Electrical Engineering Student @ University of California, Davis
1179 karmaJoined Jan 2021Pursuing an undergraduate degreeOakland, CA, USA



I'm an electrical engineering undergraduate. Once I've built up about 24 months worth of living expenses in savings, I plan to take a Giving What We Can Further Pledge to live on maybe $25,000 per year (to be adjusted for inflation and reevaluated if I have a child) so I can donate most of my income to GiveWell recommended charities. I also dream of working on something especially impactful in an EA cause area. I'd prefer to be an RF engineer, but am also considering data analysis for EA organizations. I currently donate to the GiveWell Top Charities Fund and offset my carbon footprint by donating to the Clean Air Task Force.


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I've been thinking about your perspective lately, and wondered if there is a variable I hadn't considered enough. I was raised middle class American and my dad was raised upper middle class American. For this post, I drew on my decade of experience as a lower class American after a disability left me unable to earn a good living for a long time. My field was heavily male dominated (construction). Since in my experience lower class American norms seem more gendered to me, I would expect the experience of someone who hasn't worked in a male-dominated lower class American field to be pretty different from mine. My friends were ones I made from work, so they already considered me one of the guys. Do you think your experience was different from mine because you didn't work in a male-dominated field? 

I also suspect I gave off a one-of-the-guys vibe (because that's the environment I prefer) that you don't that altered how people treated me. I found this Slate Star Codex post helpful in thinking about this:

I think the essence of EA's smartness comes down to our ability to change our minds when presented with good information that challenges our worldview. I've been part of all sorts of communities, including many other youthful social-do-gooder movements, and never seen anything like it. People's models of the world are usually wrong in important ways, so I think this is probably the most important form of intelligence. So yes, I agree with Jeffrey Kursonis that we are probably typically smarter than average in the ways most applicable to what we work on.

Proposing a change to how Karma is accrued:

I recently reached over 1,000 Karma, meaning my upvotes now give 2 Karma and my strong upvotes give 6 Karma.  I'm most proud of my contributions to the forum about economics, but almost all of my increased ability to influence discourse now is from participating in the discussions on sexual misconduct. An upvote from me on Global Health & Development (my primary cause area) now counts twice as much as an upvote from 12 out of 19 of the authors of posts with 200-300 Karma with the Global Health & Development tag. They are generally experts in their field working at major EA organizations, whereas I am an electrical engineering undergraduate.

I think these kinds of people should have far more ability to influence the discussion via the power of their upvotes than me. They will notice things about the merits of the cases people are making that I won't until I'm a lot smarter and wiser and farther along in my career. I don't think the ability to say something popular about culture wars translates well into having insights about the object level content. It is very easy to get Karma by participating in community discussions, so a lot of people are now probably in my position after the increased activity in that area around the scandals. I really want the people with more expertise in their field to be the ones influencing how visible posts and comments about their field are. 

I propose that Karma earned from comments on posts with the community tag accrues at a slower rate.

Edit: I just noticed a post by moderators that does a better job of explaining why karma is so easy to accumulate in community posts:

I'm actually  more open than I appear, and feel bad about not engaging more with you about the details. I want to, but going through all that again like we did in the comments on Owen's post would be too distracting from school for me right now.

I'm sorry my comment gave the wrong impression! 

I did find your comments on that post and believe we have very different perspectives on how serious the punishment should be. I thought the likelihood of  someone familiar with lower class banter culture having such different opinions from me about the punishment was low, so I really appreciate you speaking up!

I agree that Owen's behavior was not ok in any context. I agree he should be punished for it. I am only disagreeing with the extent of the punishment demanded in the comments on that post and similar comments regarding some other incidents in the Time article. 

Yes, poor people are not a monolith! Some people from our background (especially the people who chose to stick around EA long enough to be on the forum) will prefer current EA norms and feel grateful for them. I don't mean to dismiss your experiences at all. And like I said earlier, there are many different socioeconomic cultures that are underrepresented in EA, so I don't know what direction we should shift our norms in overall. Maybe there is that much diversity even within the US. I was speaking about my personal experience as someone from this background and the experiences of all the people I know well enough to know their perspectives from this background. I'm sorry I gave  the impression I was trying to speak for you. I also wasn't accusing us at all of having lack of control,  just having the right to prefer different norms if we want to. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective! I do wish you had done so more politely though.

I'm curious: Do you feel like your wider lower class culture was very different from mine, or is it more that your family held different views that were a minority? Also, where were you raised and what role did religion play? My experience comes from Sacramento, California and religion was rarely discussed. I hope you don't mind me asking these questions; There are so few of us around that EA needs all the data on us it can get!

I'm actually confused about why this got so many downvotes, as I didn't think I was saying anything controversial. Can someone explain?

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