In my area the main issues are economic inequality, social intolerance , immigration, incarceration, drug wars, and huge gaps in power between the ‘meritocracy’ (usually in universities) and those not in that class. (Social intolerance works many ways—you can have homophobes worried about islamaphobia, poor white nationalists worried about ‘people of color’ but not economic inequality , etc.) Then there are issues like trade and tarrifs (eg US vs China and Mexico) , and the environment.
The EA people I have met tend to be either grad students in applied sciences or philosophers, and I guess many in IT—they don’ t speak the language of theoretical sciences.
One could probably do a behavioral genetics type analyses of ‘heritability’ or a cultural transmission model of who identifies with EA. (Most progressive types around this area identify more with what are called ‘socialists’ (eg Bernie Sanders, E. Warren, and AOC—all US politicians). They also tend to think to deal with global poverty and other issues one has to deal with local issues as well. )
There are many excellent reasons why funding research on psychedelics should NOT be a top priority for EA (or any other group either, such as NSF, NIMH, or NIH).
First, as a ‘caveat’ I think its hard to define ‘top priorities’ ----I think there are many priorities, some of which are unknown, overlooked, or the standard EA measures of importance, neglectedness and tractability are not computed (or estimated) correctly. Noone knows what is the top or which ones. Also in my world, funds are always limited, so that means even if one has some good idea of what actions are candidates for being in a list of top rated priorities, one may not be able to fund all of them. And sometimes its better to practice ‘triage’, and just fund a few adequately so they have a chance of success, rather than all of them at such low levels that they will likely all fail.
The best reeasons NOT to fund psychedelic research are economic. There are huge industries in USA based on promoting acoholism, addiction to opiates and other pharmaceuticals, and tobbaco, among other things, as well as ones based on curing people of these addictions or the problems they cause for people. These industries also generate alot of feelings of social well being, because there are many people who gain pleasure either helping people self-medicate to feel better, or curing them when they feel ill. If pschedelics were available, and proved to be an alternative to currently available substances, its possible some jobs would be lost , and alot of social unhappiness would follow. EA generally is against increasing unhappiness (though they might argue for the change, if ‘gross national happiness’ increased. As has been argued for free trade, or any other ‘pareto increasing’ economic reallocation, it is always possible to compensate the ‘losers’ if there is a net gain. For example, produce and sell psychedelics rather than alcoohol, just as may occur with ‘synthetic meat’.)
Other values less recognized is having a whole lot of sick alcoholics and drug addicts around. They are a useful source of social stigma and an often easily recognized ‘underclass’ from which can be gained self-esteem for many not in that class. In past few months I have also heard many experts in the ‘chattering class’ have numerous discussions on radio about the rpbolem of this underclass, and worry they wouldn’t have mmuch to dop if they weren’t around, though perhaps they could find some other group to stigmatize into an underclass. But this issue suggests one may not want to risk eliminating the current underclass should that be an outcome of psychedelic research. Remember the tale of Pandora’s box—the cure may be worse than the disease, at least for some people.
There is some risk that adoption of psychedlics as a legal alternative, should research suggest that is reasonable, could lead to some of the same problems one has with other legal and illegal substances (including food). (Some countries use prescriptions for medical marijuana and opiates to try to control this problem).
Another reason NOT to fund such research is that if they were available it might change the way people look at the world. Their ‘doors of perception’ would be changed, leading to (this) ‘civilizational collapse’. Established institutions like religions, possibly education, views on desirable entertainment (eg sports, TV and talk radio) might face major impacts or ruptures.
Finally, as someone with some experience using psychedelics quite awhile ago (2 different wild species, which I found myself by sloggin iles through fields, swamps and deserts ) , another reason NOT to fund research on them that might make them acceptable and legal is because in my case those experiences of finding them made me very (or at least reasonably) healthy, clearminded (at least in my subjective opinion, which is not worth much I have found at least to others) and happy. (After i took those lieteral and figurative trips, i went right back to college and took courses in molecular pharmacology and quantum theory, though i was never a great student partly because i preferred being outside, but did pass.) In this culture where I can’t go out and find them, I can walk a block to a store or corner up the street and get something else which makes me very unhealthy, makes it nearly impossible to think or even walk far, may be unpleasant to others, and often miserable. (And that street can be dangerous to walk on at night or in the day.) There are health and mental health and mental professionals and industries dependent on sick, confused and unhappy people. Also to become such professionals they didn’t have to go through the ‘misery’ of taking quantum theory or pharmacology-just took psychology or counseling where they learn the dangers of psychedelics. I they had to change the expert curriculum to accept new knowledge that could traumatic, so that is another reason NOT to fund psychedelic research. Best not to upset the setup )
I think in a sense choosing a name or ‘brand’—such as EA and 80,000 hours—is a form of central planning, just as a business usually involves central planning within its ‘microenvironment’. But names, brands, religions, businesses all exist in a ‘sea’ or larger environment of others.
