Allowing such a post would totally neuter the rule. All one would have to do is take your draft “Trump is actually the best candidate from an EA perspective” and re-title it “Is Trump actually the best candidate from an EA perspective?” Scatter in a few question marks in the text and you are fully compliant.
I think Gregory_Lewis is referencing the same poor behavior here if you are looking for more sources. Please let me know what the organizers say if you ended up asking them.
Do you have a source for this claim?
Yes. You are welcome to ask the other people who helped organize the previous EAGs about it. If you like I can try to work out the dates.
Also, I would note that if you allow unsourced positive claims, but not negative claims, this isolated demand for rigor creates a bias and make us vulnerable to hostile actors whose behavior cannot be called out. Though of course you can moderate your forum however you like!
I doubt it will be a fringe view on this forum that Western colonialism tended to cripple poor countries’ economies, or that certain European and US interventions (like the Iraq War) led to huge devastation.
You’re right that this is not a fringe view, and it is probably one of the more mainstream views Hickel has. However, I do not think that it is obviously true. Poor countries suffered many disadvantages from colonialism, but also gained many advantages, like education, infrastructure, and more advanced legal systems. The earliest western colonialism seemed quite brutal and destructive, like the Spanish in South America, but the later kinds were much more benign, ultimately culminating in extremely beneficial British rule over Hong Kong. There are clearly some parts of the world that have ended up very rich as a direct result of colonial rule, like the US, Canada, Australia or Hong Kong. Within sub-Saharan Africa, the area that was colonized the longest (South Africa) is also the richest, and the only part of Africa that wasn’t colonized (Ethiopia) is no richer than most other sub-Saharan African countries. Whether this colonization was beneficial on net is an empirical question; the only paper I have seen with an even vaguely credible methodology is this one on shipping islands:
Using a new database of islands throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans we examine whether colonial origins affect modern economic outcomes. We argue that the nature of discovery and colonization of islands provides random variation in the length and type of colonial experience. We instrument for length of colonization using wind direction and wind speed. Wind patterns which mattered a great deal during the age of sail do not have a direct effect on GDP today, but do affect GDP via their historical impact on colonization. The number of years spent as a European colony is strongly positively related to the island’s GDP per capita and negatively related to infant mortality. This basic relationship is also found to hold for a standard dataset of developing countries. … The timing of the colonial experience seems to matter. Time spent as a colony after 1700 is more beneficial to modern income than years before 1700, consistent with a change in the nature of colonial relationships over time.
You’re definitely right that condemning the Iraq war is far from a fringe view, but honesty compels again me to object. While I think the Iraq war was a mistake, it must be noted that as late as 2006 it seems the majority of Iraqis actually thought the war was a good idea, even after seeing 3 years of poorly-administered aftermath:
A majority of Iraqis (61%) still believe that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth the hardships they might have suffered, but this is down from the 77 percent who said this in January.
I haven’t checked this, but it seems quite plausible to me that in 2006 the war was actually more popular in Iraq than it was in the west!Additionally, it’s also important to note that Iraq’s GDP has grown dramatically since the war. In 2002 it was around $19bn; by 2012 it was apparently almost 10x higher at around $218 (and has remained around this level since). They benefited from a rise in the oil price, of course, but I don’t think that can explain everything, and oil prices have fallen again now anyway. Their unemployment rate also apparently fell from around 9-10% pre-war to around 8% now.More pertinently from your case, the invasion of Iraq was clearly quite an unusual situation. In the 17 years since we have not seen another similar invasion by western powers, partly because western governments have little desire to repeat the expensive war + subsequent nation-building process. Most poor countries have not seen a conflict similar to the Iraq war, and probably will not (if nothing else they rarely pretend to have WMDs!); civil wars are much more common. As such I don’t think the Iraq war experience has much read-through to your ultimate question how how effective farm equipment rental programs in sub-Saharan Africa will be.
A different scenario to contrast the Iraq experience with would be the English invasion of Sierra Leone in 2000. Unlike Iraq, Sierre Leone is the sort of extremely poor country that EAs typically consider health and poverty interventions in, and the military intervention was extremely successful:
The rebel forces were scared away from the city, the UN got off its knees and the government army was revitalised. Eighteen months later, Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war was brought to an end. In the streets of Freetown at the time the graffiti read: “Queen Elizabeth for king!” and “Return to us our colonial mother!” Tony Blair remains more popular here than anywhere else on the planet. He still visits the country every couple of years, and officials from his office are seconded into the finance and health ministries. Several Sierra Leoneans said they would personally campaign for Blair to be the country’s president. A young Freetown documentary-maker, Arthur Pratt, told me: “We think we are to him as a favourite child.”
Now, the intervention in Sierra Leone was unusual in how well it went. But I don’t think you can consider unusually bad interventions like Iraq without also considering unusually good interventions as well.
The ‘freedom to trade internationally’ composite, which is basically not-being-protectionist, saw one of the largest improvements of any of their scores over this time. They are still protectionist relative to many richer countries, like the JV requirements. But they are dramatically less protectionist than they used to be, and this change coincided with / preceded their dramatic growth.
