23

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

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (229)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Kelly_Witwicki 27 October 2017 12:16:36AM 5 points [-]

Regarding discussion style: I think several EAs are great at discussions where they're fully critical of each other but aren't combative (e.g. they don't raise their voices, go ad hominem, tear apart one aspect of an argument to dismiss the rest, or downvote comments that signal an identity that theirs is constructed in opposition to). I think it's possible to get all the benefit of criticism and disagreement without negative emotions clouding our judgement.

I think the key may be to work against the impulse to be right, or the impulse that someone who disagrees with you is your enemy. I'm much better than I used to be at seeing disagreement as the route to everyone in the discussion getting closer to the truth, though unfortunately that takes a constant drive to improve. (It does help a lot to just remind myself that the person I'm disagreeing with -- in most cases at least -- is on my team in the bigger picture.) Doing more to penalize combative behavior and reward constructive behavior -- like how downvotes and upvotes are supposed to be used in this forum -- seems like a feasible solution.

Regarding the grab-bag: That was my intention, to get the ball rolling. I hope for others to bring in their own thinking on prioritization and implementation.

Comment author: Michael_PJ 27 October 2017 12:50:57AM *  4 points [-]

As I said, I'm totally in favour of collaborative discussions, i.e. this stuff

they don't raise their voices, go ad hominem, tear apart one aspect of an argument to dismiss the rest, or downvote comments that signal an identity that theirs is constructed in opposition to

(except possibly raised voices), but I wanted to argue that sometimes things that look like combative discussion aren't. Imagine:

A: <argument>

B: I think that's a pretty bad argument because <reason>. <argument> seems much better.

A: No, you didn't understand what I'm saying, I said <something else>.

This could be a snippet of a tense combative argument, or just a vigorous collaborative brainstorming session. A might feel unfairly dismissed by B, or might not even notice it. If we were trying to combat combtiveness by calling out people abruptly shooting down other people's ideas, then we might prevent people from doing this particular style of rapid brainstorming.

(Sorry, this stuff is hard to talk about because it's very contextual. I should probably have picked a better example :))

What I'm trying to say is that we just need to be a little bit careful how we shoot for our goals.

Comment author: Kelly_Witwicki 27 October 2017 12:55:17AM 1 point [-]

I see, we're just thinking of "combative" differently.