15Joined Jan 2022


University student studying math. Trying to make the world a better place.


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Hank_B's Shortform
· 1y ago · 1m read


B12 deficiency is common among people who don't eat meat, eggs, or diary and has some nasty potential results: fatigue, nerve damage, anemia, higher risk of strokes, etc.

Supplementing b12 either through pills or fortified foods seems pretty important for anyone not eating many animal products.

To explain why I retracted: I re-read your original post and noticed that you were talking about salience, and I think you're probably right that this isn't a very salient aspect of the process. At first, I thought you were saying something like 'the steps occur sequentially, so the suggestion of the post can't be implemented' which seems wrong. But 'the steps occur sequentially, so it might not occur to someone to back-track in their thinking and revise the result they got in the first step afterwards' seems probably right, although I have no idea how big of an explanation that is compared to other reasons the OP's suggestion isn't very common.

I'm confused why the process being sequential is a reason that this isn't occurring. Suppose someone was writing a RCT grant proposal and knew in advance how expensive the treatment was compared to the control. They find the optimal ratio of treatment to control, based on the post above. Then, they ask for however much money they need to get a certain amount of power (which would be less money than they would have needed to ask for not doing this).

Or alternatively, run the sample size calculation as you suggest. Convert that into a $ figure, then use the information in the post above to get more power for that same amount of money and show the grant-maker the second version of one's power calculations.

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I feel like, if we write here to communicate, accessibility is pretty important, maybe more important than the other two (or at least, not clearly less important than them). Why do you think otherwise?

What does "blow it up" mean for an EA who decides the culture is beyond fixing, but who doesn't have significant power within the community? Is it leaving the community in search for a better one to do good in?

I think my above reply missed the mark here.

Sticking with the cow example, I agree with you that if we removed their pain at being separated while leaving the desire to be together intact, this seems like a Pareto improvement over not removing their pain.


A preferentist would insist here that the removal of pain is not what makes that situation better, but rather that pain is (probably) dis-prefered by the cows, so removing it gives them something they want.


But the negative hedonist (pain is bad, pleasure is neutral) is stuck with saying that the "drugged into happiness" image is as good as the "cows happily reunited" image. A preferentist by contrast can (I think intuitively) assert that reuniting the cows is better than just removing their pain, because reunification fulfills (1) the cows desire to be free of pain and (2) their desire to be together.

This response is a bit weird to me because the linked post has two counter-examples and you only answered one, but I feel like the other still applies.

The other thought experiment mentioned in the piece is that of a cow separated from her calf and the two bovines being distressed by this. Michael says (and I'm sympathetic) that the moral action here is to fulfill the bovines preferences to be together, not remove their pain at separation without fulfilling that preference (e.g. through drugging the cows into bliss).

Your response about Pareto Improvements doesn't seem to work here, or seems less intuitive to me at least. Removing their sadness at separation while leaving their desire to be together intact isn't a clear Pareto improvement unless one already accepts that pain is what is bad. And it is precisely the imagining of a separated cow/calf duo drugged into happiness but wanting one another that makes me think maybe it isn't the pain that matters.

Spreading wild animals to space isn't bad for any currently existing humans or animals, so it isn't counted under thoughtful short-termism or is discounted heavily. Same with a variety of S-risks (e.g. eventual stable totalitarian regime 100+ years out, slow space colonization, slow build up of Matrioshka brains with suffering simulations/sub-routines, etc.)

"I really love you!"

"You mean you enjoy my company a lot?"

"Well of course, and I want you to be happy."

"I enjoy your company and want you to be happy as well, so I guess I love you too!"


That doesn't seem creepy to me. In fact, I've had this discussion with myself before (about what it means to love someone) and (1) liking them and (2) wishing them happiness, are about what I got.

As for people existing, I think the first 2 levels are clearly true regardless of axiology. As for 3, I think a hedonist could say something like "Person X gives me great pleasure, a good thing" and "Person X is happy, another good thing". All 4 of those statements (1, 2, and my revised versions of 3) seem totally fair and non-weird to me, but perhaps I'm misunderstanding you.

This is pretty amusing Matt, unsure why you've been down-voted here. More seriously, rationalization of one's preferences is a real trap!

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