Nonlinear’s Evidence: Debunking False and Misleading Claims

Recently, Ben Pace wrote a well-intentioned blog post mostly based on complaints from 2 (of 21) Nonlinear employees who 1) wanted more money, 2) felt socially isolated, and 3) felt persecuted/​oppressed.

Of relevance, one has accused the majority of her previous employers, and 28 people of abuse—that we know of.

She has accused multiple people of threatening to kill her and literally accused an ex-employer of murder. Within three weeks of joining us, she had accused five separate people of abuse: not paying her what was promised, controlling her romantic life, hiring stalkers, and other forms of persecution.

We have empathy for her. Initially, we believed her too.

We spent weeks helping her get her “nefarious employer to finally pay her” and commiserated with her over how badly they mistreated her.

Then she started accusing us of strange things.

You’ve seen Ben’s evidence, which is largely the word of two people and a few misleadingly cropped screenshots. Below, we provide extensive evidence (contracts, recordings, screenshots, etc) demonstrating that the post’s claims are false, misleading, or are catastrophizing normal things. This post is a summary; we also include a ~200 page appendix of additional evidence. We also present a hypothesis for how Ben got so much wrong.

Two ways you can read this: 1) stop whenever you’re convinced because you’ve seen enough falsehoods that you no longer think their remaining claims are likely to be true, or 2) jump to the specific claims that are most important to you, and look at the evidence we provide for them. You can see summary tables of the key claims and evidence here, here, and here.

Our request as you read on: consider this new evidence you haven’t seen yet with a scout mindset, and reflect on how to update on the accuracy of the original claims.

It’s messy, sorry. Given the length, we’re sure we’ve made mistakes—please do let us know. We’re very happy to receive good faith criticism—this is what makes EA amazing.

Finally, we want to note that we have a lot of empathy for Alice and Chloe. We believe them when they say they felt bad, and we present a hypothesis for what caused their negative emotions.

Short summary overview table

ClaimWhat actually happened
Alice claimed: they asked me to travel with illegal drugs.

- False. It was legal medicine—from a pharmacy.

- Ben knew this and published it anyway.
Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Alice claimed: I was running out of money, so I was scared to quit because I was financially dependent on them (“[I] had €700 in [my] account”* etc.)

- Alice repeatedly misrepresented how much money she had. She actually had a separate bank account/​business generating (according to her) ~$3,000 a month in passive income.

- Alice told us she was an independent business owner, so she either lied to Ben, Ben misled his readers about this, or she lied to us about the business.
Evidence/​read more

Chloe claimed: they tricked me by refusing to write down my compensation agreement

- False. We did write it down. We have a work contract and interview recordings. And when she realized this accusation was false, instead of apologizing, she tried to change the topic—“it’s not about whether I had a contract or salary.”*

- We told Ben we had proof, and he refused to look at it and published this anyway.
Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Alice claimed: they paid me next to nothing and were financially controlling

We were the opposite of “financially controlling”*:

- We gave her almost complete control over a ~$240,000 budget we had raised.

- We even let her choose her own pay.

  • She chose to pay herself an annualized ~$72,000 per year—more than anyone else at the org, and far more than the ~minimum wage she earned in previous jobs.

  • This is more than most people make at OpenPhil, according to Glassdoor.

  • This puts her in the top 1% of the world’s income.

  • This doesn’t even include her business profits.

Evidence/​read more

Alice/​Chloe claimed Nonlinear failed to pay them. Later, they denied ever claiming this.

- Alice/​Chloe accused us many times of not paying them—a serious accusation. We proved this was false.

- Ben tried to walk this back last minute, saying “I no longer believe this is true”*

- However, he didn’t remove all the references to this accusation—each one is proof that they were going around telling people this falsehood.

- Even our friends thought we didn’t pay Alice anything (due to the rumors that Alice spread).

- So they lied, got caught, and are now lying again by saying they never told the first lie.

- Instead of apologizing and questioning Alice/​Chloe’s other claims based on them being caught telling him provably false and damaging information, Ben shifted the topic—“the real issue is about the wealth disparity between her and Emerson”*

Evidence/​read more

Alice claimed: They refused to get me food when I was sick, starving me into giving up being vegan

False. People heard this and thought we were monsters. We ran around for days getting her food, despite all 3 of us being sick or injured. We also had vegan food in the house that she liked, which Kat offered to cook for her (but she declined the offer).

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3

Alice claimed: we were not able to live apart from them

- Strange, false accusation: Alice spent 2 of the 4 months living/​working apart (dozens of EAs can verify she lived/​worked in the FTX condos, which we did not live at)

Evidence/​read more

Chloe claimed: they told me not to spend time with my romantic partner

- Also a strange, false accusation:we invited her boyfriend to live with us for 2 of the 5 months. We even covered his rent and groceries.

- We were just about to invite him to travel with us indefinitely because it would make Chloe happy, but then Chloe quit.

Evidence/​read more

Alice/​Chloe claimed: we could only talk to people that Kat/​Emerson invited to travel with us, making us feel socially dependent

- False. Chloe herself wrote the invite policy explicitly saying they were encouraged to invite friends/​family.

- They regularly invited people who joined us (e.g. Chloe’s boyfriend joined for 40% of the time)

Evidence/​read more

Alice claimed: they told me not to see my family, making me socially dependent and isolated

- Bizarre, false accusation given that Alice spent 1 of the 4 months with her family

- Kat encouraged her to set up regular calls with her family, and she did.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Alice/​Chloe claimed: I was paid $1,000 per month (and kept implying this was all she was paid, saying it was “tiny pay” or “low pay”)

- The $1k/​month was a stipend on top traveling the world all-expenses-paid, which was the majority of the value (~$58k of the ~$70k estimated value of the compensation package)

- It’s not the same as a salary, but it’s the comp Chloe signed up for and we clearly communicated. And when Alice asked for pure cash, we said “sure” and even let her choose how much she paid herself.

- It’s also misleading. Imagine somebody goes to the EA Hotel and then loudly shouts, “they only paid me $100 a month”. The biggest thing the EA Hotel provides is room & board.

Evidence/​read more

Alice/​Chloe painted a picture of poverty and isolation, which simply does not match the exotic, socially-rich lifestyle they actually lived.

Alice/​Chloe were the opposite of isolated—here they’re living, co-working, and partying with with dozens of EAs in condos in the Bahamas. Chloe traveled the world all-expenses paid—the $1,000 stipend was a small part of her compensation package. This is not “next to nothing” for a recent uni grad, working for a charity, as an assistant.
The gang going for a hiking adventure with AI safety leaders. Alice/​Chloe were surrounded by a mix of uplifting, ambitious entrepreneurs and a steady influx of top people in the AI safety space.
Campfire singalongs on a tropical beach under a moonlit sky. Smores, stories, laughter.
Alice, Chloe, and her boyfriend working in the pool. Chloe claimed we told her not to see her boyfriend, but we literally invited her boyfriend to live with us for 2 of the 5 months. We even paid his rent and groceries and were about to invite him to travel with us indefinitely.
The gang doing pool yoga. Later, we did pool karaoke. Iguanas everywhere.
Alice and Kat meeting in “The Nest” in our jungle Airbnb.
ClaimWhat actually happened
Alice: You didn’t pay me!

- We paid Alice consistently on time and she herself often said “Thanks for paying me so fast!”

- Once she accused us of not paying but she just hadn’t checked her bank account.

- Another time she accused us of not paying her for “many months” when she’d received her stipend just 2 weeks prior.

- She said she had to “strongly request” her salary, when really, she just hadn’t filled out the reimbursement system for months

- We have text messages & bank receipts and she’s still telling people this.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3

Chloe claimed: I was expected to do chores around the house because I was considered low value

- This was part of her job—she was an assistant. We were very upfront, and have interview recordings showing she knew this before she accepted the job.

- Imagine applying to be a dishwasher, hating washing dishes, then writing a “tell all” about how you felt demeaned/​devalued because the restaurant “expected” you to wash dishes.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3

Chloe: I felt like they didn’t value me or my time (she implied she spent all her time doing assistant work)

- Chloe spent just ~10% of her time on assistant work (according to her own time tracking), the rest was high level ops & reading

- We allocated 25% of her time to professional development (~$17,000 a year)

- This is basically unheard of for any job, much less an assistant.

- She got to read/​develop any skills she wanted 2 hours a day (leadership, M&E, hiring, etc) - a dream to many EAs.

- Kat showed so much gratitude that Chloe actually asked her to stop expressing gratitude. She said it made her feel Kat only valued her for her work. So Chloe accuses us of both valuing her work too much and too little.

