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
96

Doesn't pass the sniff test for me. Two concerns:

  1. Every vegetarian I've met or heard of is vegetarian because of either a) animal welfare, b) climate change or c) cultural tradition. It seems very unlikely that any of these factors could be strongly genetic.
  2.  They're determining genetic heritability by comparing identical twin pairs with non-identical twin pairs (i.e. if the identical twins are more similar in their preferences than non-identical twins, they assume that there's more of a genetic component). I imagine that there could be lots of confounders here. Growing up as an identical twin is a different experience to being a non-identical twin. There could be different environmental factors between the two situations (e.g. maybe identical twins tend to feel closer and more closely mimic each other's behaviours/choices).


 

If any of these think tanks had good evidence that their strategy reliably affected economic development, the strategy would quickly be widely adopted and promoted by the thousands of economic development researchers and organisations striving to find such a strategy. Economic development is not a neglected or underfunded field.

Development economics is a full-fledged academic field. Very intelligent people have been working very hard on finding way to improve economic development for many years. Unlikely that outsiders on an internet forum will see neglected solutions.

Would be ecstatic to be proven wrong. In the meantime this sort of post makes the community look arrogant and out of touch.

 

The error bars on the Rethink Priorities' welfare ranges are huge. They tell us very little, and making calculations based on them will tell you very little.

I think without some narrower error bars to back you up, making a post suggesting "welfare can be created more efficiently via small non-human animals" is probably net negative, because it has the negative impact of contributing to the EA community looking crazy without the positive impact of a well-supported argument.

I think you could say this about any problem. Instead of working on malaria prevention, freeing caged chickens or stopping climate change should we just all switch to working on AI so it can solve the problems for us?
I don't think so, because:

a. I think it's important to hedge bets and try out a range of things in case AI is many decades away or it doesn't work out

and

b. having lots more people working on AI won't necessarily make it come faster or better (already lots of people working on it).

This seems to rest heavily on Rethink Priorities' Welfare Estimates. While their expected value for the "welfare range" of chickens is 0.332 that of humans, their 90% confidence for that number spans 0.002 to 0.869, which is so wide that we can't make much use of it.

Seems to be a tendency in EA to try to use expected values when just admitting "I have no idea" is more honest and truthful.

Most suffering in the world happens in farms.

 

You state this like it's a fact but it's heavily dependent on how you compare animal and human suffering. I don't think this is a given. Formal attempts to compare animal and human suffering like Rethink Priorities' Animal Welfare Estimates have enormous error bars.

Worthy being cautious in a world where ~10% of the world live on <$2 a day.

It kills ~350,000 people a year. The fatality rate isn't as important as the total deaths.

"Only prolongs existence"


Preventing malaria stops people from suffering from the sickness, prevents grief from the death of that person (often a child), and boosts economies by decreasing sick days and reducing the burden on health systems

The "terrible trifecta" of: trouble getting started, keeping focused, and finishing up projects seems universally relatable. I don't know many people who would say they don't have trouble with each of these things. Drawing this line between normal and pathological human experiences is very difficult and is why the DSM-V criteria are quite specific (and not perfect).

It might be useful to also interview people without ADHD, to differentiate pathological ADHD symptoms from normal, universal human experiences.

The risks of overdiagnosis include:

  • People can develop unhealthy cognitive patterns around seeing themselves as having a "disease" when they're actually just struggling with the standard human condition
  • They might receive harmful interventions that they don't need
  • It adds unnecessary burden to health systems.
Load more