Comment author: gray 26 October 2017 07:41:00PM 15 points [-]

Georgia here - The direct context, "Research also shows that diverse teams are more creative, more innovative, better at problem-solving, and better at decision-making," is true based on what I found.

What I found also seemed pretty clear that diversity doesn't, overall, have a positive or negative effect on performance. Discussing that seems important if you're trying to argue that it'll yield better results, unless you have reason to think that EA is an exception.

(E.g., it seems possible that business teams aren't a good comparison for local groups or nonprofits, or that most teams in an EA context do more research/creative/problem-solving type work than business teams, so the implication "diversity is likely to help your EA team" would be possibly valid - but whatever premise that's based on would need to be justified.)

That said, obviously there are reasons to want diversity other than its effect on team performance, and I generally quite liked this article.

Comment author: Habryka 26 October 2017 10:18:01PM *  22 points [-]

As a relevant piece of data:

I looked into the 4 sources you cite in your article as improving the effectiveness of diverse teams and found the following:

  • 1 didn't replicate, and the replication found the opposite effect with a much larger sample size (which you link to in your article)
  • One is a Forbes article that cites a variety of articles, two of which I looked into and didn't say at all what the Forbes article said they say, with the articles usually saying "we found no significant effects"

  • One study you cited directly found the opposite result of what you seemed to imply it does, with its results table looking like this:

And the results section of the study explicitly saying:

"whereas background diversity displayed a small negative, yet nonsignificant, relationship with innovation (.133)."

(the thing that did have a positive relation was "job-related diversity" which is very much not the kind of diversity the top-level article is talking about)

  • The only study that you cited that did seem to cite some positive effects was one with the following results table:

Which found some effects on innovation, though overall it found very mixed effects of diversity, with its conclusion stating:

"Based on the results of a series of meta-analyses, we conclude that cultural diversity in teams can be both an asset and a liability. Whether the process losses associated with cultural diversity can be minimized and the process gains be realized will ultimately depend on the team’s ability to manage the process in an effective manner, as well as on the context within which the team operates."

Comment author: Habryka 26 October 2017 09:40:06PM *  34 points [-]

As a general note for the discussion: Given the current incentive landscape in the parts of society most EAs are part of, I expect opposition to this post to be strongly underrepresented in the comment section.

As a datapoint, I have many disagreements with this article, but based on negative experiences with similar discussions, I do not want to participate in a longer discussion around it. I don't think there is an easy fix for this, but it seems reasonable for people reading the comments to be aware that they might be getting a very selective set of opinions.

Comment author: Julia_Wise  (EA Profile) 01 January 2017 08:29:35PM 4 points [-]

Clarification: You're using EAF to mean EA Forum, while I usually see it used to mean EA Foundation.

Comment author: Habryka 01 January 2017 09:18:19PM 0 points [-]

Ah, I was really confused during the whole article and thought that this had something to do with traffic to the EA Foundation websites. Thanks for clarifying!

Comment author: Jeff_Kaufman 04 November 2016 01:22:27PM 2 points [-]

Any outcome yet?

Comment author: Habryka 07 November 2016 10:44:14PM 6 points [-]

And the results are in!

The bet was resolved with 6 yes votes, and 4 no votes, which means a victory for Carl Shulman. I will be sending Carl $10, as per our initial agreement.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 26 October 2016 04:43:02PM 0 points [-]

What will you do about people who don't reply to your messages?

Comment author: Habryka 28 October 2016 10:01:06PM *  5 points [-]

(I haven't run this by Carl yet, but this is my current plan for how to interpret the incoming data)

Since our response rates where somewhat lower than expected (mostly because we chose an account that was friends with only one person from our sample, and so messages probably ended up in people's secondary Inbox), we decided to only send messages until we get 10 responses to (1), since we don't want to spam a ton of people with a somewhat shady looking question (I think two people expressed concern about conducting a poll like this).