In a theoretical sense I think everyone on earth could join EA no matter their situation. Biologists sort of see the world this way—but recognize it may be more like IEA (ineffective altruism) or SEI (sub- or semi-optimal altruism).
I wonder if 80,000 hours has any high impact careers for ‘nonconformists’—eg comedians like Dave Chappelle or writers like Mark Twain . I heard Ukraine just elected a TV comedian to be president—seems like a high impact career, though I dought he identifies as an EA.
I can imagine a high impact career aligned with EA as a ‘central planner’. (I think Stalin and Mao and maye Hitler tried that with mixed results. German and chinese economies I hear are doing pretty well, though they started on an uneven playing field; Russia seems to be a mixed bag especialy outside of Moscow.)
That’s a thought provoking essay alot of which I can relate to (tho learning a new term ‘scrupulosity’ sort of busts my brain if it isn’t already busted or if i even have one—i’ve never checked in there to see). Also i like this term I/mmoral. Similar to ‘i think, thus i exist’ (or at least i think i do).
I’m probably could be diagnosed with OCD—a mental problem or form of insanity. As they say, if people keep doing the same thing over and over, and get no results, that’s insane. But in a way, that’s what alot of math and science is about—you do same thing over and over, with some small perterbations, and see if you get anything. Eventually, as P W Anderson (noble prize physicist) said in his famous essay, ‘more is different’.
I got some of my OCD when i was small and had to walk past some tough corners coming home from school—i started counting my steps and would decide based on whether it was an even or odd number whether when i got to the corner i would run to the right or to the left.
I have experienced both value drift and lifestyle drift (mostly the latter) and this has happenned in the last 3 years—and I first heart heard of EA about 3 years ago. My values are still close to what they always have been . I come from this tradition of environmentalism/nature/voluntary simplicity, social justice, tolerance, anti-authoritarian activism, ‘scientific humanism’or ‘ethical culture’, as well as scientific rationality (math based) as well as musical interests .
While I could live a lifestyle based on those values, I was fairly happy. But I got into some personal and work related environments which meant I had to compromise on many of my values—surrounded by people who variously had no interest in rationality , nature or science, didn’t like the kind of music I enjoyed, sometimes intolerant, and even ‘authoritarians’ though these people considered themselves what are called derogatoritarily ‘SJWs’—people who are ‘never wrong’ and always saving the world. If I was around scientists, not uncommonly they had limited ‘altruistic’ inclinations—much more concerned with their careers and status than with the world around them—so their Focus as used in the EA Framework was on themselves, and viewed that as the best way to better the world.
Also altruism from a biological/scientific view some say technically doesn’t exist—you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself. (Though of course many philanthropists like Carnegie and Mellon have helped others—its a time dependent process. Some historians have argued that ‘British Colonialism’ was a good thing.)
I wrote this because one of my interests are diffusion-drift equations (used in theoretical biology, physics, etc.) though I’m not an expert in them. I was sort of hoping to combine them with the EA framework, but the languages and dialects are so different, i’m thinking its a waste of time. Just as other environments I’ve been in conflict with my values, people I’ve encountered in EA personally or on-line don’t value that approach. So I’m having more value drifts—stop trying to associate with people who don’t share your values—be less tolerant. And for me, maybe stop valuing math reasoning and rationality of the kind humans do so much, because the world is fundamentally irrational.
I am against pet stores—there are at least 5 kinds of wild snakes snakes around here (copperheads, water snakes, green snakes, ringnecks, worm snakes, black rat snakes, black racers, maybe hognose snakes). i have mice right in my apt—i leave them alone. In another place i sometimes stay, there are corn snakes who live right out front, and rattlesnakes 100 feet away. I just look at them.
