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Transcript for Geoff Anders and Anna Salamon's Oct. 23 conversation


Sorry. I was in a really shitty mood. That wasn't nice of me.

Transcript for Geoff Anders and Anna Salamon's Oct. 23 conversation

It seems to me that Leverage had a large and broad effect on the Effective Altruism and Rationality communities worldwide, with having organized the 2013-2014 EA Summits, and having provided a substantial fraction of the strategic direction for EAG 2015 and EAG 2016, and then shared multiple staff with the Centre For Effective Altruism until 2019. 

For me personally this still rounds off to "not very important." Especially in the sense that there is nothing I, or the vast majority of people on this site, could possibly do with this information. I was already never going to join Leverage, or give any money to Geoff Anders. I have a lot of rationalist friends, both IRL and online, and none of us had ever heard about Geoff Anders prior to this recent drama.

Think about it in terms of cost-benefit. The benefit of this kind of content to the vast majority of people on LW is zero. The cost is pretty high, because ~everybody who sees a big juicy drama fest is going to want to rubberneck and throw in their two cents. So on net posting content like this to the main LW feed is strongly net negative in aggregate. A post which is simply dumb/wrong but otherwise un-dramatic can at least be simply ignored.

I think that if it were, say, Yudkowsky being accused of auditing people's thetans and having seances, I would find that relevant, because it would have implications for my future decisions.

Transcript for Geoff Anders and Anna Salamon's Oct. 23 conversation

A few things.

  1. I'm a high-karma LW member and I created an anonymous account to say this for reasons given below. Trust me on that or don't, my arguments should stand on their own.
  2. Way too much of this kind of self-obsessed community gossip has dominated LW in recent weeks. This stuff demands highly disproportionate attention and has turned LW into a net negative place for me to spend time on.
  3. This Leverage drama is not important to anyone except a small group of people and does not belong on LW. Perhaps the relatively small group of Bay Area rationalists who are always at the center of these things need to create a separate forum for their own drama. Nobody outside of Berkeley needs to hear about this. This sort of thing gets upvoted because tribal instincts are being activated, not because this is good and ought to be here.
  4. I have a much lower opinion about literally everybody even tangentially involved in this whole thing, even Anna Salamon for making the extremely bad PR choice of getting herself and her organization sucked into a completely avoidable vortex of bad publicity. At this point I am not sure that CFAR has created any value at all in recent years, all I know is that there are some vague and impossible to pin down connections to some extremely terrible-sounding people and situations. This is intended mostly as a statement, from an uninvolved bystander, about how bad the optics are here, and how much it's negatively impacted my own subjective impression of CFAR and the Bay Area rationality community at large.
  5. If you disagree with the above and really really feel like you need to post a top-level post about some kind of community drama, then please at least try to do a good job on it. Separately from the frequency of these posts is the issue of quality and volume. Duncan Sabien's multiple recent posts and this incredibly long and time-consuming transcript are extremely low-effort and low-quality, the former is badly written and the later is just a transcript. If you felt like you needed to post this you could have at least provided a short summary of major points so people could determine whether they needed to read it.
  6. You might say "Nobody is making you read it." That's true but misses the fact that gossip activates tribal reflexes that are very hard to fight. And anything with 100+ upvotes demands attention. I can't tell a priori that those upvotes are more about tribal solidarity than about quality and importance. I created an anonymous account because I want to just say this and then be allowed to stop thinking about it, and not get roped into the whole tribal signaling dynamic, which I resent. I know that there are other people like me because I have had this conversation with several other rationalists in person and we are uniformly annoyed yet "nerd-sniped" by this situation, yet none of us want to say anything because we don't want to get involved at all. Again, trust me or don't.
  7. This community is much bigger and more important than 15 or so high-drama high-disagreeability who live in the Bay Area and at this point I feel like those people need to spend less time posting about their social group and more time posting about rationality and stuff.