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Browsing "The Good It Promises, the Harm it Does", there's mention in the introduction that EA is prominent in animal advocacy. I'm curious about how true that is.

Where should I be looking to find out? Should I read this critical book to learn more?




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I think the book does a great job at explaining how people feel about EA in the animal advocacy movement but not the aggregate effect. I think a lot of times it makes wrong assumptions about counterfactuals when it accuses EA of outcompeting for talent and funding. A lot of the counterfactuals of non-EA involvement is something like imagining EA funding to causes that existed pre-EA cause prioritisation e.g. ACE moved X amount of money that money would have gone to us instead (vegan food banks, animal sanctuaries etc.) that I don't think are true for obvious reasons. 

I recommend probably chapters 2, 3, and 11 if your goal is to understand flashpoints of EA meeting traditional advocacy. 

Thank you for the chapter pointers.

You mention obvious reasons. The reasons are not obvious to me, because I am ignorant about this topic. Do you mean that these critics are being self-serving and that some animal advocacy orgs lost funding for other reasons than EA competition or influence?

The book's introduction proposes:

  1. sanctuary X lost funding because of EA competition and other EA influence.
  2. legal cases to free animals lose some impetus because without a sanctuary for a freed animal, an abused animal could suffer a worse fate than their current abus
... (read more)
Disclaimer: I follow animal welfare news as a hobby and out of curiosity so I definitely am getting things wrong on the object level. Please feel free to push back. A lot the analysis relies on empirically unproven claims as to the counterfactual. A few examples: 1. In arguments against alt-proteins the authors argue that a theoretical problem with impossible meats is that they drive more meat consumption because people who would have become vegans become flexitarians (which I guess is a transitive consumption jump I don't buy) or that a family with a vegan teenager is more likely to go to burger king because impossible burgers mean the teenager won't throw up a fuss about going. I think I just think the substitution effect doesn't work like that because I can't imagine the conditions to be: no. of vegan consumers  success rate of moving family > no. of reducetarians  * consumption reduction by substitution of meal 2. On the institution level it's something like sanctuaries lose funding and the value of cows roaming is a value that can't be measured in QUALYs compared to chickens. The EA memeplex around animal welfarism means young would be activists go towards EA rather than animal sanctuaries. But my thinking is that EA brought in new people and didn't counterfactually reduce the number of people there. 3. On the funding level a lot of it is anecdotes about being put off that EAs won't fund people they meet at conferences. For instance a lot of the sanctuary arguments follow the logic ACE brought in 3.5 million and therefore the counterfactual is that if ACE took in sanctuaries ranked my sanctuary highly then I would be rolling in it. But I think the mistake lies in the fact that ACE isn't causing people to move by designation signalling alone but moving donors by showing the research and the donors already held EA type priors on welfare and therefore donate. The legal case stuff I found the most confusing counterfactually: 1. A lot of the argumen
Noah Scales
Well, thank you for the helpful follow-up. I went ahead and bought the book, and will read it. I have browsed three articles and read two through. The first article was "Animal advocacy's Stockholm Syndrome", written by several authors. The tone of that article is positive toward EA, starting off with "It's time for Effective Altruists in the farmed animal protection movement to expand their strategic imagination, their imagination of what is possible, and their imagination of what counts as effective. ... Effective Altruist support has brought new respect and tractability to the neglected plight of farmed animals, and we ... are grateful. We write this essay as allies." And then they write about difficulties in getting metrics thinking to apply to systemic change efforts in animal advocacy, and yes they do mention EA homogeneity as reason to expand diversity within EA and so develop new perspectives within it. I expect the calls for inclusiveness and diversity are a theme throughout the book. The second article that I read was "How 'alternative proteins' create a private solution to a public problem" by Michele Simon, a veteran of the vegan food and animal rights movement. Simon suggests that increasing investment in vegetarian meat replacements results in increasing profits for big food companies but not changes in the consumption behavior of existing meat eaters. Instead, the vegetarian meat replacements attract vegetarians to brands or restaurant chains. The article mentions that vegetarian options on a restaurant menu handle the "veto vote", that one person in a group who can't eat meat. Simon claims that offering a vegetarian option can result in more meat consumption at a restaurant like McDonalds as opposed to somewhere else serving pasta or salad or another option with less meat. However, I suspect that anyone willing to eat at McDonalds will eat a comparable meat meal at another restaurant (for example, Burger King) if a veto vote counts. Bringing vege
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