cross-posted on EA Forum

Leif Wenar thoughtfully critiqued EA in  "Poverty is No Pond" (2011) & just wrote a critique in WIRED. He is a philosophy professor at Stanford & author of Blood Oil.

Edit: My initial thoughts (which are very raw & will likely change & I will accordingly regret having indelibly inscribed on the Internet): 

Initially, after a quick read-through, my take is he does a great job critiquing EA as a whole & showing the shortfalls are not isolated incidents. But none of the incidents were news to me. I think there's value in having these incidents/critique (well) written in a single article. 

But, really, I'm interested in the follow-up piece / how to reform EA or else the alternative to EA / what’s next for the many talented young people who care, want to do good, & are drawn to EA. I'd love to hear y'all's thoughts on this.


Thank you, M, for sharing this with me & encouraging me to connect.

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I think the commentary on the state of Givewell's evidence - in particular, that worryingly large parts of it come down to "we called a mid-ranking employee once and they claimed they were doing X and we thought they had good vibes" - was good, correct, novel and important: strong upvote for that alone.

 (I disagree that you should blame Givewell for that: they're not hiding their flaws, and AFAICT the only people other than this author who are openly discussing Givewell's limitations are Givewell themselves. Most of their alleged sins IMO come down to the way people insist on treating them, and the bizarre dearth of competitor/successor organisations aiming for "Givewell but >10x more rigorous/demanding".)

I think almost everything else the author says is some combination of incoherent, incorrect, mean-spirited and fnordful. But in the marketplace of ideas, one bullseye is worth any number of missed shots.