Posts

Final Version Perfected: An Underused Execution Algorithm 2020-12-03T11:03:45.662Z
Information hazards: a very simple typology 2020-07-13T16:54:17.640Z
Exploring the Streisand Effect 2020-07-06T07:00:00.000Z
Concern, and hope 2020-07-05T15:08:47.766Z
What coronavirus policy failures are you worried about? 2020-06-19T20:32:41.515Z
willbradshaw's Shortform 2020-02-28T18:19:32.458Z
Thoughts on The Weapon of Openness 2020-02-13T00:10:14.841Z
The Web of Prevention 2020-02-05T04:51:51.158Z
Concrete next steps for ageing-based welfare measures 2019-11-01T14:55:03.431Z
How worried should I be about a childless Disneyland? 2019-10-28T15:32:03.036Z
Assessing biomarkers of ageing as measures of cumulative animal welfare 2019-09-27T08:00:22.716Z

Comments

Comment by willbradshaw on Is capitalism the root of all evil? · 2021-05-18T07:08:21.807Z · EA · GW

If it did, I am surprised why no one focused on that rather than the title. For me Capitalism is the cause or one of the biggest contributors or the maintainer to many of the issues we are facing, Global poverty and climate change to name a few.

I might give you climate change – though I would note that e.g. communist states also have very bad environmental records (see e.g. the Aral Sea), so there is still some work to be done to strengthen that case.

I don't agree with global poverty – I currently think  capitalism has historically been, and will continue to be, one of the most important forces bringing people out of poverty.

People say a lot of silly things regarding the connection between capitalism and poverty. There might be a more sensible case for a link between the two, but I haven't heard it yet.

Comment by willbradshaw on Is capitalism the root of all evil? · 2021-05-18T07:03:34.587Z · EA · GW

Thank you for being open minded. In terms of factory farming and capitalism, can I ask you if you don’t think that factory farming came as a result of capitalism? And wether countries with less developed capitalist systems (if you even can call them capitalists) have less animal suffering?

I can certainly see a story where capitalism was the genesis and remains the driver of factory farming. But the more fundamental problem is that most people don't see animals as morally important, and that applies across nearly all economic systems.

There's a complicating factor here, which is that capitalism makes countries rich, and rich people want to eat more meat, so it's possible that that is most of the driver here. One could respond to that that in that case making countries rich is bad on net, but I think any path to a good world is going to involve making everyone in the world a lot richer, so if factory farming is near-inevitable in rich countries (in the absence of good technological alternatives) then I'm reluctant to blame capitalism, as opposed to humans in general.

I would be interested in seeing data on factory farming in less capitalist countries (e.g. the Soviet Union), compared to more free-market countries of similar wealth (if one can find any).

Comment by willbradshaw on Should aid organizations accept ETH donations? · 2021-05-17T07:01:08.280Z · EA · GW

In contrast, the contribution of cryptocurrency to the world appears to be very much negative.

Is this based solely on the electricity usage? You haven't given any other reason why we should assume that crypto money was obtained unethically - and the electricity reason seems to be a pretty weak one to me.

Comment by willbradshaw on Is capitalism the root of all evil? · 2021-05-16T18:36:44.091Z · EA · GW

Many EAs, me included, are pretty sympathetic to capitalism as an economic system – certainly much more so than many other communities that place a strong emphasis on helping others.

This certainly isn't universal within EA, but it is common. Personally, I think this has become a bit of a tribal signal within EA, such that people are a bit too ready to downvote anti-capitalist content. That said, given this context, it's probably a good idea to ask questions like this in a somewhat more measured style, and provide some concrete arguments that people can engage with.

(One thing that would significantly update me in an anti-capitalist direction, for example, would be to provide evidence that capitalism leads to significantly more factory farming than other economic systems, even accounting for differences in wealth.)

Comment by willbradshaw on Is capitalism the root of all evil? · 2021-05-16T18:28:39.338Z · EA · GW

To clarify, when meerpirat say that people on the EA Forum are volunteers, they don't (I assume) mean that there is some dedicated team of volunteers whose job it is to answer Forum questions.

