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spencerg

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Ben made a bunch of other changes the day of publication. I know that because I pointed out errors in his post that day, and he was correcting them based on me pointing them out (e.g., all of his original quotes from glassdoor that he claimed were about Emerson were not actually about Emerson, which he didn't realize until I pointed it out, and then he rushed to find new quotes to correct it). I'm sure he had a lot on his mind at that time, so I don't think it's egregious that he didn't add mention of the fact that he had screen shot counter evidence about the "no food while sick stuff", but it clearly seems to me to be a mistake on his part to not adjust the post or at least acknowledge it in the post. And I know he received the screenshots because he acknowledged getting them. You're saying it made it into a comment as though Ben gets credit for that - but wasn't it Kat who posted that comment? He also chose to rush the post out that night despite knowing there was counter evidence. I was honestly shocked he was trying to rush the post out that night because of all the errors I was finding in his post, which I expressed to Ben that day.

Update: I only just saw this point you made, including here for context and because it helps answer what I said: "since publishing this post required coordinating with many (5-10) external sources and witnesses, with many of them having a strong preference for a concrete time for the post to be published and they can plan around, so they can get ready for any potential retaliation and fallout. "

Update 2: "Spencer and Nonlinear knew the claims we were planning to put into the post on this matter roughly a week in-advance." I'm not sure what you're basing this on, but this is not accurate. I saw the post on Sept 6 for the first time and Ben published it early morning of Sept 7. During that short gap I sought to help him correct some errors in the post, which he did.

Update 3: the post was indeed being edited in meaningful ways on Sept 6, I know because I was helping Ben identify mistakes he had made and he was making changes based on that (such as the glass door misattribution)

You say: "This is inaccurate. I don't think there is any evidence that Ben had access to that doesn't seem well-summarized by the two sections above. We had a direct report from Alice, which is accurately summarized in the first quote above, and an attempted rebuttal from Kat, which is accurately summarized in the second quote above. We did not have any screenshots or additional evidence that didn't make it into the post."

Actually, you are mistaken, Ben did have screenshots. I think you just didn't know that he had them. I can send you proof that he had them via DM if you like.

Regarding this: "As Kat has documented herself, she asked Alice to bring Schedule 2 drugs across borders without prescription (whether you need a prescription in the country you buy it is irrelevant, what matters is whether you have one in the country you arrive in), something that can have quite substantial legal consequences (I almost certainly would feel pretty uncomfortable asking my employee to bring prescription medications across borders without appropriate prescription)."

It sounds like you're saying this paragraph by Ben: 

"Before she went on vacation, Kat requested that Alice bring a variety of illegal drugs across the border for her (some recreational, some for productivity). Alice argued that this would be dangerous for her personally, but Emerson and Kat reportedly argued that it is not dangerous at all and was “absolutely risk-free”

is an accurate characterization of this sentiment: she was asked to pick up ADHD medicine in a place where it was believed not to require a prescription, and bring it back to a place where it does require a prescription, but then was told not to worry about it when it was found that it does require a prescription where she was going to pick it up.

To me, the former does a really bad job of capturing the latter, sounding WAY worse ethically. But I'd be curious to know if others agree with me or if they think that Ben's paragraph captured this in a fair way.

On most of the other points I mentioned, it seems you feel that Ben made mistakes or ommisions, which I agree with:

"I currently feel a bit sad about the "daily" here, but would write roughly the same thing replacing it with "multiple times a week"."

"I do think it's currently sad that Ben's post didn't also mention Alice's company"

"Yeah, I think it was a bad move to not include the follow-up of "some points still require clarification""

On the taxi situation, I can't speak to what it is like to get taxis in all the areas they lived, though this is one of those things Ben could have checked rather easily by asking where they were that she couldn't get cabs and trying to book a cab (I don't believe he bothered to check, but correct me if I'm wrong). When I stayed with all of the involved parties for a few days: Alice, Chloe, Kat, Emerson, and Drew (which was not in Peurto Rico), I got taxis twice, and it was slightly annoying - I spent about 5-10 minutes explaining where exactly to meet me, but was able to successfully get taxis on both of those occasions. Of course, that was just in one place that they lived (I think they were in that location for a couple of weeks if I recall correctly), and it might have been harder in other places, but at least in that location, getting taxis was no more than a minor nuisance.

Update: since it's so easy to verify the claim about taxis, I just went ahead and checked it myself. My understanding is that Chloe was talking about Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. I used google maps to find and then call three taxi companies in that region. The first two didn't pick up. The third said to text them, which I did, and they gave me a quote for getting a taxi today to drive 40 minutes (which was $45). It took about 10 minutes of my time (and 20 minutes on the clock, since they took ~10 minutes to give me a quote). 

I didn't realize this earlier, but in their evidence doc, Nonlinear talks about a similar check they did:  "Lastly, it was not complicated to get a taxi there. I quickly checked, because sometimes we are in places that are truly remote. But there were three taxi services in the area that could have picked her up or driven her there. I called one of them and they said it would cost $30 and they could come pick me up whenever. And one of the other places where we were living at the time, she literally had to book a taxi for me out there, so I know she knew how and that it was possible. 

