Same. Especially agree that the format of the event needs to be structured so that ideas are not presented as facts, but are instead open to (lots of public) criticism.
As somebody currently involved in a university group, I am extremely sympathetic towards the EA Munich group, even though they might have made a mistake here. There is a huge amount of pressure to avoid controversial topics/speakers, and it seems like they did not have a lot of time to make a decision in light of new evidence. I have hosted Peter Singer for multiple events (and am glad to have done so), but it has led to multiple uncomfortable confrontations that the average student group (e.g., knitting society) just does not have to deal with.
This highlights why Larks’ post is so important. When groups face decisions about when to carry out or cancel an event, having an explicit framework for this decision making would be incredibly helpful. I’m very glad to see Julia Wise/CEA engage with this post, as I think it would be helpful for both CEA and local groups to decide at the beginning of term/before inviting speakers what qualifies people to be speakers.
The main (in my opinion, reasonable) principles elucidated in this post as I read it are:
1. Openness to unusual ideas is one of the guiding principles of Effective Altruism; groups should uphold and promote this.
2. Fundamental cause research that challenges existing ideas to the movement is important; we should not punish people for engaging in it.
But it is also important to consider what *disqualifies* people from speaking.
The most critical thing to me would be a speaker’s history of promoting ideas in bad faith. (E.g., promoting ideas that have been clearly falsified with scientific evidence; deliberately falsifying data in order to push a specific agenda.) I am sure there are other factors that would also make sense to consider! It would be helpful for them to be elucidated somewhere.
I agree with absolutely everything you’ve written, Michelle!
Something that I wish I had internalized a bit more was the negative impact of baby induced sleep deprivation. Everybody tells you that you’ll miss sleep after you have a baby, but I still think I was unprepared for what that meant. It’s really hard to describe the psychological torture of not getting to sleep for more than 3 hours in a row for months on end. We did sleeping shifts too, but because of breastfeeding and supersonic mommy hearing, I feel like I still woke up every 2-3 hours when Lizzie cried. There’s a video recording of me talking about current events a couple of months after Lizzie was born, and I HAVE NO MEMORY OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS EXPERIENCE. Watching my zonked out zombie self on camera really drove home how much the sleep deprivation changed me.
This essay sums it up pretty well: https://www.scarymommy.com/100-days-darkness-new-baby/
This looks cool, I just signed up. Hope to see you guys online.
Update: I love Focusmate and it is directly responsible for me actually getting anything done. 11⁄10, hugely recommend.
Sir, I resent your insinuation that Princeton is not a major city.
I’ll have you know our population is large enough to support a bar AND a pub. The latter only serves ice cream, but still.
Our big lectures (e.g., Will MacAskill on September 30th) are open to ALL, regardless of university affiliation. Hope you can come :)
Our weekly dinner discussion groups are also open to all. They are pretty short (60 minutes) so they’re only worth coming to if you’re not commuting from far away. Since we order food in advance for these, it would be super helpful to RSVP on facebook if you’re planning to come.
A small selection of our events will be closed due to huge demand. For example, people will need to apply for dinner with Peter Singer. This will be made clear in our publicity for each event.