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AdamShriver comments on Concerns with ACE research - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: AdamShriver 14 September 2018 10:32:13AM 5 points [-]

The problem with HN's article wasn't just that it was "impolite" but that it mixed in a number of unfounded ad hominem attacks along with the more serious criticisms, arguments that implied people at ACE and other organisations were deliberately acting in bad faith. It seems to me that the proper way to respond to a mix of good arguments and bad arguments is to take the good arguments into account while dismissing the bad ones, and that seems to be what happened.

And just as a broader point, if someone regularly mixes ad hominem attacks with more serious points, it's not a good idea to signal boost the mixed arguments. If I say, "so-and-so is a liar and a thief who only cares about self-promotion, and also so-and-so incorrectly reported a particular study," the best response is to take the valid point about the study into consideration without promoting the argument as a whole.

Moreover, the methodological arguments put forward weren't entirely new; HL Lab director Harish Sethu's presentation at the EAA conference in Princeton, for example, had extremely detailed methodological criticisms that far surpassed the other criticisms I had seen to that point.

In other words, there's not a binary decision between ignoring the points altogether and praising the deeply flawed HN article. The good methodological points are being taken into consideration, as seen in some of the changes made and in this essay.