David T

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Interesting, you're clearly more familiar with Bregman than I am: I was thinking of it in terms of the social reinforcement in finding interesting cause areas and committing to them thing he appears to be trying to do rather than his philosophy.

There's definitely a tradeoff between wide reach and rigour when writing for public audiences, but I think most people fall short of rigour most of the time. But those who claim exceptional rigour as their distinguishing characteristic should definitely try to avoid appearing to be more cliquey and arbitrary in their decision making than average...

When it comes to someone like Pinker it's the tone that irritates me more than the generalizations, to the point I'm even more annoyed when I think he's right about something! If Bregman sometimes sounds similar I can see how it would grate.

Based on your background and posts on here, I think this is a shame.

And I say that as someone who has never called himself an EA even though I share its broad goal and have a healthy respect for the work of some of its organizations and people (partly because of similar impressions to the ones you've formed, but also because my cause area and other interests don't overlap with EA quite as much as yours)

Hope you continue to achieve success and enjoyment in the work you do, and given you're in Brussels wondered if you'd checked out the School for Moral Ambition which appears to be an EAish philosophy plus campaigning org trying to expand from your Dutch neighbours (no affiliation other than seeing it discussed here)

Make the argument on the merits for why they are bad scholars making provably false arguments, like we do with creationists, anti-vaxxers, and 9-11 truthers, or let them talk

This feels like a description of how you want reality to be rather than how it actually is. Prominent creationists, anti-vaxxers or 9-11 truthers generally don't find scientists, engineers or political scientists queuing up to debate them or intellectuals queuing up to hear them out either and not because the strength of the evidence favours them. More to the point: if a conference on an apparently unrelated subject like prediction markets announces a lineup with an unusually large number of creationists, anti-vaxxers or 9-11 truthers the discussion will definitely be around why those people were selected and whether they should have been rather than rehashing old arguments about whether they have a point.

Likewise, if Manifest chose for some reason to stack their attendee list with people who were unusually outspokenly 'woke' or raving Stalinists[!] and the feedback was that they didn't deserve a speaking slot on the basis of their social media obnoxiousness or their presence attracted the wrong sort of people, it wouldn't say anything either way about the validity of their arguments. Nor does the fact they chose not to platform those sort of people.

You don't pick truth when you pick your speaker lineup, you pick your audience.

In the case of someone like Hanania he's not actually producing scientific research related to his political targets anyway, and I doubt the attendees who allegedly spent the social hours of the conference testing reactions to the word 'fag', looking for opportunities to bring up race and IQ in the conversation and inviting people to Curtis Yarvin's afterparty if they like what they hear are behaving that way because they're unusually good at following the evidence rather than the herd. 

When the context is the indictment of Daniel Penny for the murder of a black panhandler who was "harassing people in subways" by a suit-wearing black district attorney who also doesn't fit the description of "woke activist" particularly well, it feels like interpreting a not-particularly-ambiguous sentence in a maximally disingenuous way to suggest that the race the people referenced had in common was a non factor and Hanania clearly meant the "woke activism" they didn't. That's even before considering the compatibility of the "animals" label with Hanania's longstanding overt white supremacist beliefs. 

David T

And even if it were possible to "balance out", the examples given don't exactly fill me with confidence this was given serious consideration. Someone known primarily[1] for being an angry culture warrior like Hanania isn't "balanced out" by the presence of "gracious" longtermists who are unlikely to have written anything racist,[2] he'd "balanced out" by getting a culture warrior from the other side, whether in open debate or purely speaking about markets but making it clear the organizers definitely weren't endorsing a particular side...

  1. ^

    The Guardian may not always capture the nuance, but there's a difference between inviting someone known primarily for his controversial views who incidentally also favours prediction markets and inviting, say, notable prediction market proponent Robin Hanson who incidentally also said questionable things in the past

  2. ^

    Indeed if I wanted to organize a conference with the explicit purpose of covertly promoting fringe views to a largely unrelated audience (which I don't think was actually the case here FWIW), this is exactly how I'd stack the speakers for faux balance: a few people on my side to insinuate the fringe views and a bunch of harmless intellectuals talking about unrelated subject matter to lend the fringe views an air of respectability.

Thanks for sharing this.

I'm not sure that the question about the worst suffering alone is adequate to establish a welfare range or justifies the headline claim (which adds valence symmetry, scale linearity and the assumption that the human and broiler chicken are being rated on the same scale, rather than an entirely separate 'most possible happiness for a chicken'  scale. I think it's likely that a major factor behind animal welfare enthusiasts rating the suffering of farmed animals lower than people uninterested in animal welfare is the animal welfare enthusiasts are much more likely to consider the happiness ranges similar or equivalent to human ones...). If you'd asked about the other end of the welfare range - the happiest humans/birds/shrimp/flies in existence - I don't think you'd have got the same confidence weighted median responses either. 

Once you dispense with assumptions participants apparently weren't asked to make, survey responses are broadly consistent with the view that "torturing animals is bad because they can experience a lot of pain" and "battery chickens' lives are pretty uncomfortable compared with free range chickens but really not that bad or at all comparable to the lives of humans who eat them" which seems more representative of what the average member of the public thinks than human-chicken equivalence, especially given the revealed preference of most Belgians for eating poultry.

Agree. Rejecting the argument because it double counts feels a bit like the "shouldn't you be attributing some/most of the impact to the people that did the direct work" objection to estimates of how many lives your money can save.

I think everyone knows it's a counterfactual claim contingent on you actually being a major influence on that person and not karmic accounting that assigns yourself all the credit

That said, it's still a dubious approximation to say it 'doubles' your impact as it really depends on relative donation sizes of the people you persuade. That means it can be much more than double if you earn less than the people that listen to you, of course!

Strongly agree. A discount rate calculator with accompanying explanations emphasizing that - where practical - giving away money now is better because of inflation and compounding returns on saving lives or solving problems (and uncertainty about whether you'll stick to your pledge!) but let people trade that off against the reality they'd have a lot more disposable income after paying significant interest on loans/mortgages or realistic near term career progression

(obviously discount rate calculation isn't for everyone and isn't something I'd put on the main page, but for some people it's illuminating)

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