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Being born into the 1%.

I'd like to compile the inner-monologue responses people use to correct their own over- and under-confidence, both in forecasting and in judging one's own abilities, job prospects, etc.

Accuracy and balance are always ideal, but I'm interested in how people to respond to thoughts that casually prop up, which are suspicious of over- or under-confidence. Examples might be...

Responses to underconfident thoughts:

"Sure, there's only a 10% chance of getting that job, but it's not a lottery. They'll pick the best person for the job."

"Sure, there's only a 10% chance for me, but the odds are just as low for everybody else, so that's no reason not to at least go for it."

"I'm still pretty uncertain about X future event, but I've spent a good amount of time thinking deliberately about it. No such thing as perfect certainty."

Responses to overconfident thoughts:

"What are the odds everybody else going for that job also thinks they're a shoe-in?"

"Even a 3% chance of something really bad is worth a lot of attention. Don't bet the farm."

"Remember Thomas Edison and his lightbulb? You'd do well to expect a few more failures yet."


These aren't for those situations that call for intellectual rigor, just casual course-corrections. Even still, critiques are welcome. If there's already something out there that compiles correctional one-liners like this, I'd love to see it. Or, if you're interested in seeing a larger post on this, let me know of that too!

I just had the opportunity to talk with someone who has been Executive Assistant to several EAs, including researchers. Here are the answers they gave to my questions:

As a rough estimate, how much research time do you think your efforts enabled, if any?
- I'm not sure. 10 hours per week?

What are the things you do that save the EA/researcher most time/energy?

- It is different for each person. But here is my current best guess at some common things:
- Communication management. Organizing the inbox, filtering out spam. Drafting emails. Highlighting anything urgent and important to the EA/researcher. 
- Calendar management. Acting as a 'gatekeeper' who can say no to things easily for them. Scheduling meetings in such a way that optimizes for the way that EA/researcher works best. 
- Reminding the EA/researcher about upcoming deadlines, so they don't have to use brain capacity tracking/worrying about that.
- Being a voice of reason when the EA/researcher is led towards spending time on something less important.
- Occasional big ongoing projects which they would have to do otherwise.
- Errands, purchases, small annoying tasks like dealing with customer service representatives etc.

(There's a good amount of overlap here with Matthew's experience, I notice.)

This is an interesting question. I'd be interested to hear more about it, if you find anything!

(It's easier when you're told to do it directly, but I figure if I don't do it now, I probably won't later, and I'd like to start doing this, so...)

I really like this post! I also like to remember that complainy people are more likely to leave reviews, when I'm reading reviews for a product or something. Helps me take the negative ones with a grain of salt.

Change My View!

I found r/ChangeMyView recently and I think it's the bee's knees. "A place to post an opinion you accept may be flawed, in an effort to understand other perspectives on the issue."

There are already a good deal of questions and posts inviting criticism on this forum, and this tag could organize them all for the people who enjoy a good, clean disagreement/discussion. It could be used especially (or only) for ideas with <50% certainty.

The subreddit itself is a cool place to go, but many issues are more fruitfully discussed among fellow EAs, or would just work better on the EA Forum.

I'm happy to learn if Change My View is actually not a good format for discussion - I just found out about it, so no harm done.

Matthew, thanks for your response! Very handy to have some names I might get in contact with, and this is turning out to be higher-impact than I thought. Can you say any more on how EA-specific your career capital might be?

I'd be very interested in a longer post on the subject!

Thank you for the in-depth response! This seems like a really underexplored path, and I'd like to see (or even make) a full review of the subject. Sending you a PM with some more questions.

Thank you for this! Did you find outside funding, or are you and the co-founders giving your time freely? I'll check out the piece you linked to!

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