Fermi–Dirac Distribution

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when you dig into it it seems clear that people incur costs that would be better spent on donations, and so I don't think it's good reasoning.

I’ve thought a lot about this, because I’m serious about budgeting and try to spend as little money as possible to make more room for investments and donations. I also have a stressful job and don’t like to spend time cooking. I did not find it hard to switch to being vegan while keeping my food budget the same and maintaining a high-protein diet. 

Pea protein is comparable in cost per gram protein to the cheapest animal products where I live, and it requires no cooking. Canned beans are a bit more expensive but still very cheap and also require no cooking. Grains, ramen and cereal are very cheap sources of calories. Plant milks are more expensive than cow's milk, but still fit in my very low food budget. Necessary supplements like B12 are very cheap.

On a day-to-day basis, the only real cooking I do is things like pasta, which don’t take much time at all. I often go several weeks without doing any real cooking. I’d bet that I both spend substantially less money on food and substantially less time cooking than the vast majority of omnivores, while eating more protein.

As a vegan it's also easy to avoid spending money in frivolous ways, like on expensive ready-to-eat snacks and e.g. DoorDash orders. 

I haven't had any health effects either, or any differences in how I feel day-to-day, after more than 1 year. Being vegan may have helped me maintain a lower weight after I dropped several pounds last year, but it's hard to know the counterfactual.

I didn't know coming in that being vegan would be easy; I decided to try it out for 1 month and then stuck with it when I "learned" how to do it. There's definitely a learning curve, but I'd say that for some people who get the hang of it, reason (1) in Michael's comment genuinely applies.

a brazenly made-up number

I said a specific number for two reasons: to express my personal opinion and to ask if the author disagrees. I thought that was clear. Without saying a number, I would not be able to check if there is any disagreement.

what kind of evidence would change her mind

My comment was not about presenting evidence or changing minds about veganism. I agree with the sentences I quoted and with what you wrote in your second and third paragraphs. But, even true statements can be misapplied. Would you object to a vegetarian saying "a single bite of meat can kill you"? I would in most contexts.

> "Some cultures don't eat meat" does not in fact prove that nobody has nutritional deficiencies from not eating meat
Where did I say that nobody has nutritional deficiencies from not eating meat?

Is there a reason this comment got a pretty big strong downvote? I'm willing to hear reasons why the sentences I quoted are relevant in level-headed discussions about vegan advocacy, and why they couldn't be substituted with "some individuals may struggle to maintain a healthy diet as vegans."

Some people are already struggling to feed themselves on an omnivore diet, and have nothing to replace meat if you take it away.

This statement seems a bit exaggerated and emotionally charged. Do you think that having literally “nothing to replace meat if you take it away” is a serious problem for more than, say, one in 10k[1] people? Meat is not known for being particularly cheap or easily available. It doesn’t grow on trees. More than a billion people live without it. Even when it comes to protein, grains and legumes are a cheaper source than meat. 

Does this sentence refer to people like the small percentage of Inuit who still hunt for most of their food? Vegan outreach is not targeted at such people, so it doesn’t seem relevant to bring it up.

Maybe by “some people” you did mean something like “one in 10k” or way fewer people in which case the claim could be true. But then it’s useful to make that clear. The way it’s written, it sounds like the purpose of the sentence is mostly to generate an emotional reaction in the reader. A vegetarian could say “a single bite of meat can kill you.”  It would be a true sentence because you can get fatal food poisoning from a single bite of meat. But it would have little place in serious, level-headed discussions. And again, people who actually have the problem you described are not the target of vegan advocacy, so it's not clear why you're bringing this up.

Maybe what you meant to say was “some people would have a harder time following a healthy diet without animal products.” But if so, why didn’t you write that instead?

Animal products are incredibly nutrient dense. You can get a bit of all known nutrients from plants and fortified products, and you can find a vegan food that’s at least pretty good for every nutrient, but getting enough of all of them is a serious logic puzzle unless you have good genes. 

This claim also seems to be a bit overstated and emotionally charged. I guess it could be technically true if the vast majority of people “have good genes” according to your definition, but the way you write it makes it sound like having “good genes” is an exception.  What nutrients specifically are you concerned about? B12 and multivitamins are extremely cheap. This pea protein powder with good reviews is as cheap per gram of protein as chicken breast at my local Costco, and very protein-dense. This makes it cheaper than almost all animal protein sources. Grains and legumes are even cheaper per gram of protein but less protein-dense. Eating a few cheap pills each day and a scoop of protein powder or legumes doesn't sound like “a serious logic puzzle.”

Also, how are animal products “incredibly nutrient dense”? What nutrients are you referring to? Do you mean per calorie, or per dollar, and compared to what? Micronutrients are much cheaper in supplements than in animal products. 

Food allergies and digestion issues mean lots of people struggle to feed themselves even with animal products; giving up a valuable chunk of their remaining options comes at a huge cost.

This sentence has the same hyperbole problem. “Struggle to feed themselves” conjures images of people who literally struggle to get enough calories to survive. Some people do struggle to get enough calories to survive because they’re allergic to a lot of foods, but they're not the target of vegan advocacy. This problem is incredibly rare among wealthy young Westerners. What you probably meant to say is that some people have a hard time having a perfectly healthy diet because of their food allergies. In which case you should just have said that instead. 

