Comment author: Austen_Forrester 15 March 2017 01:54:55AM 0 points [-]

LOL. Typical of my comments. Gets almost no upvotes but I never receive any sensible counterarguments! People use the forum vote system to persuade (by social proof) without having a valid argument. I have yet to vote a comment (up or down) because I think people should think for themselves.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 16 March 2017 05:32:30PM 2 points [-]

Gets almost no upvotes

Actually you got 7 upvotes and 6 downvotes, I can tell from hovering over the '1 point'.

Comment author: itaibn 12 March 2017 02:34:05PM 3 points [-]

Suggestion: The author should have omitted the "Thoughts" section of this post and put the same content in a comment, and, in general, news posts should avoid subjective commentary in the main post.

Reasoning: The main content of this post is its report of EA-related news. This by itself is enough to make it worth posting. Discussion and opinions of this news can be done in the comments. By adding commentary you are effectively "bundling" a high-quality post with additional content, which grants this extra content with undue attention.

Note: This comment was not incited by any particular objection to the views discussed in this post. I also approve of the way you clearly separated the news from your thoughts on it. I don't think the post goes outside the EA Forum's community norms. Rather, I want to discuss whether shifting those community norms is a good idea.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 14 March 2017 07:23:06PM *  1 point [-]

you are effectively "bundling" a high-quality post with additional content, which grants this extra content with undue attention.

A post which simply quotes a news source could be criticized as not containing anything original and therefore not worth posting. Someone has already complained that this post is superfluous since a discussion already exists on Facebook.

Actually if I had to criticize my own post I would say its weakness is that it lacks in-depth analysis and research. Unfortunately, in-depth analysis takes a lot of time...

Comment author: Austen_Forrester 10 March 2017 05:44:00AM -1 points [-]

Those guiding principles are good. However, I wished you would include one that was against doing massive harm to the world. CEA endorses the “Foundational Research Institute,” a pseudo-think tank that promotes dangerous ideas of mass-termination of human and non-human life, not excluding extinction. By promoting this organization, CEA is promoting human, animal, and environmental terrorism on the grandest scale. Self-styled “effective altruists” try to pass themselves off as benevolent, but the reality is that they themselves are one of the biggest threats to the world by promoting terrorism and anti-spirituality under the cloak of altruism.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 11 March 2017 03:24:00PM *  5 points [-]

Also, I am somewhat concerned that this comment has been downvoted so much. It's the only really substantive criticism of the article (admittedly it isn't great), and it is at -3, right at the bottom.

Near the top are several comments at +5 or something that are effectively just applause.

Comment author: Austen_Forrester 10 March 2017 05:44:00AM -1 points [-]

Those guiding principles are good. However, I wished you would include one that was against doing massive harm to the world. CEA endorses the “Foundational Research Institute,” a pseudo-think tank that promotes dangerous ideas of mass-termination of human and non-human life, not excluding extinction. By promoting this organization, CEA is promoting human, animal, and environmental terrorism on the grandest scale. Self-styled “effective altruists” try to pass themselves off as benevolent, but the reality is that they themselves are one of the biggest threats to the world by promoting terrorism and anti-spirituality under the cloak of altruism.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 11 March 2017 03:21:43PM 4 points [-]

dangerous ideas of mass-termination of human and non-human life,

Specifically?

Comment author: AlasdairGives 08 March 2017 09:24:45PM 5 points [-]

According to my facebook this topic has had 156 comments on the EA facbook group already. I don't want to repeat or diminish those comments here so what is the purpose of opening a parallel discussion here as this seems like a topic which has attracted a huge amount of EA discussion already?

Comment author: the_jaded_one 08 March 2017 09:39:45PM *  12 points [-]

Facebook requires that you give your real name to post an opinion, be part of the group etc. That is certainly a serious limitation to open discussion, and this topic in particular exacerbates that problem.

Not everyone will necessarily want to comment on this issue under their real name.

Also, I presume this forum exists because someone decided that something other than Facebook is required. Are we questioning this logic in general? Or are we making a special case of this issue? Why?

But if you would be so kind as to post anything you see as particularly relevant, I would appreciate it.

3

Peter Singer no-platformed by pro-disability protestors at Canadian university

On the topic of politics and effective altruism, I was somewhat surprised 1 to see the following pop up in my Facebook feed: What began as two conflicting defenses of free speech soon hindered discussion of any kind, as the Effective Altruists and protesters battled with the volume to deafening... Read More
Comment author: Ben_West  (EA Profile) 02 March 2017 11:55:38PM 2 points [-]

In order to think vote trading is a good idea, you have to think that, with some reasonable amount of work, you can predict the better candidate at a rate which outperforms chance.

Humility is important, but there's a difference between "politics is hard to predict perfectly" and "politics is impossible predict at all".

Comment author: the_jaded_one 03 March 2017 05:35:58PM 0 points [-]

there's a difference between "politics is hard to predict perfectly" and "politics is impossible predict at all".

I think there's a lot of improvement to be had in the area of "refining which direction we are pushing in".

Was there ever a well-prosecuted debate about whether EA should support Clinton over Trump, or did we just sort of stumble into it because the correct side is so obvious?

Comment author: Ben_West  (EA Profile) 27 February 2017 03:22:06PM *  1 point [-]

Thanks for the feedback!