Hickel claims that China’s very non-neoliberal policy enriched its people
China’s post-1979 reforms are one of the textbook examples of neoliberalism! They privatized many businesses, allowed the creation of markets for many goods and services, opened up to international trade and reduced capital controls. While there is still a great deal of central control, the level is dramatically lower than it was in the 1970s. Their economic freedom ranking improved from a terrible 3.59 in 1980 to a respectable (though still not great) 6 in 2002, a very rapid rise. This is a similar increase to other countries undergoing neoliberal reforms at the same time, like the UK, Chile and Sweden, though many of these started from a higher base.
EDIT: Unless you are talking about the One Child Policy, which I would agree is very non-neoliberal, and is a major policy.
Interesting article. I would like to raise one quabble:
Advocates for traditional diversity metrics such as race, gender and class do so precisely because they track different ways of thinking.
I agree this is the stated reason for many corporate diversity advocates, but I think it is not their true reason. In practice many companies recruit using basically a combination of filters whose purpose is to select people with a certain way of thinking (e.g. resumes, interviews, psychological screens) combined with various quotas for desired racial groups. If getting cognitive diversity was the goal they would try testing and selecting for that directly, or at least stop actively selecting against it. The status quo is likely to mean McKinsey get people from a variety of races, all of whom went to Harvard Business School, which I presume is basically what we want. After all, while cognitive diversity in some regards is useful, we want everyone to have the same (high) level of the cluster of skills that make up being a good consultant, like diligence, intelligence and sociability.
In particular, that even if hypothetically research showed that traditional racial/sexual diversity inhibited useful cognitive diversity (perhaps by making people less comfortable about sharing their views), advocates would be unlikely to change their mind.
I think their true motivations are more like some combination of:
Desire to appeal to a variety of audiences who would be less likely to buy from an outsider (e.g. hiring black sales guys to sell in black areas).
Wanting to avoid being criticized as racist by hostile outsiders.
Left wing conceptions of fairness on behalf of HR staff and other management, unrelated to firm objectives.
Intellectual conformism with others who believe for the previous three reasons.
A non-exhaustive subset of admired individuals I believe includes: … As far as I perceive it, all revered individuals are male.
It seems a little rude to make public lists of perceived intelligence. Imagine how it would feel to be a prominent EA and to be excluded from the list? :-( In this case, I think you have excluded some people who are definitely higher in community estimation that some on your list, including some prominent women.
Members write articles about him in apparent awe and possibly jest
The linked article is from over eleven years ago. I think GWWC hadn’t even launched at that point, let alone the rest of the EA community. This is like attacking democrats because Obama thought gay marriage was immoral and was trying to build a border wall with Mexico, both of which were the case in 2009.
Maybe a deontological version would consist of not merely doing enough to avoid violating moral law, but using evidence to absolutely minimize the risk of violating any such duties. For example, the Center for Effective Deontology might research contracts people commonly sign (like cell phones or insurance) and provide advice on how to avoid accidentally violating them to reduce promise-breaking.
DxE has been fairly controversial in the animal advocacy world
For anyone who hasn’t been following closely, this is quite the understatement! Wayne once threatened to “start a big fight” at EAG in order to generate media attention.
For context, Facebook is the social media company that has been most reluctant to be political, and apparently this is really making them bleed financially.
I added up the numbers in the first article and got around $634m of total 2018 ad spend, vs 2019 facebook revenue of 70700bn—less than 1%. Many of those companies only say they are ‘pausing’ or ‘for July’, rather than stopping. Finally, a company that was re-considering its facebook ad spend for unrelated reasons might want to frame it as a moral stance.
Perhaps principle-agent problems are at play; individual ideologues put SJ ahead of corporate profitability, and the much larger number of ordinary people are afraid of being bullied so do not speak out. But this is obviously not a full explanation.
Who is the ‘we’ here and by whose yardstick the benefit measured?
Investigations into police brutality that follow viral footage have historically been quite harmful for all involved. The upside is a small reduction in police brutality. The downside is a massive increase in non-police brutality, as found in this recent paper:
all investigations that were preceded by “viral” incidents of deadly force have led to a large and statistically significant increase in homicides and total crime. We estimate that these investigations caused almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies. The leading hypothesis for why these investigations increase homicides and total crime is an abrupt change in the quantity of policing activity. In Chicago, the number of police-civilian interactions decreased by almost 90% in the month after the investigation was announced. In Riverside CA, interactions decreased 54%. In St. Louis, self-initiated police activities declined by 46%. Other theories we test such as changes in community trust or the aggressiveness of consent decrees associated with investigations—all contradict the data in important ways.
Indeed the harm done by one day of reduced policing in Chicago may have already rendered the protests a net negative, even ignoring spreading Coronavirus:
From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city, with another 85 wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
In a city with an international reputation for crime — where 900 murders per year were common in the early 1990s — it was the most violent weekend in Chicago’s modern history, stretching police resources that were already thin because of protests and looting.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a longtime crusader against gun violence who leads St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, said it was “open season” last weekend in his neighborhood and others on the South and West sides.
