But the most important reason not to kill yourself is that you matter. You are a light of sentience in this world and you are suffering. This is also the most important reason to focus on your own health and happiness right now, even if it feels selfish.
I think you’re ignoring how much easier, more discrete, and more scalable an organ donation registration drive is than any of these examples.
Also, how many people have to learn CPR through a 4-hour certification for one of them to actually use it? I don’t know how favorably it actually compares to the lifesaving potential of spending a few minutes per person registering them to donate their organs.
More specifically, I think there’s high community-building value in doing activities that:
1. Do a significant, easily quantifiable amount of good;
2. Address important problems;
3. Have some EA motivation; and
4. Give people a chance to talk about their EA worldview with non-EAs
Strong upvote. I wrote something similar before seeing you had written this.
6. For signaling and credibility reasons, I think it’s generally good for EA groups to run activities that have very concrete, public, measurable impacts. This scores well on all of those (e.g., # of donors registered).
 …especially if groups have underutilized volunteer capacity.
I would say it’s worth doing for this reason alone. One reason group volunteer activities are often so ineffective is that the real point is social bonding over a shared altruistic project. EA groups could use more of that feeling of camaraderie and discrete accomplishment that doesn’t generally follow work on the most effective causes. Since I think it’s worth finding more activities that new people or low-commitment people could do to get started or that would boost morale, I don’t think it’s necessary to justify something like this solely in terms of direct effectiveness. Activities like this can really strengthen ties in the group, which are a huge multiplier the group’s and the individuals’ effectiveness.
Also, this is just my observation, but I think getting people to do easy things like giving up their organs after death creates a sense of altruistic buy-in that leaves them more favorably disposed toward greater altruism later.
I second concerns about making organ donor registration drives an EA “thing,” but I think it would probably be a nice idea for individual groups to do of their own iniative, especially if they think it would be good for them socially.
Something I wrote about my experience of being addicted to self-hatred and why: https://mhollyelmoreblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/14/kicking-an-addiction-to-self-loathing/
“If I gave away all this money I’ve just got and really angered my parents, who I love so much, and completely broke their trust, then committed suicide, I would still make more of a positive difference to the world than selfishly getting “better” and spending it on myself”
This is not true. You obviously matter to your parents and probably to many more people than you realize. But the biggest loss would be to you, and that’s the most important thing.
I also think it’s untrue that you’ll do more for the world depressed. I’ve been through similar states and I know how compelling and obvious that idea can feel. But when I emerge and my mood is higher, I see how deluded I was. I was living in constant excruciating pain hating myself. It was all I thought about. My productivity was low and my work of low quality. The only altruistic edge I possibly had was feeling undeserving of my resources. Most importantly, when my mood improves, I no longer feel the need to justify my existence by being self-sacrificing enough. I still want to do good, but it’s less about what it means for me and more about the effect for others. I may have less lofty ambitions when I’m healthier, as you seem to observe in yourself, but I think my chances of real impact are much greater.
You sound like you would benefit from self-compassion. As I said, I suffer from really similar issues and it has changed my life. You’re obviously very sensitive to the world’s suffering—why not listen to and be compassionate for your own? The best thing is it doesn’t matter why you’re suffering, whether you think you deserve it or not; you can always offer compassion just for the experience of suffering. I’d recommend Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff and Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.
Part of letting go of depression and self-loathing for me did involve accepting that I was a more mediocre person than the standard I used to whip myself to achieve. I don’t think you can avoid mourning that ideal of yourself. But when I did, I pretty quickly saw that it was never me and that it came out of fear that my real self wasn’t good enough. Turns out being mediocre isn’t so bad when you don’t think it makes you unlovable.
I don’t think we have to justify our own mental health by how effective or altruistic it makes us. We’re each just one person, but we have more control over our own well-being than we do over anyone else’s. Imagine if you could lift someone else out of depression, how huge that would feel, what a difference you would see. The pain of self-hatred may be one of the most significant sources of suffering in the world, but it doesn’t lend itself to SNT interventions as of yet. That doesn’t mean it’s not important! You’re well-placed to help one person. Isn’t it worth it to give that gift to yourself?
By “not entirely separate,” I meant something more like “the Brown accusations have put him under a level of scrutiny that makes future allegations more likely/more likely to be refelexively believed/make smaller incidents more damning, even if he weren’t doing anything to provoke them.” So I was referring more to whether the judges in the recent events were affected by knowledge of the Brown events, that kind of “not entirely separate.” The events themselves, you’re right, would have to be different instances.
What I thought was grasping at straws was your attempt at gotcha syllogistic reasoning.
