I agree that a good number of people around EA trend towards sadness (or maybe "pits of despair"). It's plausible to me that the proportion of the community in this group is somewhat higher than average, but I'm not sure about that. If that is the case, though, then my guess is that some selection effects, rampant Imposter Syndrome, and the weight of always thinking about ways the world is messed up are more important causes than social norms.
I have to say, I actually chuckled when I read "don’t ever indulge in Epicurean style" listed as an iron-clad EA norm. That, uhh, doesn't match my experience.
I'm interested in reading critiques of StrongMinds' research, but downvoted this comment because I didn't find it very helpful or constructive. Would you mind saying a bit more about why you think their standards are low, and the evidence that led you to believe they are "making up" numbers?
They did not have a placebo-receiving control group. For example some kind of unstructured talking-group etc. Ideally an intervention known as „useless“ but sounding plausible. So we do not know, which effects are due to regression to the middle, social desirable answers etc. This is basically enough to make their research rather useless. And proper control groups are common for quiete a while.
No „real“ evaluation of the results. Only depending on what their patients said, but not checking, if this is correct (children going to school more often…). Not eve... (read more)
They do discuss some of these and have published a few here, though I agree it would be cool to see some for longtermism (the sample BOTECs are for global health and wellbeing work).
Thanks for writing this summary! This all seems really important and really hard to figure out. What approaches/methods do researchers use to suggest answers to these kinds of questions? Can you give some examples of recent progress?
[Replying separately with comments on progress on the pretty hard problem; the hard problem; and the meta-problem of consciousness]
The meta-problem of consciousness is distinct from both
a) the hard problem: roughly, the fundamental relationship between the physical and the phenomenal
b) the pretty hard problem, roughly, knowing which systems are phenomenally consciousness
The meta-problem is
c) explaining "why we think consciousness poses a hard problem, or in other terms, the problem of explaining why we think consciousness is hard to explain" (6)
The me... (read more)
The forum guidelines suggest I downvote comments when I dislike the effect they have on a conversation. One of the examples the guidelines give is when a comment contains an error or bad reasoning. While I think the reasoning in Ruth's comment is fine, I think the claim that capitalism is unsustainable and causes "massive suffering" is an error. Nor is the claim backed up by any links to supporting evidence that might change my mind. The most likely effect of ruth_schlenker's comment is to distract from Halstead's original comment and inflame the discussion, i.e. have a negative effect on the conversation.
Capitalism could be worse than some alternative due to factory farming, climate change or various other global catastrophic risks, although we really need to consider specific alternatives. So far, I think it's pretty clear that what we've been doing has been unsustainable, but that doesn't mean replacing capitalism is better than reforming or regulating it, and technology does often address problems.
Hey, I really appreciate this discussion! I wanted to jump in on one point. You note that the Founders Pledge follow-up to the original growth post (which I co-wrote) concluded that it would be too costly to continue the research to identify funding opportunities. I just wanted to note that taht was the case that because of how FP's funding model works. FP staff don't directly control the pledged funds - the members make the final decision over where to donate, and can take or leave the recommendations.
Since policy orgs are difficult to evaluate, I w... (read more)