How Big a Problem is Status Quo Bias in the EA Community?

post by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2022-01-10T04:48:33.245Z · EA · GW · 8 comments

This is a question post.

Someone asked this in an effective altruism Facebook group and I'm tired of seeing so many people not ask questions like this on the EA Forum when it's got a function dedicated to posting questions like that, so I'm just going to post them on the EA Forum myself. I'll post links to the answers to this question in the comments section of the Facebook post.



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comment by michaelchen · 2022-01-10T07:26:18.247Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I realize that you weren’t the original author of this question, but I think this question really needs much more context to be a high-quality question on the EA Forum. Why does the question asker think that the status quo bias might be a problem in the EA community? What kinds of examples do they have in mind? Are they interested in a status quo bias towards the way the world is, or the way the EA community currently is?

Replies from: Evan_Gaensbauer
comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2022-01-10T22:55:17.966Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

He asked about a status quo bias favouring the world the way it is. He noticed much of the EA community appears to favour the status quo for politics, economics, etc. He presumably meant mainstream liberal/centrist positions in Western countries. To paraphrase, he is new to EA and his intuition is that if EA does more good on the margin that traditional institutions aren't doing, advocating for what they're already doing might defeat the purpose of maximizing marginal utility. He thought he might be missing something, which is why he asked.

Replies from: michaelchen
comment by michaelchen · 2022-01-13T17:00:49.148Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Gotcha, I think standard EA articles about systemic change such as Some personal thoughts on EA and systemic change [EA · GW] would be relevant.

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2022-01-12T09:42:11.682Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

In cases where you do this, I strongly recommend linking back to the original question on Facebook. This lets people see any edits someone has made to the question + the answers they've already gotten (so that someone doesn't waste time writing something on the Forum that's redundant with something on Facebook).

Replies from: Evan_Gaensbauer
comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2022-01-13T16:31:44.566Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

That's a good idea but the post was in a private group, so I figured that might complicate things if people aren't on Facebook or they have to join a while other group anyway before they join the conversation. I'll do it next time though. Thanks for the suggestion.

Replies from: aarongertler
comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2022-01-14T02:06:04.107Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

If a post is meant to be private to a certain audience, maybe it's better not to share — I just think sharing is a good default outside of extenuating circumstances.

Replies from: Evan_Gaensbauer
comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2022-01-14T04:16:30.317Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

It wasn't a private group but only people need to request to join if they're on Facebook. I agree with you though.