For most EA-Blank projects, we would expect more good to be done if they would: i) disband or ii) remove EA from the name and aim to outgrow the EA movement.

by Ryan Carey Jan 2 2017 updated Jan 3 2017

The claim refers to projects like:


Ted Sanders

Hmm. I find it difficult to form an opinion on a claim as fuzzy as this. I am sensitive of appearing over-critical, but I worry that Arbital will not be useful in building up knowledge or changing any minds if everyone ends up disagreeing over what the claims even mean. If Arbital is to be useful or impactful, and not just a way to signal our opinions at each other, I really think a strong priority needs to be developing community standards for claims.

Here are some of my concerns with this claim in particular:

(1) What is meant by "many"? 5? 50? 500? I honestly have no clue. And therefore if someone agrees or disagrees with this claim, it's hard for me to update my own beliefs because I don't know how they personally interpreted the claim.

(2) What projects are titled EA [blank]? I put forward a good-faith Google effort, but found video games by Electronic Arts. Clearly those are irrelevant, but I don't know how to find the EA projects this claim is covering. A few examples might be nice.

(3) What is "be more useful"? This is probably my most serious concern. I am 100% sure that better paths exist where these projects are disbanded and better projects are accomplished in their stead. However, I am also 100% sure that worse paths exist where these projects are disbanded and nothing better is accomplished in their stead. How should one weight these counterfactual scenarios? Should I mark 'agree' if I think they could be doing a better job? Should I mark 'disagree' if I think they could be doing a worse job? What if I think both?

(4) To be honest, I don't even understand the commas in the question. It seems to say disband OR rename AND aim bigger. Should I interpret this as 'disband and aim bigger' OR 'rename and aim bigger'? It's a little hard for me to parse, which worries me because people might interpret it differently for their answers.

Anyway, I feel bad writing all this criticism. I worry the rationalist community is already too negative and anti-oriented, and I hope it becomes more warm and welcoming. Please know that I wrote this reluctantly, and because I hope it will be useful. If Arbital is to become what I assume y'all want it to become, I think it needs far clearer claims. (And I say this as someone who is aware that language will always be fuzzy and open to different interpretation. I just think we can do far better.)