- It’s not that Kat didn’t value Chloe’s assistant work, it’s that Chloe didn’t seem to value assistant work, so constantly felt diminished for doing it (despite having agreed to do it when we hired her)

- Base rate: ~50% of people feel undervalued at work.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3, evidence #4

Alice: Kat threatened my career for telling the truth

- False. Alice had spent months slandering Kat by spreading falsehoods that were damaging our reputation (see the numerous pages of evidence below).

- Kat reached out multiple times, trying to hear her side, share her own, and make some attempts at conflict resolution. Alice refused.

- However, despite being attacked, Kat had not defended herself by sharing the truth about what really occurred (which would have made Alice look very bad)

- Kat communicated to Alice: Please stop attacking me. I don’t want to fight. If you don’t stop attacking me, I’ll have to defend myself. I haven’t yet told the truth about what you did, and if I do, it will end your career (paraphrased)

- Alice painted herself as the victim and Kat out as the attacker, despite Alice being the attacker for months, who had been harming Kat by telling lies.

- Why didn’t Kat defend herself?

1) She felt compassion for Alice. She was clearly struggling and needed professional help, not more discord.

2) She was terrified of Alice. Alice had accused 28+ people of abuse—wouldn’t you be scared knowing that? She was worried Alice would escalate further. Which she did anyway.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3

Saying “if you keep sharing your side, I’ll share mine—and that will end your career” is unethical and retaliatory

- Everybody agrees that if somebody is spreading damaging falsehoods about you that it can be good and ethical to share your side and correct the record.

- If the truth would hurt the slanderer’s own career, you should still be able to share the truth

- In fact, warning the slanderer first is often preferable to going public with the truth without warning them—it at least gives them a chance to stop.

- The question is: did Alice spread falsehoods or “just share her negative experience”? (numerous pages of evidence below)

- There’s a double standard here: if you share your experience and you’re lower status, that’s “brave”, but if you do the same thing and you’re higher status, that’s “retaliation”. This epistemic norm will predictably lead to inaccurate beliefs and unethical outcomes.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

This post is long, so if you read just one illustrative story, read this one

Ben wrote: “Before she went on vacation, Kat requested that Alice bring a variety of illegal drugs across the border for her (some recreational, some for productivity). Alice argued that this would be very dangerous for her personally.”

This conjures up vivid images of Kat as a slavemaster forcing poor Alice to be a cocaine smuggler, risking life in prison. Is it true?

Parts of the story Alice didn’t share:

  • Kat requested Alice bring legal medicine from a pharmacy—specifically antibiotics and one pack of ADHD medicine—not illegal drugs. These medicines are cheap and legal without a prescription in other parts of Mexico we’d visited, and she was already going to a pharmacy anyway.

  • After arriving, Alice learned that they require a prescription there. When she told Kat and Drew this, they both said “oh well, never mind!”—it wasn’t a big deal. But then Alice just went and got a prescription anyway.

Us asking Alice to pick up some antibiotics and one pack of ADHD medicine (which we thought didn’t need a prescription in Mexico. It turns out it does in some but not all states.) We say: don’t worry about it, take care of yourself. Alice just got a prescription anyway.

Alice never argued this would be “very dangerous for her personally”:

  • In direct contradiction of her story, thinking traveling with legal medicine would be too dangerous, she flew with psilocybin mushrooms for herself to Mexico.

  • Not only that, while in Mexico, she did an actual drug deal for herself—she went out and illegally purchased, then traveled internationally with, actual recreational drugs (cannabis), again completely contradicting her story.

  • In fact, Alice never told you that she traveled with actual illegal drugs—cannabis/​LSD/​psilocybin—for herself across most borders we know of. And Kat was the one warning her not to do that! For example, Alice bought psilocybin for herself just before flying out and Kat expressed concern about her traveling with that.

  • In contrast to her “I’m a sweet, innocent girl who would never take such legal risks as traveling with drugs” framing, Alice was literally an ex-drug dealer and manufacturer. She told us she used to make a lot of money growing and distributing marijuana and psilocybin, but she was smoking so much of her own product that she stopped making money.

So, she traveled across both international borders with actually illegal drugs for herself on these flights, and accused us of asking her to travel with—legal medicine.

Alice took a small request—could you swing by a pharmacy and grab some cheap antibiotics/​ADHD medicine? - and she twisted it into a narrative of forcing her to risk prison as a drug mule, that had commenters rushing for their pitchforks.

And it’s worse than that—Ben’s post implied that we largely agreed on the facts of the story, so people condemned us viciously in the comments! But he knew we didn’t agree—when he told us this story we literally laughed out loud because it was so absurd.

We shared much of this information with Ben—he knew it was legal medicine, not illegal drugs—yet he still published this misleading version. We were horrified that Ben published this knowing full well it wasn’t true. We told him we’d share these exact screenshots with him, but he refused to look at them.

It would be bad enough if Alice told this story to one person, but she was going around telling lots of people this! We were hearing from friends Alice started telling stories like this just minutes after she met them, completely unprompted. Saying that the only reason she wasn’t succeeding was because Kat was persecuting her, that we refused to pay her, forced her to do demeaning things, etc.

Ben looked into this because Alice/​Chloe spent 1.5 years attacking usand we didn’t defend ourselves by sharing our side. People only heard stories like the one above.

No wonder people treated us like lepers, disinvited us from events, etc. Can you imagine what that would feel like? For 1.5 years, I’ve lived with fear and confusion (“Why is she still attacking me?”), sleepless nights, fear of what Alice’s next attack might be (justified, apparently), and a sludgy, dark, toxic desolation in my chest at being rejected by my community based on false rumors.

The only thing that gave me hope during this entire thing was believing that EAs/​rationalists are good at updating based on evidence, and the truth is on our side.

What is going on? Why did they say so many misleading things? How did Ben get so much wrong?

Ben’s hypothesis—“2 EAs are Secretly Evil”: 2 (of 21) Nonlinear employees felt bad because while Kat/​Emerson seem like kind, uplifting charity workers, behind closed doors they are ill-intentioned ne’er do wells. (Ben said we’re “predators” who “chew up and spit out” the bright-eyed youth of the community—witch hunter language.)

If what Alice and Chloe told Ben is true, then this hypothesis has merit. Unfortunately, they told him falsehoods. For instance, Alice falsely claims that she couldn’t live/​work apart and yet did so for 2 of the 4 months.

Why would she say something so false that she must know is false?

Maybe they’re deliberately lying? We mostly don’t think so, because they wouldn’t keep lying about things we can easily disprove with evidence. Like, Chloe said we tricked her with a verbal contract when she knows we sent her a work contract and we recorded her interviews. So why would she say that?

Maybe they’re just exaggerating and trying to share an emotional truth? Like, Alice felt starved and uncared for, and she’s trying to share that by bending the truth (even though she knows that Kat offered to cook her food, and ended up going out to get her food even though Kat was sick also)?

The thing is, they bend the truth far beyond what anyone would consider normal. For example, with the “they starved me” thing, Alice told Drew she was “completely out of food” just one hour after Kat (also sick) had offered to cook her any of the vegan food in the house that Alice usually loved and ate every day.

Kat reminding Alice about all of the vegan food in the house, which Kat offered to cook for her.
Alice, one hour later, says she’s “completely out of food”

This is quite extreme. And there are dozens of similar examples.

So what is going on? Below, we present relevant information to support an alternative hypothesis:

“2 EAs are Mentally Unwell”: They felt bad because, sadly, they had long-term mental health issues, which continued for the 4-5 months they worked for us.

Relevant mental health history

- Alice has accused the majority of her previous employers, and 28 people—that we know of—of abuse. She accused people of: not paying her, being culty, persecuting/​oppressing her, controlling her romantic life, hiring stalkers, threatening to kill her, and even, literally, murder.

- They both told us they struggled with severe mental health issues causing extreme negative emotions for much of their lives. Alice said she’d had it for ~90% of her life. She told us that she’d been having symptoms just 4 months before joining us. But she told us then, as she tells people now, she’s totally better and happy all the time.

- If she’s been suffering extreme negative emotions for most of her life, it could be that we caused the emotions this time. But it’s more likely a continuation of a longstanding issue.

- She was forced to spend a month in a mental hospital. Shortly after, while still getting her bachelor’s, Alice started advertising herself as a life coach to make money. She has offered herself to EAs as a “spiritual guru” claiming she has achieved “unshakeable joy”.

- During the period she started accusing us of strange things, she was microdosing LSD every day, only sleeping a few hours a night for weeks, speaking incoherently, writing on mirrors, etc.

- She, sadly, claimed to have six separate painful health issues. (When she’s in pain she seems to see ill intent everywhere.)

Relevant instances of acting erratically

1) Alice attempted to steal a Nonlinear project, one that she and 6 other people at Nonlinear had worked on for months. She locked us out of the project and was going around EA claiming it was solely her invention. We told her she could use it if she at least gave Nonlinear some credit for it—it would be insulting to all her colleagues who worked hard on it not to. She kept refusing to share any credit—not even a tiny mention.

