Sam Ellis

48 karmaJoined May 2022


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Facebook parent company fined in largest campaign finance penalty in U.S. history

Oct. 27th, 2022

— A Washington state judge on Wednesday fined Facebook parent company Meta nearly $25 million for repeatedly and intentionally violating campaign finance disclosure law, in what is believed to be the largest campaign finance penalty in U.S. history.

The penalty issued by King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North was the maximum allowed for more than 800 violations of Washington's Fair Campaign Practices Act, passed by voters in 1972 and later strengthened by the Legislature. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the maximum was appropriate considering his office previously sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.

More crimes are committed with cash, is cash a scam too? Criminals prefer cash, because as it turns out, most crypto transactions are very trackable, unlike cash. 

People who do on-chain analysis have tracked FTX's crypto movements, something you would be unable to do with cash. It seems many here have a fundemental misunderstanding of cryptocurrency, and why it was invented in the first place. 

Sam was using his own invented crypto that was basically worthless as collateral to borrow real money to then trade or buy politicians, or whatever else he was doing with it. His crypto coin was a scam, and he literally went on Bloomberg and bragged about his "Ponzi" scheme, using those words. More than a few people in the crypto community have been warning about Sam for months, but those people were mocked, ridiculed, and ignored. 

What Sam did was completely against the ethos of crypto, (especially when he started lobbying for regulations and attempting to buy elections) just as what he did was against the ethos of EA.

It isn't fair or reasonable to judge all of crypto by his actions, just as it wouldn't be fair or reasonable to judge all of EA by Sam Bankman-Fried.

I'd be interested to know if there's any psychological research on how niceness and being ethical may be related.


There is a plethora of research on the subject, including a growing body of evidence which suggests we are born with a sense of compassion, empathy, and fairness. Paul Bloom has done some amazing research with babies at the Yale psych lab, and more recently the University of Washington published a study suggesting altruism is innate. 

A brief overview of Paul Bloom's work: 

The Moral Life of Babies, Yale Psychology Professor Paul Bloom finds the origins of morality in infants 

More on the study from the University of Washington: 

Altruistic babies? Study shows infants are willing to give up food, help others

"New research by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, or I-LABS, finds that altruism may begin in infancy. In a study of nearly 100 19-month-olds, researchers found that children, even when hungry, gave a tasty snack to a stranger in need. The findings not only show that infants engage in altruistic behavior, but also suggest that early social experiences can shape altruism.

The study is published online Feb. 4 in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.

“We think altruism is important to study because it is one of the most distinctive aspects of being human. It is an important part of the moral fabric of society,” said Rodolfo Cortes Barragan, a postdoctoral researcher at I-LABS and lead author on the study. “We adults help each other when we see another in need and we do this even if there is a cost to the self. So we tested the roots of this in infants.”


Additionally, I'm pasting part of an article here that I found interesting, and it has several relevant studies linked within. I hope this helps.

Kindness toward others can boost our own physical and mental health.

By Zara Abrams

Being kind is not only the right thing to do—it’s also good for our physical and mental health. Psychologists have found that performing acts of generosity boosts happiness and well-being and is even linked to physical health benefits, including lower blood pressure (Curry, O. S., et al., Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 76, 2018; Hui, B. P. H., et al., Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 146, No. 12, 2020).

Both small acts, such as holding the door for a stranger, petting an animal, or bringing coffee to a colleague, and larger favors, such as helping a friend move, can have an impact, said Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor of psychology and director of the Positive Activities and Well-Being Laboratory at the University of California, Riverside. Prosocial behavior toward friends, strangers, and oneself—and even observing or recalling kind acts—have all been shown to increase well-being (Rowland, L. & Curry, O. S., The Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 159, No. 3, 2019; The Journal of Positive Psychology, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2021; Emotion, Vol. 16, No. 6, 2016).

Not all acts of generosity are created equal. Giving directly to a person or proxy—for instance, donating face-to-face to a charity rather than contributing online or taking a friend out to dinner rather than sending them a meal—offers an opportunity for social connectedness that’s particularly beneficial, said Lara Aknin, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, who directs the Helping and Happiness Lab.

“When people give in ways that are more socially connected or relational, that seems to better unlock these emotional rewards,” she said.

People also reap more benefits from kind behavior when they’ve chosen to be kind, rather than being required to do so, and when they feel that their actions have had a positive impact ( Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Vol. 88, 2013).

On top of the psychological gains, research also ties helping behavior to better physical health. One study tracked more than 7,000 U.S. adults, finding that those who volunteered engaged in more preventive health behaviors than those who did not (Kim, E. S. & Konrath, S. H., Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 149, 2016). In another study, older adults who spent money on others had lower blood pressure than those who spent money on themselves (Whillans, A. V., et al., Health Psychology, Vol. 35, No. 6, 2016). Another

Lyubomirsky and her colleagues even found that people who performed acts of kindness—anything involving helping, sharing, or caring for others—showed improvements in gene expression associated with a healthier immune profile (Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol. 81, 2017).



On the flip side, here is an interesting article by a Stanford professor explaining why arrogance is the biggest risk to unethical behavior for organizations:

The Biggest Unrecognized Ethics Risk 

"Arrogance is one of the most dangerous drivers of unethical behavior. It is almost always present in one form or another when scandal erupts."

"The reason arrogance occupies a top slot in ethics risk rankings is that it generates, and exacerbates, almost all of the other drivers of unethical behavior."

Thank you for your post, you've articulated what several others have privately shared with me. It is precisely because of the attitude you described that these individuals are reluctant to address this issue within the community. 

While there are many good, kind, and intelligent people in EA, there are also some who are not.  

In my humble opinion,  EA might benefit from spending more time studying and embodying the moral principles of virtue ethics, and less time on utilitarianism and the rationalist community. 

"How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one. " 

Stephen R. Covey, author of  "7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

This is meant in a lighthearted fashion - but you would feel guilty listening to Barry Manilow? These days, the colloquialism, "guilty pleasure," is meant to be funny, not to invoke actual guilt. 

That being said, the concept of feeling guilty when appropriate, actually serves a useful purpose. Those on the anti-social personality disorder spectrum lack a sense of guilt, which is why they so often purposely hurt others. To me, that is evil personified.

In psychology, it is said that all of the disorders in the DSM usually only hurt the person who has the disorder. The exception is  the anti-social spectrum disorders - those are the disorders that hurt everyone else. It is said jokingly, however it is truer than not.

Anyway, linguistics is an interesting topic because language literally shapes our perceptions, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. 

Add to that the concept of cognitive dissonance, and how our behavior changes in accordance with our words, and you soon realize how powerful language is. 

Words have the power to shape what we see, quite literally, and words can determine how we act. This isn't new, it is why we pledge allegiance to our respective flags, or take oaths, or swear on a bible in court to tell the truth.

I'm currently working on a post about the subject, so please stay tuned...

I think you are talking about guilty pleasures, yes?

From Wikipedia:  A guilty pleasure is something, such as a film, a television program, or a piece of music, that one enjoys despite understanding that it is not generally held in high regard, or is seen as unusual or weird.

Personally, I like the more common phrase,"guilty pleasure"  better, because I wouldn't want to label anything I do as evil.  How can secretly listening to Barry Manilow be considered evil? lol