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the_jaded_one comments on 80,000 Hours: EA and Highly Political Causes - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: the_jaded_one 29 January 2017 03:03:51PM 2 points [-]

Informed opinions can still be biased, and we are being asked to "trust" her.

I am uncertain why someone would choose to figure out what other people's area of expertise is from Twitter.

Well I am worried about political bias in EA. Her political opinions are supremely relevant.

On a strictly legal question such as "In situation X, does law Y apply" I would definitely trust her more than I would trust myself. But that is not the question that is being asked, the question that is being asked is "Will the action of funding Cosecha reduce incarceration while maintaining public safety" with the followup question of "Or is this about increasing illegal immigration by making it harder to deport illegals, opposing Trump and generally supporting left-wing causes?"

I don't think that she can claim special knowledge or lack of bias in answering those questions. I think it's hard for anyone to.

Comment author: ozymandias 29 January 2017 04:00:24PM 3 points [-]

I am perhaps confused about what your claim is. Do you mean to say "Chloe Cockburn does not have expertise except in the facts of the law and being a left-wing anti-Trump activist"? Or "Chloe Cockburn has a good deal of expertise in fields relevant to the best possible way to reduce mass incarceration, but her opinion is sadly biased because she has liberal political opinions"?

Regarding her Twitter, I think Chloe Cockburn might have an informed opinion that reducing deportations of undocumented immigrants would reduce incarceration (through reducing the number of people in ICE detention) while maintaining public safety. That would cause her both to recommend Cosecha and to advocate on her Twitter feed for reducing deportations. Indeed, it is very common for people to do awareness-raising on Twitter for causes they believe are highly effective: if your argument were taken to its endpoint, we ought not trust GiveWell because its employees sometimes talk about how great malaria nets and deworming are on social media.

Probably, like all people, Chloe Cockburn supports the causes she supports for both rational and irrational reasons. That is something to take into account when deciding how seriously to take her advice. But that is also a fully general counterargument against ever taking advice from anyone.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 29 January 2017 04:35:12PM *  1 point [-]

reducing deportations of undocumented immigrants would reduce incarceration (through reducing the number of people in ICE detention)

That is true, but it is politicized inference. You could also reduce the number of people in ICE detention at any given time by deporting them much more quickly. Or you could reduce the number of undocumented immigrants by making it harder for them to get in in the first place, for example by building a large wall on the southern US border.

So I would characterize this as a politically biased opinion first and foremost. It's not even an opinion that requires being informed - it's obvious that you could reduce incarceration by releasing people from detention and just letting them have whatever they were trying to illegally take, you don't need a law degree to make this inference, but you do need a political slant to claim that it's a good idea.

And the totality of policies espoused by people such as Chloe Cockburn would be to flood the US with even more immigrants from poorer countries, not just to grant legal status to existing ones. This is entryism, and it is a highly political move that many people are deeply opposed to because they see it as part one of a plan to wipe them and their culture out. I don't think that's a good fit for an EA cause - even if you think it's a good idea, it makes sense to separate it from EA.

Comment author: ozymandias 29 January 2017 05:40:21PM 0 points [-]

Well, yes, anyone can come up with all sorts of policy ideas. If a person has policy expertise in a particular field, it allows them to sort out good policies from bad ones, because they are more aware of possible negative side effects and unintended consequences than an uninformed person is. I don't think the fact that a person endorses a particular policy means that they haven't thought about other policies.

Is your claim that Chloe Cockburn has failed to consider policy ideas associated with the right-wing, and thus has not done her due diligence to know that what she recommends is actually the best course? If so, what is your evidence for this claim?

Comment author: the_jaded_one 29 January 2017 06:18:23PM -1 points [-]

policy expertise in a particular field

What is policy expertise in the field of deciding that it is a good idea to encourage illegal immigration? I feel like we are (mis)using words here to make some extremely dodgy inferences. Chloe studied worked for the ACLU and a law firm, focusing on litigating police misconduct and aiming to reduce incarceration, and then Open Phil. This doesn't IMO qualify her to decide that increasing legal and illegal immigration is a good idea, and doesn't endow her with expertise on that question.

Is your claim that Chloe Cockburn has failed to consider policy ideas associated with the right-wing, and thus has not done her due diligence to know that what she recommends is actually the best course? If so, what is your evidence for this claim?

Well what is your evidence that she has done her due diligence to know that what she recommends is actually the best course?

Comment author: the_jaded_one 29 January 2017 04:38:12PM *  0 points [-]

if your argument were taken to its endpoint, we ought not trust GiveWell because its employees sometimes talk about how great malaria nets and deworming are on social media.

I don't trust them, to the extent that I endorse these causes, I trust their arguments (having read them) and data, and I trust the implicit critical process that has failed to come up with reasons why deworming isn't that good (to the extent that it hasn't).