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I second this. Really not sure what justifies such confidence.

I disagree with the article for the following reason: if I have two hypotheses that both explain an "absence of evidence" occurrence equally well, then that occurrence does not give me reason to favor either hypothesis and is not "evidence of absence."

Example: Vibrams are a brand of toe-shoes that recently settled a big suit because they couldn't justify their claims of health benefits. We have two hypotheses (1) Vibrams work, (2) Vibrams don't work. Now, if a well-executed experiment had been done and failed to show an effect, that would be evidence against a significant benefit from Vibrams. However, if the effect were small or nobody had completed a well-executed experiment, I see no reason that (2) would fit the evidence better than (1), so we are justified in saying this absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Although the original saying, I think, was meant in the absolute sense (evidence meaning proof), it is still fitting in the probabilistic sense. Absence of evidence is only evidence of absence when combined with one hypothesis explaining an occurrence better than the other, so the saying holds.

I believe the prevalence of moral realism within EA is risky and bad for EA goals for several reasons. One of which is that moral realists tend to believe in the inevitability of a positive far-future (since smart minds will converge on the "right" morality), which tends to make them focus on ensuring the existence of the far future at the cost of other things.

If smart minds will converge on the "right" morality, this makes sense, but I severely doubt that is true. It could be true, but that possibility certainly isn't worth sacrificing other goals of improvement.

And I think trying to figure out the "right" morality is a waste of resources for similar reasons. CEA has expressed the views I argue against here, which has other EAs and me concerned.

I agree with Luke here. CEA seems to often overstate its role in the EA movement (another example at

Uh, I contacted him. Tom, this is on the survey planning document :P

Yes. Many non-EA results will include lots of "unsure/unfamiliar with the options" responses.

Yes, I contacted him personally to fill it out. We used personal contacts as much as possible to avoid biased sampling (as many EAs don't frequent online forums like LW and Facebook).

I think it'd be interesting to know more about the specific ethical views of ethically-minded EAs, but the majority of EAs are not well-versed enough to make Utilitarianism vs. Other Consequentialism distinctions. It's good to make a big survey like this as easy to fill out as possible.

Same thing about the "political views" point, although there are standards for left vs. right across countries:

It was used in the Felicifia community, although it wasn't used as definitively as it is now. Although 'strategic altruism' was more common although that wasn't as catchy. It was also just used in casual conversation.

I could be wrong though.

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