New article: Ways people trying to do good accidentally make things worse, and how to avoid them

We’ve published a new article about how to avoid accidentally causing harm through your career:

“We encourage people to work on problems that are neglected by others and large in scale. Unfortunately those are precisely the problems where people can do the most damage if their approach isn’t carefully thought through.

If a problem is very important, then setting back the cause is very bad. If a problem is so neglected that you’re among the first focused on it, then you’ll have a disproportionate influence on the field’s reputation, how likely others are to enter it, and many early decisions that could have path-dependent effects on the field’s long-term success.

We don’t particularly enjoy writing about this admittedly demotivating topic. Ironically, we expect that cautious people – the folks who least need this advice – will be the ones most likely to take it to heart.

Nonetheless we think cataloguing these risks is important if we’re going to be serious about having an impact in important but ‘fragile’ fields like reducing extinction risk.

In this article, we’ll list six ways people can unintentionally set back their cause. You may already be aware of most of these risks, but we often see people neglect one or two of them when new to a high stakes area – including us when we were starting 80,000 Hours.”

Read the full article…