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Julia_Wise comments on What the EA community can learn from the rise of the neoliberals - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Julia_Wise 07 December 2016 04:22:40PM *  10 points [-]

There are lots of cases of correct models failing to take off for lack of good strategy. The doctor who realized that handwashing prevented infection let his students write up the idea instead of doing it himself, with the result that his colleagues didn't understand the idea properly and didn't take it seriously (even in the face of much lower mortality in his hospital ward). He got laid off, took to writing vitriolic letters to people who hadn't believed him, and died in disgrace in an insane asylum.

Comment author: Michelle_Hutchinson 08 December 2016 03:57:23PM 4 points [-]

That's a horrible story!

Comment author: David_Althaus 20 January 2017 05:53:16PM 0 points [-]

Otoh, a few decades later handwashing did become mainstream. So I'd think that correct and clearly useful models have a great advantage in becoming adopted eventually. Good strategy/movement building is more relevant for hastening the rate of adoption.

To take another example: Communism profited from extremely good strategy/movement building at the beginning (Engels being one of the first EtGlers ever). But it ultimately failed to become widely accepted because it brought about bad consequences. Admittedly, it's still pretty popular, probably because it appeals to human intuitions (such as anti-market bias, etc.)