2) Alice created a secret bank account and a separate organization (without telling us), and attempted to transfer $240,000 from our control despite being repeatedly told it was not her money and telling people she wasn’t sure if it was her money. However, we do not think she had malicious intent. Our best guess as to why she did this is that she was having an episode and lost touch with reality.

3) While at Nonlinear, Alice worked on a project. Then, weeks after she quit, she continued working on it without telling us, and then demanded we pay her for those weeks she worked after she quit.
4) While at Nonlinear, Alice asked Chloe to help her with a project. Then, weeks after they both quit, Alice demanded we retroactively pay Chloe extra money.

5) Alice repeatedly lied about getting job offers to try to extort more money out of us. That or else she made them up as a part of her pattern of delusions. She’s groundlessly claimed to have 4 fabricated job/​funding offers that we know of.
6) She also fabricated 6 serious falsehoods on her resume—that we know of.
7) She went around offering grants of our money and refused to even tell us who she offered them to, or how much. It was a nightmare. After weeks of trying to reason with her, we gave her a deadline to respond. She interpreted the deadline as abuse. We then found out that most of the money she’d offered to people was illegal for us to give (likely not on purpose).

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3, evidence #4

Key pattern: Alice/​Chloe confuse emotions for reality

Example: Alice was saying we literally made her homeless—a very serious accusation. We reminded her of the proof that this was false, and she said “It doesn’t matter, because I felt homeless.”

But it really does matter. This is a key pattern of Alice/​Chloe’s—they think that feeling persecuted/​oppressed means they were persecuted/​oppressed, even if they weren’t.

Evidence/​read more

Why share this? If we refute their claims point by point without explaining the patterns, it’s hard not to think “but they felt bad. Surely you did something bad.” There needs to be a plausible alternative hypothesis for why they felt oppressed.

This info is relevant because mental health issues, particularly having delusions of persecution, explain what happened better:

  • Hypothesis 1: actual persecution

  • Hypothesis 2: delusions of persecution

To support Hypothesis 2, we simply must share relevant mental health history.

Of course, just because somebody has frequent delusions of persecution doesn’t mean that they’re all false. We agree. That’s why this doc contains numerous pages of evidence to counter their unsupported claims.

And just because somebody has mental health issues doesn’t mean they’re less worthy of compassion. If they are mentally unwell, knowing that allows us to actually help them. If somebody is experiencing delusions, going after whatever “demon” they claim to see won’t actually help them.

If you learn that someone has made many false accusations, which follow a similar pattern to their previous delusions, and many are quite implausible (e.g. hiring stalkers is a weird accusation), then those patterns are relevant. And if somebody was mentally unwell most of their life, then that’s a relevant explanatory factor for why they felt bad.

Ben admitted in his post that he was warned in private by multiple of his own sources that Alice was untrustworthy and told outright lies. One credible person told Ben “Alice makes things up.”

We are horrified we have to share all this publicly, but Ben, who refused to look at our evidence, left us no choice. We do not want Alice’s accusations to destroy yet more people’s lives and more drama is the last thing EA needs right now, so we do not intend to expand the scope of accusations in this post, but we think it’s important to share a flavor for Alice’s past with the specifics redacted.

However, we want to make sure it’s clear, this is just the tip of the iceberg for the lives Alice has ruined.

Here is an illustration of how many people we know Alice has accused:

  1. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  2. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  3. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  4. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  5. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  6. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  7. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  8. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  9. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  10. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  11. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  12. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  13. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  14. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  15. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  16. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  17. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  18. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  19. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  20. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  21. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  22. Alice accused [Person] of [abusing/​persecuting/​oppressing her]

  23. Alice accused [a previous employer] of [refusing to pay her, stalking her, toxic culture, making her do unethical/​illegal things, assault and murder. Yes, she literally accused her former boss of murder.]

  24. Alice accused [a previous employer] of [abuse, toxic culture, sexism]

  25. Alice accused [a previous employer] of [abuse, toxic culture, doing illegal/​unethical things, refusing to pay her]

  26. Alice accused [a previous employer] of [being a cult, toxic culture, doing illegal/​unethical things]

  27. Alice accused [a previous employer] of [abuse]

  28. Alice accused [a previous employer] of [child abuse, assault, threatening to kill her]

  1. Alice lied about [serious thing] on her resume

  2. Alice lied about [serious thing] on her resume

  3. Alice lied about [serious thing] on her resume

  4. Alice lied about [serious thing] on her resume

  5. Alice lied about [serious thing] on her resume

  6. Alice lied about [serious thing] on her resume

  1. Alice [____] involving [police]

  2. Alice [____] involving [police]

  3. Alice [____] involving [police]

Continuing the pattern, the only public writing I can find of hers outside of social media and the forum is her publicly accusing a person of persecution.

Within weeks of joining us, she accused five separate, unrelated people of abuse. This should have been a major warning sign, but we just thought she’d been unlucky. We hadn’t known her long enough yet to spot the pattern and we were trusting.

These are just the ones we know of from a very shallow investigation. How many would we find if we spent 6 months investigating her? Then we contacted each of these people she accused of abuse and only shared their side? What do they think of Alice?

What would they think if they heard that she was once again accusing a former employer of oppressing her?

We actually completely understand why Ben and most people believed her when she accused us of things—because we believed her too. Within just weeks of first arriving, she told us how:

  • Her current employer was refusing to pay her and she’d been waiting for months for payment.

  • They had “unclear boundaries” and were disorganized and unprofessional.

  • They promised her control of projects then reneged later.

  • Her previous employer was culty and unethical.

  • Her boyfriend was trying to control her by pressuring her to stop practicing the type of poly she preferred (“no rules” relationship anarchy)

And we just believed her, because 1) we didn’t hear the other side and 2) who lies about things like that?

Also, Alice is one of the most charming people we’ve ever met. She stares deeply into your eyes and makes you feel like the most special person, like you’ve been friends forever. It’s so easy to believe her when she says these people have been being mean to her for no reason. She believes it herself and makes you feel protective of her.

We ourselves were trying to help her get paid by her “evil employer who was refusing to pay her” and congratulating her for “escaping from her culty ex-employer”.

And then she started accusing us of the same kinds of things.

Of course, she could be just very unlucky. But it’s very rare to be that unlucky. If one person is a jerk to you, then that person’s probably a jerk. If everybody’s “mysteriously mean” to you for “no reason”—she kept saying this—maybe it’s not the other people.

And anybody who knows her will notice that she appears to have endless stories of people “bullying/​oppressing/​mistreating” her, often for what seem to be strange reasons or no reason at all (e.g. she was “bullied” in university for “being too happy”. She almost got a kid expelled from school for this.)

Alice would randomly get texts saying “You ruined my life. I wish I had never met you.” Apparently Alice had destroyed that person’s marriage. She claimed to have done nothing wrong, as is her pattern.

We also wish we had never met Alice. She seems to hop from community to community leaving a trail of wreckage in her wake.

Shortly after being forced to spend a month in a mental hospital, while still in university, Alice started advertising herself as a life coach to make money. She said she stopped because she’d ruined multiple peoples’ lives. At least, this is what she told us.

It looks like she’s started up again. At a recent EAG she told people that she had figured out “unshakeable joy” years ago and offered to teach EAs. Just before she started accusing us of things that made no sense, she was again offering to be a “spiritual guru” to an EA in the Bahamas. She did not follow through because she spent the next months, according to her, “mentally all over the place”.

In other words, during the same time she’s claiming she was miserable, subjected to the worst experience of her life, she was at the same time offering to teach EAs her secret to “unshakeable joy”.

Many people reached out to us privately after Ben released his article who were afraid to come to our defense publicly because it’s dangerous to defend a witch burning on a pyre lest ye be accused of being a witch yourself. Many EA leaders are quietly keeping their heads down since FTX, because visibility in EA has become dangerous.

We had to redact quotes here because, as one person said, “I’m worried Alice will attack me like she’s attacking you.”

Alice has similarities to Kathy Forth, who, according to Scott Alexander, was “a very disturbed person” who, multiple people told him, “had a habit of accusing men she met of sexual harassment. They all agreed she wasn’t malicious, just delusional.” As a community, we do not have good mechanisms in place to protect people from false accusations.

Scott wrote a post saying that some of Kathy’s accusations were false, “because those accusations were genuinely false, could have seriously damaged the lives of innocent people.”

Of note, we tried to handle this like Scott, who minimized what was shared in public “in order to not further harm anyone else’s reputation (including Kathy’s)”. This is why we avoided publicly saying anything for the last 1.5 years. Also, once we learned about her history of accusations, we were terrified of Alice, because… well, wouldn’t you be?

Multiple people have actually recommended I get a restraining order on her. Unfortunately, given her previous behavior, it’s unlikely that would help.

