Gregory_Lewis comments on Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA): an overview of 2017 and our 2018 plans - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Gregory_Lewis 20 December 2017 01:03:22AM 3 points [-]

I agree both with Ryan's overall evaluation (this is excellent) and that the 'mistakes' section, although laudable in intent, errs slightly too far in the 'self-flagellatory' direction. Some of the mistakes listed either seem appropriate decisions (e.g. "We prioritized X over Y, so we didn't do as much Y as we'd like"), or are the result of reasonable decisions or calculations ex ante which didn't work out.

I think the main value of publicly recording mistakes is to allow others to learn from them or (if egregious) be the context for a public mea culpa. The line between, "We made our best guess, it turned out wrong, but we're confident we made the right call ex ante" and "Actually, on reflection, we should have acted differently given what we knew at the time" is blurry, as not all decisions can (or should) be taken with laborious care.

Perhaps crudely categorising mistakes into 'major' and 'minor' given magnitude, how plausibly could have been averted, etc., and putting the former in updates like these but the latter linked to in an appendix might be a good way forward.