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About

  • I wrote “Expert trap: How hindsight, hierarchy, confirmation biases break knowledge and make it hard to access“ Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

  • I put significant effort into writing this article, yet received limited feedback. While I am quite happy with its content, I am keen to learn how to refine the article and to improve my writing and thinking skills in general. The article was originally posted in three parts, but I'm considering re-posting it as a single piece (this approach was effective with my AI Revolution project from a while ago)

  • I’d appreciate any advice on improving the article’s epistemics, clarity, and writing style, or any other elements impacting its reach and reception. I would value a comprehensive review after a complete reading, but a brief feedback focusing on why it might not have been engaging or why you stopped reading is also appreciated.

Bounty

  • I'll be awarding mana for helpful comments and responses to comments, with amounts ranging from M25 to M5000 for the best answers. I aim to reward most answers. Initially, I'll distribute smaller rewards between M25 and M200 to quickly mark answers I find helpful. Later, I plan to allocate the remaining bounty to the top responses.

  • Note-1: I may not allocate the entire bounty if there are only a few low-quality answers. Note-2: Leave likes under your fav answers as they will likely influence my evaluation.

More context:

  • I've shared this article on both the EA Forum and LessWrong, but it has received minimal engagement.

  • I'm already planning to bring the extended Epistemic Status section from the beginning to the Q&A section at the end.

  • My intended audience ranges from rationalist to a broader demographic, akin to readers of "Wait But Why."

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+Ṁ1,732

My overall impression is that there's an idea in there that rings true, but overall the series of posts is loose and unfocused and retreads a lot of familiar territory. Some points:

  • I saw that it was in 3 parts and went "oh god no :( I'm not reading all of that". It immediately tells me that the text is very long and I'm reluctant to read the long stuff if I don't already know and admire the writer. Even if this isn't fair, this is probably scaring off some potential readers.

  • I start reading and what I get is intro #1, then intro #2, preamble #1.0, the revenge of the intro #1, the epistemic status.... "aagh, get to the point already", I scream internally.

  • Finally I get to the the point. It feels like I'm getting a mixture of 1) some valuable idea 2) long explanations of stuff I'm familiar with 3) tangents that are meant to clarify things, but only confuse me even more.

    What even is "The Expert trap"? After reading "Expert trap: What is it?", I'm still not totally sure I got it. Sounds related to "sazen" (https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/k9dsbn8LZ6tTesDS3/sazen) and illusion of transparency. Knowing (or thinking you know) while not being able to communicate it? Nowhere does the post say it clearly and directly.

  • The posts jump from idea to idea and it's not always clear how all the separate points are connected to the central issue you're talking about. Are they contributing anything? "Hierarchy bias" sounds like a vaguely bad thing that may possibly be contributing to the problem, but the section doesn't make it crystal clear how exactly. Replication crisis sure is bad, but is it actually an instance of the The Expert Trap, or something else?

    Sort of feels like genuine insight got mired in too many loosely connected threads.

    My advice would be to rewrite the 3 parts into one short, concrete, focused piece after mercilessly throwing away everything that isn't absolutely necessary.

+Ṁ1,485

Feedback in progress (Part 1/3 finished). Some feedbacks are LW specific.

Goods:

- Major:

  1. The evidence section is something I didn't know I wish more people include in their writing, so that people could potentially quickly update towards whether what the author is going to say is likely to be credible or not.

  2. > Perhaps, as a person aspires to understand further, they lose track of the “Aha!” moments that brought them to where they are.
    YES!!! I have this thought for a long time too. In general, it seems like there is not much motivation for anyone to keep track of their thought process over time.

- Minor:

Bads:

- Major:

  1. > I care about being simple and precise.

    I see quite the opposite of that. Things are long, and often explained using nonstandard terminology that you like.

    (LW specific) I see a few occurances where a similar concept has been introduced on LW and you never linked or used it. Maybe you just didn't know it, but I find it annoying that you came up with yet another word for the same thing. (I didn't search for any concrete example)

- Minor:

  1. > Summary in one paragraph: ... hierarchy bias and my-side bias.

    I don't think hierarchy bias is conventionally used. This means ~0% of people understood your summary.

    I didn't know either biases by name, and I even assumed my-side bias = confirmation bias after googling. Only until "At the root of all these biases is My-side-biaswhat is mine is better." did I realize that you meant a slightly to moderately different thing.

  2. > Summary longer: This article explores the intuition that the way our civilization encodes knowledge is often faulty, inefficient and makes that knowledge difficult to use.

    First reaction: I definitely don't have that intuition. After a few re-reads I got what you're pointing at, and I agree with it, but that sentence is too hard to parse for a summary/tldr.

  3. > I will write more extensively on how this may work in “Why is expert trap happening?”

    Just say part 2. I shouldn't have need to go back and check.

+Ṁ990
  • I would make the part summary more parallel, ie make them all underlined, like "Part two" and three are

  • Should be "I don't normally write" in the intro

  • Giving confidence intervals before the reader understands the claim at all could probably wait until later, probably not even Part 1.

  • You don't have to say "Summary" and then later "Summary in one paragraph:", since we know it's a summary. You could incorporate it into the writing, like "Basically, X. In other words, longer X"

  • You don't need to define knowledge and all that before defining expert trap. Readers are gonna be reading about expert trap until they know what it is, put that definition first.

+Ṁ495
  1. cut words! you could cut about 1/4 of the sentences without losing any substance.

  2. use simpler words! pg has a great essay on this, it’s linked below (second link)

  3. the fact that it took a few full minutes of reading just to get to the summary is really annoying — put a short summary at the very top, so readers can filter if they even want to read it. if i ran into something that took 5 minutes just to know what the general topic is, i wouldn’t read it — which is true regardless of whether i’d eventually be interested

  4. the first 3 paragraphs of the “intro” should go at the end. they don’t need to read those paragraphs before they read the essay, and any friction before they start reading -> losing readers.

  5. “In this case, however, feel free to skip it and come back to it at the end.” …then just put it at the end

  6. i have more — there are a bunch of ways that this has syntax/formatting/structure that maked it really difficult to engage with, some of which are explained above

see pg’s thoughts: here, here, and here

+Ṁ248

I feel like this could be written far more concisely and with better organization. I have a hard time seeing the idea through the writing because of its disorganization. I think you could improve it by making a flowchart of your idea so each paragraph logically continues to the next.