Ben Yeoh

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I am an investor. I give out microgrants. I podcast (sometimes with EA aligned thinkers). I angel invest. I make theatre.

More on me:


I advocate using an "Unconference" format such as Open Space twhich would help with this. I mentioned it to CEA previosuly and they use it in some other settings. As do other EA minded conferences I have heard of.

So this re: disabilty is mostly not very EA at all - but at the meta level - it's very interesting on "social movements" - which is basically EA - so interesting on the learnings from the disability rights movement -  cross post:


David Ruebain is one of the most thoughtful thinkers I know on disability, equality and the law. He is currently a Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sussex with strategic responsibility for Culture, Equality and Inclusion including dignity and respect. He is an adviser to the football premier league, the former director of legal policy at the equality and human rights commission and has been in the top 25 most influential disabled people in the UK. 

We chat on:

Social change seems to come about in a complex way. But peaceful protests seem to have had influence on some social topics. What is the importance of protest? In particular, thinking about the disability rights movement.

David gives insights into his role and view into the UK disability rights movement. The roles of agency and simplicity of message. The comparison with the climate protest movements. 

David’s work with the UK football premier league and also the equality commission. What types of policies are successful for equality and diversity. What challenges are structural and what that implies for solutions.

The role of interdependence and that means at the moment. Whether the law can deliver inclusion and what that means.

How ordinary talking about equality seems now vs the 1970s. But how it itself will not be enough for humanity. 

“Equality is what we all wanted in the seventies; for those of us who considered ourselves progressive. But now it feels fairly vanilla really as an idea. Equality is simply about level playing fields, with its sort of a zero sum game approach to if two people are in a race, nobody should be unfairly disadvantaged for any relevant consideration, which of course is true. It's sort of almost unarguable. But it isn't especially ambitious. … But if we are really to bring about the change which will ensure the survival of the species and other species, it will need more than equality, I think.” 

We end on David’s current projects and life advice.

“ what you need to do to believe in yourself because so many of us don't or doubt ourselves. That doesn't mean to say-- I think first of all, that knowing there's nothing profoundly wrong with anyone, including whoever you are. But secondly, knowing that from that perspective you get to learn and evolve; it doesn't mean you say rigid in the position. So there's something the risk of sounding like a not very good therapist. There's something about really believing in yourself…”

Listen below (or wherever you listen to pods) or on video (above or on YouTube) and the transcript is below.

Honestly, when I speak to friends in the wider disability community, the horror in which the Peter Singer viewpoint is taken (and I accept that the perception *might* be worse than what Singer is – I think – trying to say about his views on personhood and suffering; I’m not entirely sure) and the perception that Singer is a founding philosophical father to the EA movement means that EA is very much tainted by that.  Nathan has picked up on some of this in his comment.

So the empathy point that Nathan makes does overwhelm, and that’s not even before you enter the discussion that medical models of DALY or QALY etc. are rejected by many in the disability community in favour of social models (or more complex. Cf Tom Shakespeare).

I don’t have super good advice here, perhaps to the extent you may not share Singer’s views on disability, you may want to strongly let disability people you talk with know, as from my conversations that viewpoint taints everything.

You may also try and have some disability people chat on podcasts, or take more seriously their views in discussion. For instance, I’ve not seen an EA discussion paper around the social model of disability.

Still, overall better comms would not be harmful at worst neutral, and increasing empathy, same.

Hi Ann, we recorded it but because of lots events, he wanted to re-record it and then he decided it would be better if we didn’t go public. So I’m sorry but it’s been kept private for the moment. I’m hoping we might revisit some time. Happy to discuss the issues with you some time if interested. (Sorry for slow reply as well as I haven’t logged in for a while).

Interesting.  Start a new institution and org working on this!

I'd love to hear any lessons learned, and even now good things you think about pods, and things we should avoid.

Ah. In that case, if you'd like the bounty, I think I'd need a little longer explantory write-up whcoh takes into account the carbon cost challenges, and answers some of the questions.. As the above only seems to take into account productivity time while travelling, and not the carbon cost challenge.  Also, I'd have to change for the train etc. so I am not sure I'd have any productivity gains, I'm mostly interested in the emissions cost. 

Thank that's very helpful to know. Thanks for the comment! 

Thanks that's my instinct as well, but if anyone wants to dig into the numbers more deeply would be happy for it.

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