I tend to be wary and distrustful when i see articles with titles like this—too often they are long and jargon filled (or made up jargon) and while usually basically coherent, tend to lack much in the way of innovative content—come off as school or university student papers (even if written by professors or professionals
This one is quite good and sort of amusing however. (I am not a fan of Jordan Peterson but i wonder if he goes to the events hosted by the authors of the article since he is in same city. ) I may use this article as a springboard for my own approach based on that.
I try to be in a state of happiness at least several hours a day.
(For example, since yesterday i missed my daily walk, i decided to do it last night—go see the creek—because weather prediction was the rain would start today, not last night.
So, as soon as i got outside about 11 pm it started pouring rain with alot of pretty lightening and thunder but i went anyway. I have 3 places i can sort of stay dry and not get hit by lighting near the creek—a bridge and some cliffs. I went to see the flood. Then i decided to take a dip in that dirty water. (It went from like 3 feet deep to 10 feet deep in 1 hour). I was on borderline of drowning but I can deal with that.)
I heard a radio show with a talk by some womyn who said she had been depressed and unhappy—due to things like global warming, floods, fires, poverty, lots of violence. She got some ‘help’ and medications and then became happier—she could sit in a traffic jam during daily commute and it didn’t bother her. Had a sort of stoic attitude.
I agree with the listed 8 goals in last section of the article, and also think online technologies have a role in (possibly) meeting them.
I am interested in this topic but more from a theoretical perspective (mathematics, data analytics, statistics and probability, psychology and economics—complexity theory).
Partly because of my interest I have participated in several of these online research studies (most recently the SWARM intelligence study conducted by a group in Australia (i think U Melbourne) which was funded by US DoD , and one from a university in New York. I found most of these online studies (which involve answering questions ) too time consuming, so many of them i dropped out of. Hence one ends up with ‘sample selection bias’ problems.This is similar to polling issues—when they only poll people who have smart phone numbers.
Hence i’m interested in how accurate these research studies are----perhaps I (and others like me) are ‘outliers’ (i have a smart phone but dont use it inside). Similar ideas are discussed by Heinrich in his paper W.E.I.R.D people published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences several years ago.
Sorry if this is ‘clutter’ but i will mention CCAN (chesapeake climate action network, based near Wash DC).They do good work mostly on energy conservation, solar power, carbon taxation (which may be feasible politically in this area), , mountain top removal coal ming, and fracking and pipelines in the Appalachian mountains—all very difficult political and social issues. i have disagreed with a few of their policies (ie putting wind farms in Appalachian Mountains; i support offshore wind power rather than turning near wilderness into industrial wind farms—and I think they now mostly support my position),
Its likely CCAN because it operates in an area which has many envrionmentalists and affluent people does not really need more funding (one of the EA concepts—dont put more money where its not needed)---CCAN knows how to raise funds (eg they have a 3 day comedy show benefit this weekend). But I will just put out a plug for them as being an ok group but there may be other groups with higher priority.
This subgroup of EA i find interesting and potentially useful.
This may be off topic, and I’m only connected to EA community from reading online resources, and having attended one EA discussion on ‘diversity and inclusion in EA’, and one EA group hike locally—interesting people, but I didn’t make any real continuing connections, perhaps because I come from a different tradition.
One of my main college and later (independent, mostly WWW based , and continuing fields of study has been ‘evolution of cooperation’ and altruism from a biological and cultural evolutionary perspective which is slightly different from what most people think of as altruism. Also most of my effort devoted towards ‘doing good better’ has been in community groups dealing with poverty , health and substance abuse problems, and the environment. Many of those groups are not very effective. They have lots of goals, but usually at best only achieve a few of them.
I am paired with an accountability buddy and contacted her but really am not expecting anything—if something works out, fine, if it doesn’t , thats the way it is.
One of my goals which I may not achieve is to see what processes are effective and for who (similar to asking what medical treatments are effective and for who, or what college tracks are effective for people having a happy and productive life, and for who—i know people with all kinds of degrees and careers and relationships, and some are happy and some aren’t. This is a ‘matching problem’ as they say in fields like math and computer science.
I wonder if there is a way to find an accountability buddy who is an appropriate match—I think it means one needs to have compatible and complementary goals. (Stalin, Hitler , Churchhill and FDR from a utopian view were not matches made in heaven. )