Rather, they simply mean that most users of the Forum are not paid to use it.

(I'm not sure if you were in fact confused about this, but I thought your comment above potentially implied that you were, so I wanted to make this clear just in case.)

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-05-07T12:57:42.448Z · EA · GW

While I didn't like Khorton's original comment, this comment comes across as spiteful and mean, while contributing little or nothing of value. I strong-downvoted it.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-05-07T12:52:48.085Z · EA · GW

I feel I have explained myself fairly well on this thread already, see for example here:

One could imagine, for example, a post that contains similar content but is written with far more sympathy for what ACE and co. are trying to do here, even if the author disagrees (strongly) with its implementation. I think this post actually does better on this than many past posts on this topic, but taken as a whole we are still a long way from where I would like to be.

Whatever information you want to convey, there are always a very wide range of ways to convey that information, which will vary substantially in their effects. With very controversial stuff like this, it is especially worth putting thought into how to convey that information in the manner that is best for the world.

I've actually been quite impressed with Hypatia's behaviour on this point since the post went up, in terms of updating the post based on feedback and moderating its tone. I think my version of this post would try even harder to be nice and sympathetic to pro-SJ EAs than this, but I'm not very unhappy with the current version of the OP.

(The ensuing discussion has also brought to light several things that made me update in the direction of ACE's behaviour being even worse than I thought, which makes me more sympathetic to the OP in its original form, though I stand by my original comments.)

Comment by willbradshaw on Wild Animal Initiative featured in Vox · 2021-04-22T11:53:12.906Z · EA · GW

Yeah, to be clear I'm happy for EA and EA-adjacent orgs to publish news they're excited about on the Forum, and this certainly qualifies.

Something about the phrasing does bug me, but I'm not sure exactly what. This could be explained by WAI copying phrasing from another source (e.g. promotional material) to make this post, which would be understandable as a time-saver.

Comment by willbradshaw on Wild Animal Initiative featured in Vox · 2021-04-22T10:42:22.110Z · EA · GW

I feel a bit bad about my other comment being the first and only comment here, because while I stand by what I said there I also think this coverage is great news and WAI is totally justified in being really excited about it. So, congratulations!

Comment by willbradshaw on Wild Animal Initiative featured in Vox · 2021-04-22T08:38:19.465Z · EA · GW

I'd be interested in getting others' takes here, but as currently phrased this post feels a bit too much like marketing / propaganda for me to be comfortable with it as a post on this Forum.

(I continue to be very supportive of WAI's mission, methods, and staff.)

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-22T08:31:02.859Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Jakub. Good to get the perspective of someone more closely involved in this.

[T]he first email Anima International received about issues with CARE was information that ACE had chosen to freeze Anima International’s funds from the Recommended Charity Fund with the stated reasons being what they believed to be racist behaviour of our staff members and the lack of appropriate response to this from Anima International's leadership.

Are you able to give an indication of how long Anima's funding was frozen? Are we talking hours? Days? Weeks?

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-22T08:26:11.388Z · EA · GW

The embedded claim being objected to is that the group is "explicitly aligned with one side" (of this dispute).

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-18T20:35:45.866Z · EA · GW

NB: I didn't downvote this comment and would be interested to know why people did.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-18T20:34:16.743Z · EA · GW

(I'm not sure how much the group admins want the group description waved around on the Forum, given that nobody has linked to it so far. I've tried to strike the right balance here but am open to cutting stuff if a group admin tells me they'd prefer something different.)

The group describes itself as a "group for EAs into getting on with conservatives and liberals alike, and who want EA itself to be more welcoming to people of all different political stripes", and links to resources that are clearly in support of open discussion and against censoring true beliefs for the sake of avoiding offence. It even explicitly says controversial topics "are welcome", as long as you "use stricter epistemic standards in proportion to how offensive [your claim] is".

Even though it does not make any angry claims about cancel culture, I defend my claim that this group is clearly oriented towards the free-speech end of EA and away from the censor-opposing-views-to-protect-vulnerable-groups end.

