260Joined Nov 2017


I'm a coach for people who are trying to do the most good with their lives while leading a meaningful life.

I'm also a medical doctor who did biosecurity research at Stanford, co-founder of EA Denmark, and an author.


Hi Lorenzo, thanks a lot for giving us feedback! That enables us to understand why it might not have been received in the way that we had hoped - namely to enable EAs to benefit from a resource that we think could probably be quite valuable to others. :) We significantly rewrote the post - hope this makes the communicative intent clearer. 

That makes sense in the context of education. However, I'd add that agency also contains some components related to general ability (and perceived ability) to exert influence on the world in a way that's aligned with one's values. The section on what autonomy supportive educators tend to do is highly valuable. Appears quite related to coaching (although coaching is a much broader term).

There's a typo:
"(r = .3; about ~10% of the variance explained [ = .01]" --> "R^2=0.1"

Regarding self-determination theory. How would you relate that to agency  (similarities and differences)? Agency (or the related self-efficacy) appears relatively popular among EA and has been around in psychology for a while.

Thanks so much for writing this up. 
I carefully read through the "how to teach effectively in five steps" and got a lot of value from it.  I've yet to read through other aspects of the blog post. 

The thing I love the most about this section is that it builds on robust findings from meta-analyses. Why do I love this? Because i) nothing  in community-building is based on robust evidence and  ii) it counteracts a tendency for EA to rely to much on what's EA - reinventing a new paradigm rather than recalling that the majority of what's useful in the world in the world isn't "EA" (we're substantially standing on the shoulders of giants).

Additionally, here's a couple of reactions and questions to five step section specifically:
1. I appreciate the focus on defining a learning objective as a skill and then working backward from that.  I think that "creating personal theory of changes and impactful career plans that one can wholeheartedly (or agentically) pursue" is a good default to have in mind. One downside to this approach is that it might lead to Goodharting and leading the teacher to go in "exploitation" mode.  E.g., I worry that I might become too attached to a specific outcome on behalf of the students and tacitly start to persuade (similar to some concerns expressed by Theo Hawkins) and/or neglect other important opportunities that might emerge during the program. How do you think of that risk?

2. Can you say anything about what forms summative assessments are particularly useful? For Future Academy, we're contemplating pitching project ideas or presentation and discussion of career plans (although we likely wouldn't label it as an assessment but rather as an exciting culmination of their work). 

3. I think there's a typo under 3a. (“Formative assessments” —> formative activities)?

4. While I appreciate the rigor of the evidence upon which this post is built, I worry about this being true for on average for average university students and might not generalize to the subpopulation that some portion of community-building efforts is targetted towards (e.g., people who are in the 90th percentile on various domains, including openness to experience, conscientiousness, need-for-cognition, etc.). How worried are you about this?

5. Strongly agree with the importance of role models. Humans are deeply social and our social incentives (including role models) might be the most important things to change. In fact, being generally good people (or virtuous) in addition to the unique virtues you mentioned appears important as we have some research showing that this might be off-putting. Finally, same-race role-models appear to be particularly important.

I really enjoyed this. Deep truths that address some of my current overconfident tendencies and insecurities while being entertaining! Thank you. :) The post could've been even more awesome if you linked to the other insights (e.g., the post on hiring). 

Thanks for sharing this! How long after the workshop(s) were the follow-ups you did?

Thanks for the disclaimer.

  1. It does seem important to understand the underlying scale dynamic. However, it's still unclear to me how to evaluate this claim as it depends a lot on the underlying Thery of Impact for the impact scale. E.g., I'd imagine that it'd be more or less relevant depending on the role (e.g., it might hold more true for a researcher than a community-builder or coach). Practically, I'd also claim that a strong focus on IQ among existing HEAs are less valuable. I.e., the answer to "how can we best increase the expected impact of HEA?" is unlikely to involve things directly related to IQ. E.g., anecdotally, I can say things such as emotional stability (opposite of neuroticism) and concrete ways of increasing conscientiousness is likely much more likely to come up (if I restrain the search query to validated constructs).
  2. We might already have such a scale with the proto-EA scale. Additionally, I think it's valuable to look for other proxies for impact (e.g., having done impressive things like starting a non-profit at an early age).
  3. Thanks. That paper does seem to propose correlations in the ballpark you're suggesting although I haven't had the time to think about to what extent I find this convincing.
  4. I agree. Especially because our model of what's impactful is likely to change quite substantially across time (5-10 years).

Thanks so much for this Kuhan!
I notice that I tend to become much more self-centered around conferences and hyper-networking social interactions. This is a great +1 for calibrating one's priorities more towards focusing on being of service rather than being served.

Thanks for attempting to hold yourself to the standards you wish to see in others (although hypocrisy can be warranted sometimes). :)

  1.  Just to be clear, is your claim causal? I.e., would you claim that if we magically increased a sufficiently large sample of random HEA's IQ by 10%, then we'd see a 3% increase in the groups five-year impact compared to a control group? (please take this as a purely hypothetical scenario where you don't have to worry about tractability of raising IQ, etc.)
  2. That IQ is the greatest predictor of five-year impact compared to everything else we could plausibly measure psychometrically (e.g., Grit/conscientiousness, openness (one of the BIG5), self-efficacy, courage, and psychological well-being)?
  3. What's the best resource you have for this claim? I'd love a couple of concrete papers.
  4. That with all of the data we currently have available for EAs we can't predict more than 50% of the variance in impact?
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