I also think you misunderstand your fellow EAs:
Animal rights activists are not turning out in large numbers to get tear gassed and beaten for the cause. This is pretty good evidence that they are not in the set of ‘everyone else who thinks their reason is as good as I think this one is’.
Many animal rights activists believe that the status quo is far far worse than the holocaust. There are billions of animals being farmed for meat today, generally treated very cruelly. Whatever you think of the state of US race relations, it is clear that, if animals matter, they are much worse off—both much more numerous and treated much much worse!
I think what you are missing is that there are factors other than believed importance of cause that determine one’s actions. For example, animal rights activists might care about suppressing the pandemic! Or they might think getting tear gassed was counter-productive!
You suggest that concessions will help reduce the scale of the protests, but my impression is that the literature suggests that actually repression is effective. For example, this study on the 2011 London Riots, where first-time looters were punished relatively harshly, found it was successful in reducing crime:
The criminal justice response was to make sentencing for rioters much more severe. We show a significant drop in riot crimes across London in the six months after the riots, consistent with a deterrence effect from the tougher sentencing. Moreover, we find that non-riot crimes actually went in the opposite direction, suggesting a response from criminals who look to have substituted away from the types of crimes that received tougher sentences. We find little evidence that spatial displacement or extra police presence on the streets of London in the wake of the riots accounts for these patterns of change. More evidence of general deterrence comes from the observation that crime also fell in the post-riot aftermath in areas where rioting did not take place.
Similarly, this study on Israeli counter-terrorism police:
An increase in repressive actions leads to a reduction in terrorist attacks. … An increase in conciliatory actions has no effect on terrorism.
Finally my guess is that this is sort of irrelevant anyway because OP is probably not a senior government official; she may be able to persuade some friends not to go protest, but probably can’t change US policy.
Using a new database of islands throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans we examine whether colonial origins affect modern economic outcomes. We argue that the nature of discovery and colonization of islands provides random variation in the length and type of colonial experience. We instrument for length of colonization using wind direction and wind speed. Wind patterns which mattered a great deal during the age of sail do not have a direct effect on GDP today, but do affect GDP via their historical impact on colonization. The number of years spent as a European colony is strongly positively related to the island’s GDP per capita and negatively related to infant mortality. This basic relationship is also found to hold for a standard dataset of developing countries. We test whether this link is directly related to democratic institutions, trade, and the identity of the colonizing nation. While there is substantial variation in the history of democratic institutions across the islands, such variation does not predict income. Islands with significant export products during the colonial period are wealthier today, but this does not diminish the importance of colonial tenure. The timing of the colonial experience seems to matter. Time spent as a colony after 1700 is more beneficial to modern income than years before 1700, consistent with a change in the nature of colonial relationships over time. [emphasis added]
Colonialism and Modern Income—Islands as Natural Experiments
This seems quite ungenerous. Yes, you can construe this as having a negative ‘vibe’. But it’s far from the only such possible ‘vibe’! The idea of exposure to mild cases of a bad thing yielding future protection through behavioral change is widespread in medicine: think of vaccination with live virus changing the behavior of your immune system, or a mild heart attack causing an unhealthy young person to change their habits.
But even if the ‘vibe’ was bad, in general we should try to analyze things logically, not reject ideas because they pattern match to an unpleasant sounding idea. If it was the case that global pandemics are less of an Xrisk now, owning up to it doesn’t make it worse.
These articles do not appear to contradict what Halstead said at all.
The first link appears to be an opinion piece rather than a serious piece of analysis—for example it does not include any comparison of the rates of Police killing between the UK and the US. It complains that UK police haven’t been found guilty of murdering black men for a long time, but does not compare this to the number of unarmed black men shot by cops in the UK—a number which is approximately zero most years! It mentions that black men are imprisoned at higher rates than white men in the UK, but does not compare this to the rate at which they commit crimes, which is also significantly higher. Indeed, the only time it actually makes a direct comparison between the US and UK it actually (begrudgingly) agrees with Halstead:
Few people would deny that in many respects life is better for non-white people in the UK than in the US.
Overall I would not consider that article to be a particularly serious analysis of the issue.
Your second link (which I see you found by following a link in the Guardian article) is significantly more data-orientated, but again the only time it directly touches on the issue at hand it seems to agree with Halstead:
14% of deaths in police custody or otherwise following contact with the police since 1990 were BAME. This is proportionate to the population as at the 2011 census.
Finally, neither article contains any comparisons to the pandemic.
I’d very much like to see EA and/or Longtermist organizations hire people with “different academic backgrounds, different world views and different ideologies.”
In that case you probably shouldn’t argue that an opinion being held by an ideological minority makes it especially dangerous:
I agree with Hauke that this perspective carries PR risk, and in my opinion seems especially extreme in a community that politically skews ~20:1 left vs. right.
Diversity doesn’t bring any value if you then crush all disagreement!
Why is this a personal blogpost? What does that mean? I thought I was posting to the EA forum?
Interestingly, however, this spot-check found less evidence that women were underrepresented in management and leadership roles than OpenPhil’s research
This is a very unusual way of saying ‘women were over-represented’ (relative to their share of the population).