All of Sophia's Comments + Replies

If you could make a second EA forum with a different vibe to this one, what would it be like?
Answer by SophiaNov 16, 202115

Being an extreme example of how wholesomeness, warmth, compassion and kindness are not at odds with first-principle thinking on the internet would be incredible. I do think the forum has moved in this direction in recent years but I definitely don’t think it’s maxed out “warmth” while still satisfying the constraint “everyone still care lots about what is actually true”.

I do think making first-principle thinking “warm” is really hard. Science communicators have a really tough time coming across as knowledgeable and warm at the same time (see 6.3 of this ar... (read more)

Comments for shorter Cold Takes pieces

This was possibly my favourite email in the Cold Takes email newsletter so far. I always enjoy understanding someone's thought process before they've become an expert on a topic. Once someone knows enough, I think that their views usually change too slowly to easily see or demonstrate (one new piece of information or consideration, one new data point, naturally can't swing the holistic viewpoint quite so much when a person knows a huge amount).

It (unsurprisingly) reminded me of early Givewell material. Givewell is likely right more of the time now than in... (read more)

EA Forum engagement doubled in the last year

This sort of thing is hard to judge but I'd guess that having a moderator who seems enthusiastic, approachable and friendly makes a huge difference.

I think Aaron Gertler might have made the forum a much less intimidating place to contribute to the discussion than it would have been without his comments and posts (and also that this sort of thing compounds over time). Many of his additions seemed to nudge the forum culture in a more open, more curious, more patient and more welcoming direction (I have read the forum regularly for years and I noticed the cha... (read more)

3Ben_West1moThanks Sophia! I really appreciate you sharing this – it’s helpful for us to get a sense of which aspects of our work are motivating to people – and I agree that Aaron is great!
Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library

Possibly, it is enough to just have a disclaimer like "by submitting, you agree to have this turned into an audio format" to satisfy copyright laws?

Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library

It seems like an extremely good use of time for EA forum designers (and others) to implement this. I think this is a fantastic project and I really hope this goes ahead. I also think it's valuable for the EA community to take less start-up style shortcuts as the movement gets older and more well-known. I think the risk of giving the impression of being low-integrity or messy is high enough that regardless of whether copyright laws are good or not, it's worth following them.

1Sophia2moPossibly, it is enough to just have a disclaimer like "by submitting, you agree to have this turned into an audio format" to satisfy copyright laws?
[Creative Writing Contest] An Ordinary Plea

I upvoted your comment because what you said was interesting even if I disagree with the overall sentiment. 

I agree that fiction is good for raising difficult questions and exploring nuance. I also agree that didactic fiction can be a bit off-putting. However, most fiction expresses a writer's beliefs about the world and what they value (most writers will take inspiration from what they already know and what they think). When the writing is good, this tends not to be off-putting because the writer handled this with enough nuance. An author's best... (read more)

What gives me hope

I love this post! Thank you for sharing it :)

AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy

It is probably totally inappropriate to respond to questions on an AMA for other people, but I thought I'd mention anyway that I loved a talk (linked below) that Hayden Wilkinson gave, which was very relevant to this. 

Hayden pointed out that even if, theoretically, your only goal* was to help others as much as you can over your lifetime, you still need to take into account that you are human and what you do now changes what your future self is likely to want to do.  If you try and do an extreme amount now, with no plan to give yourself a break fr... (read more)

2Harry_Taussig7moThank you for sending this Sofia, I'm glad you decided to inappropriately answer my question!
HIPR: A new EA-aligned policy newsletter

I downvoted your comment despite agreeing with a lot of your critiques because I very, very strongly disagree that posts like this aren't a good fit for the forum (and my best guess is that discouraging this sort of post does significantly more harm than good). If someone who has a good understanding of what effective altruism is has an idea they think is plausibly a high impact use of time (or other resources), the forum is exactly where that sort of idea belongs! This post clearly reaches this standard. Once the idea is on the forum, open discussion can ... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

To be clear, I think this specific post was a reasonable fit for the forum, insomuch as it is a proposal for a newsletter, for the reasons you outlined. I agree the forum should accept ideas that are merely plausibly promising, so they can be refined, create useful discussion, and give people the opportunity for growth.  And indeed I did not downvote this post.

The issue I was responding to was the question of whether every instalment of the newsletter should be shared on the forum:

It would be helpful to know if people think I should post each issue on

... (read more)
Why I prefer "Effective Altruism" to "Global Priorities"

I am enjoying all this recent discussion on what we should be calling "effective altruism". 

As EA ideas become more common and get applied in a larger variety of contexts, it might be good to have different words that are context and audience specific.  For example, "global priorities" seems like a great name for the academic field, and it can be acknowledged that it is related to "effective altruism" the social movement which is, itself, clearly very distinct but still related to the LessWrong/Rationality community. Maybe policy orientated effec... (read more)