MichaelPlant comments on Some Thoughts on Public Discourse - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: MichaelPlant 05 March 2017 07:48:06PM 1 point [-]

I'd like to build on the causal chain point. I think there's something unsatisfying about the way Holden's set up the problem.

I took the general thought as: "we don't get useful comments from the general public, we get useful comments from those few people who read lots of our stuff then talk to us privately". But if the general way things work is 1. people read the OPP blog (public) then 2. talk to OPP privately (perhaps because they don't believe anyone takes public discourse seriously), but doing 2. means you are then no longer part of the general public, then almost by definition public discourse isn't going to be useful: those motivated enough to engage in private correspondence are now not counted as part of public discourse!

Maybe I've misunderstood something, but it seems very plausible to me that the public discourse generates those useful private conversations even if the useful comments don't happen on public forums themselves.

I'm also uncertain if the EA forum counts as public discourse Holden doesn't expect to be useful, or private discourse which might be, which puts pressure on the general point. If you typify 'public discourse' as 'talking to people who don't know much' then of course you wouldn't expect it to be useful.

Comment author: HoldenKarnofsky 07 March 2017 02:44:00AM 2 points [-]

Michael, this post wasn't arguing that there are no benefits to public discourse; it's describing how my model has changed. I think the causal chain you describe is possible and has played out that way in some cases, but it seems to call for "sharing enough thinking to get potentially helpful people interested" rather than for "sharing thinking and addressing criticisms comprehensively (or anything close to it)."

The EA Forum counts for me as public discourse, and I see it as being useful in some ways, along the lines described in the post.