heard is that a producer noticed that girls were wearing handmade Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella dresses, and decided to appeal to the obvious market here!
I for one would be very interested in it if you decided to look into why the Disney Renaissance was so good so long after Disney began animating films.
Just a point on inclusiveness: throughout this post, you implicitly assume that the average effective altruist is a heterosexual man-- the sort of person who would find a girlfriend at EA Global, has Will MacAskill as his competition, and who might tell cute girls about the drowning child thought experiment. That kind of thing tends to be really alienating to women and LGBT+ people reading! It's the same way you would feel kind of alienated if you read a post assuming that you are a woman and you'd be getting a boyfriend at EA Global. One easy way you can make posts like this more inclusive is by gender-swapping things: for example, you might keep your drowning child example, but say "social skills to find a boyfriend at EA Global." (Will MacAskill should probably be kept as it is, because for better or for worse calling prominent men dreamy is much less socially laden than calling prominent women dreamy.)
Thank you! You're right. That's absolutely a flaw. In the future, when I write things like this, I'll try to be more careful about highlighting that both I and my conservative friends are American and I can't speak to other countries.
Hiring someone to watch my kid instead of trying to work during naps and in the evenings.