  1. I generally like arguments from humility, but I think you're overstating the difficulty of choosing the better candidate. E.g. in 2016 only one candidate had any sort of policy at all about farmed animals, so it didn't require a very extensive policy analysis to figure out who is preferable. The same is true for other EA focus areas.
  2. I agree. I do not think that promoting vote pairing irrespective of the candidates is a very useful thing to do.
Comment author: the_jaded_one 02 March 2017 09:43:57PM *  2 points [-]

2016 only one candidate had any sort of policy at all about farmed animals, so it didn't require a very extensive policy analysis to figure out who is preferable.

Beware of unintended consequences, though. The path from "Nice things are written about X on a candidate's promotional materials" to "Overall, X improved" is a very circuitous one in human politics.

The same is true for other EA focus areas.

A lot of people in EA seem to assume, without a thorough argument, that direct support for certain political tribes is good for all EA causes. I would like to see some effort put into something like a quasi realistic simulation of human political processes to back up claims like this. (Not that I am demanding specific evidence before I will believe these claims - just that it would be a good idea). Real-world human politicking seems to be full of crucial considerations.

I also feel like when we talk about human political issues, we lack an understanding of, or don't bother to think about, the causal dynamics behind how politics works in humans. I am specifically talking about things like signalling

Comment author: Daniel_Eth 21 February 2017 01:49:39AM 2 points [-]

In an ideal world, it would be apolitical, but that's not the world we live in. Actually, the same is true about building roads - investments in infrastructure is a liberal cause. Consider how Obama proposed a massive investment in infrastructure, which Republicans rejected. When Trump proposed investing in infrastructure, Democrats implied this was one of the only areas where they would go along with him, but then other Republicans were against it and pressured him to change course on this.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 23 February 2017 08:01:05PM 0 points [-]

I think we can push issues towards being less political by reframing them and persuading others to reframe them.

Abortion, gun control, tax rate - these issues are so central to the left-right political divide that they will never be depoliticized.

Climate change is not like them IMO. I think it can be pushed away from the political left-right axis if it can be reframed so that doing something about climate change is no longer seen as supporting left-wing ideas about big government. There is an angle about efficiency, fairness & cutting red tape (carbon tax) and another angle about innovation and industry (e.g. Tesla). I think we should be pushing those very hard.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 19 February 2017 10:39:42AM *  12 points [-]

Political organizing is a highly accessible way for many EAs to have a potentially high impact. Many of us are doing it already. We propose that as a community we recognize it more formally as way to do good within an EA framework

I agree that EAs should look much more broadly at ways to do good, but I feel like doing political stuff to do good is a trap, or at least is full of traps.

Why do humans have politics? Why don't we just fire all the politicians and have a professional civil service that just does what's good?

  • Because people have different goals or values, and if a powerful group ends up in control of the apparatus of the state and pushes its agenda very hard and pisses a lot of people off, it is better to have that group ousted in an election than in a civil war.

But the takeaway is that politics is the arena in which we discuss ideas where different people in our societies disagree on what counts as good, and as a result it is a somewhat toxic arena with relatively poor intellectual standards. It strongly resists good decision-making and good quality debate, and strongly encourages rhetoric. EA needs to take sides in this like I need more holes in my head.

I think it would be fruitful for EA to get involved in politics, but not by taking sides; I get the impression that the best thing EAs can do is try to find pareto improvements that help both sides, and by making issues that are political into nonpolitical issues by de-ideologizing them and finding solutions that make everyone happy and make the world a better place.

Take a leaf out of Elon Musks's book. The right wing in the USA is engaging in some pretty crazy irrationality and science denial about global warming. Many people might see this as an opportunity to score points against the right, but global warming will not be solved by political hot air, it will be solved by making fossil fuels economically marginal or nonviable in most applications. In particular, we need to reduce car related emissions to near zero. So Musks goes and builds fast, sexy macho cars in factories in the USA which provide tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs for blue collar US workers, and emphasizes them as innovative, forward looking and pro-US. Our new right wing president is lapping it up. This is what effective altruism in politics looks like: the rhetoric ("look at these sexy, innovative US-made cars!") is in service of the goal (eliminating gasoline cars and therefore eventually CO2 emissions), not the other way around.

And if you want to see the opposite, go look at this. People are cancelling their Tesla orders because Musk is "acting as a conduit to the rise of white nationalism and fascism in the United States". Musk has an actual solution to a serious problem, and people on the political left want to destroy it because it doesn't conform perfectly to their political ideology. Did these people stop to think about whether this nascent boycott makes sense from a consequentialist perspective? As in, "let's delay the solution to a pressing global problem in order to mildly inconvenience our political enemy"?

Collaborating with existing social justice movements

I would personally like to see EA become more like Elon Musk and less like Buzzfeed. The Trump administration and movement is a bit like a screaming toddler; it's much easier to deal with by distracting it with it's favorite toys ("Macho! Innovative! Made in the US!") than by trying to start an argument with it. How can we find ways to persuade the Trump administration - or any other popular right wing regime - that doing good is in its interest and conforms to its ideology? How can we sound right wing enough that the political right (who currently hold all the legislative power in the US) practically thinks they thought of our ideas themselves?

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