Scott said: “I think the Kathy situation is typical of how effective altruists respond to these issues and what their failure modes are. … the typical response in this community is the one which, in fact, actually happened—immediate belief by anyone who didn’t know the situation and a culture of fear preventing those who did know the situation from speaking out. I think it’s useful to acknowledge and push back against that culture of fear.”

As Scott said “If someone says false and horrible things to destroy other people’s reputation, the story is “someone said false and horrible things to destroy other people’s reputation”.

“Suppose the shoe was on the other foot, and some man (Bob), made some kind of false and horrible rumor about a woman…Maybe he says that she only got a good position in her organization by sleeping her way to the top. If this was false, the story isn’t “we need to engage with the ways Bob felt harmed and make him feel valid.” It’s not “the Bob lied lens is harsh and unproductive”. It’s ‘we condemn these false and damaging rumors.’”

We need to carefully separate two questions: 1) is Alice deserving of sympathy? and 2) did Alice spread damaging falsehoods?

For 1) Yes, we feel sympathy for Alice. Seeing secret ill-intent everywhere must be horrible. We hope she gets professional help.

But if she’s going around saying that we forced her to travel with illegal drugs, we starved her, we isolated her on purpose, we refused to pay her, and other horrible false things, then the story isn’t that she felt isolated or she felt scared, the story is that she told false and damaging rumors.

And we need to not mix up our laudable compassion for all with our need to set up systems to prevent false accusations from causing massive harm. In addition to a staggering misallocation of the community’s time, Alice, Ben, and Chloe hurt me (Kat) so much I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and I cried more than any other time in my life. My hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t type responses to comments. I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.

Why didn’t Ben do basic fact-checking to see if their claims were true? I mean, multiple people warned him?

In sum, Ben appears to have believed Alice/​Chloe, unaware of their history, prematurely committed to the “2 EAs are Secretly Evil Hypothesis”, then looked exclusively for confirming evidence.

Crucially, by claiming that they were afraid of retaliation, despite the fact that they’d been attacking us for 1.5 years without us retaliating, Alice/​Chloe convinced him that he shouldn’t give us time to provide evidence, that he should just take them at their word. As a result, he shot us in the stomach before hearing our side.

His “fact-checking” seems to have been mostly talking to Alice and Chloe, Alice/​Chloe’s friends, and a few outsiders who didn’t know much about the situation.

Imagine applying Ben’s process after a messy breakup: “I heard you had a bad breakup with your ex. To find the truth, I’m going to talk to your ex and her friends and uncritically publicly share whatever they tell me, without giving you the chance first to provide counterevidence, because they told me I shouldn’t let you. Also, I paid them a total of $10,000 before looking at your evidence, so it may be difficult to convince me I wasted all that time and money.”

One example of Ben’s bias: one source told Ben lots of positive things about us. How much of that did Ben choose to include? ~Zero.

A few more examples:

ClaimWhat actually happened
Ben implied: Kat/​Emerson didn’t write things down because they’re dangerously negligent

Actually, when we heard this, we said “What? Yes we did. Just give us time to show you.” (He did not.)

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Ben: After my call with Kat/​Emerson I sent over my notes. Emerson said “Good summary!” (implying Kat/​Emerson largely agreed with the facts of the article)

- We were horrified to see that Ben cut off the second part of Emerson’s statement—“Some points still require clarification” and “You don’t want to post false things that if you’d waited a bit, you’d know not to include. This draft is filled with literally dozens of 100% libelous and false claims—and, critically, claims that we can prove are 100% false.”

- This was especially damaging because many people thought the story was complete, instead of just being one side. People were so angry at us for things “we admitted to” (we didn’t!)

Evidence/​read more

Ben: these are consistent patterns of behavior, so you should avoid Nonlinear because of these patterns

- Ben was so committed to his hypothesis, he didn’t speak to any of the people who worked for us in the 1.5 years since Alice/​Chloe left to see if any of these patterns were actual patterns.

- 100% of them left overall positive reviews.

Evidence/​read more

Ben: Alice was the only person to go through their incubator program

- False. Ben’s “fact-checking” appears to mostly have consisted of asking Alice/​Chloe’s friends, he thought Alice was the only person we incubated. Actually, there were 6 others, 100% of whom reported a positive experience. He talked to 0 of them.

- Alice & Chloe knew this was false and did not correct it.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Ben: Emerson’s previous company had a bad culture

- Actually, people liked working for Emerson. His anonymous Glassdoor ratings were similar to the 57th best place to work.
- Ben quoted a bunch of horrible Glassdoor reviews—but they weren’t about Emerson. We refuted this in the EA Forum thread itself. Then we refuted it in another thread on LessWrong. Then we told Ben directly. Then a prominent EA told Ben directly, hours before posting, and finally he hastily made changes.

- However, not only did he not apologize, despite the facts changing massively, he kept the vibe/​conclusion the same. And still, after all this, he included false information!
- Looking exclusively for negative information will lead to predictably wrong conclusions. For example, look at these negative reviews of Google (“toxic”, “exploitative”, “poor salary”) - would you predict that 97% of employees said it was a good place to work?

- Side note: the EA Forum, months later, banned someone for sockpuppeting the original unsubstantiated gossip EA Forum thread (based on Alice/​Chloe’s falsehoods) - the sockpuppets created even more false consensus.

Evidence/​read more

Acknowledging the elephant in the room: a number of reviewers advised us to at least point to the common hypothesis that Ben white-knighted for Alice too hard, given both their personalities and Alice’s background. We’ll leave the pointer, but don’t think it’s hugely appropriate to discuss further.

Longer summary table

Below you’ll find another longer summary. It’s not comprehensive—the full appendix correcting all the falsehoods (200+ pages) is here. We cover many things in the full appendix that aren’t linked to here.

It’s messy, sorry. We were originally going to literally go sentence by sentence to point out all the inaccuracies, then that got too complicated. There were just too many because Ben didn’t wait to see our evidence. Many claims are partially rebutted in different places and it’s hard to see the big picture.

Ben Gish galloped us by just uncritically sharing every negative thing he heard without fact-checking. Gish galloping means “overwhelming your opponent by providing an excessive number of arguments with no regard for the accuracy or strength of those arguments. Each point raised by the Gish galloper takes considerably more time to refute or fact-check than it did to state in the first place, which is known as Brandolini’s law.

Read on to consider which hypothesis seems more plausible:

2 EAs are Secretly Evil Hypothesis: 2 (of 21) Nonlinear employees felt bad because while Kat/​Emerson seem like kind, uplifting charity workers publicly, behind closed doors they are ill-intentioned ne’er do wells. (Ben said we’re “predators” who “chew up and spit out” the bright-eyed youth of the community—witch hunter language.)

2 EAs are Mentally Unwell Hypothesis: They felt bad because, sadly, they had long-term mental health issues, which continued for the 4-5 months they worked for us.

ClaimWhat actually happened
“Chloe was only paid $1k/​month, and otherwise had many basic things compensated i.e. rent, groceries, travel” Ben describes this as—“next to nothing” and “tiny pay” (they kept implying they were only paid $1,000, so many people walked away with that impression)

- We offered a compensation package: all-expenses-paid (jetsetting around the Caribbean) plus a $1,000 a month stipend on top, working for a charity, as a recent college grad.

- We estimated this would be around $70,000, but there was never a plan to make it “add up”. It was simple: “We pay for everything—you live the same lifestyle as us.”

- This is “next to nothing”? What happened to EA?

  • This is more than Holden earned running GiveWell in year 3.

- She was living what for many is a dream life. She was so financially comfortable she didn’t even have to think about money

- She somehow turns this into blaming Emerson for her forgetting about her own savings. We don’t think she had to spend a penny of her stipend and 100% of it went into her savings.

- Base rate: even among workers who are overpaid, 94% are not completely satisfied. Everyone wants more money.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Alice: I was paid next to nothing!

- Alice was in the top 1-0.1% of income globally—working for a charity! - yet she was paid “next to nothing”.

- She was allowed to choose how much she got paid and she chose $72,000, annualized. She also had a separate business making, according to her, around $36,000 a year. That adds up to $108,000 annualized income.

- Even before she got the pay raise just 3 months into her job, her comp was $12k stipend, room, board, travel, and medical adding up to around $73k total per year, plus $36k per year from her business. That’s $109k total, living virtually the same lifestyle as us.

- This was a huge increase in pay for her—her previous jobs were ~minimum wage.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Alice: They asked me to help around the house even when I was sick. This is abuse!

She neglected to mention that

  1. She was just a friend living rent-free at the time

  2. Everyone in the house was sick/​injured

  3. When she complained about having to help out, we said she didn’t have to

Evidence/​read more

Chloe’s first story: I was packing and Kat/​Emerson just sat there on their laptops, working on AI safety instead of helping

This was her job. She was explicitly hired to do “life ops” so that Kat and Emerson could spend more time on AI safety. She knew this before she took the job and we have interview transcripts proving it.

