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

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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'.]