Will the effective altruism movement suffer from serious, high-profile damage to its reputation within the next year (by May 18 2023)?
resolved Nov 11
The effective altruism (EA) movement is gathering momentum in the public eye, which will bring both extra scrutiny and extra conflict. This question is not necessarily about scandals alone, but rather is intended to get at whether something will happen that could contribute to lots of people (who might’ve otherwise been neutral or EA-sympathetic) not wanting to publicly associate with EA. “Serious” means that the precipitating event is very important and has long-term ramifications beyond a small circle; ie charges of corruption would count but a standard social media spat would not. “Serious” also includes attacks on EA as a movement or on its fundamentals, so if there’s no specific unethical event, but there’s a large, sustained public backlash against EA within the next year anyway, this will resolve as YES. (I don’t have solid criteria for what counts as large & sustained but am happy for bettors to persuade me.) “High-profile” means publicized in major outlets not explicitly affiliated with EA, so any standard news source but not, eg, the EA Forum or popular newsletters by EA writers. So for clarity, examples of what counts and would lead me to resolve the market as YES: - An EA organization or EA public figure is credibly accused of serious misconduct, and this story plays out in a mainstream media outlet. - EA becomes widely castigated by mainstream outlets and other public thought leaders *even if community members don’t agree with the assessment*. Doesn’t count: - Two key figures in the EA movement get into a mud-slinging match on Twitter with each other and a mainstream outlet writes about it for the drama. - An EA organization or public figure is credibly accused of serious misconduct, but the discussion is limited to EA circles. - Public intellectuals criticize the EA movement but the discussion is pretty academic and stays limited to EA and academic circles.
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I know the market is already resolved but the best possible example has come out:

FTX’s Collapse Casts a Pall on ‘Effective Altruism’ Movement - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

@WieDan And here's another one. From a biased source, but still:


“He was the most famous millennial adherent of a cult known as “Effective Altruism,” which originated at Oxford University, found fertile ground in Silicon Valley — and now has gone down in flames along with him.”

predicted YES


EA is a disguised form of socialism, because all the “good” that is done just happens to match up perfectly with the left’s obsessions, whether climate change, social justice, equity, banning meat or his favorite, “pandemic preparedness.”


predicted NO

@athenaciara truth! i know this type

It’s cute all the “the EAs I know don’t think this is a big deal”

Hint: the sign you’re in the cult is any challenges to it just make it all the more robust and important to you personally.

“So for clarity, examples of what counts and would lead me to resolve the market as YES:

- An EA organization or EA public figure is credibly accused of serious misconduct, and this story plays out in a mainstream media outlet.”

Somehow most of EA’s money coming from someone who stole billions of dollars to “steal to give” just isn’t a big deal 🤔

And the “only people” making fun of EA are people who are already skeptical or who don’t know what it is (hint: that’s literally everyone who’s not in the club)

predicted NO

@Gigacasting What do you mean? If you read the ea forum, every very upvoted post is about how big a deal this is and how dire the situation is

predicted YES

@Gigacasting fwiw, EAs i know, and also all the EAs i don't know but am only seeing on twitter and the forum, think this is a fucking massive deal.

predicted YES

If this market doesn’t resolve to YES I will join others and claim it wasn’t properly resolved. If the current shitstorm doesn’t satisfy the resolution criteria nothing will.

predicted NO

@NicoDelon For me, i will consider it a YES when when discussing about EA (to non EA friend) they mention SBF and his blunder (or other reporting similar experiences)

predicted YES

@JoyVoid This seems ad hoc.

predicted NO

@NicoDelon Maybe. My internal experience is that I've always interpreted the question as how it reflects on EA, and everything I'm hearing so far from non-EA people is how bad cryptobro are. So far, no one in my bubble who's heard of SBF through a mean other than EA knew he was connected to it

predicted NO

@JoyVoid So like, i feel that it resolving yes now would be improperly resolved. So far it seems very internal still, with respect to ea

For the record though, i expect it to blow up soon

predicted YES

@JoyVoid I advise stepping out of your bubble and internal experience.

predicted NO

@NicoDelon If you have any examples that criticize ea directly, using SBF as an example, as opposed to criticizing SBF and mentioning he is related to EA in passing, then I'd gladly read them

predicted YES

@JoyVoid Another ad hoc distinction. People have already posted many links demonstrating an association between the two.

predicted NO

@NicoDelon Look, you can enjoy being right and how stupid i am, and in this case it does not make sense for you to continue this conversation since I'll stay stupid anyway, or we can try to work together assuming good faith

I did read all the links here, unless i missed any or did not get them the same way you did, and so far none of them fall under what I meant. They establish a link between SBF and EA, but not to criticize EA itself. I have not seen a criticism of EA based on what has happened, only criticism of cryptobros and sbf. That is to say, ea was only mentioned either to say sbf was a huge donor to it, or to explain what it is

Again, i do think this is only a matter of time

@NicoDelon I agree with Joy. I think it's a hundred percent plausible that this is the direction things go, and in a few month's time EAs will wish they didn't have to explain what the acronym stands for, but I don't see it yet.

On Twitter I see:
-EAs having a really bad day.
-People who criticize EA constantly acting like Christmas came early.
-People who saw first the term "effective altruist" in a news article about SBF five minutes ago and are using it to grandstand about fake do-gooders.

predicted NO

@MichaelWheatley Thanks for sharing this, i did not have an experience with the third one and that makes me update quite a lot (if you have an example tweet to see the rethoric better I'd be interested). I predict based off this that there will probably be a hit piece like the NY article about Scott or the beigeness one in a week (two tops)

To rephrase my point, i guess that what I mean to say is that for me the market (or at least the question I'm personally interested in) was about the reputational cost EA will endure and how significant it will be

@JoyVoid People like that he called himself an "altruist" because it provides dramatic irony and it gives them a chance to condemn hypocrisy.

predicted NO

@MichaelWheatley Interesting, thanks a lot!

predicted YES

@JoyVoid I didn’t call you any of those things. I just think commenters are shifting the goalposts.

predicted YES

@MichaelWheatley What you and I are seeing on Twitter is, to me, exactly what the market is about. If there’s nothing in the spirit in the press yet there’ll be soon enough.

TBC I don’t think the backlash against EA is warranted. It’s just absolutely clear that right now the reputation of EA is taking a hit because of the actions of one its prominent members.

predicted YES

@JoyVoid checked through the links; out of all of them, i think the Vice article absolutely counts as an accusation of misconduct playing out in a mainstream outlet. what abt that article would make you think resolution is premature at this point?
(and as for your prediction, i just got word of two different articles about this clusterfuck that are in progress, in way more prestigious/widespread outlets than Vice. feels weird to be sitting on obvious imminent market resolution!)

predicted NO

@GavrielK Thanks for your comment!

> Sometimes [Effective Altruism] means convincing college students to become investment bankers so they can maximize their charitable contributions. Other times that might mean dismissing the need to prioritize addressing climate change because that it won’t be as destructive as an asteroid one day hitting Earth. For Bankman-Fried, that may have meant creating a cryptocurrency exchange that could make as much money as is humanly possible, even if it meant intertwining it with another trading firm in a precarious symbiotic union that has now resulted in disaster.

Yeah no, okay, that definitely counts, should have remarked the quotes around "effective altruism" and 'giving "effectively"' as a dead giveaway. Thanks!
(And yes, even if it weren't, it would very much resolve YES soon, that I completely agree with)

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