Radical Empath Ismam

260 karmaJoined Jun 2022


There used to be discord group with a lot of left wing EAs but it has since fizzled.

Let me know if you get a new group up and running.

I don't fully agree with DeBoer but am much more sympathetic to his views than yourself. Some respectful pushpack on some of your points:


But if you look at what EAs actually recommend, they very much do not recommend defrauding lots of people

It's true EA does not reccommend fraud but I think we underappreciate EAs role in having encouraged SBF (and the other EAs assosciated with him) to walk down that path. By all accounts, SBF was a very moral person who cared strongly about animals and was set on a career in animal welfare before he was persuaded by William MacAskill to work in crypto on EA grounds. MacAskill made that encouragement and stuck by him even though

  • Many cryptocurrencies have high carbon emissions
  • cryptocurrency having questionable utility to society
  • FTX advertising complex financial products to unsophisticated retail investors in an unethical way (super bowl ads with celebrities)


If everyone supports effective charities, why does the Against Malaria Foundation get such a small percentage of charitable funding?

I don't disagree with the gist of your point about people being ineffective, but I think this specific example doesn't work because by definition the most effective charities have to be receiving a small percentage of funding, otherwise they would no longer be neglected.


Is it really plausible that huge numbers of people have looked into it and concluded that the GiveWell top charities are ineffective?

Many people just don't know GiveWell exists. Or in fact, they think they are using something as good as GiveWell (e.g. Charity Navigator).


DeBoer’s final point involves questioning why one should align oneself with the movement. Why not just like do charitable things effectively? This is, I think, less important than most of his critique. If you don’t call yourself an effective altruist but give 10% of your income to effective charities, take a high-impact career, are vegan, and give away your kidney, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. In fact, I’d consider you to be basically an EA in spirit, even if not in name.

I disagree that this is not an important part of DeBoer's critique. DeBoer is stressing that by disassosciating yourself from "Effective Altruism", you can continue doing the good parts of effective altruism, without the baggage of the bad parts. The bad parts DeBoer describes as things like longtermism, hypotheticals, book promotions, the castle. If you are someone like DeBoer who sees those things as the bad parts of EA, then there probably is value in distancing yourself from EA, as it lets you continue your good deeds without inadvertently supporting the parts of EA you think are misguided.

There is no justification for it. EA was intended to be a more mass movement at the onset, and that is the way for it to reach it's true potential.

The harsh crticism of EA has only been a good thing, forcing us to have higher standards and rigour. We don't want an echochamber.

I would see it as a thoroughly good thing if Open Philanthropy were to combat the protrayal of itself as a shadowy cabal (like in the recent politico piece) for example by:

  • Having more democratic buy-in with the public
    • e.g. Having a bigger public presence in media, relying on a more diverse pool of funding than (i.e. less billionarie funding)
  • Engaged in less political lobbying
  • More transparent about the network of organisations around them
    • e.g. from the Politico article: "... said Open Philanthropy’s use of Horizon ... suggests an attempt to mask the program’s ties to Open Philanthropy, the effective altruism movement or leading AI firms"

If anyone is after a good example of EA criticism, I cannot strongly reccommend enough the Doing EA Better post by the ConcernedEAs group.

Just wanting to express my shared disappointment with how parts of this community embraced crypto/ gambling etc. as Gemma points out in her post.

Strongly agree. I definitely would like to see more content on neartermist causes/ careers. But importantly, I would like to see this content contributed by authors who hold neartermist views and can give those topics justice. Whilst I am appreciative of 80,000 Hours and GWWC attempting to accomodate longtermism-skeptics with some neartermist content, their neartermist content feels condescending because it doesn't properly showcase the perspectives of Effective Altruists who are skeptical of longtermist framings.


I also personally worry 80,000 Hours is seen as the "official EA cause prioritisation" resource and this:

  • alienates readers with different views and conclusions,
  • does not show that the EA community has diverse and varied views,
  • has misled readers into thinking there is an "official EA position" on best careers/ cause areas

Having more neartermist content will help with this, but I also would like to see 80,000 Hours host content from authors with clashing views. E.g., 80,000 makes a very forceful case that Climate Change is not a material X-Risk, and I would like to see disagreeing writers critique that view on their site.


I also think you hit the nail on the head about many readers being unreceptive to longtermism for concerns like tractability, and that is entirely valid for them.

The problem I am trying to communicate is less so about agreeing with deep critiques, and more-so about attacking the authors of critiques personally.

This is where I think EA (or more fairly - this specific forum) underperforms other intellectual movements. e.g. Physicists, philosophers, social scientists can disagree about different theories in deep but respectful and professional ways. In EA however, deep criticism is received very personally by the community, leading to emotional/personal attacks on character.

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