willbradshaw

Comments

Some preliminaries and a claim

Well, of course you don't think it's bad practice, or you wouldn't have done it.

The interesting question is why, and who's right.

At the very least, I claim there's decent evidence that it's ineffective practice, in this venue: your post and comments here have been downvoted six ways from Sunday, which seems like a worse way to advocate for your claim than a different approach that got upvoted.

Some preliminaries and a claim

I think people are over-downvoting this, but it does seem to carry a kinda unpleasant assertion that I'm making this claim because of some irrational emotional aversion, which I don't especially appreciate.

I think the claim that it's very costly is just clearly and straightforwardly true. You're effectively asking me to commit several hours of my time to this post – an order of magnitude more time than I'd usually spend on even a very good EA Forum post. Free time is scarce and precious, and the opportunity cost of spending so much time on this is very high.

You might claim spending that much time on this is worth it, but the size of the benefit doesn't change the fact that the demanded cost is very high.

Some preliminaries and a claim

Just want to briefly join in with the chorus here: I'm tentatively sympathetic to the claim, but I think requiring people to spend several hours reading and meditating on a bunch of other content – without explaining why, or how each ties into your core claim – and then refusing to engage with anyone who hasn't done so, is very bad practice. I might even say laziness. At the very least, wildly unrealistic – you are effectively filtering for people who are already familiar with all the content you linked to, which seems like a bad way to convince people of things.

Having skimmed the links, it is very non-obvious how many of them tie directly into your claim about the EA community's relationship with feedback loops. Plausibly if I read and meditated on each of them carefully, I would spot the transcendent theme linking all of them together – but that is very costly, and I am a busy person with no particular ex ante reason to believe it would be a good use of scarce time.

If you want to convince us of something, paying the costs in time and thought and effort to connect those dots is your job, not ours.

LessWrong/EA New Year's Ultra Party

Are the European times here supposed to be in summer time (CEST  = CET+1 = UTC+2)? 

I don't think anyone is actually on CEST at the moment, so I assume not, but wanted to check since such assumptions have bitten me in the past.

EA towards humans = effective violence towards farm animals?

It would probably help (me, at least) if you were a bit more specific about what ethical system you're using. 

Some of your post seems like it's using a harmed/not-harmed dichotomy (which doesn't seem like a very useful metric to me, but might be more compelling to others), while other parts seem to be going more for minimising-net-suffering / maximising-total-wellbeing kinds of metrics.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks Sanjay. This is very sad news but I'm glad you and Sahil are on this.

I was pretty unhappy about the DFID/FCO merger, which didn't seem very well justified and risks disrupting what was widely regarded as one of the world's standout international development agencies. But this seems even worse.

Why you should give to a donor lottery this Giving Season

Perhaps you have in mind a higher bar for the donor having a 'cool and unusual idea for donations that probably won't get funded otherwise' than I would, whereas I think that could be that many/most small donors (who are considering donating to specific charities) would do better to try to explore and evaluate these opportunities themselves (which I suspect leads to lots of individuals evaluating lots of different opportunities, rather than a smaller number of random individuals investigating). I'll respond to the specific points in the threads replying to my original comment.

In my experience the great majority of small donors (including me) generally give to fairly well-established charities. I wouldn't describe this as a "cool and unusual idea for donations".

I'm a little confused as to what your paradigmatic case of a small donor looks like, such that many/most of them fall under Jonas's description.

Introducing Probably Good: A New Career Guidance Organization

I want to briefly second (third?, nth?) this. I'm potentially pretty excited about more EA oriented career advice/coaching/mentoring from an EA perspective, but I think I'd feel kind of embarrassed about referring someone to an organisation called "Probably Good".

When I saw the title of this post I thought it was evaluating whether or not another career guidance organisation would be good or not, and concluding yes. I was pretty surprised to discover this was not the case. That confusion might be kind of funny to some people, I guess, but I don't think it bodes terribly well. In general I think jokey org names are a pretty bad idea.

Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups

Yeah, I'm sympathetic to this, and I accept the symmetry you suggest. I'm not sure to what extent it applies to this post, though.

Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups

[EDIT 2020-11-10: I wrote this in response to weeatquince's original comment; it doesn't apply nearly so strongly to the current version.]

It's pretty clearly false that cancel culture is a term used only on the right. I've seen plenty of centre and centre-left people use it – it's a term that resonates with many people. Most of the people I can think of who speak out most frequently against cancel culture are not conservatives. (That's anecdote, but so is your claim that the term is mainly used on the right.)

Of course the people actively engaged in the thing don't like the term, because it suggests that the thing they're doing is bad. But this is a problem encountered in any situation where someone thinks someone else is doing something that is bad. If you forbid even giving the bad thing a name, you quite effectively prevent organised opposition to it.

Whatever "cancel culture" is when you taboo those words, it isn't just boycotting organisations you disagree with – it carries a connotation of actively going after individuals. I agree that the evidence that this is a serious problem mostly takes the (somewhat shaky) form of a collection of examples, but given the nature of the thing I'm not sure how you would go about collecting more systematic evidence. What evidence would convince you that this is actually something to worry about?

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