I'm not saying the group is bad! Merely that I think, based on evidence, that my claim is reasonable. I also still don't understand why joining this group would address these problems; I think explaining the model for the last thing might be a more effective way to change my mind, but it also might be too much of a tangent for this comment thread.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-17T14:47:57.812Z · EA · GW

Perhaps. However, this post makes specific claims about ACE. And even though these claims have been discussed somewhat informally on Facebook, this post provides a far more solid writeup. So it does seem to be making a signficantly new contribution to the discussion and not just rewarming leftovers.

My claim was not that this post didn't contain new information, or that it was badly written – merely that it is part of a pattern that concerns me, and that more effort could be being made to mitigate the bad effects of this pattern.

One could imagine, for example, a post that contains similar content but is written with far more sympathy for what ACE and co. are trying to do here, even if the author disagrees (strongly) with its implementation. I think this post actually does better on this than many past posts on this topic, but taken as a whole we are still a long way from where I would like to be.

On the contrary, now that this has been written up on the forum it gives people something to link to. So forum posts aren't just read by people who regularly read the forum.

I wasn't saying they wouldn't see it, I was saying they wouldn't engage with it – that they will disagree with it silently, feel more alienated from the Forum, and move a little further away from the other side of EA than they were before. I think the anonymous comment below is quite strong evidence that I'm on the right track here.

If you want to avoid a split in the movement, I'd like to encourage you to join the Effective Altruists for Political Tolerance Facebook group and contribute there.

I'm honestly a bit flummoxed here. Why would contributing to a Facebook group explicitly aligned with one side of this dispute help avoid a split?

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-17T08:22:31.999Z · EA · GW

Thanks, this comment was a pretty big update for me towards Hypatia's interpretation (I'd previously been much closer to Ben's).

Footnote 50 from that blockquote is also relevant:

In addition to lengthy email correspondence, our impression here was informed by evidence we cannot publish, including calls with Anima International’s leadership and correspondence in a public Facebook group (“Effective Animal Advocacy – Discussion”). Even though Anima and the ACE staff members who are discussed in the email thread encouraged us to publish the email correspondence, members of the evaluations committee decided against this to protect the privacy of the third parties mentioned, and to assure charities that we keep our private correspondence confidential. 

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-16T16:52:41.385Z · EA · GW

I think private discussions are very important, but I don't feel good about a world where they entirely substitute for this kind of public disagreement. I think past Forum controversies of this kind have often been quite valuable.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-16T15:01:49.066Z · EA · GW

Previous criticism of ACE in venues like the Forum has primarily been about its research methodology (e.g. here and response here).

It's been a while since I followed EAA research closely, but it's my impression ACE has improved its research methodology substantially and removed/replaced a lot of the old content people were concerned about – at least as far as non-DEI issues are concerned.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-16T14:44:17.908Z · EA · GW

Turning to the object level: I feel pretty torn here.

On the one hand, I agree the business with CARE was quite bad and share all the standard concerns about SJ discourse norms and cancel culture.

On the other hand, we've had quite a bit of anti-cancel-culture stuff on the Forum lately. There's been much more of that than of pro-SJ/pro-DEI content, and it's generally got much higher karma. I think the message that the subset of EA that is highly active on the Forum generally disapproves of cancel culture has been made pretty clearly.

I'm sceptical that further content in this vein will have the desired effect on EA and EA-adjacent groups and individuals who are less active on the Forum, other than to alienate them and promote a split in the movement, while also exposing EA to substantial PR risk. I think a lot of more SJ-sympathetic EAs already feel that the Forum is not a space for them – simply affirming that doesn't seem to me to be terribly useful. Not giving ACE prior warning before publishing the post further cements an adversarial us-and-them dynamic I'm not very happy about.

I don't really know how that cashes out as far as this post and posts like it are concerned. Biting one's tongue about what does seem like problematic behaviour would hardly be ideal. But as I've said several times in the past, I do wish we could be having this discussion in a more productive and conciliatory way, which has less of a chance of ending in an acrimonious split.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-16T14:28:10.213Z · EA · GW

I like the concept of anonymity risks and agree that is a fair argument against advance sharing.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-16T14:27:14.646Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this response, Hypatia. Upvoted.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-16T12:53:18.883Z · EA · GW

In general, I am in favour of public criticism within movements/communities, and think it is usually underproduced. In general, I would prefer public-criticism-without-prior-warning to no criticism, if those are the only choices available. However:

  • I think prior consultation significantly increases the social value of criticism, and that there should be a pretty strong norm of doing so, at least on the Forum (perhaps less so on social media groups). As such, I'm not sympathetic to excuses of the form "I didn't have time to do this" in this context, unless the post is, for some reason, very urgent.
  • Excuses of the form "I didn't think reaching out in advance would be productive", meanwhile, are quite prone to self-serving biases and the horns effect, and should be avoided, with the possible exception of cases where the target of criticism is flagrantly dishonest and manipulative.
  • In this case, there are several important places where criticism either concerns actions that have since been reversed (the blog post) or depends on speculation about the non-public motives of ACE staff (Anima International). These seem like cases where giving ACE the chance to respond would be especially valuable.
  • Being afraid of retaliation is potentially a good reason not to share in advance, but (a) the sharing could still be done anonymously, e.g. from a new Gmail account or via a proxy, and (b) if this was the reason, it's dishonest to say that the author "[has] not had the chance to share a draft of this post with ACE".

In sum, I think there's a decent probability that I do disapprove of the author's posting this without discussing it with ACE in advance – but, until/unless I hear their reasoning, I am not sure.

Comment by willbradshaw on Concerns with ACE's Recent Behavior · 2021-04-16T07:17:14.646Z · EA · GW

This post doesn't seem screamingly urgent. Why didn't you have the chance to share a draft with ACE?

It seems like there are several points here where clarification from ACE would be useful, even if the bulk of your complaints stand.

Comment by willbradshaw on Non-pharmaceutical interventions in pandemic preparedness and response · 2021-04-08T15:08:54.208Z · EA · GW

I like this post a lot. It's well-written, thoughtful, well-linked and thorough. I especially like the way you've scoped out the different project ideas at the end of the post, and you include several classes of project that I think are important but usually left out of these sorts of lists.

It seems likely to me that this would be a very good use of money for "generalist" (non-GCBR-focused) pandemic prevention. I'd be very interested in hearing counterarguments to that.

For GCBR reduction, I'm less sure how valuable it would be to better evaluate existing NPIs, as opposed to developing (and evaluating) new and improved NPIs targeting key weak points. But I could imagine being persuaded fairly easily on this point, and would like to get other people's takes (though perhaps not in an open forum).

Comment by willbradshaw on Announcing "Naming What We Can"! · 2021-04-01T16:05:53.480Z · EA · GW

It seems so obvious in retrospect.

Comment by willbradshaw on Some quick notes on "effective altruism" · 2021-03-26T14:44:06.152Z · EA · GW

Yeah, I'm much more sympathetic to concerns with "effective altruist" than with "effective altruism", and it doesn't seem like GP does any better in that regard – all the solutions you could apply here ("I'm a member of the global priorities community", "I'm interested in global priorities") also apply to EA.

Maybe the fact that the short forms are so awkward for GP is part of the idea? Like, EA has this very attractive but somewhat problematic personalised form ("effective altruist"); GP's personalised forms are all unattractive, so you avoid the problematic attractor?

But it still seems that, if personalised forms are a big part of the concern (which I think they are), this is a good argument in favour of keeping looking. Which was Jonas's proposal anyway.

Comment by willbradshaw on Why I prefer "Effective Altruism" to "Global Priorities" · 2021-03-26T14:30:50.026Z · EA · GW

Yeah, if anything this post should be positioned as an argument against Ryan Carey, not Jonas. Ryan is the one who really ran with the GP label in his comment; it was clearly just a throwaway suggestion in Jonas's post.

That said, given how much karma Ryan's comment was getting it's not obviously unreasonable to prepare a top-level response. But it should be positioned in that context, rather than misrepresenting Jonas's post.

[Edited to weaken some overstrong phrasing]

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T18:55:53.850Z · EA · GW

I was sad to see the downvotes on this post. (Despite writing the most critical comment here, I did not downvote it.)

I'd be interested to hear whether people were downvoting because they didn't like the design or because they think this isn't a good kind of content to have on the Forum. The latter sounds like a good reason, but one that would be better to have communicated via comments. The former doesn't seem like a great reason to me.

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T16:19:26.747Z · EA · GW

(It now occurs that the phrase "time is running out" might actually be an hourglass metaphor.)

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T16:16:47.357Z · EA · GW

I really like the aesthetics of these, though I'm not sure if that's because they resemble nautical flags, which for me trigger positive associations with sailing during childhood.

As an example, I in no way intended these to resemble nautical flags, but I think we can totally work that into our longtermist symbolism post-hoc. :-P

(Though I'd also probably be happy with other colour schemes)

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T16:15:17.511Z · EA · GW

In general, I would say the immediate appeal of the flag on a System-1 level is much more important that the story behind it, which a minuscule fraction of those exposed to it will ever learn. Moreover, it's easier to construct an adequate story for a relatively simple flag design, and such designs are also more apt to be aesthetically appealing.

Strongly agree with this.

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T11:36:17.475Z · EA · GW

One wrinkle on the symbolism: an hourglass typically represents not just time, but limited time; time that is running out. Think e.g. the fact that Death is often associated with an hourglass.

This works great for the avoiding-X-risks angle, but I'm not sure it best conveys the vast abundance of time the long-term future might contain. Sure, it's still (probably) finite, but I don't think its finitude is core to the concept of longtermism.

Of course, we could always change the flag after dealing with the X-risks.

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T10:14:31.187Z · EA · GW

I agree with others that this concept is great, but that the gradient probably isn't a great idea.

Here's a very quick inkscape version without the dot. (Any final version would want a smoother curve but I wanted to get this done quickly)

While I personally like monochrome a lot (the Cornish flag is one of my favourites), I worry that it will be a bit too stark for most people. Changing the colour could also help reduce the association with space a bit. Here's a couple of quick versions using Cullen's colour scheme from the hourglass concept below.

I'm not sure whether I prefer these or the hourglass concept.

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T09:57:18.397Z · EA · GW

I tried it out, and yeah, it helps.

Thinking more about this helped me clarify some of my feelings here, and I think a significant part of my aversion to the original design is that it screams "national flag". The fact that it's a triband contributes strongly to this. I think removing the sun reduces that somewhat, but it's still there enough to cause me problems.

(Here we come to a more controversial vexillological opinion of mine, which is that tribands are massively overplayed and should be avoided in ~all modern contexts.)

(The utilitarian flag has a bit of a Micronesia vibe, but Micronesia's is a very unusual national flag.)

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T08:28:59.477Z · EA · GW

I like this much better! I like the colour scheme, I like the simplicity, and I (mostly) like the symbolism.

Per Larks's comment, I'd like to see a version with the top triangle all yellow and the bottom one all blue, to indicate how much bigger the future could be than the past.

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-25T08:27:24.956Z · EA · GW

I agree with this, but I strongly prefer simple flags in general, so this is probably mostly my general aesthetic preferences rather than a specific belief about longtermism.

Comment by willbradshaw on Proposed Longtermist Flag · 2021-03-24T10:25:31.781Z · EA · GW

I think this is a fun idea and want to reward that. I also support the project of trying to come up with longtermist images and symbols. The EA lightbulb logo has been very powerful, it would be good to find similar things for longtermism. (Though I'm less sure about flags in particular, which feel very political.)

Unfortunately, I don't like this particular instantiation at all, and would be pretty sad if it became more widely used. I think I would be some nontrivial % less likely to want to hang out in longtermist spaces if they used this flag.

I'm hesitant to whale on this here since it's clearly to some extent a fun personal project. Also, design is hard and I'm not convinced I could do better. But I do also think it's important to give feedback in case anyone does decide to take this project forward more seriously. Sorry Cullen.

In my opinion:

  • The colour scheme is jarring and IMO ugly. There are also a lot of colours for a flag.
  • I don't like the sun aesthetically (I also don't like it on Malawi's flag). I also don't think we should be including symbols that are very distinctive to particular countries.
  • In general the design doesn't give me good vibes. It doesn't make me feel excited or at home. (I acknowledge that it's going to be very hard to design a flag that does well on that last point for everyone, but this is my feeling.)

I think if the utilitarian flag were a national flag it would be in my top 15% favourite national flags,  while this would be in the bottom 30%. 

In general I think homages and symbolism should come a firm second after aesthetics in flag design. You can generally make any colour or pattern stand for anything you want, so it's not very constraining. But to be honest I'm pretty sceptical about loading a flag down with loads of symbolism and double meanings, as opposed to just trying to embody one or two big things.

Comment by willbradshaw on Please stand with the Asian diaspora · 2021-03-23T12:02:51.687Z · EA · GW

I just wanted to say that I really appreciated this comment. In particular, I think the first part is an excellent and well-phrased example of the "universal solvent" property of EA thinking that I think is both hugely valuable and quite emotionally challenging to many people in cases like this.

Comment by willbradshaw on Please stand with the Asian diaspora · 2021-03-23T10:25:23.778Z · EA · GW

On an analytical level I'm fairly sympathetic to the points the comments here are making, and I think this post could have been clearer about what exactly it did and did not want from the community.

That said, I'm pretty sad that so few people have engaged with this post on an emotional level. An active Forum user has said that they and at least some of their friends are feeling bad and threatened and want support from the community. It would have been pretty easy for people to offer emotional support and community feeling without thereby committing to making bad cause prioritisation decisions.

In general I haven't been super sympathetic to people who complain about the attitude of commenters on the Forum, but reading the bulk of sceptical comments here I do not think it reflects very well on us. (Dicentra's comment being the main counterexample.)

Reason and compassion, always.

Comment by willbradshaw on Response to Phil Torres’ ‘The Case Against Longtermism’ · 2021-03-22T17:14:08.637Z · EA · GW

I just wanted to say that this is a beautiful comment. Thank you for sharing your perspective in such an elegant, careful and nuanced manner.

Comment by willbradshaw on Some preliminaries and a claim · 2021-02-27T14:22:20.131Z · EA · GW

Well, of course you don't think it's bad practice, or you wouldn't have done it.

The interesting question is why, and who's right.

At the very least, I claim there's decent evidence that it's ineffective practice, in this venue: your post and comments here have been downvoted six ways from Sunday, which seems like a worse way to advocate for your claim than a different approach that got upvoted.

Comment by willbradshaw on Some preliminaries and a claim · 2021-02-27T14:12:20.331Z · EA · GW

I think people are over-downvoting this, but it does seem to carry a kinda unpleasant assertion that I'm making this claim because of some irrational emotional aversion, which I don't especially appreciate.

I think the claim that it's very costly is just clearly and straightforwardly true. You're effectively asking me to commit several hours of my time to this post – an order of magnitude more time than I'd usually spend on even a very good EA Forum post. Free time is scarce and precious, and the opportunity cost of spending so much time on this is very high.

You might claim spending that much time on this is worth it, but the size of the benefit doesn't change the fact that the demanded cost is very high.

Comment by willbradshaw on Some preliminaries and a claim · 2021-02-26T10:08:59.446Z · EA · GW

Just want to briefly join in with the chorus here: I'm tentatively sympathetic to the claim, but I think requiring people to spend several hours reading and meditating on a bunch of other content – without explaining why, or how each ties into your core claim – and then refusing to engage with anyone who hasn't done so, is very bad practice. I might even say laziness. At the very least, wildly unrealistic – you are effectively filtering for people who are already familiar with all the content you linked to, which seems like a bad way to convince people of things.

Having skimmed the links, it is very non-obvious how many of them tie directly into your claim about the EA community's relationship with feedback loops. Plausibly if I read and meditated on each of them carefully, I would spot the transcendent theme linking all of them together – but that is very costly, and I am a busy person with no particular ex ante reason to believe it would be a good use of scarce time.

If you want to convince us of something, paying the costs in time and thought and effort to connect those dots is your job, not ours.

Comment by willbradshaw on LessWrong/EA New Year's Ultra Party · 2020-12-31T11:11:38.706Z · EA · GW

Are the European times here supposed to be in summer time (CEST  = CET+1 = UTC+2)? 

I don't think anyone is actually on CEST at the moment, so I assume not, but wanted to check since such assumptions have bitten me in the past.

Comment by willbradshaw on EA towards humans = effective violence towards farm animals? · 2020-12-03T19:19:17.651Z · EA · GW

It would probably help (me, at least) if you were a bit more specific about what ethical system you're using. 

Some of your post seems like it's using a harmed/not-harmed dichotomy (which doesn't seem like a very useful metric to me, but might be more compelling to others), while other parts seem to be going more for minimising-net-suffering / maximising-total-wellbeing kinds of metrics.

Comment by willbradshaw on £4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7% · 2020-11-30T16:57:11.972Z · EA · GW

Thanks Sanjay. This is very sad news but I'm glad you and Sahil are on this.

I was pretty unhappy about the DFID/FCO merger, which didn't seem very well justified and risks disrupting what was widely regarded as one of the world's standout international development agencies. But this seems even worse.

Comment by willbradshaw on Why you should give to a donor lottery this Giving Season · 2020-11-19T10:57:16.412Z · EA · GW

Perhaps you have in mind a higher bar for the donor having a 'cool and unusual idea for donations that probably won't get funded otherwise' than I would, whereas I think that could be that many/most small donors (who are considering donating to specific charities) would do better to try to explore and evaluate these opportunities themselves (which I suspect leads to lots of individuals evaluating lots of different opportunities, rather than a smaller number of random individuals investigating). I'll respond to the specific points in the threads replying to my original comment.

In my experience the great majority of small donors (including me) generally give to fairly well-established charities. I wouldn't describe this as a "cool and unusual idea for donations".

I'm a little confused as to what your paradigmatic case of a small donor looks like, such that many/most of them fall under Jonas's description.

Comment by willbradshaw on Introducing Probably Good: A New Career Guidance Organization · 2020-11-10T10:05:50.272Z · EA · GW

I want to briefly second (third?, nth?) this. I'm potentially pretty excited about more EA oriented career advice/coaching/mentoring from an EA perspective, but I think I'd feel kind of embarrassed about referring someone to an organisation called "Probably Good".

When I saw the title of this post I thought it was evaluating whether or not another career guidance organisation would be good or not, and concluding yes. I was pretty surprised to discover this was not the case. That confusion might be kind of funny to some people, I guess, but I don't think it bodes terribly well. In general I think jokey org names are a pretty bad idea.

Comment by willbradshaw on Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups · 2020-11-04T14:34:47.412Z · EA · GW

Yeah, I'm sympathetic to this, and I accept the symmetry you suggest. I'm not sure to what extent it applies to this post, though.

Comment by willbradshaw on Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups · 2020-11-04T09:13:53.003Z · EA · GW

[EDIT 2020-11-10: I wrote this in response to weeatquince's original comment; it doesn't apply nearly so strongly to the current version.]

It's pretty clearly false that cancel culture is a term used only on the right. I've seen plenty of centre and centre-left people use it – it's a term that resonates with many people. Most of the people I can think of who speak out most frequently against cancel culture are not conservatives. (That's anecdote, but so is your claim that the term is mainly used on the right.)

Of course the people actively engaged in the thing don't like the term, because it suggests that the thing they're doing is bad. But this is a problem encountered in any situation where someone thinks someone else is doing something that is bad. If you forbid even giving the bad thing a name, you quite effectively prevent organised opposition to it.

Whatever "cancel culture" is when you taboo those words, it isn't just boycotting organisations you disagree with – it carries a connotation of actively going after individuals. I agree that the evidence that this is a serious problem mostly takes the (somewhat shaky) form of a collection of examples, but given the nature of the thing I'm not sure how you would go about collecting more systematic evidence. What evidence would convince you that this is actually something to worry about?