  1. ^

    I would be surprised if the claim was true for anywhere near that number of people.

When I asked him about [why Nonlinear did not legally employ Chloe], Ben told me that the problem was related to difficulties sorting out visas: in particular, Chloe would be paid once she got an H-1B visa, which she was expected to do all the application for, both employer-side and employee-side. I believe this to be extremely abnormal. The H-1B process is immensely complicated, and it’s never certain that even the most qualified person will be able to get an H-1B. Even setting aside whether it’s legal to do so, you shouldn’t hire someone assuming that they’ll be able to get an H-1B soon and straighten out the legalities—it’s all too likely they won’t be able to. It’s very strange to hire a person to do both the employer and the employee side of the petition for a visa that she can’t be hired without. However, Ben spoke to me shortly before publishing and I didn’t have time to check with Nonlinear, so take this with a grain of salt. It does provide an alternate explanation for why Chloe at least was employed under the table.

If true, this is very concerning and demonstrates astounding naivety about immigration law. Hiring an unauthorized worker in the United States can be a criminal violation, and visas such as H-1B do not grant retrospective authorization for work done before the visa was approved. 

Also, an H-1B visa would not have permitted Chloe to perform household chores, such as cleaning and doing the groceries. There are very stringent rules about what an H-1B worker is allowed to do. H-1B is a visa for specialty occupations that typically require a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience and does not allow workers to perform duties outside of their specialty occupation.

Also, H-1B workers typically need to receive high wages. According to the Department of Labor, they cannot be paid less than the "local prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment." I think Chloe's work arrangement would likely fail to meet this rule too. 

Not sure if someone already brought up these issues, but I noticed a few bugs in the forum:

  • Karma notifications don't reliably clear up after I check them, or even when I click on the comments in the notifications. Most of the time, it seems to take 3-4 refreshes for the notifications to clear up.
  • The "See in context" button that appears when you access a comment via its permalink wasn't working reliably for a while, making it almost impossible to find some comment threads in this post. This seems to have been fixed, but I'm not sure if it was a reliable fix or if it's just flaky.
  • When you click on "comments" at the top of your post, it doesn't take you to the comment section, but to the last few paragraphs of the post, so you have to scroll down a bit more to see the comments.
  • Today I tried to post a comment and it was posted twice.

I'm not a fan of the fact that this market resolves YES if there's a settlement. A settlement is not an admission of guilt. Lawyers often tell defendants to settle lawsuits even if they're completely innocent. So this market mostly captures whether NL would get some financial compensation from the lawsuit, not whether Lightcone/Ben would be found liable for defamation.

the section 'Avoidable, Unambiguous Falsehoods' contains mostly claims that are, to the best of my knowledge, not actually falsehoods, but are correct

(Emphasis mine)

Even if your claim is correct, that doesn't make the situation much better. It's not sufficient for most of the egregious claims Ben Pace made to have been correct -- a single false and egregious claim can be very damaging and constitute libel.

Thank you for this. I think Nonlinear made several poor stylistic choices in their response, which likely resulted in many people giving up on reading their post before seeing the evidence against some of Ben Pace's egregious claims. Your post does a better job of clearly and forcefully arguing that Ben Pace's post was misguided than their response did. 

I think this section is really quite clear. We have one report from Alice saying that she quit being vegan. We directly include, in the next paragraph, the fact that Nonlinear disputes this. I really don't think we misled anyone.

I strongly disagree. Alice's and Nonlinear's perspectives are portrayed with very different implicit levels of confidence in those paragraphs. Alice's perspective is stated as a fact -- "nobody in the house was willing to go out and get her vegan food," not "Alice says nobody in the house was willing to go out and get her vegan food." In contrast, Nonlinear's perspective is shared as "[Nonlinear] says [x]." 

I think most readers who trust Ben to be truthful would assume, from the way those paragraphs were worded, that Alice had much better evidence to support her claims, and that Nonlinear was doing some slightly deceitful reputational management by countering them. But that isn't what turned out to be the case:

  • Nonlinear has evidence that on December 15, they had oatmeal, peanuts, almonds, prunes, tomatoes, cereal, an orange, mixed nuts, and quinoa (which Kat offered to cook) in the house.
  • On the same day, Kat had successfully purchased mashed potatoes for Alice.
  • On the next day, they apparently went out and purchased both Panda Express vegan noodles and vegan burgers for Alice.
  • At some point, Emerson went out and tried to purchase Alice more food despite his knee injury, but he couldn't find the very specific items she requested.
  • Then, on December 18, it looks like Alice's first non-vegan meal was a vegetarian pizza she ordered (rather than non-vegan food already in the house). It looks like she ordered it right after Kat reminded her that they already had vegan noodles in the fridge.
  • On top of all of this, apparently everybody in the house was either sick or injured, but Ben's post only mentions that Alice was sick.
  • It seems that Alice/Ben have no evidence to counter any of the points above.

So the original claim that was stated as fact ("nobody in the house was willing to go out and get her vegan food") seems very wrong. Which is sad, because it's a very serious accusation that most people would assume was not made lightly.

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