This was helpful; I agree with most of the problems you raise, but I think they're objecting to something a bit different than what I have in mind.
The mechanism I have in mind is a bit nebulous. It's in the vein of my response to (2a), i.e., creating intellectual precedent, making odd ideas seem more normal, etc. to create an environment (e.g., in politics) more receptive to proposals and collaboration. This doesn't have to be through widespread understanding of the topics. One (unresearched) analogue might be antibiotic resistance. People in general, including myself, know next to nothing about it, but this weird concept has become respectable enough that when a policymaker Googles it, they know it's not just some kooky fear than nobody outside strangely named research centres worry about or respectfully engage with.
Enjoyed the post but I'd like to mention a potential issue with points like these:
I’m skeptical that we should give much weight to message testing with the “educated general public” or the reaction of people on Twitter, at least when writing for an audience including lots of potential direct work contributors.
I think impact is heavy-tailed and we should target talented people with a scout mindset who are willing to take weird ideas seriously.
I would put nontrivial weight on this claim: the support of the general public matters a lot in TAI worlds, e.g., during 'crunch time' or when trying to handle value lock-in. If this is true and WWOTF helps achieve this, it can justify writing a book focusing less on people who are already prone to react in ways we typically assoicate with a scout mindset. Increasing direct work in the usual sense is one thing to optimise for; another is creating an enviroment receptive to proposals and cooperation with those who do direct work.
So although I understand that you're not making strong claims about other groups like the general public or policymakers, I think it's worth mentioning that "I'd rather recommend The Precipice to people who might do impactful work" and "WWOTF should have been written differently" are very importantly distinct claims.
Reading this post reminded me of someone whose work may be interesting to look into: Rufus Pollock, a former academic economist who founded the Open Knowledge Foundation. His short book (freely available here) makes the case for replacing traditional IP, like patents and copyright, with a novel kind of remuneration. The major benefits he mentions include increasing innovation and creativity in art, science, technology, etc.
Thanks for writing this!
This is very reasonable; 'no predictive power' is a simplification.
Purely academically, I am sure a well-reasoned Bayesian approach would get us closer to the truth. But I think the conclusions drawn still make sense for three reasons.
Thanks for the comment!
I think it's completely plausible that these two measures were systematically measuring something other than what we took them to be measuring. The confusing thing is what it indeed was measuring and why these traits had negative effects.
(The way we judged open-mindedness, for example, was by asking applicants to write down an instance where they changed their minds in response to evidence.)
But I do think the most likely case is the small sample.
Nodding profusely while reading; thanks for the rant.
I'm unsure if there's much disagreement left to unpack here, so I'll just note this: