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Kelly_Witwicki comments on Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Kelly_Witwicki 26 October 2017 04:48:46PM -3 points [-]

I didn’t mean to imply that — I just cited it as a source for the specific claims in that sentence. The other evidence I cite seems to imply it overall, and she doesn’t seem to account for all of that evidence.

I can’t tag here, but Georgia, if you see this I’d be curious for your opinion on how the totality of evidence weighs, particularly in expectation regardless of how robust it is.

Comment author: Buck 26 October 2017 05:13:04PM 23 points [-]

It feels like a bad practice to take a post which concludes that the effects are mixed or small, then just cite the effects in that post which seem positive and not mention the ones that seem negative or that the post overall disagrees with what you're trying to use it to argue for.

Comment author: Kelly_Witwicki 26 October 2017 07:55:07PM *  2 points [-]

That doesn't seem like what I'm doing. Georgia doesn't seem to be disagreeing with my post's overall argument (that EA would benefit from diversity; she actually seems to explicitly agree with that in her last paragraph), and she doesn't explicitly agree or disagree with the argument of that specific paragraph (that diversity tends to be net beneficial for groups). The quote you cite is about a "clear" effect on groups, from the evidence she evaluates, and I might not have the same bar for robustness that she's thinking of with that claim.

Moreover, her post argues

If we look at [the effect of diversity] further, we can decompose it into two effects (one where diversity has a neutral or negative impact on performance, and one where it has a mostly positive impact)

and goes onto explore these effects. The negative ones seem related to something like tribalism (e.g. less identification with the group), and I hope the EA community is able to overcome these avoidable downsides so it can on net benefit from diversity. I didn't mention them in the post because I think we can overcome them given our desire to de-bias ourselves, and given the tools that Georgia mentions we have to overcome them:

The more balanced a team is along some axis of diversity, the less likely you are to see negative effects on performance... recognition of less-obvious cognitive differences (e.g. personality and educational diversity) increases over time... diverse teams end up outperforming non-diverse teams [over time]... the longer a group works together, the less surface-level differences matter

I linked to her whole post so readers could see all of that. Linking directly to the citations I was pointing to in her post would have felt like cherry-picking. I could have given more explanation of her whole post in my own, and if I had spent more time writing this post, I probably would have done that.

[Edit: Georgia made a comment above that suggests she believes the statement without the robustness qualification, so we do have disagreement here.]