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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 03:55:42PM *  4 points [-]

I think dividing these three claims more clearly would make it easier for me to follow your argument: effective altruist charity suggestion lists should not endorse political charities.

This is a rather large topic, I don't think it would be wise to try and specify and defend that abstract claim in the same post as talking about a specific situation. I take it as given, at least here. Perhaps I will do a followup, but I think it would be hard to do the topic justice in, say, 5-10 hours which is what I realistically have.

Of course, an identical critique applies to animal welfare charities: many, many traditionalists/conservatives/non-social-justice-people are turned off by animal welfare activism.

Animal welfare activism is controversial, but it hasn't been subsumed into the culture war in the way immigration, race and social justice have. Some parts of animal welfare activism, such as veganism are left-associated, but other parts like wild animal suffering and synthetic meat most certainly are not. So in my mind, animal welfare activism is suitable for EA involvement.

And xrisk charities tend to turn off, to a first approximation, everyone.

AI-risk as offputting is becoming less true over time, but EA should not be aiming to appeal to everyone. Rather I think that EA should be aiming to not take sides in tribal wars.

Is your belief that it is morally wrong to ever specifically help one group because you believe they are worse off than other groups?

No, but in the specific case of the US culture war I think it is a bad idea to move in the "Black lives matter" direction. In the case of the tradeoff between incarceration and public safety, I don't think there is any good reason to make it into a race issue, because that immediately sends the signal that you are interested in raising the status and outcomes of your "favorite" race at the cost of other races. This is a tradeoff situation where benefits targeted at a specific group will harm people who are not from that group in a fairly direct way.

On the other hand if GiveDirectly gives cash to women in some third world country, and that cash comes from voluntary payments in the west, it is going to be an improvement for everyone in the receiving community as their local economy is stimulated.

Comment author: ozymandias 29 January 2017 05:35:12PM 3 points [-]

I don't think it would be wise to try and specify and defend that abstract claim in the same post as talking about a specific situation. I take it as given, at least here. Perhaps I will do a followup, but I think it would be hard to do the topic justice in, say, 5-10 hours which is what I realistically have.

I am confused. If you took it as given, why bother talking about whether Alliance for Safety and Justice and Cosecha are good charities? It surely doesn't matter if someone is good at doing something that you think they shouldn't be doing in the first place. Perhaps you intended to say that you mean to discuss the object-level issue of whether these charities are good and leave aside the meta-level issue of whether EA should be involved in politics, in which case I am puzzled about why you brought up the meta-level issue in your post.

Animal welfare activism is controversial, but it hasn't been subsumed into the culture war in the way immigration, race and social justice have. Some parts of animal welfare activism, such as veganism are left-associated, but other parts like wild animal suffering and synthetic meat most certainly are not. So in my mind, animal welfare activism is suitable for EA involvement.

I disagree that animal welfare activism hasn't been subsumed into the culture war. For instance, veganism is a much more central trait of the prototypical hippie than immigration opinions are. PETA is significantly more controversial than any equally prominent immigration charity.

I think that wild-animal suffering and synthetic meat are mostly not part of the culture war because they are obscure. I expect that they would become culture-war issues as soon as they become more prominent. Do you disagree? Or do you think that the appropriate role of EA is to elevate issues into culture-war prominence and then step aside? Or something else?

AI-risk as offputting is becoming less true over time, but EA should not be aiming to appeal to everyone. Rather I think that EA should be aiming to not take sides in tribal wars.

Do you mean that EA shouldn't take sides in e.g. deworming, because that's a tribal war between economists and epidemiologists? Or do you mean that they shouldn't take sides in issues associated with the American left and right, even if they sincerely believe that one of those issues is the best way to improve the world? Or something else?

Comment author: the_jaded_one 29 January 2017 05:53:47PM 0 points [-]

I am confused. If you took it as given, why bother talking about whether Alliance for Safety and Justice and Cosecha are good charities?

Well, I am free to both assert that it is a sensible background assumption that it is not usually good for EA to do highly political things, and also argue a few relevant special cases of highly political EA things that aren't good, without taking on the bigger task of specifying and defending my assumption. But I offer Robin Hanson's post as some degree of defence.

I expect that they would become culture-war issues as soon as they become more prominent. Do you disagree?

I disagree strongly for synthetic meat, it will be an open-and-shut case once the quality surpasses real meat. I think wild animal suffering is emotive and will generate debate, but I don't think it will split left-right, mostly because I can't even decide which of {left, right} maps to {wild-suffering-bad, wild-suffering-OK}.

Or do you think that the appropriate role of EA is to elevate issues into culture-war prominence and then step aside?

Well hopefully EA can elevate issues that are approximately-pareto-improvements from irrelevance to broad-consensus, skipping out any kind of war.

that's a tribal war between economists and epidemiologists?

What?

Or do you mean that they shouldn't take sides in issues associated with the American left and right, even if they sincerely believe that one of those issues is the best way to improve the world?

yes, this. And if they do believe that one particular side of the the US/EU culture war is the most important cause, then they should provide rock solid evidence that it is, that deals with the best arguments from the other side as well as the argument from marginal utility of extra effort, which is critically missing in the OP.

Comment author: Cornelius  (EA Profile) 28 July 2017 09:29:06PM 0 points [-]

that's a tribal war between economists and epidemiologists?

What?

I guess you aren't up to speed with worm-wars. Things have gotten pretty tribal here with twitter wars between respected academics (made worse by a viral Buzzfeed article that arguably politicized the issue...), but nobody (to date) would argue EAs should stay out of deworming altogether because of that.

On the contrary precisely because of all this shit I'd think we need more EAs working on deworming.

Of course in the case of deworming it seems more clear that throwing in EAs will lead to a better outcome. This isn't nearly as clear when it comes to politics so I am with you that EAs should be more weary when it comes to recommending political/politicized work. Either way, I think ozymandias's point was that just like we don't tell EAs in deworming to leave the sinking ship, it also seems absurd to have a blanket ban on EA political/politicized recommendations. You don't want a blanket ban and don't mind EA endorsing political charities because as you've said you don't mind your favourite immigration charity being recommended. So the argument between you and ozymandias seems to mostly be about "to what degree."

And niether of you have actually operationalized what your stance is on "to what degee" and as such, in my view, this is why the argument between the two of you dwindled into the void.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 26 October 2017 09:04:10PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the info on the worm wars, will look into it.