Evidence/​read more

Chloe’s second story: Emerson snapped at me

Emerson shouldn’t have done that. But also, Chloe snapped at Emerson sometimes too. It was a really stressful travel day for everybody. This was not an ongoing pattern and the only time we recall this happening. Kat checked in the next day and Chloe said she actually loved the chaos of traveling and it was just that she’d had a bad sleep the night before.

Evidence/​read more

Chloe’s third story: Kat threw out all of my hard work right in front of me, showing that my work hours are worth so little

- Chloe got the wrong product and Kat just hadn’t told her till then because she was trying to protect her feelings since she’d worked so hard on it. Chloe knew this and still published this story.

- Chloe got so much appreciation from Kat that Chloe actually asked her to do it less.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Chloe: I had unclear work boundaries and was pressured into working on a weekend (implies this was a regular occurrence)

“My boss offered me an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean island St. Barths, which required one hour of work to arrange the boat and ATV rentals (for me to enjoy too). But it was one hour on a weekend, so I complained, and it never happened again.”

Evidence/​read more

Chloe: I was put into complex situations and told I could do it

- This is not actually bad

- We said in the job ad that you would be a good fit if “It’s hard to phase you. You like the challenge of tackling complex problems instead of feeling stressed out about them”—
Complex situations she herself cites: ordering a taxi, asking for a ride, packing suitcases.

- This is some of the best public evidence of her being mentally unwell. These are not overwhelming tasks for most people.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Alice: they told me not to talk to locals!

Strange accusation. She asked “How can I increase my impact?” and we said, “you might try spending less time with random bartenders and more time with all the high-level EAs Kat introduced you to”.

She continued to talk to locals all the time she was with us, which was totally fine by us.

Evidence/​read more

Alice: the Productivity Fund ($240,000) was mine

- We have in writing in multiple places that Alice was the project manager of the Productivity Fund, a project under Nonlinear.

- We never did anything to make her think it was hers. She was still attending Nonlinear weekly meetings. We were still reimbursing her for expenses. We never sent her the money. We never sent her a grant agreement. We told her to not make a separate bank account for the money (she did anyway in secret). We threw a party and toasted her promotion (not grant or new charity) in front of many people. We told her if she wanted to do something outside of the scope of the project, she’d have to get our permission. Chloe, our operations manager, was handling all of her ops.

- The only thing she has to show it was “hers” is her word, where she remembers a conversation very differently than Emerson or Kat.

- This is one of at least 4 separate times we know of where she’s said she was offered money/​employment when she wasn’t.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3

Alice/​Chloe complain about “unclear boundaries” as if we kept them unclear as part of a nefarious plot.

If they wanted clear boundaries, they should have applied to Bureacracy Inc, not a tiny nomadic startup with a tiny budget. Our job ad said to expect “flexibility, informality” and “startup culture”.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Chloe: A tiny startup with a tiny budget did very little accounting!

- Chloe was literally hired to do accounting

- We did all of the accounting that we are legally and practically required to do, to the best of our knowledge

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Chloe: I gained no professional advancement from my 5 months there!

A strange accusation given that:
1) She landed a highly competitive ops job at a top EA org just ~2 months after leaving, despite being a recent college grad with no other ops experience outside of Nonlinear.
2) We let her read whatever she wanted for 2 hours a day (paid) to advance her career (this is 25% of the workday, so that’s like us investing $17,000 a year in her professional growth)

Evidence/​read more

Alice: I couldn’t work for months afterward, I was so upset.

- We have multiple text messages of her telling us that she’d been working that entire time. She told us she hadn’t even taken weekends off.

- Perhaps relevant: she was trying to get more money from us by saying she’d continued working. But when talking to Ben, she’d get money saying that she hadn’t worked.

- Either way, she lied to Ben or she lied to us.

Evidence/​read more

Alice/​Chloe: Emerson told us stories of him being a shark

- Emerson shared stories about how he almost died in shark attacks to help Alice/​Chloe defend themselves against shark attacks. They then painted Emerson as a shark.

- A different Nonlinear team member heard the same stories, but spent weeks taking notes and was grateful!

Evidence/​read more

Alice: I got constant compliments from the founders that ended up seeming fake.

Strange accusation. Alice was in a dark place and interpreted compliments as evidence that Kat/​Emerson were secretly evil.

Evidence/​read more

Alice: Emerson said, “how much value are you able to extract from others in a short amount of time?”—he openly advocates exploiting people!

He said “to have productive conversations, ask good questions to maximize learning/​value per second”

Evidence/​read more

Chloe: I was pressured into learning to drive

- Chloe was an enthusiastic consenting adult for the independence it gave her (“I was excited to learn how to drive”)

- She regularly drove on her own for fun

- She was told many times that she didn’t have to drive if she didn’t want to. We’d just pay for Ubers for her. She always insisted she did.

- We spent 1 hour a day for 2 months patiently teaching her in parking lots. She had tons of supervised practice.
- She was about to go home to get her license

- Ben said she risked “substantial risk of jail time in a foreign country” (sounds terrifying). False, it was just a $50 fine, the same amount you’d be fined for jaywalking (we told him this. The article is filled with falsehoods he refused to correct).

- She once decided to stop driving. She didn’t even tell Kat/​Em because it was so not a big deal. She just told Drew, and he was like “cool”. She started driving around a week later because she missed driving. Drew didn’t talk to her about it and Em/​Kat didn’t even know so there was no pressure to start again.
- Ben says she had a “minor collision”, framed to seem scary/​serious, but she just scraped a pole driving slowly in a parking lot.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Ben: Alice/​Chloe are “finally” speaking out. They couldn’t speak out for fear of retaliation. and didn’t want anyone to know until.

- False. Alice/​Chloe spent the last 1.5 years telling many people in EA, which seriously damaged Nonlinear’s reputation.

- Chloe and Alice have been attacking us that whole time—without us retaliating against them! They report being worried about us hiring stalkers, doing spurious lawsuits, or otherwise legally dubious actions. None of those things happened.

Evidence/​read more

Ben: 12 years ago in a dispute Emerson used “intimidation tactics”

- Someone tried to steal Emerson’s company, throwing his 25 employees on the street, with a legal loophole. Emerson said he would countersue and actually share his side (he hadn’t). Ben frames this as Emerson is the evil attacker, not the defender. Everything Emerson does is “intimidation” tactics, it doesn’t matter if he’s the one getting knifed in the chest.

- This is another instance of the double-standard: somebody is allowed to sue Emerson & share their side, but if Emerson does the same, Ben frames it as unethical and “retaliatory”.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2

Ben: “I think standard update rules suggest not that you ignore the information, but you think about how bad you expect the information would be if I selected for the worst, credible info I could share”

- The most common criticisms ex-employees have of their orgs is low pay, feeling not valued enough by management, and a “toxic” work culture.

- Most of Ben’s article is totally run-of-the-mill criticisms (but presented as very serious)

- Base rate: even among overpaid workers, 94% are not completely satisfied with their pay. Everyone wants more money.

- Base rate: ~50% of people feel undervalued at work.

- Base rate: 71% of EAs claim to have a mental illness.

- The probability that 2 (of 21) people who work for any EA org felt this way is extremely high

Evidence/​read more

“But you threatened to sue Lightcone if they didn’t give you a week to gather your evidence”

- We did that because we had tried everything else, yet Ben kept, unbelievably, refusing to even look at our evidence. What were we supposed to do? He was about to publish reputation-destroying things he would know were false if he just waited to see the evidence.

- Despite the fact that he published numerous things he knew were false (e.g. verbal agreement, accounting, vegan food, legal medicine, & many more), we decided not to sue because we think that would increase p(doom).

Evidence/​read more

What are we doing differently in the future?

- We’ve spent ages analyzing this and trying to figure out what happened and what we can do differently.

- We asked Alice and Chloe multiple times to share their side and do some conflict resolution and they refused

- The accusations are almost entirely false, misleading, or catastrophizing normal things, so we cannot improve on that front.

Nevertheless, some things we are doing differently are:

- Not living with employees & all employees being remote.

- Not using that compensation structure again.

- Hiring assistants who’ve already been assistants, so they know they like it.

Evidence/​read more

Alice/​Chloe: Nonlinear, a charity startup, had an entrepreneurial and creative problem-solving culture. However, this is actually a bad thing, because sometimes that leads to people feeling pressured and overwhelmed

- Accurate. We did have a culture of “being entrepreneurial and creative in problem-solving”. The fact that they applied to work at a startup and considered this to be bad is strange. Others have said this is the best part about being around us, our “contagious mindset around problem-solving

-The things they feltpressured” into are disproven elsewhere.