Since our stopping criteria is 10 people, we will also stop if we get more than 7 yes responses, or more than 3 no responses, before we reach 10 people.

Comment author: Gleb_T  (EA Profile) 25 October 2016 07:48:53PM 3 points [-]

I'm fine taking a random sample of 20 people.

Regarding positive connections, the claim made by Oliver is what we're trying to measure - that I made "significantly worse" the experience of being a member of the EA community for "something like 80%" of the people there. I had not made any claims about my positive connections.

Comment author: Habryka 25 October 2016 08:41:24PM *  8 points [-]

After some private conversation with Carl Shulman, who thinks that I am miscalibrated on this, and whose reasoning I trust quite a bit, I have updated away from me winning a bet with the words "significantly worse" and also think it's probably unlikely I would win a bet with 8/10, instead of 7/10.

I have however taken on a bet with Carl with the exact wording I supplied below, i.e. with the words "net negative" and 7/10. Though given Carl's track record of winning bets, I feel a feeling of doom about the outcome of that bet, and on some level expect to lose that bet as well.

At this point, my epistemic status on this is definitely more confused, and I assign significant probability to me overestimating the degree to which people will report that have InIn or Gleb had a negative impact on their experience (though I am even more confused whether I am just updating about people's reports, or the actual effects on the EA community, both of which seem like plausible candidates to me).

Comment author: Gleb_T  (EA Profile) 25 October 2016 06:34:44PM 5 points [-]

I'll be happy to take that bet. So if I understand correctly, we'd choose a random 10 people on the EA FB group - ones who are not FB friends with you or I to avoid potential personal factors getting into play - and then ask them if their experience of the EA community has been "significantly worsened" by InIn. If 8 or more say yes, you win. I suggest 1K to a charity of the choice of the winning party? We can let a third party send messages to prevent any framing effects.

Comment author: Habryka 25 October 2016 07:59:46PM *  4 points [-]

Since the majority of the FB group is inactive, I propose that we limit ourselves to the 50 or 100 most recently active members on the FB group, which will give a more representative sample of people who are actually engaging with the community (and since I don't want to get into debates of what precisely an EA is).

Given that I am friends with a large chunk of the core EA community, I don't think it's sensible to exclude my circle of friends, or your circle of friends for that matter.

Splitting this into two questions seems like a better idea. Here is a concrete proposal:

  1. Do you identify as a member of the EA community? [Yes] [No]
  2. Do you feel like the engagement of Gleb Tsipursky or Intentional Insights with the EA community has had a net negative impact on your experience as a member of the EA community? [Yes] [No]

I am happy to take a bet that chosen from the top 50 most recent posters on the FB group (at this current point in time), 7 out of 10 people who said yes to the first question, will say yes to the second. Or, since I would prefer a larger sample size, 14 out of 20 people.

(Since I think this is obviously a system of high noise, I only assign about 60% probability to winning this bet.)

I sadly don't have $1000 left right now, but would be happy about a $50 bet.

Comment author: Gleb_T  (EA Profile) 25 October 2016 02:46:48AM -2 points [-]

Note – I will make separate responses as my original comment was too long for the system to handle. This is part three of my comments.

Now that we got through the specifics, let me share my concerns with this document.

1) This document is a wonderful testimony to bikeshedding, motte-and-bailey, and confirmation bias.

It’s an example of bikeshedding because the much larger underlying concerns are quite different from the relatively trivial things brought up in this document: see link

Consider the disclosures. Heck, even one of the authors of this document who is a GiveWell employee has very recently engaged in doing the same kind of non-disclosure of her official employment despite GiveWell having a clear disclosures policy and being triply careful after having gotten in trouble for actual astroturfing before: see image So is one of the core issues throughout this whole thread, of InIn volunteer/contractors engaging with InIn content on Facebook through likes/shares. This is something that is widely done within the EA sphere. Why does the disclosures part of the document not list people’s actual motivations and beliefs that led them to write this document?

