Peter Elam

201Joined Apr 2022

Comments
27

This is antithetical to keeping EA weird.

Is the goal of EA to maximize impact, or some other collection of things? If EA losing some of its distinct culture helps it execute on its stated core mission, isn't that ok?

Excellent post! And completely agree that as you adopt a longterm focus, growth and state capacity become even more important.

Excellent write-up and I completely agree with the massive impact voting reform would have if it could gain momentum. As a real-life example of its impact, I like this Washington Post article How ranked-choice voting saved the Virginia GOP from itself (I apologize if you linked to this somewhere in your post, I didn't see it).

Another organization working on this is Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center, although I have no idea what their budget is.

I think this is a great post and I'm really glad that you wrote this up. You were very smart in the way that you approached this experiment and it sounds like you learned some valuable lessons. In general community spaces are very tricky to establish, and successful ones have to get a lot of details right.

Strongly agree with all of the fundamental points of this post.

I currently work for a shadow government NGO of sorts in California that was spun up to address the massive governance failures in the state in the late 2000s.

Improving governance in California, I see you like working on the easy problems huh? ;-)

I completely agree governance is the big fundamental problem that underlies most of the others, and that so much impact work is treating the symptoms while ignoring the disease. It strikes me that what's most needed is leaders who can coordinate efforts and point the way forward in tangible ways (your list is a start). Maybe that's you?

There are probably hundreds of high schools located within close proximity to large US universities, including universities with stronger math programs than the University of Florida. 

The reason parents push to get on Mr. Frazer's radar is because he built a successful ecosystem. One of the core reasons you build an ecosystem is to attract talent. The success of what he built is what attracts additional talent. When he started nobody was trying to get on his radar, that only happened once the program gained momentum. 

And of course tails, if they are remarkable, are reflected in averages. But all of that aside. Before he arrived and built the the program the math team was unremarkable. The thing that's meaningfully different is what he built, not the talent pool he was drawing from (especially at the beginning). I'm sure the talent pool he's drawing from now is much stronger.

Analysis is of course incredibly important no matter what you are trying to do. Ecosystem building requires an incredible amount of analysis to answer these and a myriad of other questions. But analysis coupled with building/data gathering/experimentation is much better than analysis alone.

From my post:

  • It provides a place for analysis and practice to intersect - Many current EAs may be stronger in gathering and analyzing data to help guide and influence those on the front lines. At the same time, all analysis is improved by interaction with the real world. This represents a place where those that analyze and those that build can interact to their mutual benefit.

Analysis is of course incredibly important no matter what you are trying to do. Analysis coupled with building/data gathering/experimentation is much better than analysis alone.

“It’s much easier, and more reliable, to assess a project once it's already been tried.”

you also don't want us to be too wedded to our conclusions

Isn't not being wedded to your conclusions a core idea of the EA movement?

But I just want to emphasize that, in my view, analysis (and specifically cause neutrality) is what makes EA unique. If you take out the analysis, then it's not clear what value EA has to offer the rest of the charity / social impact world.

So of course I am not suggesting EA take out the analysis. From my post:

  • It provides a place for analysis and practice to intersect - Many current EAs may be stronger in gathering and analyzing data to help guide and influence those on the front lines. At the same time, all analysis is improved by interaction with the real world. This represents a place where those that analyze and those that build can interact to their mutual benefit.

My second thought is what is EAs core priority? Is it uniqueness or impact? If becoming less unique increases your impact would you choose to become less unique? If the core value is maximizing impact, all secondary values should be subordinate to that one.

I was responding to the series of questions that implied building these would mean encountering difficult or impossible to answer questions.

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