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John_Maxwell_IV comments on My Cause Selection: Michael Dickens - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 25 September 2015 03:37:16AM *  3 points [-]

"I don't expect that bringing in high-rationality people is a particularly big consideration" - this is probably a point where we disagree. I've previously written about this here, here, and, in relation to the idea of effective altruists pursuing systemic change, in the comments of this post.

Let's contrast top gamblers like competitive poker players with bottom tier gamblers: people who play the lottery, even though it's negative expected value, and happen to win. Let's say the same amount will be donated either way, so the difference is just whether it's going to be directed by top tier or bottom tier gamblers. Imagine yourself reading over a cause selection piece from a top poker player vs a lottery winner... which cause selection piece do you anticipate learning something from? Being persuaded by? Which type of donor are you more confident will actually improve the world with their money vs doing something that sounds nice but isn't actually very effective, or worse, amounts to shooting ourselves in the foot in the long run?

I sometimes wish people in the EA movement would taboo the concept of EA. EA isn't some magic pixie dust you can sprinkle on someone such that they are automatically effective at doing good for the world. There's a sense in which the wisdom of the EA movement as a whole is the sum of collective wisdom of the people who are in the movement. Adding wise people has the potential to improve the movement's wisdom on the margin.

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 25 September 2015 05:49:39AM 0 points [-]

Imagine yourself reading over a cause selection piece from a top poker player vs a lottery winner... which cause selection piece do you anticipate learning something from?

That's actually a really good point. I had been considering that most rational people don't do much good, so you need more than just rationality. But for something like REG where you're drawing in charitable and altruistic people, it's extremely valuable for those people to be as rational as possible.