A) For example, let’s take the originator of the thread, Jeff Kaufman. He stated that his real concerns were not with the engagement by contractrors – the original topic of his post – but that his real concerns were about the nature of the content: see image

Now, I responded here: see image with Jeff not raising points in response. This is a classical motte-and-bailey situation – making a strong claim, and then backing away to a more narrow one after being called out on it: see link

This is similar to the concerns that Gregory Lewis raised in his comments in response to the post.

B) Let’s consider Oliver Habryka’s real concerns, about how I personally made the experience of nearly everyone in EA worse: see image Gregory Lewis says something similar but not quite as strong in his comments here

The experience of nearly everyone in EA being worse due to me is highly questionable, as a number of EAs have upvoted the following comments supportive of InIn/myself: see image or this comment: see image or this comment: see image

I find it hard to fathom how Oliver can say what he said, as all three comments and the upvotes happened before Oliver’s comment. This is a clear case of confirmation bias – twisting the evidence to make it agree with one’s pre-formed conclusion: see link To me Oliver right now is fundamentally discredited as either someone with integrity or as someone who has a good grasp of the mood and dynamics of EAs overall, despite being a central figure in the EA movement and a CEA staff member.

2) This document engages in unethical disclosures of my private messages with others.

When I corresponded with Michelle, I did so from a position as a member of GWWC and the head of another EA organization. Neither was I asked nor did I implicitly permit my personal email exchange to be disclosed publicly. In other words, it was done without my permission in an explicit attempt to damage InIn.

After this situation, both with Michelle and Oliver, how can anyone trust CEA and its arm GWWC right now to not use private emails against them when they might want in the future to damage them after any potential disagreements? And it’s not like I was accusing CEA/GWWC/Michelle of anything that they were trying to defend themselves with. This is a purely aggressive, not defensive, use of emails. It’s especially ironic in a document where I received criticism for sharing my impressions of a phone call, one that I later acknowledged was inappropriate to do but was done in the heat of the moment and in no way intended to damage the other person

Now, I do not know if Michelle herself provided the email, or if Oliver found it through his access to CEA email servers, or if it ended up in the document through other means. Regardless, it had to come from CEA staff. Why would CEA/GWWC permit its staff to use confidential access to information they have only as CEA staff to critize a nonprofit whose mission is at least somewhat competing, as Vipul Naiak pointed out: see image ? How is the CEA/GWWC going to be perceived as a result of this? What is the reputation cost there?

I bet some of you might be hating on me right now for pointing this out. Well, you’re welcome to commit the cognitive bias of shooting the messenger, but I am simply pointing out the reality of the situation. In fact, I am using only publicly available statements, and am not revealing in my comment any of the reputationally damaging information I have in personal communications, despite the fact that my own personal communications with CEA staff has been revealed publicly by CEA staff. I do not consider it ethical to share personal exchanges with others in a way that damages those people. I hope we as a movement can condemn this practice.

3) I am incredibly frustrated by all the time and resources – and therefore money, and therefore lives – this episode cost. And for what? For finding out about our volunteer/contractors doing social media engagement on their volunteer time? For finding out about my use of the term best-selling author, a standard practice even if I didn’t make the NYT best-seller list? I very much appreciate the information about Facebook boosting being problematic, and other things I pointed out as correct in my comments, but this could have been done in a way that didn’t drain so much money, time, lives, reputation, and other costs. This is a black mark in the history of the EA movement.

4) And talking about black marks, how many people were driven away from the EA movement because of this? I had many people approach me about how this caused them to be alienated from the EA movement. I asked one of them allowed me to share his comments and impressions publicly: see image

5) Building on the last point, this episode is a classic example of the “Founder effect” that plagues the EA movement: see link The authors and their supporters are trying to drive away people who share their goals and aspirations, but are somewhat different in their methods. The result of such activities is the evaporative cooling effect, where only those who hold the same methods being part of the movement. This results in the movement being increasingly limited to only a small demographic category. And it’s not like InIn is trying to bring people into the movement – we are trying to spread the ideas of effective giving in an effective manner. Such intolerance is deeply damaging to the movement as a whole.

