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Thanks Wil. I can agree with that.
My comment here was about Geoffrey Miller's comment, rather than your original post as a whole (albeit I separately took issue with your use of "relatively petty..."), so I'm not sure I follow where you're going here.
FWIW, if you're referring to recently-come-to-light examples of sexual harassment and racism when you say "it's more a lack of competence...", then I would disagree with your characterisation. I think by saying that the likes of Owen Cotton-Barratt and Nick Bostrom aren't "malicious sociopaths", and that they didn't do it 'intentionally' you fail to acknowledge the harm they've done. It's a similar line of argument to your original post when you compare the harm done with "the survival of the human race". I think it's missing the point, it's insensitive, and implies that they're not soooo bad.
I also worry when the initial reaction to someone's misdeeds is "let's make sure we don't punish them too harshly, or we'll alienate them", rather than "this is really wrong, and our first priority should be to make sure it doesn't happen again". My initial response isn't to shed a tear for the damage to the career of the person who did the wrong thing.
I disagree with your framing this as "attacking" the people that have done wrong. If anything, it's the people on the end of the sexual harassment that have been attacked.
I find it distasteful when people point to things like "EA has done a lot of good" or "EA has saved a lot of lives" in the context of revelations of sexual harassment etc. While it might be factually correct, I think it gives the sense that people think it's OK to do horrible personal things as long as you donate enough to Givewell (I very much disagree).
And one final point: I don't think "the old guard of EA" is the right frame (although I'm somewhat biased as I was involved in EA in 2011-12). I don't believe the majority of wrongdoers are from this group, nor do I believe the majority of this group are wrongdoers.
So no, that framing does not make sense to me.
We are playing for the future, for the survival of the human race. We can't afford to let relatively petty squabbles divide us too much!
I think this is the sort of reasoning that has a) possibly contributed to some of the recent damaging behaviour by EAs and b) almost certainly contributed to the failure to take that behaviour seriously enough.
Everything is "relatively petty" when compared to the survival of the human race, but I don't think that's the relevant comparison here.
I'm grateful for this comment, because it's an exemplar of the kind of comment that makes me feel most disappointed by the EA community.
It's bad enough that influential EAs have caused a lot of damage to other individuals, and to the good work that might be done by the community. But it's really upsetting that a lot of the community (at least as exemplified by the comments on the forum; I know this isn't fully representative) doesn't seem to take it seriously enough. We're talking about really horrible examples of racism and sexual harassment here, not 'woke activism' gone too far. It hurts people directly, it repels others from the community, and it also makes it harder to further important causes.
It's also couched in the terms of 'rationalism' and academic integrity ("let me try to steel-man a possible counter-argument..."), rather than just coming out and saying what it is. I don't think you're (merely) trying to make a hypothetical argument. Similarly the "I hope EAs see what's [really]* happening here, and understand the clear and present dangers..." sounds alarmist to me.
*I included the [really], because it seems to me like the author of the comment is trying to lend weight to their argument by implying they are revealing something most people would otherwise miss.
Agree. Should have added those to my own comment, but felt like I'd already spent too much time on it!
I appreciate there are reasonable differences of opinion here (and the downside of drawing attention to a deeply unpleasant publication), but I personally would think better of an organisation that made this FAQ more visible from their homepage. It's hard to find unless you have the link, or search for terms you know will be in there.
I upvoted this, but disagreed. I think the timeline would be better if it included:
November 2022: FLI inform Nya Dagbladet Foundation (NDF) that they will not be funding them
15 December 2022: FLI learn of media interest in the story
I therefore don't think it's "absurd" to have expected FLI to have repudiated NDF sooner. You could argue that by apologising for their mistake before the media interest does more harm than good by drawing attention to it (and by association, to NDF), but once they became aware of the media attention, I think they should have issued something more like their current statement.
I also agreed with the thrust of titotal's comment that their first statement was woefully inadequate (it was more like "nothing to see here" than "oh damn, we seriously considered supporting an odious publication and we're sorry"). I don't think lack of time gets them off the hook here, given they should have expected Expo to publish at some point.
I don't think anyone owes an apology for expecting FLI to do better than this.
(Note: I appreciate Max Tegmark was dealing with a personal tragedy (for which, my condolences) at the time of it becoming 'a thing' on the EA Forum, so I of course wouldn't expect him to be making quick-but-considered replies to everything posted on here at that time. But I think there's a difference between that and the speed of the proper statement.)
FWIW I also had a different interpretation of Shakeel's 9:18pm comment than what you write here:
"Jan 13, 9:18pm: Shakeel follows up, repeating that he sees no reason why FLI wouldn't have already made a public statement, and raises the possibility that FLI has maybe done sinister questionably-legal things and that's why they haven't spoken up."
Shakeel said "Jason's comment has made me realise there might be something else going on here, though; if that is the case then that would make the silence make more sense." -> this seemed to me that Shakeel was trying to to be charitable, and understand the reasons FLI hadn't replied quicker.
Only a subtle difference, but wanted to point that out.
Thanks for this post, Dan. I work in headhunting for EA orgs, so please read these comments with that in mind!
Thanks again for your post, and I look forward to hearing from you if you'd like to discuss further.