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Fluttershy comments on Building Cooperative Epistemology (Response to "EA has a Lying Problem", among other things) - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Fluttershy 12 January 2017 04:15:48AM 11 points [-]

This issue is very important to me, and I stopped identifying as an EA after having too many interactions with dishonest and non-cooperative individuals who claimed to be EAs. I still act in a way that's indistinguishable from how a dedicated EA might act—but it's not a part of my identity anymore.

I've also met plenty of great EAs, and it's a shame that the poor interactions I've had overshadow the many good ones.

Part of what disturbs me about Sarah's post, though, is that I see this sort of (ostensibly but not actually utilitarian) willingness to compromise on honesty and act non-cooperatively more in person than online. I'm sure that others have had better experiences, so if this isn't as prevalent in your experience, I'm glad! It's just that I could have used stronger examples if I had written the post, instead of Sarah.

I'm not comfortable sharing examples that might make people identifiable. I'm too scared of social backlash to even think about whether outing specific people and organizations would even be a utilitarian thing for me to do right now. But being laughed at for being an "Effective Kantian" because you're the only one in your friend group who wasn't willing to do something illegal? That isn't fun. Listening to hardcore EAs approvingly talk about how other EAs have manipulated non-EAs for their own gain, because doing so might conceivably lead them to donate more if they had more resources at their disposal? That isn't inspiring.

Comment author: Fluttershy 12 January 2017 04:24:29AM 9 points [-]

I should add that I'm grateful for the many EAs who don't engage in dishonest behavior, and that I'm equally grateful for the EAs who used to be more dishonest, and later decided that honesty was more important (either instrumentally, or for its own sake) to their system of ethics than they'd previously thought. My insecurity seems to have sadly dulled my warmth in my above comment, and I want to be better than that.

Comment author: JBeshir 12 January 2017 02:06:22PM 2 points [-]

I find it difficult to combine "I want to be nice and sympathetic and forgiving of people trying to be good people and assume everyone is" with "I think people are not taking this seriously enough and want to tell you how seriously it should be taken". It's easier to be forgiving when you can trust people to take it seriously.

I've kind of erred on the side of the latter today, because "no one criticises dishonesty or rationalisation because they want to be nice" seems like a concerning failure mode, but it'd be nice if I were better at combining both.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 13 January 2017 09:23:58AM 1 point [-]

Thanks. May I ask what your geographic locus is? This is indeed something that I haven’t encountered here in Berlin or online. (The only more recent example that comes to mind was something like “I considered donating to Sci-Hub but then didn’t,” which seems quite innocent to me.) Back when I was young and naive, I asked about such (illegal or uncooperative) options and was promptly informed of their short-sightedness by other EAs. Endorsing Kantian considerations is also something I can do without incurring a social cost.

Comment author: Fluttershy 13 January 2017 05:43:05PM 3 points [-]

Thank you! I really admired how compassionate your tone was throughout all of your comments on Sarah's original post, even when I felt that you were under attack . That was really cool. <3

I'm from Berkeley, so the community here is big enough that different people have definitely had different experiences than me. :)

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 13 January 2017 07:25:55PM 1 point [-]

Oh, thank you! <3 I’m trying my best.

Oh yeah, the Berkeley community must be huge, I imagine. (Just judging by how often I hear about it and from DxE’s interest in the place.) I hope the mourning over Derek Parfit has also reminded people in your circles of the hitchhiker analogy and two-level utilitarianism. (Actually, I’m having a hard time finding out whether Parfit came up with it or whether Eliezer just named it for him on a whim. ^^)

Comment author: Linch 24 January 2017 08:22:11AM 1 point [-]

The hitchhiker is mentioned in Chapter One of Reasons and Persons. Interestingly, Parfit was more interested in the moral implications than the decision-theory ones.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 05 February 2017 09:54:42AM 1 point [-]

Thanks!