HH

Henry Howard

Bio

I'm begging you to just get a normal job and give to effective charities.

Doctor in Australia giving 10% forever

Comments
113

“Slow” and “painful” very different. “Slow” yes, you could study how long it takes for freezing to kill them or stop their neurons firing, though this doesn’t seem like very useful information. “Painful” is the key and the problem: I don’t see any way toward quantifying how subjectively “painful” something is for an insect and how much we should spend to avoid that pain, hence there will always be a stalemate when it comes to implementation.

A lot of the data assumes growth and survival as your main measures of welfare/stress which is just doing the industry's yield optimisation research for them rather than welfare research. It is analogous to setting up a chicken welfare institute that tries to make bigger and longer-living chickens. A proxy of welfare, in a way, but we don't need welfare research orgs to do this work.

The other concrete data in those papers are things like: the demonstrated preference of BSF maggots for honey over sugar water, data on the optimal grinding method to kill BSF maggots most quickly, and data on optimal densities to normalise breeding behaviours. The part that is betrayed by confidence intervals is the implementation. Without any way to define or measure the value of maggot suffering with any confidence, there's no way to know whether the costs of implementing any of these changes are justified. At least with vertebrates we have some intuitions about how much their suffering matters to fall back on.

What would change my mind on the usefulness of this work is if I was shown some research from an animal welfare organisation that produced some concrete information (i.e. not qualified by massive confidence intervals) about "what is good or bad" for an animal or "what conditions they might find torturous", beyond what we can already intuit.

So far have not seen anything like this, and I simply cannot imagine what sort of experiments or work you could do to get any useful information on this.

Inform what welfare requiremens ought to be put into law when farming insects

 

Assumes confidence intervals narrower than we'll ever obtain, I think.

Yes torturing insects is bad if we could just as easily not. Don't need a 20-page report to justify that.

The part where we try to quantify suffering is hampered by the massive confidence intervals that are inherent to any discussion of insect suffering, and which I don't see being narrowed by further pondering.

I agree that the field is full of uncertainty.

The breadth of the confidence intervals in any animal suffering research, particularly once it moves away from vertebrates, makes me feel like this work won't ever lead to any actionable conclusions beyond "torturing things is bad, avoid if possible", which we sort of knew from the start.

I’ve never been able to understand how any serious consideration of insect welfare doesn’t immediately lead to the unacceptable conclusion that any cause other than the welfare of demodex mites or nematodes is almost meaningless.

How do you envision useful, practical ideas emerging from further insect/arthropod welfare work, rather than just a lot of absurd conclusions?

To me this sort of work seems to risk playing into the stereotype of the EA community as head-in-the-cloud philosophisers who care more about intellectualising than practical outcomes

It sounds like you're saying that GiveWell in general is funding constrained because it can't give out all the grants it would like to. My question was specifically whether the top charities (AMF, Malaria Consortium, Helen Keller, New Incentives) are fully-funded.

This question is important to me because I am Australian and unable to tax deduct donations to GiveWell but can tax deduct donations to the top charities.

A terrifying thought. Whales are the worst perpetrators of this but people aren't willing to discuss the uncomfortable solution:

Load more