I think you make some good points. This post, plus Ben Todd’s recent post, has updated me towards thinking that:
we should often use the term “drop out rate” instead
when using the term “value drift”, we should ensure we’ve made it at least decently clear what we mean
Perhaps by saying things like “value drift away from EA”, or “negative value drift”, or just having a paragraph/footnote outlining what we are vs aren’t counting
That said, I do think most writing I’ve seen on value drift has explicitly stated that one could separately ask how to precisely define this phenomena and how good vs bad it is, but that the post at hand will instead just provide empirical info on value drift. (The main posts that come to mind which I think did that are Todd’s post and this post.) And that seems reasonable to me.
I’ll provide some other minor pushbacks in separate comments. Most don’t detract much from the key thrust of what you’re saying.
I think “negative value drift” is still too idiosyncratic; it doesn’t say negative for whom. For the value holder, any value drift generally has negative consequences.
I (also) think it’s a step in the right direction to explicitly state that a post isn’t trying to define value drift, but just provide empirical info. Hopefully my post will have provided that definition, and people will now be able to build on this.
I think “negative value drift” is still too idiosyncratic; it doesn’t say negative for whom.
I feel comfortable saying things like “positive impact”, “negative impact”, “improve the world”, or simply “good” and “bad” without specifying which value system that’s in relation to. (And people often speak in that way outside of EA as well.) I think that, when one doesn’t specify that, it’s safe to assume one means something like “from my moral perspective”, or “from the perspective of what I’d guess my morals would be if I knew more and reflected further”, or “from the perspective of my best guess at what’s morally true”.
One could argue that we should always specify what perspective we’re defining positive/negative/good/bad in relation to. But I think that would slow us down unnecessarily compared to just sometimes specifying that. And I don’t see a strong reason to do that for value drift if we don’t do it for other things.
It’s true that value drift will tend to be negative from the naive perspective of the values that had previously been held, and positive from the naive perspective of the values that are now held. (I say “naive perspective” because the value drift could be in a direction that the prior value system would’ve endorsed on reflection, or something like that.) But I don’t think that prevents us from having our own views on whether the value drift was good or bad. Analogously, I think I can have views on whether a change in what someone donates to is good or bad, regardless of what that person’s aims for their donations are.
This seems reasonable to me. I do use the shortcut myself in various contexts. But I think using it on someone when you know it’s because they have different values is rude.
I use value drift to refer to fundamental values. If your surface level values change because you introspected more, I wouldn’t call it a drift. Drift has a connotation of not being in control. Maybe I would rather call it value enlightenment.
Drift has a connotation of not being in control.
I agree with this (though I think the connotations might be pretty weak). I think “value drift” also has weakly negative connotations even aside from that.
I think that, if we want to introduce a new term to avoid negative connotations or connotations of not being in control, “value shift” or “value change” would be better than “value enlightenment”. “Value enlightenment” would have strong positive connotations and connotations of having found the truth, and it’s also less immediately obvious what it refers to. It seems to me that it’s obvious what “value shift” or “value change” mean, and that those terms are consistent with the change being positive, negative, neutral, or of unknown value.
yeah, ‘shift’ or ‘change’ work better for neutral terms. other suggestion: ‘change in reveal preferences’