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Leverage Research: reviewing the basic facts

Also, that comment was only able to provide mention of a handful of people describing Leverage like a cult, admitting they could not recall any specific details.

I could list a number of specific details, but not without violating the preferences of the people who shared their experiences with me, and not without causing even more unnecessary drama.

These details wouldn't make for a watertight case that they're a "cult". I deliberately didn't claim that Leverage is a cult. (See also this.) But the details are quite alarming for anyone who strives to have well-calibrated beliefs and an open-minded and welcoming EA community. I do think their cultishness led to unnecessary harm to well-meaning, young people who wanted to do good in the world.

Leverage Research: reviewing the basic facts

Given there are usernames like "throwaway" and "throwaway2," and knowing the EA Forum, and its precursor, LessWrong, I'm confident there is only be one account under the username "anonymous," and that all the comments on this post using this account are coming from the same individual.

I don't feel comfortable sharing the reasons for remaining anonymous in public, but I would be happy to disclose my identity to a trustworthy person to prove that this is my only fake account.

Leverage Research: reviewing the basic facts

Thanks for making this post, it was long overdue.

Further facts

  • Connection Theory has been criticized as follows: "It is incomplete and inadequate, has flawed methodology, and conflicts well established science." The key paper has been removed from their websites and the web archive but is still available at the bottom of this post.
  • More of Geoff Anders's early work can be seen at https://systematicphilosophy.com/ and https://philosophicalresearch.wordpress.com/. (I hope they don't take down these websites as well.)
  • Former Leverage staff have launched a stablecoin cryptocurrency called Reserve (formerly "Flamingo"), which was backed by Peter Thiel and Coinbase.
  • In 2012-2014, they ran THINK.
  • The main person at LEAN is closely involved with Paradigm Academy and helps them recruit people.

Recruitment transparency

  • I have spoken with four former interns/staff who pointed out that Leverage Research (and its affiliated organizations) resembles a cult according to the criteria listed here.
  • The EA Summit 2018 website lists LEAN, Charity Science, and Paradigm Academy as "participating organizations," implying they're equally involved. However, Charity Science is merely giving a talk there. In private conversation, at least one potential attendee was told that Charity Science was more heavily involved. (Edit: This issue seems to be fixed now.)
  • (low confidence) I've heard through the grapevine that the EA Summit 2018 wasn't coordinated with other EA organizations except for LEAN and Charity Science.

Overall, I am under the impression that a majority of EAs think that Leverage is quite culty and ineffective. Leverage staff usually respond by claiming that their unpublished research is valuable, but the insiders mentioned above seemed to disagree.

If someone has strong counterevidence to this skeptical view of Leverage, I would be very interested and open to changing my mind.