Topic Contributions


New cause area: Violence against women and girls

FGM is distinguished (beyond the forms in which it occurs) in that there are no medical reasons for doing it, nor does it have any health benefits for women

A small aside on this, which I found interesting:

if anti-FGM campaigners and organizations such as the WHO continue to play the “no health benefits” card as a way of deflecting comparisons to male circumcision, it will not be long before medically-trained supporters of the practice in other countries begin to do the necessary research. ...

I suggest, therefore, that by repeating the mantra—in nearly every article focused on female genital cutting—that “FGM has no health benefits,” those who oppose such cutting are sending the wrong signal. The mantra implies that if FGM did have health benefits, it wouldn’t be so bad after all.

But that isn’t what opponents really think. Regardless of health consequences, they see nontherapeutic genital cutting of female minors as contrary to their best interests, propped up by questionable social norms that should themselves be challenged and changed.


New cause area: Violence against women and girls

On a meta level, I'm surprised by how unpopular Sjlver and DukeGartzea's comments are in this discussion relative to others'.

For me it was seeing arguments made from emotion ("It is very clear that violence against men is less of an issue than violence against women", no evidence provided) when responding to comments that contained data on men being the majority of victims of violence. When challenged they performed a bait-and-switch by offering stats for sexual assault (which is indeed more common in women, and a deeply serious issue, but is a subset of assault generally).

Agreed that FGM is horrifying beyond belief. But the flippancy from Sjilver around male circumcision and its purported sex benefits to men (which are not backed by the evidence), accompanied by a winky face, were enough to earn a downvote from me.

New cause area: Violence against women and girls

[am stepping back from this thread now as it's getting a bit distant from the original post and I don't wish to derail it]

Quite horrifying, I agree. But scale is notable here: 6 times as many men are circumcised, so if the quality of life lost was 0.5% then the total lost utility is the same between the two groups.

And given that some number of circumcisions go wrong, leading to loss of sensation, pain during sex, rarely partial or total amputation and other forms of suffering ("the constant discomfort of a genital injury creates a covenant of pain," writes one individual with PTSD from the suffering from his botched circumcision), 0.5% overall seems really not hard to fathom. 

The benefits are minor (your comments elsewhere about better sexual performance are not supported by the literature), and not justified by the harms. This position has broad agreement from public health bodies. The UK's National Health Service, and many other like it, made the decision decades ago to stop funding neonatal circumcisions for this exact reason.

circumcision is probably legal nearly everywhere because these effects are small.

This just seems like post-hoc rationalisation ('it can't be bad because it's legal'). I could just as easily say that laws on circumcision are thirty years behind laws on FGM.

More likely is that the practice plays a prominent role in Abrahamic religions and attempts by countries to outlaw it (there have been a few) fall foul of laws around freedom of religion. Several such examples here, see e.g. Iceland and Denmark.

New cause area: Violence against women and girls

I'm touching the third rail here, but I think there probably is a nuanced comparison to be made that considers the different forms of FGM (including the prevalence of the most minor forms – involving making small nicks or pricks in the skin – which are less invasive than male circumcision) along with its prevalence globally (30% of men are circumcised while 5% of women have been subjected to FGM).

There's also the legal/societal/neglectedness comparison: FGM is widely condemned and illegal in most countries, with prohibitions extending across jurisdictions (in some countries it's a criminal offence for citizens to have FGM done in another country). Compare male circumcision, which is legal nearly everywhere.

New cause area: Violence against women and girls

... which arguably gives circumcised males the benefit of longer sex ;-)

I guess if FGM had some possible sexual benefits, that would make it acceptable?

EA Projects I'd Like to See

On the topic of starting a publishing house/imprint - I recall seeing a suggestion from Ben Pace that an EA could buy Blackwell's in Oxford and steer it in an EA direction...

I’m Offering Free Coaching for Software Developers in the EA community

My brief review: I've had a handful of sessions with Yonatan and they've been great. He's friendly and kind, and has a great way of getting you to think differently about problems you're facing at work and in your career.

I'm the CTO of an early-stage startup, and have found that (contrary to my expectations) it's the emotional/grit side of things that's the most tricky to navigate, rather than anything technical. So our conversations have focused on co-founder relationships, hiring and onboarding new employees, and general thoughts around startup life.

The EA Animal Welfare Fund Has Significant Room For More Funding

To what extent does the Animal Welfare Fund take into account ACE's recommendations?

I'm beginning to view ACE's evaluation process as somewhat suspect after they delisted GFI seemingly over minor complaints about management, and would want to be confident that the Animal Welfare Fund is sufficiently independent.

A case for the effectiveness of protest

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

(I spotted that YouGov graph yesterday; agree that it's pretty compelling evidence for XR increasing concern about the environment.)

A case for the effectiveness of protest

Thanks for putting this together. I haven't had a chance to go through your cost-effectiveness estimate in detail, but I do plan to. However:

I would attribute XR 10-50% of the credit for shifting the previously agreed net-zero date from 2050 to 2030, due to their Overton Window-shifting demand of net-zero by 2025 and huge popularity in the UK

YouGov compiles a list of famous UK charities and their popularity; XR is the second-most disliked charity on the list (38% of people surveyed saying they dislike). The only more-disliked charity is the far-right English Defence League.  The majority of Britons are against XR's protests. If your estimate of 10–50% is based partly on them being popular, I would view that as suspect.

(As an aside, I think there could have been reputational risks to EA if we had publicly endorsed XR at the height of their power. Partly this is down to XR's unpopularity and the divisiveness of their protest tactics, but also because their poor epistemic practices could have reasonably led others to question our own.)

Load More