Stuart Buck

Executive Director @ Good Science Project
1244 karmaJoined


I lead a small think tank dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific advancement by improving the conditions of science funding. As well, I'm a senior advisor to the Social Science Research Council. Prior to these roles, I spent some 9 years at Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) as VP of Research. 

How I can help others

Science policy, reproducibility, and philanthropy. 


OK, fair enough, what I said was perhaps a bit overstated. It is even more overstated to refer to a "conference filled with racist speakers" etc. 

The main debate here is whether people who ever  aid controversial things should be allowed to attend an event at all, and/or to give a talk about unrelated issues.

Great comment and overview of the event, which I very much enjoyed. 

Was anyone there who had ever uttered a previous phrase or sentence with which I might disgree, even firmly so? Almost certainly.  

I mean, Eliezer was there, and he has suggested that human infants might be susceptible to killing up to 18 months (, which I regard as unbelievably monstrous. 

But even if someone said something monstrous, I'm still willing to hear them out, to attend a conference with them, and to attempt to persuade them otherwise (if it comes up). And who knows, maybe some belief of mine might turn out to seem monstrous to other people. I should hope they'd try to engage with me. 

Trying to cancel folks because they spoke at an event but another speaker said a bad thing 15 years ago---that's an absurd level of guilt by association. 

Is the consensus currently that the investment in Twitter has paid off or is ever likely to do so? 

I could imagine making that case, but what's the point of all the Givewell-style analysis of evidence, or all the detailed attempts to predict and value the future, if in the end, what would have been the single biggest allocation of EA funds for all time was being proposed based on vibes? 

I did think Harris could have been slightly more aggressive in his questioning (as in, some level above zero). E.g., why would MacAskill even suggest that SBF might have have been altruistic in his motivations, even though we now know about the profligate and indulgent lifestyle that SBF led? MacAskill had to have known about that behavior at the time (why didn't it make him suspicious?).

 And why was MacAskill trying to ingratiate himself with Elon Musk so that SBF could put several billion dollars (not even his in the first place) towards buying Twitter? Contributing towards Musk's purchase of Twitter was the best EA use of several billion dollars? That was going to save more lives than any other philanthropic opportunity? Based on what analysis?

This statement cracked me up for some reason: "At this point, we are not actively making grants to further investigate these questions. It is possible we may do so in the future, though, so if you plan to research any of these, please email us."

I.e., this isn't an RFP (request for proposals). Instead, it's more like a RFINP, BMITFWDEK? Request for Information Not Proposals, But Maybe In The Future (We Don't Even Know)? 

OK, mostly joking -- in all seriousness, I haven't seen wealthy philanthropies release lists of ideas that are hopefully funded elsewhere, but maybe that actually makes sense! No philanthropy can fund everything in the world that might be interesting/useful. So maybe all philanthropies should release lists of "things we're not funding but that we hope to see or learn from." 

Great journalists are getting laid off all the time these days. You could find any number of professional and highly accomplished journalists for a tiny fraction of $800k per year. 

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