1. It would be useful if there was an Effective Altruists’ guide to the 2024 UK General Election (as well as guides for other national elections). I’m lazy and I can’t be bothered to figure out which party is probably going to be the best on AI safety or pandemic preparedness, can someone just tell me? Even YIMBYism and climate change are trickier to figure out than you would expect.
regarding use / utilize, I agree: never use a big word when a diminutive word will suffice
On the manifestos, I tried to do this last time. I'd be interested in working together.
I enjoyed this post, as always. (See, nice person on the internet!)
As a utilitarian, I refuse to utilize the word 'use' in common parlance because I prefer the daily reminder that my philosophy is most representative of reality. Furthermore, the erasure the 'util-' rooted words from common discussion is a clear plot to ensure moral-relativism and chaos continue within Western society, and I will not stand for it.
I am interested in contributing to #1. Not sure if I’d be an ideal person to collaborate, but here’s my background: 13 years working in politics and public policy in the US. Currently looking to pivot to apply my skills to work on AI governance policy. I have no partisan affiliations or affinity in the US, much less the UK. This is a positive in terms of the being unwilling to endorse an opposing party view, but is very much a negative in terms of my overall low level of expertise in relation to UK politics.
I used to find "update" to be an annoying, jargony alternative to "to change one's mind." But I think that it often carries the connotation that one now believes slightly less in thesis A and slightly more in thesis B. I'm not sure we really have any single words for this. "To change your mind" implies, to me, that you now disavow your previous belief. "Update" can be a useful piece of jargon that has a meaning other than showing "I am an in-group member." Nonetheless, it's still jargon.
Also, I'd be interested in hearing your theory as to why some words are annoying. Are they ambiguous? Needlessly complex and thus alienating to readers? Of Latin or Greek origin instead of pure Anglo-Saxon? I find lots of words annoying. But I'm not confident this feeling comes from an earnest belief about what good, clear writing looks like or a more from a primal dislike of the types of people that use such words.
In addition to The Spirit Level, the authors have also published a – widely cited – and more recent paper that strongly suggests a causal relationship between income inequality and health outcomes: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953614008399
It's somehow baffling and counterintuitive how income inequality could play such a significant role, as I would assume absolute income would be much more relevant.
You have a point. Still, having Off Screen Hologram Ben Kenobi saying "utilize the force Luke" might have spared us a few dozen Star Wars sequels. (Apologies for the US spelling. It's equally egregious. We say egregious around our house.)
The reason a lot of people think that income inequality is a problem is because the GDP keeps growing. They are pushed at work to be more productive.They see their company growing and becoming more profitable. They see the economy growing and other people benefiting. Meanwhile, they have seen little or no increase in their share of the rising prosperity. Who can blame them for being upset.
Interesting links thanks for sharing. Use/utilize mean different things. I think the first suggestion your friend made re: utilize is on the right track, that it means using something either in an unexpected way, a novel way, or some way that it wasn't originally intended.
I'm not sure an "Effective Altruist's Guide" any election is a worthwhile way to spend time and mental effort. I'm open to an argument that it could be, but given (a) the insignificance of any single vote in a mass representative democracy, and (b) the consequent irrationality of being informed about politics.
Now (a) and (b) are arguments that start from a standpoint of rational self-interest. Neither are a knockout argument against the work of building an "Effective Altruist's Guide" to any particular election. Especially as the goal of doing so is to pursue non-self-interested, EA goals and reduce the irrationality of being well informed for potentially many other people.
But I do think the burden of proof is on the decision to undertake such a project. Some questions that could factor into such an analysis:
(1) how many people is such a guide likely to reach?
(2) how influential would the votes of those people be on the election outcome? Are they likely to live in large urban ridings where their votes could be tie-breakers?
(3) would votes for party X (or Y) translate in any meaningful way into EA goals, or would it be lost amongst the other competing, larger, better organized interest groups in the society?
(4) what is the 'follow through' rate of political party's election platforms, and of those what types of policies are most likely to be successfully implemented. "Successful" here being the bare minimum "legislation passed, given Royal assent, and proclaimed" not "and achieved measurable impact on variable X." And that's before even considering whether the impact was for general good or ill. One doesn't have to even accuse political parties of being duplicitous or playing bait and switch with voters: "events," as Harold Wilson observed, lead governments, rather than governments leading events.
The problem with using Spirit Level type stuff is that it only works when you're trying to convince people of things they really want to be true. I'm not sure it has any lessons for trying to convince people of things they're neutral about, or which they actively dislike.
Given that the main EA areas of interest are not likely to prominently feature (or just feature) in the manifestos, does it not likely boil down to "will they appoint a junior Minister with an interest to the topic and an openness to EA views for long enough to do something meaningful to government policy"? Which seems difficult to predict, but also kind of unlikely.
Although potentially easier to have some influence on and maybe a useful thing for EA to focus on, regardless of who wins.