Evidence/​read more, evidence #2, evidence #3, evidence #4, evidence #5

“But Alice seems so open and nice”

Why does Alice get away with telling falsehoods so much?

- It takes months to catch her in enough falsehoods to see the pattern. In the meantime, she seems so joyful.

- She bounces from jobs/​communities quickly. Her longest job is 13 months, so by the time you start catching on, she’s already gone.

- She (well, part of her) believes what she says and she’s genuinely kind, so she’s convincing.

- She builds trust by quickly telling you things that seem very personal—“wow, she must really like and trust me to be telling me all this!”—about how other people have oppressed her, which triggers protective instincts.

Evidence/​read more

To many EAs, this would have been a dream job

Alice/​Chloe/​Ben painted a picture of Alice/​Chloe having terrible jobs and they barely survived those few months they were with us. Now, I do not deny that Alice and Chloe suffered, and I deeply wished they hadn’t. But a lot of people would have loved these jobs. Look at the job ad—“you get paid to see the world and live in endless summer, since we only stay in places where it’s warm and sunny.”

Clearly aspects of the job didn’t work for Alice (wanted 100% control and nothing less) and Chloe (found being an assistant to be beneath her). However, I’d like to describe the job to the people who would have liked it.

Chloe beat out 75 other “overqualified” (which she described herself as being) EAs who applied for Chloe’s job—getting an EA job is hard.

Imagine a job where you’re always in beautiful, sunny, exotic places. Part of the year is spent in various EA Hubs: London, Oxford, Berkeley, San Francisco. Part of the year you explore the world: Venice, the Caribbean, Rome, Paris, the French Riviera, Bali, Costa Rica.

You’re surrounded by a mix of uplifting, ambitious entrepreneurs and a steady influx of top people in the AI safety space. In the morning, you go for a swim with one of your heroes in the field. In the evening, a campfire on a tropical beach. Jungle hiking. Adventure. Trying new foods. Surfing. Sing-a-longs. Roadtrips. Mountain biking. Yachting. Ziplining. Hot tub karaoke parties. All with top people in your field.

Your group has a really optimistic and warm vibe. There’s this sense in the group that anything is possible if you are just creative, brave, and never give up. It feels really empowering and inspiring.

Alice using her surfboard as a desk, co-working with Chloe’s boyfriend.
Office in Italy
The gang celebrating… something. I don’t know what. We celebrated everything.
Alice and Chloe working in a hot tub. Hot tub meetings are a thing at Nonlinear. We try to have meetings in the most exciting places. Kat’s favorite: a cave waterfall.
Alice’s “desk” even comes with a beach doggo friend!
Chloe and Drew are on top of the world.
Working by the villa pool. Watch for monkeys!
Roadtrip through the Swiss Alps
Sunset dinner with friends… every day!
Even after Alice had been spreading horrible falsehoods about us, instead of “retaliating”, we threw a party for her.
Chloe’s office in paradise. To help her grow, we let her spend 2 hours a day (paid) learning about whatever she wanted to advance her career—very unusual for any job, much less being an assistant.
Bioluminescent bay adventure. Chloe’s unofficial title was “Chloe, Fun Lord of Nonlinear, First of Her Name”

Chloe’s job was a lot of operations people’s dream job. She got to set up everything from scratch, instead of having to work with existing sub-optimal systems. She was working on big, challenging operations puzzles that were far above the usual entry-level admin stuff that you’d get as a person who just graduated from uni.

About 10% of the time was doing laundry, groceries, packing, and cooking—and she has to do many of those things for herself anyways! At least this is on paid time, feels high impact, and means she’s not sitting in front of the computer all day. Also, everybody starts somewhere, and being in charge of setting up all of the operations for an org is a pretty great place to start, even if it does also include doing some pretty simple tasks. As a job straight out of university, this is a pretty plush job. And getting a job in EA is hard.

And she gets two hours a day of professional development. Paid! She spends the time learning things like management, lean methodology, measuring impact, etc. She gets to choose basically whatever it is she wants to learn. Getting paid to read whatever you want for 2 hours a day would be a dream for many EAs.

Even more people would have loved Alice’s job, especially entrepreneurial types. When Alice arrived, just as a friend, she was encouraged to read a book a day on entrepreneurship, to quickly skill up. She started working with us building a product that seemed likely to be very high impact. Especially since it was a project that was meant to help do decentralized, automated prioritization research, so she’d be able to use the product herself to find the idea she wanted to start.

She had tons of freedom on strategy and she was very quickly given more responsibility. Within a few weeks of starting, she was managing an intern. She received hours of mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs every single day. She was quickly introduced to a huge percentage of all the major players in the field, to help her design the product better.

Then, within just a few months of starting, she was given nearly complete control of $240,000 - so much control that she could also choose how much she got paid! Imagine being quickly given so much financial and strategic freedom. As long as it falls within the scope of the department, you have control over nearly a quarter million dollars. Whatever you want to pay yourself out of that budget, you can. If you do a good job, that $240,000 could rapidly expand to $2-3 million a year.

Especially given that there’s a chance in half a year or so that you could spin out and be an entirely separate organization. Or hand it off to somebody else after gaining invaluable experience launching a really big project, all the while with the guidance and guardrails of an experienced entrepreneur.

Sure, it’s an unorthodox payment arrangement. But, man, you are certainly living a glamorous lifestyle. Always in sunny, exotic, places. Living in beautiful homes. Going on adventures in bioluminescent bays, yachting, kayaking, and snorkeling in tropical reefs. And you’re living that glam life while working for a charity. Not bad.

And, I mean, you had been considering living at the EA Hotel, where you’d be living in much less nice conditions, wouldn’t see the sun for half the year, and wouldn’t get nearly the exposure to experienced entrepreneurs and top people in the field. Maybe you’d get a stipend of max $150 a month.

Anyways, for you, it’s not about the money. You’re an aspiring charity entrepreneur, for goodness sake! That’s not a career you go into for the money. It’s about the impact and the life you’re living. And you want a job where you’re seeing the world and doing your best to save it.

Sure, maybe when you’re older, you’ll get a job that pays more and stays in one place so you can put down more roots, but right now you’re young. You want to explore. You’re living the dream and seeing the world.

You could maybe get a job with higher pay, though your previous jobs were ~minimum wage, and Nonlinear is paying you a lot more than that, so maybe not. But none would involve the travel. None would involve the adventure.

You want to go snorkeling in tropical reefs with EA leaders but also work in Oxford and have deep conversations with your favorite EA researchers at lunch. You want to pet the cats in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul while you’re also building something really high impact. You want to be investing so much into your personal growth that you get to spend a quarter of your time just learning. You want adventure and impact.

Again—this doesn’t mean everybody would like the job. However, to paint this job as “inhumane” or as if Alice was “a fully dependent and subservient house pet”—is a dark, paranoid view of the warm, positive, uplifting environment we created.

Alice was constantly given more and more responsibility. She was given more freedom than almost any EA job and then told everybody she was kept in metaphorical shackles. She made Ben (and everybody else in the community she spent the last year telling) think that she was essentially a slave, kept under the oppressive hold of a controlling and isolating group of abusers.

[Emerson’s note: Kat paid herself $12,000 a year—half of minimum wage—for most of her charity career because she took the drowning child argument seriously. Not $1,000 a month on top of all-expenses-paid travel, adventures, villas, and restaurants - $1k/​month total. In Canada’s most expensive city. Sharing a single always-damp towel with her partner. Kat doesn’t usually bring this up because she doesn’t want to make people feel bad who won’t or can’t do the same, but I think it’s important information about her character. Say what you will about her, but she deeply cares about altruism.]

But through some combination of mental illness, daily LSD use, and a society that uncritically rewards anyone claiming to be a victim, she turned financial freedom into financial servitude. She turned gratitude into manipulation.

Yes, Alice suffered. Chloe did too. Nobody is doubting that. The question is what caused the suffering. Because for most people, having to work for an hour on a weekend, then clearing it up with your boss and it never happening again isn’t a cause for months of depression.

For most people, having a separate business bringing in $3,000 a month and being able to choose your own pay is financial freedom, not servitude.

For most people who applied to these jobs, they would be considered great jobs. And if they found out they didn’t like it, they’d just quit and do something else. They wouldn’t demand a public lynching.

Sometimes people are depressed and see everything as bad and hostile. Sometimes people are sleep deprived, taking LSD every day, in chronic pain, and start seeing plots everywhere. Sometimes people have been struggling with mental health issues for their entire life.

This was not an objectively bad job that caused them psychological harm. It was a woman who kept forgetting she was an assistant and feeling outraged when asked to do her job. She felt she was overqualified and turned that resentment on her employers. It was a woman who’s struggled with severe mental illness for over 90% of her life and continued to do so while she was with us.

