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(Acknowledgements: Thanks to Abraham Rowe for taking a peek at this.)

For context: I'm an Army Officer and I spent most of my time in Civil Affairs, the international relations arm of the military.. The views expressed in this article are my own. This is for the Red Teaming  and criticism contest https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/topics/criticism-and-red-teaming-contest


EAs need a critical piece of fiction that will draw in outsiders in a positive way. This is how we can get the word out.

  • At a high level, EA needs a foundational fiction that we can all groan about when someone is asked "What got you into EA?" "Well this fanfiction about XYZ..."
  • We can fund a lot of short and longform fiction to bring people into the fold.
  • And when I say critical I mean, something akin to how Harry Potter the original transformed YA literature.

(1) HPMOR is an excellent lead in for EA and Rationality, and we need to find other writers that can write fiction in this vein

  • EA is excellent in talking to itself, if this forum is any indication. However I believe that it runs into similar problems that US Army Civil Affairs does. Both Organizations are a little wrapped up in HOW they do what they do, making it very opaque for outsiders to understand what the heck is going on. It's not enough just to understand EA, you have to be able to ELI5 it to a media person off the top of your head. It's the same for Civil Affairs.
  • In order to understand how to communicate EA, you must be able to explain it. I like this to the analogy of the Drowning Girl. That story is a succinct way to explain our principles, in fact I used it in my book, Sect Leader.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality I will tell everyone, was my introduction to EA and Less Wrong.
  • If we're neglecting trying to influence non-EA organizations, this will become more detrimental. (Rowe, Critiques of EA that I want to read[1]) therefore, we need to think about non-EA people. Organizations are just groups of people.

(2) What is this critique even? Write more entertaining stories!

  • What does this mean for you, the reader? You should think about if you're suited to a hard life of touching keyboards with maniacal glee. If you're someone who can explain EA simply through a long story, even parts of it, then you're probably exactly who we need.
  • I run a publishing house (Indie Imprint - Riverfolk Publishing[2]) and I would love to publish other authors that write great stories, especially EA ones, but it doesn't have to be me that publishes you.
  • And if you're not one of those lovely people blessed with writing ability, if you have a big social media presence, then promote others that do!
  • The bottom line is neither you nor I understand what will bring someone into EA, but if they're reading about EA characters at least they'll begin to understand the shared values that we have.


  1. ^

    https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/n3WwTz4dbktYwNQ2j/critiques-of-ea-that-i-want-to-read And THANKS for this. I debated on what exactly I was doing for the red teaming, and this was the result.

  2. ^

    Website Pending

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Yeah! Stories have had a huge impact on me personally, so I definitely think they have a lot of potential. It's cool that you have a publishing house! 

I think I finally came up with an interesting EA-ish story idea the other day so I'm excited to start working on it and see how it turns out. 

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