Rick

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EA Survey 2017 Series: Demographics II

Oh thank goodness, I am glad it is nothing worrying. Thank you for clarifying!

EA Survey 2017 Series: Demographics II

Sorry to fixate on this, but I've just never seen non response rates this high before - 10% is high in most cases of surveys, 40% is absurd. Like, yes you always have groups who feel like the answers don't accurately capture their reality, but given that you did allow for multiracial answers (and given the homogeneity of EA from a race stand point), this usually would be only a very small fraction of respondents. There's also the population that, for lack of a better term, "don't believe in race" and never answer this question, but given how small this population is in general, unless an absurdly high number of them are EAs then this should also only be a very small fraction.

I really, really hope this isn't the explanation, but I could see at least some of these answers coming from the perspective of "I don't think race is a problem in EA, and people should stop asking about it, so I'll just not answer at all as a protest or something." As someone who sees data collection as sacred, I would be appalled by this - so please, someone, for the sake of my sanity explain what could possibly drive a 40% non response rate that is not this.

EA Survey 2017 Series: Demographics II

Are there any theories about what is driving the really high non response rate for race? Or any cross tabs about what groups or locations are more likely to have a non response for race? Racial demographics in EA is an important topic, and it's a shame that we can't get better data on it.

A Different Take on President Trump

Thanks Xccf, it's definitely good to explore these questions. I just personally worry that this specific anti-immigration part of the right has 1) become particularly dangerous in their rhetoric, and 2) has become too good at co-opting language used by EAs. For 1, I'd probably defer to everyone else's points on this. I won't put out an argument, but just to give some background for where I am coming from - I grew up with Muslim and Immigrant friends, and after the rhetoric after 9/11 started getting heated my parents made sure that I listened to Bush's (as well as everyone else's) calls for tolerance, including by forcing me to read the wonderful book "Who speaks for Islam". I just have never bought the 'clash of civilizations'-type arguments as a result, and can find no evidence that behooves me to change my view. I now directly work for an organization that (among other things) pushes for refugee (including Syrian) rights. If I had any doubt that this work was dangerous, I'd quit. For 2, it's a little fuzzier, and a little less developed - so you'll have to bear with me (I wish I had a good source writing this up - perhaps when I have time I'll make one). I see a lot of cases of young white men (like myself, mind you) pushing pseudo-scientific screeds against various forms of equality (Milo Yiannopoulos is the king of this). Many people in this cohort portray themselves online (note: portrayal is everything in this case!) as the 'logical' ones, and say 'I'll change my mind if you can prove me wrong with facts in a reasonable argument', and then complain that the real problem is 'political correctness', which is stifling their 'freedom of speech'. On the surface, this looks like a sane line of argument, and seems like one that we should support (who doesn't like freedom of speech, amiright?). And so this becomes a situation where they force the rest of us who believe in freedom of speech and intellectual diversity to either A) yell at them, thus making them look like the ones with the high ground, or B) try to reason with them, which accidentally normalizes their speech, and puts it into the mainstream. God forbid you actually manage to kick the legs out from under their argument, like I've managed to do on forums a few times, because then their buddies tend to try to cyberbully you, or worse if god forbid they dox you and people get your real address.

I really don't want to make this come off as ad hominen or a judgement on your character, so please forgive me if I'm coming on a little too strong (and without enough evidence! which I do apologize for as well). I do not believe that you are one of these people that I mentioned - I've seen your posts, and you are very reasonable, but I strongly worry that Henry is one of these people based on the way he writes and the thoughts being pushed. Once again, I can't prove this, but I just want to flag it just in case.

A Different Take on President Trump

Thank you, to be frankly honest I'm not too sure how sold I am on my argument either - naive utilitarianism is definitely a fun way to explore new models, but I definitely agree that it shouldn't be taken too seriously! For intellectual diversity, I don't have a concrete plan as of yet, but in general one of my main hang-up is my perception that EAs don't give enough credence to the thoughts of practicioners who have been trying to improve the effectiveness of NGO and Government work for decades. I work in a large NGO, and my job focuses on improving the uptake of impact research evidence, and I originally approached my job from a very naive perspective, believing that EA-style thinking (even though I didn't know about EA at the time) would easily improve the effectiveness of the organization. A lot of people were pushing back against the initiative, which I originally thought was just a matter of them 'not getting it', or 'supporting the status quo' - until I started talking to them, and realized that I was being the ridiculous one. That being said, I still had some things to add - which is why overall I think that similar engagements between EAs and non-EAs who are working on the effectiveness of a given topic should talk more (and the EAs should listen as much as they talk!). Learning more about how programs and aid and NGOs and such actually 'work' in reality and talking to experts on these topics may nuance a lot of people's positions - it did for me at least. I think engaging more with 'traditional social movements', like feminism, Black Lives Matters, labor unions, etc. could lead to similar benefits as well, especially as EAs consider how to grow and increase the power of the EA 'movement' - although, I understand that this is a touchier topic, so I don't really push for it often.

