DavidNash comments on 3 Examples You Can Use To Promote Causes Honestly and Effectively - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: DavidNash 20 January 2017 10:24:04AM 6 points [-]

This may be a community based thing but I haven't seen anyone advocating for lying in the UK and haven't heard of it much online either apart from one persons experience in California.

I agree with all the examples you have and think everyone should learn more about honest persuasion, but I'm not sure the myths to be bust are with the EA community rather than some peoples perception of the community.

Comment author: Kathy 20 January 2017 02:03:57PM *  4 points [-]

Edit: I agree that there aren't a large number of people advocating for dishonesty. My concern is that if even a small number of EAs get enough attention for doing something dishonest, this could cause us all reputation problems. Since we could be "painted with the same brush" due to the common human bias called stereotyping bias, I think it's worthwhile to make sure it's easy to find information about how to do honest promotion, and why.

I updated my post to mention some specific examples of the problems I've been seeing. Thank you, David.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 20 January 2017 11:14:58AM 1 point [-]

Agreed wrt. honesty. (I’m from Germany.)

That weirdness is costly, though, is something that I’ve often heard and adopted myself, e.g., by asking friends how I can dress less weird and things like that. There’s also the typical progression that I’ve only heard challenged last year that you should first talk with people about poverty alleviation, and only when they understand basics like cost-effectiveness, triage, expected value, impartiality, etc., you can gradually lower your guard and start mentioning other animals and AIs.

Maybe Kathy doesn’t even contradict that, since the instances of weirdness that are beneficial may be a tiny fraction of all the weirdnesses that surrounds us, and finding out which tiny fraction it is (as well as employing it) will require that we first dial back all weirdnesses except for one candidate weirdness. I should just read that book.

Comment author: Kathy 20 January 2017 02:09:01PM *  2 points [-]

I agree that most people will not understand the most strange ideas until they understand the basic ideas. Ensuring they understand the foundation is a good practice.

I definitely agree that the instances of weirdness that are beneficial are only a tiny fraction of the weirdness that is present.

Regarding weirdness:

There are effective and ineffective ways to be weird.

There are several apparently contradictory guidelines in art: "use design principles", "break the conventions", and "make sure everything looks intentional".

The effective ways to be weird manage all three guidelines.

Examples: Picasso, Björk, Lady Gaga

One of the major and most observable differences between these three artists vs. many weird people is that the behavior of the artists can be interpreted as a communication about something specific, meaningful, and valuable. Art is a language. Everything strange we do speaks about us. If you haven't studied art, it might be rather hard to interpret the above three artists. The language of art is sometimes completely opaque to non-artists, and those who interpret art often find a variety of different meanings rather than a consistent one. (I guess that's one reason why they don't call it science.) Quick interpretations: In Picasso, I interpret an exploration of order and chaos. In Björk, I interpret an exploration of the strangeness of nature, the familiarity and necessity of nature, and the contradiction between the two. In Lady Gaga, I interpret an edgy exploration of identity.

These artists have the skill to say something of meaning as they follow principles and break conventions in a way that looks intentional. That is why art is a different experience from, say, looking at an odd-shaped mud splatter on the sidewalk, and why it can be a lot more special.

Ineffective weirdness is too similar to the odd-shaped mud splatter. There need to be signs of intentional communication. To interpret meaning, we need to see that combination of unbroken principles and broken conventions arranged in an intentional-looking pattern.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 05 February 2017 09:53:39AM 1 point [-]

Fascinating! Thanks for the summary of how you interpret these artists! But even though I didn’t have any insight into their work, I think I still understand what you’re trying to explain based on other experiences. But there I encounter another hurdle, probably parallel to my lacking understanding of these artists’ work.

I’ve been surrounded by design all my life, so I can look at a poster and see that it looks intentional but I can try as I may to create something of the sort myself and still see that it’s not even close. But that’s not actually what I want to say. What I want to say is rather that my exposure seems to have taught me to recognize something even though I don’t understand how it works. That’s a huge advantage for designers or artists who want to speak to me or to any other nonspecialist.

I’m afraid, however, that a lot of EA concepts that I would like to impart are too far removed by inferential distance for most people to ever recognize any intentionality. I hope I’m wrong. My experience with the board game Othello is quite aligned, though: I used to be pretty good, so when looking at some games of players better than me, I would see a move that would give me shivers and make me stare at the board in awe. I didn’t understand it, but it was surprising (“break the conventions”) and looked perfectly intentional. At the same time, it was usually clear to me when one of these better players just accidentally clicked the wrong field. If I hadn’t been pretty good at the game, though, I would’ve seen just a random chaos of black and white chips.

There was some study where people were asked to solve a number of hard language tasks, some of them unsolvable. Somehow people had an intuition for which tasks were solvable long before they managed to actually solve them. Maybe that is related to the effect that artists are using. But again it only worked because these people already had a lot of background in language.

Maybe the only ones whose interest in EA we can possibly pique using the most fine-tuned types of weirdness are a small fraction of young progressives at universities, and not even just for reasons of moral differences but because we can’t communicate EA ideas effectively enough to anyone else.

I should’ve phrased this as a challenge. :-3