Focus my time and energy on what I want to see more of

I want to take more responsibility for my problems. I'm uncomfortable with the extent to which I've externalized my problems: It's easy for me to say, EAs seem to lack nuance and wisdom, maximization is perilous, or some other third thing, but I can and want to try to do better, rather than complaining.

I want to be an example of what trying to ambitiously improve the world looks like when you take into account all of the nuance that Holden Karnofsky, Daniel Schmachtenberger, and Robert Gilman seem to. Don't waste your air trying to convince laggards with ideas, just do better and then talk about why it worked. I want to take my own advice first. This is also a safer and more humble option because I might just be wrong.

In the EA community, some individuals — not just thought leaders but also people I’ve never heard of — have had an impact on par with entire organizations. This comes from the strength of their social connections and interactions, and raising the aspirations of other. I'd guess that they're only able to do these things by being glowing examples of what they want to see while working with the garage door up.

That's a formula for getting the respect of hundreds of people I don't even know, such that if those people want to follow me, all it takes is a conversation and a nudge. The best part is I don't have to worry whether I'm pushing people in the right or wrong direction: I'm trying my best, and the people following my work are naturally inclined toward it — they already want to go in this direction, and I don't need to convince them through argument. (I'm not going to change someone else's mind, but I can plant a seed. Sending people an article will never change their minds unless they asked for it. )

As a bonus, if I'm truly great at what I do, I could end up creating an entire scene or community around my work. Look at Slate Star Codex, Eliezer Yudkowsky, Andy Matuschak, Visakanv. This is a stronger and more robust version of community building.

And of course, here's what I want to see more of.


I want to focus my time and energy on what I want to see more of. Being an example of what I want to see myself is how I imagine my advice or input can be impactful. It's more important than the specific advice I give itself.

It's wasting my time if I'm trying to convince people who disagree with me through argument. I think it's more effective and pleasant to go implement my idea and prove there's a better way, and then explain why it worked after. And hey, maybe it'll turn out I was wrong, and then it was also better to not convince people before I tried it myself.


In my Meeting with Andy Matuschak, he mentioned that of all the scenes and communities around ideas he knows of, not a single one has had a community organizer who was not also a serious contributor.


I could think and write a lot about whether this is actually the most impactful way to go about things. Maybe it's not, maybe it is, but I think you're getting into some sketchy and dangerous shit that you should justify with a level of certainty that is unaccessible in our complex reality if you are going to push people in directions you haven't gone in yourself.

Being a living example of what I want to see is the best way to raise the aspirations of others