Sharing Information on Ben Pace

Since the article was published, an alarming number of people in the community have come forward to report worrying experiences with Ben Pace, and report feeling frightened about speaking out because of what Ben might do to them.

As just one example, one woman had a deeply traumatic experience with Ben but is afraid to say anything, because he runs LessWrong and is surrounded by so many powerful people in the community who would defend him. She’s worried if she comes forward that he’ll use his power to hurt her career, both directly by attacking her again, or indirectly, by making sure none of her posts get onto the front page. (We’ve heard multiple reports of people having a conflict with one of the Lightcone team and then suddenly, their posts just never seem to be on the front page anymore. We don’t know if this is true.)

She asked me to not share it with Ben because she’s frightened of him, but she said it was finally time to be strong and speak up now, as long as she was fully anonymized. She couldn’t live with herself if she allowed another person to be hurt by Ben the way Ben hurt her. I ask you to please respect her privacy and if you know her, not bring this up unless she does.

She’s been struggling with mental health issues since he attacked her, unable to sleep or eat. She still, after all this time, just randomly breaks down crying on sidewalks. She even considered leaving effective altruism. She no longer feels safe at Lightcone events and no longer goes to them, despite missing the many good people in the rationalist community. It’s shaken her trust in the community and talking about it still makes her visibly upset.

She told me to not talk to Ben about it, because he takes absolutely no responsibility for the harm he’s done, and has explicitly told her so. And he shows a friendly face to people, which is how he gets away with it, all the while professing simply an interest in truth. But he’ll be smiling at you and friendly, all the while having the intention to stab you in the back. One source reported that “Ben is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

People who knew what happened to this woman confirmed that what Ben had done to her was “horrifying” and “they couldn’t believe he would do that to a person”. They were shocked at his lack of concern for her suffering and confirmed that he would probably really hurt her career if she came forward with her information.

She knows of at least one other person who’s had really worrying experiences with him. Where deep and preventable harm was happening and he just didn’t seem to care. He actually blamed the person who was being hurt! She hasn’t brought it up with the person much because she doesn’t want to stir up old hurts. She can tell it still hurts them, but they’ve managed to move on and remember the things they really care about.

She had heard about what had happened to this person before, but she thought it was probably just a one-off thing and it wouldn’t happen to her. She wishes she had paid more attention so she could have avoided her own traumatic experience. She’s still suffering. She’s still lying awake each night, replaying, over and over, the nightmare of what Ben did to her.

Another person reports “I wish I had never met Ben. He hurt me more than I even thought was possible. I highly recommend not being friends with him and if you see him at a party, I would just subtly avoid him. I hope he gets better and stops doing to others what he did to me, but as far as I’ve heard, he’s still completely in denial about the harm he’s caused and has no intention of changing.”


This information above is true to the best of my knowledge. What other worrying things might I find if I spent months investigating like Ben did?

However, this is completely unfair to Ben. It’s written in the style of a hit piece. And I believe you should not update much on Ben’s character from this.

  • Like Ben did to us, I did basically no fact-checking.

  • Like Ben did to us, I assumed ill-intent.

  • Like Ben did to us, I unfairly framed everything using emotional language to make Ben seem maximally nefarious.

  • Like Ben did to us, I uncritically shared anonymous accusations. Since they’re anonymous, Ben can’t even properly defend himself, which is why courts don’t accept anonymous hearsay.

    • Ask legal history scholars what happens when courts allow anonymous hearsay: kangaroo courts and mob justice.

  • Like Ben did to us, I didn’t give him a proper chance to respond to these accusations before publishing them.

  • I mentioned none of his many very good qualities.

  • I interviewed none of the people who like Ben, and exclusively focused on the testimonies of a small number of people who don’t like him.

    • I even left out the good things these people said about Ben, like he did to us. It reads very differently when it’s not just negative.

  • I used culture-war optimized language (victim/​oppressor) to turn people’s brains off.

  • I used wording that was technically accurate but implied “a lot of people are saying”, like Ben did to us.

I’m not yet worried about these “patterns” about Ben because I don’t know if they are patterns. I haven’t heard his side. And I refuse to pass judgment on someone without hearing their side.

Further, through using emotional and one-sided language, I made it sound like it was incredibly obvious that what Ben did was awful and you’d be a monster to disagree. However, given what I know about these allegations, I think 35-75% of EAs would think that they’re not nearly as bad as the witnesses made them out to be. The other 35-75% would think it was clearly and deeply unethical. It would depend on each allegation and how it was presented.

It would be a matter of debate, not a matter of public lynching.

At least, it would be if we presented it in an even-handed manner, investigating both sides, looking for disconfirming evidence, and not presuming guilt until proven innocent.

Also, in case you’re worried about these people, they all say they’re OK. All of the situations are either being taken care of or have ended and they’re no longer suffering and do not want to pursue further actions to prevent Ben from doing it to other people.

I could do this for anybody. Just to give one example: almost everybody has had “bad breakups” and if you only speak to “disgruntled exes” you will get a warped, distorted view of reality.

I don’t think Ben should even have to respond to these. It would also be a very expensive use of time, since in his follow-up post, he said he’s now available for hire as an investigative journalist for $800,000 a year.

At that hourly rate, he spent perhaps ~$130,000 of Lightcone donors’ money on this. But it’s more than that. When you factor in our time, plus hundreds/​thousands of comments across all the posts, it’s plausible Ben’s negligence cost EA millions of dollars of lost productivity. If his accusations were true, that could have potentially been a worthwhile use of time—it’s just that they aren’t, and so that productivity is actually destroyed. And crucially, it was very easy for him to have not wasted everybody’s time—he just had to be willing to look at our evidence.

Even if it was just $1 million, that wipes out the yearly contribution of 200 hardworking earn-to-givers who sacrificed, scrimped and saved to donate $5,000 this year.

I am reminded of this comment from the EA Forum: “digging through the threads of previous online engagements of someone to find some dirt to hopefully hurt them and their associated organizations and acquaintances is personally disgusting to me, and I really hope that we don’t engage in similar sort of tactics…though I don’t think it’s a really worry because the general level of decency from EAs at least seems to be higher than the ever lowering bar journalists set.”

As a community, if we normalize this, we will tear ourselves apart and drown in a tidal wave of fear and suspicion.

This is a universal weapon that can be used on anybody. What if somebody exclusively only talked to the people who didn’t like you? What if they framed it in the maximally emotional and culture-war way? Have you ever accidentally made people uncomfortable? Have you ever made a social gaff? Does the idea of somebody exclusively looking for and publishing negative things about you make you feel uneasy? Terrified?

I actually played this game with some of my friends to see how easy it was. I tried to say only true things but in a way that made them look like villains. It was terrifyingly easy. Even for one of my oldest friends, who is one of the more universally-liked EAs, I could make him sound like a terrifying creep.

I could do this for any EA org. I know of so many conflicts in EA that if somebody pulled a Ben Pace on, it would explode in a similar fashion.

But that’s not because EA orgs are filled with abuse. It’s because looking exclusively for negative information is clearly bad epistemics and bad ethics (and so is not something I would do). It will consistently be biased and less likely to come to the truth than when you look for good and bad information and try to look for disconfirming evidence.

And it will consistently lead to immense suffering. Knowing that somebody in the community is deliberately looking for only negative things about you, then publishing it to your entire community? It’s a suffering I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

EA’s high trust culture, part of what makes it great, is crumbling, and “sharing only negative information about X person/​charity” posts will destroy it.


In the preceding pages and our extensive appendix we presented evidence supporting an alternative hypothesis:

2 EAs are Secretly Evil Hypothesis: 2 (of 21) Nonlinear employees felt bad because while Kat/​Emerson seem like kind, uplifting charity workers, behind closed doors they are ill-intentioned ne’er do wells.

2 EAs are Mentally Unwell Hypothesis: They felt bad because, sadly, they had long-term mental health issues, which continued for the 4-5 months they worked for us.

Below we share concluding thoughts.

So how do we learn from this to make our community better? How can we make EA antifragile?

Imagine that you are a sophomore in college. It’s midwinter, and you’ve been feeling blue and anxious. You sit down with your new therapist and tell him how you’ve been feeling lately.

He responds, “Oh, wow. People feel very anxious when they’re in great danger. Do you feel very anxious sometimes?”

This realization that experiencing anxiety means you are in great danger is making you very anxious right now. You say yes. The therapist answers, “Oh, no! Then you must be in very great danger.”

You sit in silence for a moment, confused. In your past experience, therapists have helped you question your fears, not amplify them.

The therapist adds, “Have you experienced anything really nasty or difficult in your life? Because I should also warn you that experiencing trauma makes you kind of broken, and you may be that way for the rest of your life.”

He briefly looks up from his notepad. “Now, since we know you are in grave danger, let’s discuss how you can hide.

Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind

EA is becoming this therapist.

EA since FTX has trauma. We’re infected by a cancer of distrust, suspicion, and paranoia. Frequent witch burnings. Seeing ill-intent everywhere. Forbidden questions (in EA!) Forbidden thoughts (in EA!)

We’re attacking each other instead of attacking the world’s problems.

Anonymous accounts everywhere because it’s not safe anymore, too easy to get cancelled.

People afraid to come to the defense of the accused witch lest they be accused (as Scott Alexander said).

High impact people and donors quietly leaving, turned off by the insularity and drama.

Well, did a bunch of predators join overnight or is it more that we have trauma?

If you were new to EA and you looked at the top posts of all time and saw it was anonymous gossip from 2 (of 21) people who worked for a tiny charity for a few months, what would you think this community values? What is its revealed preference?

Would that community seem healthy to you? If you weren’t already part of this community, would that make you want to join?

People spent hours debating whether a person in a villa in a tropical paradise got a vegan burger delivered fast enough—would you think this community cared about scope sensitivity and saving the world (like we normally do)?

“First they came for one EA leader, and I did not speak out --

because I just wanted to focus on making AI go well.

Then they came for another, and I did not speak out --

because surely these are just the aftershocks of FTX, it will blow over.

Then they came for another, and I still did not speak out --

because I was afraid for my reputation if they came after me.

Then they came for me—and I have no reputation to protect anymore.”

So, what do we do? We have a choice to make:

Are we fragile—continuing to descend into a spiral of PTSD madness with regular lynchings?

Are we resilient—continuing to do good despite the trauma?

Or are we antifragile—can we experience post-traumatic growth and become stronger?

Can this be the last EA leader lynching, and the beginning of the EA community becoming stronger from what we’ve learned post-FTX? If we want to do the most good, we must be antifragile.

Alice, Chloe, or Ben mean well and are trying to do good, so we will not demand apologies from them. We are all on the same team. We wish them the best, we hope they’re happy, and we hope they learn from this.

As Tim Urban of Wait But Why said: “In a liberal democracy, the hard cudgel of physical violence isn’t allowed. You can’t burn villains at the stake. But you can burn their reputation and livelihood at the stake. This is the soft cudgel of social consequences. It only works if everyone decides to let it work. If enough people stand up for the target and push back against the smear campaign, the soft cudgel loses its impact.”

Conclusion: a story with no villains

I wish I could think that Alice, Ben, and Chloe were villains.

They hurt me so much, I couldn’t sleep. I cried more than any other time in my life.

My hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t type responses to comments, and people attacked me for this, saying my not responding immediately was evidence I was a witch.

Alice, Ben, and Chloe show absolutely no remorse and I don’t predict they’re going to stop. They’re in too deep now. They can’t change their minds.

Although I certainly hope they do. If they updated I think the community would applaud them, because that takes epistemic courage similar to Geoffrey Hinton updating on AI.

And yet, despite all the harm they’ve done to me and the community, I can see their good intentions clear as day. So why are they hurting us if they have such good intentions?

Most harm done by good people is either accidental or because they think they’re fighting the bad guys. And they’ve full-on demonized us.

Demonizing somebody is the best way for good people to hurt other good people. Hence them calling us “predators”, going after the “bright-eyed” youth of the community, “chewing them up and spitting them out”. This is the language of a witch hunter, not a truthseeking rationalist.

Chloe explicitly says she can’t empathize with us at all. Reflect on this.

I don’t think they’re villains. But they think we are. And you’re allowed to do all sorts of things to people if they’re bad.

And that’s just what happened. Alice/​Chloe had been telling everyone, Ben heard about it, and… monsters don’t deserve fair trials! They’ll just use their time to manipulate the system. And the two young women were afraid of retaliation!

Sure, they’d been telling lots of people in the community their false narratives for over a year and none of their strange fears of us “hiring stalkers” or “calling their families” had happened. But that doesn’t matter. You don’t stop while saving a community to check and see if there’s actually a witch. He’s the hero saving the collective from the nefarious internal traitors who must be purged.

Chloe isn’t a villain. She’s a woman who didn’t like her entry level job and wanted more money. She was a fresh graduate who felt entitled to something better. She struggled with mental health issues and blamed her feelings of worthlessness and overwhelm on Emerson and I. She took totally normal things and catastrophized them. Her story probably wouldn’t have been a scandal if it weren’t for our community’s PTSD around FTX.

Alice isn’t a villain. She’s an incredible human being who has struggled with mental health issues her entire life, and one of the symptoms is delusions of persecution—people trying to control her. This is why we’re #27 and #28 on her list of 28 people she’s accused of abuse (that we know of).

Imagine being able to choose how much you got paid and having a whole separate income stream (unrelated to your job) and yet feeling financially controlled? Imagine seeing ill-intentions everywhere?

That sounds horrible. I genuinely hope she gets the help she needs.

And finally, we’re not villains either. We paid our team what we said we’d pay them. We set it up so that they socialized with more people than the average person. We valued their time so much that we paid for Chloe to spend two hours a day doing professional development. I valued Chloe’s time so much that she asked me to stop sharing my gratitude as much. When Alice asked for a raise 3 months into her job, we let her choose her pay. We continue to have good experiences with the vast majority of people we work with.

We were not faultless. Emerson should not have snapped on that travel day and he should have apologized immediately. I should have scheduled a weekly meeting right after the conference instead of not properly talking to Alice about work stuff for three weeks, letting the misunderstanding last for so long.

But overall, it wasn’t that the job was bad or they were mistreated. They felt oppressed for some other reason. Maybe it was that Chloe hated being an assistant and found normal assistant work demeaning. Maybe it was because Alice was microdosing LSD nearly every day, sleeping just a few hours a night, and has a lifelong pattern of seeing persecution everywhere. Maybe it’s just because they’ve both struggled to be happy most of their lives and continued to do so for the 4-5 months they were with us. We’ll leave it to them and their loved ones to figure it out.

This combined poorly with our community being traumatized by FTX, being hyper-vigilant for another potential SBF. It also combined with poor epistemics because of the (unfounded) concern about retaliation. And it certainly didn’t help that Ben had already committed to paying them $10,000 before seeing our evidence.

This was a tragedy of errors. It was a bunch of well-intentioned and fallible humans trying to do good in the world. A recipe for trouble, really.

And there will be other conflicts in EA. I know of countless EA conflicts that if somebody pulled a Ben Pace, only looking for negative information attacking one side, would explode in a similarly spectacular fashion.

This doesn’t mean EA is rife with abuse, it just means that EA is rife with humans

Humans with strong moral emotions and poor social skills on average. We should expect a lot of conflict.

We need to find a better way to deal with this. Our community has been turning on itself with increasing ferocity, and we need to find a better way to recover from FTX.

Let’s do what EA does best: optimize dispassionately, embody scout mindset, and interpret people charitably.


Almost nobody is evil.

Almost everything is broken.

Almost everything is fixable.

Let’s fix this.

If you are disturbed by what happened here, here are some ways you can help

How do we prevent the methodology of exclusively seeking and publishing negative information, without fact checking, from becoming an acceptable norm? This methodology will predictably lead to incorrect conclusions because wild accusations will always be more viral than boring bank receipts and work contracts. Because looking for disconfirming evidence is vital for truth-seeking and scout mindset.

Currently, the original post is one of the most upvoted posts of all time on EA Forum and LessWrong, so now one of the first things people see about EA is a gossip column whose claims have been debunked. This reflects poorly on our ethics, epistemics, and priorities.

  1. Consider if your vote on this post, the original post (EA Forum, LessWrong), and Ben’s victory lap post (EA Forum, LessWrong), reflect your beliefs.

  2. Contribute to the discourse in the comments. It can be scary to say what you believe in these sorts of threads, but that’s also why it’s especially impactful to do so.

  3. Given what they have done, a number of people expressed to us that they think Alice/​Chloe are a danger to the health of the community and should not be anonymized. We will leave that to the community to decide.

  4. Publicly or privately say that you would respect Ben massively if he updated on this new information. Right now, he paid $10,000 and received massive karma, so the psychological pressure for him to dig in and never change his mind is immense. However, if Ben pulled a Geoffrey Hinton and was able to update based on new information despite massive psychological pressure against that, that would be an act of impressive epistemic virtue. As a community, we want to make it so that people are rewarded for doing the right but hard thing, and this is one of those times.


A big thank you to Spencer Greenberg, Neel Nanda, Nuño Sempere, Geoffrey Miller, Vlad Firoiu, Manuel Allgaier, Luca De Leo, Matt Berkowitz, River Bellamy, and others for providing insightful feedback (though they do not necessarily agree with/​endorse anything in this post).

Crossposted from EA Forum (151 points, 512 comments)