There just wasn’t Uber there, so she’d have to make a phone call to a taxi."

 

I can't tell if you think Alice gave Ben basically accurate information and didn't leave out critically important details, or if you think she did leave out critically important details (or directly lied to Ben),  but it didn't matter because Ben's post was justified regardless.

I’m surprised to hear you say this Habryka: “I think all the specific statements that Ben made in his post were pretty well-calibrated (and still seem mostly right to me after reading through the evidence)”

Do you think Ben was well calibrated/right when he made, for instance, these claims which Nonlinear has provided counter evidence for?

“She [Alice] was sick with covid in a foreign country, with only the three Nonlinear cofounders around, but nobody in the house was willing to go out and get her vegan food, so she barely ate for 2 days. Alice eventually gave in and ate non-vegan food in the house” (from my reading of the evidence this is not close to accurate, and I believe Ben had access to the counter evidence at the time when he published)

“Before she went on vacation, Kat requested that Alice bring a variety of illegal drugs across the border for her (some recreational, some for productivity). Alice argued that this would be dangerous for her personally, but Emerson and Kat reportedly argued that it is not dangerous at all and was “absolutely risk-free” (from my reading of the evidence Nonlinear provided, it seems Alice was asked to buy ADHD medicine that they believed was legal to buy where she was, and then they told her never mind when she said it required a prescription)

“After being hired and flying out, Chloe was informed that on a daily basis their job would involve driving e.g. to get groceries when they were in different countries.” (my understanding from what I read was that she was told she could take taxis paid for by nonlinear, and it was more like twice per week not daily)

“In summary Alice spent a lot of her last 2 months with less than €1000 in her bank account, sometimes having to phone Emerson for immediate transfers to be able to cover medical costs when she was visiting doctors. At the time of her quitting she had €700 in her account, which was not enough to cover her bills at the end of the month, and left her quite scared. ” (my understanding is that, according to nonlinear, this was not accurate)

“Afterwards, I wrote up a paraphrase of their responses. I shared it with Emerson and he replied that it was a “Good summary!”” [implying that Emerson was saying his characterization was accurate] (my understanding was that part of Emerson’s message was not mentioned, and that Emerson believed Ben’s summary had serious inaccuracies)

I do mean theory A to specifically be a theory where he did not intentionally defraud people. I don't think the EA + non-DAE + naive utilitarianism + intentional fraud theory is one of the three most likely, that's why I didn't discuss it in detail, but I'd be interested in evidence for it (if you think there is evidence for that theory in particular that is not already mentioned in my post)

I agree that on things that are taboo to support (like this) we should expect support to be greater than publicly acknowledged support. However, a near-universal lack of public support is still evidence of a genuine lack of support. We could debate how much evidence it is. Talking to EAs 1-on-1 I also have barely found any that say they support the kind of actions that SBF was accused of, but many that condemn those actions. Again, not perfect evidence, but it provides a bit of additional evidence.

I didn't interpret the original post as saying you should update 0%, just that you should update only a very small amount because it's flimsy and sloppily reported on evidence.

Hi Elliot. To respond to your questions:

(1) I interpreted the section "Sharing Information About Ben Pace" as making the point that it's quite easy to make very bad-sounding accusations that are not reliable and that are not something people should update to any significant degree on if one applies a one-sided and biased approach. It sounds like some people interpreted it differently, but I thought the point of the section was quite clear (to me, anyway) based on this part of it: "However, this is completely unfair to Ben. It’s written in the style of a hit piece. And I believe you should not update much on Ben’s character from this.

[...list of reasons why you shouldn't update given...]

I’m not yet worried about these “patterns” about Ben because I don’t know if they are patterns. I haven’t heard his side. And I refuse to pass judgment on someone without hearing their side"

 

(2) I think it would have been reasonable for Ben to wait 4 or 5 weeks (e.g., 3 or 4 weeks for them to gather their evidence, 1 or 2 weeks to review it). I assume (though I could be wrong) that Nonlinear could have provided a lot of the key evidence in 3 weeks, though not written it up in long-form prose and organized it as they have done for this post, which is vastly more work than merely providing the raw evidence about each claim for someone to look through. Providing evidence to an investigator takes way less time than doing a full write-up for the EA forum.

(3) I didn't do a detailed look at every row in the "Short summary overview table", but for the ones I did look into in more detail, I found Nonlinear's counter evidence to be compelling. That table is organized by claim and is in an easy-to-navigate structure, so I suggest people take a look for themselves at the evidence Nonlinear provided regarding whatever claims they think are important.

Are you referring to the part of the post called "Sharing Information on Ben Pace" when you say "attempted smear of Ben in retaliation for writing the post"? If so, I don't interpret that section the way you might because (from my perspective) it seemed clear that it was trying to make a point about how easy it is to make allegations sound bad when they are flimsy. Especially since the section says:

"However, this is completely unfair to Ben. It’s written in the style of a hit piece. And I believe you should not update much on Ben’s character from this.

[...list of reasons why you shouldn't update given...]

I’m not yet worried about these “patterns” about Ben because I don’t know if they are patterns. I haven’t heard his side. And I refuse to pass judgment on someone without hearing their side"

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