I’ve been a vegetarian (nearly vegan) for 6 years.
As veteran vegetarians (vetereginarians?) know, vitamin B12 isn’t really found in plants, and so people who don’t eat animals are often deficient in this important nutrient.
I’m not exactly sure how this information eluded me for all this time, but I only found out about the whole B12 thing a few months ago…
An EA friend of mine gently told me “Aaron, I’m really glad you’re a vegetarian, but that means you gotta take B12 supplements.”
He told this to me out of a good natured desire to help me. He knew something about health and wellbeing that I didn’t know, and he told me about B12 because he likes me and wants what’s best for me.
We do this for our friends...
Note on history of this post: I wrote a draft of this post last (2020) summer when I was both more obsessed with covid-19 related questions and interested in exploring my fit for research into philosophy/macrostrategy, and this post has strong echoes of both. Since then I’ve decided that there’s greater comparative advantage and personal fit for me in empirical cause prioritization, at least in the short term. I ended up deciding I should publish it anyway, and have done <15 minutes of editing between August 2020 and today.
There are two important caveats:
This article is also posted on my blog.
Update 2021-05-09: Upon checking data more carefully, I have revised the chances of becoming a professor in math.
A grievance expressed by some PhD students and Postdocs is that science works like a pyramid scheme: Young scientists are encouraged to invest into building scientific careers although the chances at remaining in science are extremely slim. ... The super-prolific authors at the top of the pyramid ... are usually heads of large institutes with many subgroups and large numbers of PhD students, while the bottom of the pyramid is populated by PhD students and Postdocs ... A new index, the Ponzi factor, is proposed to quantify
Fanaticism can be described as the position that it's morally better to reject "a certainty of a moderately good outcome, such as one additional life saved" in favour of "a lottery which probably gives a worse outcome, but has a tiny probability of some vastly better outcome (perhaps trillions of additional blissful lives created)"
( Wilkinson, 2021 ). Some have argued that fanaticism should be rejected and that this might undermine the case for certain philosophical positions, such as longtermism.
See also the concept of
"Pascal's mugging". Animal Charity Evaluators. 2016. Impact calculator . An interactive app that calculates the impact of leafleting and online ads on animal welfare, given various assumptions.
Lewis. 2016. Initial grants to support corporate cage-free reforms .
A report estimating the cost-effectiveness of corporate cage-free reforms.
W. & Meissner, D. 2020. Cause Prioritization: Norwood, Bailey & Jayson Lusk. 2011. Compassion, by the pound: the economics of farm animal welfare . New York: Oxford University Press.
An attempt to apply economic principles to illuminate various moral and practical issues surounding farm animals.
Project. 2015. Animal product alternatives .
An investigation of animal product alternatives as a possible intervention for reducing animal suffering.
Jacy. 2016. Why animals matter for effective altruism .
An essay making the case for animal welfare as a top focus area of the effective altruism community.
Whittlestone, Jess (2017)
Cause Profile: Animal Welfare, Centre for Effective Altruism .
This post doesn’t necessarily represent the views of my employers.
There are many people who have the skills and desire to do EA-aligned research, or who could develop such skills via some experience, mentorship, or similar.
There are many potentially high-priority open research questions that have been identified.
And there are many funders who would be happy to pay for high-quality research on such questions.
Sounds like everything must be lining up perfectly, right?
In my view, the answer is fairly clearly “No”, and getting closer to a “Yes” could be very valuable. The three ingredients mentioned above do regularly combine to give us new, high-quality research and researchers, but:
I am compiling a list of post-COVID pandemic preparedness (PP) initiatives, especially big ones. I'm interested in government/intergovernmental and philanthropic investments, or planned investments. I am casting a wide net, please err on the side of adding something in the comments.
Ultimately, I'm interested in the extent to which the proposed work is likely to reduce GCBRs.
The things I have come across so far: