I guess I’m a creative guy, and I appreciate that people come to me with their novel theories about how effective altruism really functions, or maybe ought to function in the future. However, there’s enough ideas I could pursue, because so many people come to me, I don’t have time to pursue them all. So, ultimately, it’s worth my time if people are so confident in these ideas they’re willing to pursue the projects and make something concrete out of their impetus to change society themselves. If they’re so compelled, and what they believe is true, then I’ve got to find evidence of why it’s important enough that I should get excited and pursue it too. That’s how I think. Whenever a question is posed, or a problem exposed, in effective altruism, my ultimate question is to determine if what you’re talking about matters more than anything else. Because that’s already what’s at stake for so many things people are already doing in the effective altruism community.
The way I wrote it above was strongly worded for effective altruists do gain a background. I think immersing oneself in the more substantive, well laid-out, intentional blog posts is important. My prior comment made it sound like this applies to conversations on Facebook. One problem is some major historical discussions in effective altruism happen in groups like this. But those aren’t well-tracked, and nobody just copies and collects the hyperlinks for reading at a later date.
So what we’re is to follow the important Facebook posts all the time from the right people and the right groups to learn about positions which become tacit common knowledge as time goes on. It’s not just that we’re saying “pay more attention on Facebook”, but it’s like sorting through a puzzle to figure out what sources of information are considered acceptable or not. Effective altruism is an intricate network, and that some people have formed personal relationships over the years of social context making the network more intimate and not outgoing or attractive to newcomers can make entering some sort of “in-crowd” in effective altruism intimidating.
This is a problem Brian Tomasik has talked about in the past in “Why Make Conversations Public”. I think the long-time community members have institutional or community privilege in having the historical advantage of our experience in the community. We’re taking for granted everyone ought to know what we think are the best ideas now. If I think about this a bit though, I can empathize with those who find this attitude somewhat arrogant. These implicit expectations altogether can be intimidating, and can make gaining social traction in the effective altruism community unwelcoming. Like, moral excitement is touted and courted as a motivation for doing the most good, but people who get excited by EA and try to enter get shut down.
I think this is a problem that exists online, and if one can join a strong in-person community people form bonds which make them more welcoming to newcomers. While this solves the problem of joining the community for some, it can create a problem for others. Places like the San Francisco Bay Area or Metro London are expensive to live in, and in other ways, the difficulty of moving to these places isn’t publicly acknowledged even if it’s empathized with. I don’t know what percentage of effective altruists feel this way, so I don’t know the true scope of this issue, but I’ve been hearing anecdotes of a gap which generates a dissuasive sentiment for years. I know correcting these sorts of problems is hit and miss for the rationality community, but I know they have a record of trying to debug these problems with mixed success. I guess trying to find some best practices and accelerate the rate at which bugs in community expansion with community cohesion intact are being fixed is what Raymond Arnold is doing with his Project Hufflepuff.
I think if long-time members of the community like myself and others are going to gripe about people not catching up to speed fast enough, or not closing all their procedural knowledge gaps fast enough, have a responsibility to also make inroads to the community more welcoming. This is the sort of thing my friends in the closely knit Seattle Rationality/Effective Altruism community have been thinking about lately.
I think people from some smaller geographic communities can feel more resentful, but those aren’t the feelings they’d defend. Really what’s the most damaging part isn’t so much a brain drain as it is community leaders form connections with organizations in the major hubs (e.g., Oxford, SF, Boston?), but this leaves a leadership vacuum.
Cultivating a culture of welcomingness and finding ways to socially and culturally invest in local communities all over the place are hard problems to solve. I think a start though would be for the EA Handbook to be updated, spread around or promoted at the level ‘Doing Good Bettter’ gets promoted at, and for there to also be a community organizer handbook written in chapters for tips from various local organizers around the world, as opposed to something centrally written by a single organization like LEAN or CEA. I may pursue online coordination on this sort of project with Project Hufflepuff, the Accelerator Project, Leverage Research, CFAR, CEA, LEAN, or Sentience Politics/EAF, or other groups.
References to phenomena in Dank EA Memes are related to Dank EA Memes. As a significant forum for discourse in effective altruism, meta-level references to dank EA memes and events in the group itself ontologically share a direct relation to effective altruism. According to Yudmowski’s Law of Dankfinite Recursion, memes retain their relevance to effective altruism within three-degrees of an object-level EA topic. Therefore, this meme is only one to two degrees removed. Therefore, it’s allowed.
A meme referencing this post would be two to three degrees removed except this post is now a phenomenon within DEAM itself and in being referenced without the hypothetical meta-level reference being self-referential would now qualify as an object-level EA phenomenon.
[epistemic status: flying by the seat of my pants. Just wingin’ it.]
journalism just is factionalized and partisan politics! Journalism is just about tribal fighting, and that the Fourth Estate no longer even exists…? Yeah, basically some position not lamenting the downfall of journalism, but some long-winded theory about how journalism fell decades ago and you’re only noticing it now because it was you, the news-reading public, who drove journalism downhill with your consumerist hunger for infotainment! Yeah, that sounds right. If you write something that reads like a LessWrong post, but can be reduced to “political theatre is written like a literal soap opera”, you’re pretty metacontrarian.
Now we just need some edgy up-and-coming blogger to write it up. No, it won’t be me. Even I don’t care that much about coming up with wacky inside views nobody else would see coming. At least for politics. I mean, people should be putting that effort into finding Cause X. Actually, we don’t actually use metacontrarianism to search for Cause X. We should try that. Like, just take two causes, and rationalize some wacky hybrid out of thin air like the two causes were two chunks of Play-doh. The results would be the Cronenbergs of cause prioritization.
Anyway, everyone on Rationalist Tumblr should write their crackpot theory about why journalism became so awful, and then we can adopt them to be cool and edgy again by fusing bullshit with other bullshit to make some extra-deluxe platinum-coated bullshit that still doesn’t match the map to the territory. One of you might also turn out right, so if you are, you can be the next Scott Adams, i.e., “Dilbert guy who called Trump a ‘wizard’ on his blog”.
[estimated reading time: 3 minutes for slower readers; 2 minutes for faster ones]
[epistemic status: So, I have strong opinions on dank memes. I could be biased, but bear with me.]
[editorial note: I was too lazy to provide hyperlinks-as-citations when I first wrote this. I might do that later. If you’re really curious about a particular claim, feel free to ping me for a source in the comments.]
- Dank memes are the aesthetic motif of the people. It’s decentralized, it’s unclassy and crass, and anyone can make them do anything. Dank memes spread when they’re ugly, so you don’t need to be a graphic designer. Legacy media like WaPo, or new media like Jezebel, who think policy debates are one-sided and back Clinton on everything wouldn’t be caught dead spreading dank memes as the ideographic propaganda on their Facebook pages. So, if you see a dank meme, you know it’s from an average Joe like yourself rather than an elite with an incentive to defend Beltway assholes.
- Dank memes sneak past people’s System 2, right into their System 1, and grabs them by the heartstrings. This is just “a picture is worth more than a thousand words”. Anyway, they fit well with Trump, who also operates by always routing around reason and preying on emotion. Mix this with how virally shareable they are on social media, and you’ve got a perfect way to spread a message throughout all social media, with its hundreds of millions of users and several billion accounts worldwide.
This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.