6) The document and the episode as a whole reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature among the authors. What if I was a different person than I am? What if this drove me to break away from and criticize publicly the EA movement? Emotions have a funny way of reversing themselves sometimes when people feel rejected. Think of a bad breakup you might have had. How much damage do you think would be done in that case to the movement itself, considering the media sway that InIn has? We regularly appear on TV, radio, in prominent public venues. Why would the authors of this document risk such damage? Now, there's certainly a part of me that wants to do it, but fortunately I am enough of an aspiring rationalist to recognize that this is an emotion that will pass, and am not overwhelmed with it. What if I was not?

To conclude:

I don’t expect that those who come from an established conclusion that “InIn is bad” or “Gleb is bad” or something in that style will update. Many have already committed themselves to this belief, and for the sake of consistency, they will hold that belief.

Just keep in mind the deep damage done by this episode, and consider focusing on how to strengthen others aligned with your goals, not bring them down and drive them away. When conflicts within the EA movement grow personal and irrational – “Gleb made the experience of almost all EAs significantly worse” – this tears apart the movement as a whole.

While still enthusiastic about the ideas of EA, and excited to work with many people in the movement, I am deeply disappointed in some EAs at the higher levels of the movement. For the sake of my own mental health, I have been taking a break from the EA Forum and to a large extent from the EA main FB as well. I will continue to be happy to work with those people who want to build up and create and actually do as much good as they can to spread effective giving ideas broadly. Contact me if interested by email, I anticipate I won’t be checking the Forum much: gleb (at) intentionalinsights (dot) org

Finally, let’s get on with it. Let’s orient toward leaving this in the past, learning from it, avoiding doing anything like this again, and trying to work together to do the most good that we can, even if we may disagree somewhat on the best ways of accomplishing these goals.

P. S. Based on past experience, I learned that back and forth online about this will not be productive, so I did not plan to engage with, and if someone wants to learn more about my perspective, they are welcome to contact me privately by my email.

Comment author: Habryka 25 October 2016 09:39:15AM 7 points [-]

I don't have much interest in engaging much further in this discussion, since I think most things are covered by other people, and I've already spent far more time than I think is warranted on this issue.

I mostly wanted to quickly reply to this section of your comment, given that it directly addresses me:

"I find it hard to fathom how Oliver can say what he said, as all three comments and the upvotes happened before Oliver’s comment. This is a clear case of confirmation bias – twisting the evidence to make it agree with one’s pre-formed conclusion: see link To me Oliver right now is fundamentally discredited as either someone with integrity or as someone who has a good grasp of the mood and dynamics of EAs overall, despite being a central figure in the EA movement and a CEA staff member."

I've responded to Carl Shulman's comment below regarding my thoughts on the hyperbole used in the linked comment, which I do think muddled the message, and for which I do apologize.

I do also think that your strict dismissal here of my observation is worrying, and I think misses the point that I was trying to make with my comment. I do agree with Gregory's top comment on this post, in that I think your engagement with Effective Altruism has had a large negative impact on the community, and I do also think that you worsened the experience of being a member of the EA community for at least 70% of its members, and more likely something like 80%. If you disagree, I am happy to send Facebook messages to a random sample of 10-20 people who were recently active on the EA Facebook group, and ask them whether they felt that the work of InIn had a negative impact on their experience as an EA, and bet with you on the outcome.

I think your judgement of me as someone "fundamentally discredited", "without integrity" or as someone out of touch with the EA community would be misguided, and that the way you wrote it, feels like a fairly unjustified social attack to me.

