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Tribalypredisposed comments on The extraordinary value of ordinary norms - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: [deleted] 02 December 2017 06:53:29PM *  -2 points [-]

I left most EA Facebook groups and concluded that EA will be an ineffective movement as a whole because I found basically NONE of the above being done in your organization. Ever. "Being intellectually fair can help people to resolve disagreements, so we have norms against overconfidence and fallacious reasoning." No, you have a norm of extreme overconfidence and fallacious reasoning, in the form of DEMANDS for "arguments by authority" that are the consistent response I encountered. More than half a dozen EA people "explained" to me that they would pay no attention to my claims or work until I went back to university and got a PhD, and others who had only a Bachelors in computer programming wanted to "review" my work in unrelated areas before even accepting an unpaid article for their blog from me. Others responded as if EA was some sort of popularity contest and not an effort to help others altruistically.

As constituted, EA is a practice in the wildly overblown egos of privileged young white males (mostly) who will accomplish very very little. The norm is that they believe they know literally everything and have no interest in hearing ideas that are new to them, at all.

I joined because I have knowledge to share. The "moderators" of the FB group consistently felt my knowledge was of no value and refused to permit my posts to be seen. I have shared my knowledge at three international academic conferences, but it was not deemed worthy of a single FB post on EA. The message was abundantly clear, EA does not want new ideas or knowledge, does not want to see any of their current ideas and assumptions questioned at all. My advice to anyone who wants to "Share knowledge. If you know a lot about an area, help others to learn by writing up what you’ve found" is to find a group where people might have even a slight interest, your efforts to do so at "Effective" altruism will be entirely ineffective.

It is a damned shame, the concept of EA is a good one.

Comment author: Gregory_Lewis 02 December 2017 10:27:14PM *  2 points [-]

For the benefit of readers: The individual who wrote this is almost certainly Carmi Turchick, an (his words) "autodidact independent scholar". He reports he presented works relating to his blog at the Symposium on the Psychology of War and the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, and presented a poster at the Human Evolution and Behaviour Society.

I take this academic record to be pretty modest for someone who claims to have novel understanding about how to 'solve war', so it doesn't seem unreasonable for people to screen out claims like this on this heuristic, and doesn't imply they take themselves to know literally everything nor have no interest in new ideas. Just that the likelihood of good new ideas arising from this reference class is too low for it to be worth indulging them with scarce attention.

Of course, such a screening heuristic means one won't see diamonds in the rough. I can reassure others this is unlikely the case here. For my sins I had a look at the Altruism and War work. It is very long, not very well written, and falls into the standard autodictat's trap of taking as startlingly original insights already made elsewhere - in this case, the idea 'maybe intra-group altruism can drive intragroup conflict' was first ventured by Darwin in the Origin of Species, and there has been considerable research since, usually under the heading of 'parochial altruism'.

When I made these suggestions to Turchick (alongside a recommendation he would be better served trying to work in academia) he offered in reply a vituperative parting shot suggesting I was demonstrably incompetent in the subject of my PhD, that I failed to review his second paper because I plan to steal ideas from it for my own academic career, that I'm an 'egotistical little punk running my mouth', and so on and so forth ad nauseam.

I hope the wider EA movement does not mourn the loss of his contributions too heavily, and beg forgiveness to whatever extent my interaction with him provoked this state of affairs - which I, of course, gravely and bitterly lament. I hope others take some solace from, as Achilles was spurred on by guilt by his role at causing the death of his friend Patroclus to redouble his efforts against the Trojans, so I redouble my meagre egotistical punk-like efforts to in some small part compensate for what Turchick would have provided. I also take further solace that Turchick is not wholly lost to us, and the shrewd and penetrating criticism he offers may provide some glimmer of hope for our movement to avoid his prognostications, although I fear they are Cassandra-esque in their accuracy.

[I am a moderator for the EA FB group, but moderation decisions regarding any of Turchick's posts were 'before my time'.]