A Different Take on President Trump

Also, it's worth noting that what I just suggested is a fairly dangerous idea for a variety of reasons. So, by my logic, if the general consensus among everyone is that what I suggested will clearly lead to more harm than good, then I would very strongly suggest down-voting my comment into oblivion and never talking about it again ;)

A Different Take on President Trump

So, this may be an unpopular opinion, but I for one am quite glad that these discussions are being down-voted.

When we consider entertaining these discussions, we can take a consequentialist viewpoint and run a simple cost/benefit analysis to determine if entertaining the discussions is a good idea, such as the following: Benefits = (tractability: chance entertaining discussion will lead to changes in EA thinking) (impact: amount of marginal good that will occur if change in EA thinking occurs) (maybe an uncertainty discount, depending on your preference) + (improved reach: benefits of bringing in new EAs who are amicable to these arguments) + (value externalities: benefits that arise from fomenting a culture of openness to new ideas among EAs) Costs = (decreased reach: harms of causing EAs not amicable to these arguments to become disenchanted with EA) + (reputational risk: harms that would arise if people started saying "EAs seem to be amenable to alt-right discussions", which in turn would further scuttle our already struggling efforts to diversity the EA movement and repaint ourselves in a better light)

People pushing the above arguments clearly think that the potential impacts of integrating these thoughts into EA are very very high (e.g., a lot more conservative people could join EA, we'd avert WWIII or something, etc.), even if they admit that the tractabillity is quite low, hence why they are pushing so strongly.

However, I, and many other EAs, believe very strongly that the costs (reputation risk + harming our ability to reach more potential EAs) are higher than the potential benefits. I'd also say that, for many of us, the estimated sign on "amount of marginal good that will occur if change in EA thinking occurs" associated with the above arguments is actually negative, for a variety of reasons.

Now, the people arguing for these arguments will most likely say "but what about intellectual diversity and freedom of speech!" To which I retort A) freedom of speech and the ideals of liberty do not mean that I have to spend my time entertaining your thoughts or that I need to write 10 pages explaining why, exactly, I think you are mistaken, and B) as a consequentialist, I am a fan of pushing and supporting equal intellectual diversity as a vehicle for good, and in this case I very strongly think that entertaining this particular form of intellectual diversity will cause much more harm than good. I do think that we need to push for more intellectual diversity in the EA movement, but there are much better ways to do this than entertain this sort of discussion.

Charity Science Health receives GiveWell Experimental grant and other updates

Ah, but have you done a RCT with a cost effectiveness analysis on this? I am dubious that hacked ATM cards are a more cost efficient intervention than, say, funding free bed bet distribution!

Setting Community Norms and Values: A response to the InIn Open Letter

Yeah, I can see how that could be an issue, and honestly I do lean towards the "the external optics problem is the patriarchy's fault, not ours - telling us that we are 'not nice enough' is just a form of silencing, and you wouldn't listen to us anyway if we were 'nicer'" viewpoint, but I can see how that can make this discussion difficult. I'm just mostly hoping that the discussions on 'calling-in' within feminism move forward - even a quick google search shows that it's popping up on a lot of the feminist sights targeted to younger audiences - it may be on oncoming change, and hopefully it'll pick up steam.

Congratulations on your engagement by the way!

Setting Community Norms and Values: A response to the InIn Open Letter

Ah, I see the issue now - you are assuming that I'm saying that feminism has a model that we should directly emulate, whereas I am just saying that they are dealing with similar issues, and we have things to learn from them. In short, there are leaders in feminism who have been working on this issue, with some limited success and yes, a lot of failures. However, even if they were completely 100% failing, then there is still a very important thing that we can learn from them: what have they tried that didn't work? It is just as important to figure out pitfalls and failed projects as it is to try and find successful case studies.

The key is getting that conversation started, and comparing notes. Your perception of feminism and the problems therein may change in the process, but most importantly we all may learn some important lessons that can be applied in EA (even if they do consist primarily of "hey this one solution really doesn't work, if you do anything, do something else").

If you are truly 100% not convinced that we can learn this from feminism, then that's OK: you can talk to leaders of any other social movement instead, since many of them have dealt with and thought about similar problems. Your local union reps may be a good place to start!

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