I am happy to have a discussion about the content of my comment, i.e. the fraction of the community that was negatively influenced by InIn's actions, though I think most of the evidence has already been brought up by others, or myself, on this, and the implication follows fairly naturally from you having made sure that every potential EA communication channel has featured one or multiple pieces written by InIn at some point, which I generally think worsen people's experience of the intellectual discourse in the community.

Comment author: Carl_Shulman 25 October 2016 07:58:04AM 17 points [-]

Regarding Gleb's point #1 I would like to agree in particular that harsh hyperbole like "Gleb made the experience of almost all EAs significantly worse" is objectionable, and Oliver should not have used it.

Also it's worth signal-boosting and reiterating to all commenters on this thread that public criticism on the internet, particularly with many critics and one or a few people being criticized, is very stressful, and people should be mindful about that and empathize with Gleb's difficult situation. I will also add that my belief is that Gleb is genuinely interested in doing good, and that one can keep this in mind even while addressing recurring problems. And further that people should separately address individual and organization specific issues from the general issue of popularization.

Regarding the point or lack thereof of the document, I agree that this exercise has been costly in several ways. I have been personally frustrated at spending so much time on it at the expense of valuable work, and dislike getting involved in such a controversy. I don't think the document will instantly solve all problems with InIn and its relationship to EA. However, it documents a pattern of aggressive self-promotion and self-favoring errors, including on indicators used to appeal to and fundraise from the EA community, that is relevant to a number of EAs as individuals.

Jeff's August post was triggered by discussions about InIn at EA Global, where InIn was fundraising, and much of the document (and in particular the parts I worked on most) addresses claims and connotations from documents making the case for EA impact of InIn. In particular, sections 1, 2.4.1, 3, 4.2, and 5 speak to the reliability of InIn claims of impact. Section 7 explicitly rejects previous false hypotheses considered as possibly relevant to that, and most of 4.1.2 is in the same vein.

Comment author: Habryka 25 October 2016 09:13:05AM *  11 points [-]

"Regarding Gleb's point #1 I would like to agree in particular that harsh hyperbole like "Gleb made the experience of almost all EAs significantly worse" is objectionable, and Oliver should not have used it."

I agree, and am aware that I tend towards hyperbole in discourse in general. I apologize for that tendency, and am working on finding a communication style that successfully communicates all the aspects of a message that I want to convey, without distorting the accuracy of its denotative message. I am sorry for both the potentially false implications of using such hyperbole, as well as the negative contribution to the conversational climate.

Replacing the fairly vague, and somewhat hyperbolic "almost all" with a more precise "about 70-90%" seems like a strict improvement, and I think captures my view on this more correctly. I do think that something in the 70% - 90% space is accurate, and mostly leaves the core of the argument intact (though I do still think that using the kind of hyperbole I am prone to use creates an unnecessarily adverse conversational style, that I think generally isn't very productive).

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 24 September 2016 05:20:19AM 2 points [-]

EA Hub, EA survey, and traffic for EA forum are all samples of the sorts of people who actively participate in EA online. They're all going to be biased in roughly the same way, so the fact that they say similar things is not strong evidence that they provide a representative sample.

Comment author: Habryka 25 September 2016 01:39:57AM 0 points [-]

Yep, agree with this. Sadly since online surveys tend to be the easiest way to conduct these, we don't really have much different data. There are a few things we will hopefully be able to estimate soon, which might help us spot inconsistencies between these:

  • # of members in EA student chapters in different locations
  • # of people who attend different EAGx events
  • # Origin of people who attend EAG (sadly we only have country-wide data for this year's EAG, since our registration completion rates dropped quite a bit when we increased the length, so we had to cut some questions)
  • Distribution of people engaging with the EA Facebook groups
  • Distribution of people having taken the GWWC pledge
  • Distribution of people who donate to meta-EA charities
  • Geographic distribution of newsletter subscribers for 80K and the EA newsletter

I would guess that at some point CEA will look into all of these, though I would be somewhat surprised if any of these massively disagree with the EA-hub/survey data. Still seems valuable to check though.

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