(I thought maybe Oli thought I knew him or something and that’s why he said I was “better placed to continue the discussion.“)
I think you’re really grasping at straws here. Is the point to depose Oli, or what? Surely you can’t think you’re going to get more information about what did or did not happen this way. There are many conceivable ways that the Brown allegations could color CEA’s perception of more recent allegation, making the different events not entirely separate.
Just to be clear, I barely know Jacy. I’ve seen him many times at events, including when he came to Harvard on his book tour, but I don’t believe I’ve ever had a private conversation with him. (Fwiw he never came close to being inappropriate with me or giving me a bad vibe.)
I’m not sure what you mean by A, B, and C. Just to be clear, all I’m saying is that the only thing that this apology has ruled out is “Jacy vehemently denies any possibility of wrongdoing and would not cooperate with CEA’s decision regarding him.” Other than that, I feel it is compatible with most scenarios of his guilt/innocence and of his reaction to being accused.
“I’m merely pointing out that this gives you zero Bayesian evidence to distinguish two very different kinds of situations.”
This is all I was trying to point out, too. We know he’s cooperating with CEA and accepting a reprimand. I think that’s all this apology tells us.
I think this apology sounds a lot like the template of a dignified apology that a lot of us have in our heads. Take as much responsibility as you can, don’t shrink from the accusations or blame anyone else. He speaks several times of the restorative process, and part of that is offering apologies along these lines. There are many classes you can take and books you can read (I’ve read some), popular in Jacy’s communities, on how to give these apologies. He may well have composed it alongside CEA. Why would you think it should sound emotional, like he wrote it the moment he learned of the reprimand?
It doesn’t mean much, but my first reaction was that it seemed like he was overreacting and trying to rise above by taking a lot of responsibility. I really don’t know, though. I think all of our speculation on the basis of a formal apology is unlikely to clarify anything.
“Consider the implications for criminal law—does this imply that all people accused should submit guilty pleas merely because they have been accused?”
Good example, actually, because false confessions are a thing. The fact that someone would confess or apologize alone does not entail guilt. You may not do it (or think you would), but false confessions happen because it’s easy to imagine you did something wrong when people you trust/fear are telling you you did. I’m sure being a scrupulous and ethical person steeped in social justice ideas about being naturally ignorant of the impact of your actions doesn’t help.
I believe we should respect what responsibility he takes above. I’m not trying to say he didn’t do something wrong (seems very possible as well) but I think trying to discern that from this formal apology is not really possible. Saying that you would never apologize like this if you were innocent just isn’t real evidence, since many people have.
I think we just don’t know and we’re probably not going to get any more blood out of this turnip.
^That said, I think we should take Jacy at his word and not argue with any responsibility he takes. I’m not trying to exonerate him. I’m just saying expressing remorse at the possibility of unintentional wrongdoing is not evidence of guilt imo. You don’t know until it happens, but I can see myself reacting this way if someone came at me with a serious accusation that made me feel like a bad person. [Edit: If I was unsure whether I’d done any wrongdoing,] I’d probably instantly want to betray myself rather than face people thinking I was guilty and unremorseful.
I can see how a person accused might reflexively take responsibility and do what it takes to express willingness to change. I mean, that’s what we’re taught to do in enlightened communities (animal rights is among the most intense, especially after #ARmetoo). I don’t see Jacy stepping back and soul-searching when told of accusations as clear evidence of his guilt. Especially since the belief that powerful people can unknowingly do immense harm to vulnerable individuals is so common in lefty culture (especially AR) these days. I think it’s easy to gaslight yourself and think you actually might have done something seriously wrong without knowing.
Kathy Forth mentioned getting someone banned from EAG.
Not exactly EA, but part of a scientific worldview: I had the end of the last paragraph of Origin read at my wedding.
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
In fact, it’s pretty un-EA to say that “higher” animals are “the most exalted object we are capable of conceiving,” haha.
There’s a lot of Zen stuff about using your intimate relationships as a supportive place to learn altruism which can then be applied to wider and wider circles. That seems pretty appropriate for a wedding. I don’t have any links off the top of my head because I usually hear this kind of thing at dharma talks, but it’s usually along the lines of someone asking a Zen master how to be a better person and getting the answer, “Every day when you wake up, think ‘only for my wife, only for my wife.’ When your wife’s welfare is like your own, think ‘only for my family’” and so on through the neighborhood, the community, the city, the country, the world. The localist hierarchy isn’t EA, but the idea that you have to level up your compassion with the support and commitment of those you are close to brings EA themes together with marriage.