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Arepo comments on Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Arepo 08 March 2018 12:10:13AM *  4 points [-]

Seconding Evan - it's great to have this laid out as a clear argument.

Re this:

In this way, any kind of broad based outreach is risky because it’s hard to reverse. Once your message is out there, it tends to stick around for years, so if you get the message wrong, you’ve harmed years of future efforts. We call this the risk of “lock in”.

I think there are some ways that this could still pan out as net positive, in reverse order of importance:

1) It relies on the arguments against E2G as a premium EA cause, which I'm still sceptical of given numerous very large funding gaps in EA causes and orgs. Admittedly In the case of China (and other semideveloped countries) the case against E2G seems stronger though, since the potential earnings are substantially lower, and the potential for direct work might be as strong or higher.

2) Depending on how you discount over time, and (relatedly) how seriously you take the haste consideration, getting a bunch of people involved sooner might be worth slower takeup later.

3) You mentioned somewhere in the discussion that you've rarely known anyone to be more amenable to EA because they'd encountered the ideas, but this seems like underestimating the nudge effects on which 99% of marketing are based. Almost no-one ever consciously thinks 'given that advert, I'm going to buy that product' - but when you see the product on the shelf, it just feels marginally more trustworthy because you already 'know' it. It seems like mass media EA outreach could function similarly. If so, lock-in might be a price worth paying.


This isn't to say that I think your argument is wrong, just that I don't yet think it's clear-cut.

It also seems like the risks/reward ratio might vary substantially from country to country, so it's perhaps worth thinking about at least each major economy separately?

To the degree that the argument does vary from country to country, I wonder whether there's any mileage in running some experiments with outreach in less economically significant countries, esp when they have historically similar cultures? Eg perhaps for China, it would be worth trialling a comparatively short termist strategy in Taiwan.