Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions


Common knowledge about Leverage Research 1.0

In 2018, when I was writing a critical essay about William MacAskill's Doing Good Better, I sent a draft of the essay to Julia Wise for review precisely because of her designation as the contact person for reporting concerns about the community. The page is still live and says:

>If you contact me about a problem you’ve experienced or a concern you have, I will keep it as confidential as you wish. 

I hoped that Wise would take a look at the draft and let me know if I'm misunderstanding or misrepresenting the book. Prior to me sending Wise the draft, she agreed to keep it confidential.

After I sent the draft to Wise, she refused to read it and leaked it to MacAskill.

After Wise had already leaked the essay to MacAskill but before she learned that I already published it, she wrote to me "If you're able to let me know when it's likely to be published, I'd appreciate that as then I can let Will know to take a look." She did not let me know that she had previously sent the draft to MacAskill.

In his response to my essay, MacAskill originally wrote that "Alexey’s post keeps changing, so if it looks like I’m responding to something that’s no longer there, that’s why".

Also, in his response to my essay, MacAskill replied to an argument that I removed prior to publication. I was pretty confused initially when reading his response because it didn't quite make sense and then realized that what happened was that a draft was leaked to him, he pre-wrote a response to the draft, and then published his response without reading the published essay. MacAskill never indicated that he read any drafts of my essay.

After I demonstrated that MacAskill read the confidential draft, Wise wrote that she accidentally sent the draft to MacAskill. MacAskill then acknowledged that he read the confidential draft, was aware that it was confidential, and decided not to let me know that it was leaked to him and instead to just write a response.

One might ask: "why did you send the draft to Julia Wise and not to William MacAskill in the first place?" The reason I did not do this is that the impression I got from the book was that MacAskill is an unethical person for whom ends justify the means (for example, at one point he completely misrepresents the views of a competing with GiveWell charity evaluator to create an impression that their views are nonsensical) and that he might try to sabotage the publication of my essay. I believe my impression was proven fully correct by his behavior.

I tried to find a point of contact in the EA sphere despite my reservations, hoping that Wise would be one person in whom I could trust 100%, and I was rewarded for it by a leak and a pre-written response to my leaked draft by one of the co-founders of the Effective Altruism. Also, MacAskill wrote in his comment "at the time I thought it would be good for me to start going through your critique to see if there were indeed grave mistakes in DGB, and offer a speedy response for a more fruitful discussion". One might note that if MacAskill actually cared about correcting my essay, he could've just emailed me upon seeing the draft and told me about issues he found with it (as I did when I sent the draft to Wise). He actively decided to not do it.

Similarly, although Wise explained that she sent my draft to MacAskill accidentally and she didn't realize that I asked not to share the draft, one might note that in order to send someone's email to someone else without the original author knowing about it, one needs to actively decide to exclude the original author, by either removing them from the list of people the reply is addressed to or by forwarding the email only to the other person.

Regardless of whether you believe Wise's actions were an accident or deliberate, this should moderate your desire to send her your concerns about the community - they might just end up in the email inboxes of people you are concerned about.

My essay:
Julia Wise's comment:
William MacAskill's original response:
William MacAskill's acknowledgement:

The slopes to common sense

re: bpm. yeah i'm not saying never sleep or always undersleep. but if you undersleep one time, you're going to have higher bpm and then on the recovery day it's going to be normal

The slopes to common sense

Yeah a ton of bad things and stress tend to fuck up sleep and make us sleep less! That's why there are all these correlations.. The rest of your arguments (bpm, cortisol..) apply fully to sports as well I believe.


re: not encountering info re dangers of oversleep: do you want to comment on the bit about sleep deprivation therapy? Isn't this rather compelling evidence of sleep directly causing bad mood?

The slopes to common sense

the possible outcomes table for 'hacking' your sleep includes premature aging and dementia.  I don't think the inverse is true. 


Why do you think that inverse is not true?

We eat as much as much as our body wants to, and the result is that >73% of US adults are overweight or obese.

Given that one of the hallmarks of depression is increased sleep and that short-term sleep deprivation is literally one of the most effective treatments for depression, you ought to at least consider the potential harms of sleep.

Massive consequences

I think Michael Huemer had an interesting take on a variant of this question -- In Praise of Passivity:

Voters, activists, and political leaders of the present day are in the position of medieval doctors. They hold simple, prescientific theories about the workings of society and the causes of social problems, from which they derive a variety of remedies–almost all of which prove either ineffectual or harmful. Society is a complex mechanism whose repair, if possible at all, would require a precise and detailed understanding of a kind that no one today possesses. Unsatisfying as it may seem, the wisest course for political agents is often simply to stop trying to solve society’s problems.

Book review: Why we sleep

Note that the book contains a multitude of basic scientific errors, misrepresentation of research, data manipulation, etc:

Matthew Walker's "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors

I'm the author of this essay. I don't believe your characterization of it is accurate.

1. You write:

Author advocates biphasic sleep totaling 6.3hr/day.

I don't remember "advocating" biphasic sleep. I link to people I know who were able to adjust to it and I describe my personal experience. In fact, in the essay's conclusion I write:

If you take one thing away from this entire essay, remember this: as long as you feel good, sleeping anywhere between 5 and 8 hours a night seems basically fine for your health

which contradicts your assertion.

2. You write:

Author claims doesn't support 'smaller testes size for men who sleep less'. It does.

You add quote marks as if you're quoting my essay. I never wrote that this paper doesn't support 'smaller testes size for men who sleep less'. I wrote: "It does not support either of Walker's claims" Here are Walker's claims:

Men who sleep 5 hours a night have significantly smaller testicles than those who sleep 8 hours or more. [from his 2017 talk at Google)


Men who sleep 5 hours a night have significantly smaller testicles than those who sleep 7 hours or more. [from his 2019 TED Talk]

The paper in question finds a correlation between sleep and testicle size. Walker says that the difference between those sleeping 5 and those sleeping 8 hours or more (or 7 hours or more) is "significant", by which he clearly means statistical significance. The paper never examines whether the difference between those two groups is statistically significant. It is true that it found a significant correlation. The paper however does not support either of Walker's claims.

Anticipating comments that say that I'm nitpicking: the testicles thing is indeed nitpicking and it's not important. I included it in one of the last appendices of the essay, mostly out of curiosity at the fact that Walker repeats the exact same phrases word for word in different talks but his numbers change in the process.

Finally, (even though I believe their reading of my essay is wrong), I'm glad that both of the OP's concerns regard things he found in appendices to the essay and not in any of the main parts it.