Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Nick_Beckstead comments on What Would it Take to "Prove" a Speculative Cause? - Less Wrong Discussion

6 Post author: peter_hurford 07 August 2013 08:59PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (15)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: Nick_Beckstead 10 August 2013 04:21:41PM 4 points [-]

I think we should question the implicit suggestion here that we should focus on "proven" opportunities. The idea that we'll accomplish more if we focus on the best proven opportunities rather than the best unproven opportunities is itself a highly speculative claim, and one that has no firm grounding in common sense, though neither does the opposite view. Looking at track records seems to provide no clear evidence for this idea, and in some ways seems to push against it. My overall impression is that the average impact of people doing the most promising unproven activities contributed to a large share of the innovations and scientific breakthroughs that have made the world so much better than it was hundreds of years ago, despite the fact that they were a small share of all human activity.

I think the key good idea here is that we should focus on rational giving rather than "proven" giving or "quantified" giving.

I agree with your claim that there is a strong case for gathering more information about many promising "unproven" causes and opportunities to do good.