303 karmaJoined Oct 2018


I 'disagreed' with this, because I don't think you drew enough of a distinction between purchasing animals raised on factory farms, and purchasing meat in general.

While there might be an argument that the occasional cheeseburger isn't that "big of a deal", I think purchasing a single chicken raised on a factory farm is quite a big deal. And if you do that occasionally, stopping doing that will probably be pretty high up on the list of effective actions you can take, in terms of impact to effort ratio.

Thanks for this write up!

You might already be aware of these, but I think there are some strong objections to the doomsday argument that you didn't touch on in your post.

One is the Adam & Eve paradox, which seems to follow from the same logic as the Doomsday argument, but also seems completely absurd.

Another is reference class dependence. You say it is reasonable for me to conclude I am in the middle of 'humanity', but what is humanity? Why should I consider myself a sample from all homo sapiens, and not say, apes, or mammals? or earth-originating life? What even is a 'human'?

Makes sense, thank you for the reply, I appreciate it!

And good to know you still want to hear from people who don't meet that threshold of involvement, I wasn't sure if that was the case or not from the wording of the post and survey questions. I will fill it in now!

Are you wanting non "actively involved" EAs to complete the survey?

The definition of "active involvement" is given as working >5 hours per week in at least one EA cause area, and it reads like the $40 is only donated for people in that category? Suggesting maybe these are the only people you want to hear from?

This seems quite strict! I've taken the GWWC pledge and I give all my income to EA causes above a cap. I also volunteer with the humane league, probably spending a few hours a month on average doing stuff with them. And I check the EA forum pretty regularly, even commenting sometimes! But I definitely don't spend 5 hours of my time a week working on the causes from that list, so can't honestly describe myself as an "actively involved" EA in answer to that question.

If the survey's not for me, then that's obviously fine, it's your survey! Can't help feeling a bit disappointed that I don't qualify as "actively involved" though! Maybe a survey for "EAs involved in direct work" would be a kinder way of phrasing it?

You've made some interesting points here, but I don't think you ever discussed the possibility that someone is actually voting altruistically, for the benefit of some group or cause they care about (either helping people in their local area, people in the rest of the country, everyone in the world, future generations, etc).

Is it really true that most voters' behavior can be explained by either (i) self-interest, or (ii) an 'emotionally rewarding cheer for their team'..? I find that a depressing thought. Is no one sincerely trying to do the right thing?

If you are voting altruistically, then the number of people affected by the outcome of an election is big enough to start outweighing the tiny chance that your vote will change the result, in expected value terms.

Thanks for this summary, a really interesting read!

This is an interesting analysis that I haven't properly digested, so what I'm about to say might be missing something important, but something feels a bit strange about this type of approach to this type of question.

For example, couldn't I write a post titled "Can AI cause human extinction? not on priors" where I look at historical data on "humans killed by machines" (e.g. traffic accidents, factory accidents) as a fraction of the global population, show that it is tiny, and argue it's extremely unlikely that AI (another type of machine) will wipe us all out?

I think the mistake I'd be making here is lumping in AGI with cars, construction machinery, etc, into one single category. But then I imagine the people who worry about extinction from war are also imagining a kind of war which should belong in a different category to previous wars.

What's your take on this? Would the AI post be actually valid as well? Or is there an important difference I'm missing?

I don't know much about the Nestle example, but in principle yes I think so.

I think the same would apply to any case where the production of each individual product does marginal harm. In that case a single individual can choose not to purchase the product and therefore have a marginal impact.

And maybe these kind of boycotts are more common than I suggested in the original answer, but it definitely applies to veganism.

This is just a quick answer to point out that veganism (which you mention in the question) is a bit different to other kinds of boycotts.

In a conventional boycott, you refuse to purchase certain kinds of products until the organisation(s) who sell them change their ways. I don't know much about how effective those kind of boycotts tend to be (although I think there are some famous examples of where large scale well organised boycotts seem to have produced some powerful results, e.g. montgomery bus boycott).

But veganism isn't just about pressuring organisations to make some policy change. You don't need large numbers of people taking part in order to have an impact. Each individual vegan who stops buying animal products will lower demand for animal products, and therefore reduce the number of animals who are raised for food (in expectation). It's not a binary "stop factory farming" or bust. Every extra vegan reduces the number of animals being raised on farms (in expectation).

Load more