All of Jacob_Peacock's Comments + Replies

How can we make Our World in Data more useful to the EA community?

+1 As well. I would emphasize that number of animal alive at any given time is significantly more important than slaughter as many animals die prior to slaughter.

Health Behavior Interventions Literature Review

Ah, I see—in that case, it makes a lot of sense for you to pursue these case studies. I appreciate the time you invested to get to a double crux here, thanks!

Health Behavior Interventions Literature Review

Thank you for your replies, Jamie, I appreciate the discussion. As a last point of clarification when you say ~40%, does this, for example, mean that if a priori I was uninformed on momentum v complacency and so put 50/50% credence on either possibility, that a series of case studies might potentially update you to 90/10%?

When I'm thinking about the value of social movement case studies compared to RCTs, I'm also thinking about their ability to provide evidence on the questions that I think are most important

I don't disagree—but my point with this intu

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1Jamie_Harris1yYes to the first part! (I was also thinking something like: If you had read some of the other available evidence but not the historical case studies and had 70/30% credence, then reading the historical case studies might update your views to 30/70%. But that's a bit messier.) And got it with the second; I think we mostly agree there.
Health Behavior Interventions Literature Review

To clarify, I suspect we have some agreement on (social movement) case studies: I do think they can provide evidence towards causation—literally that one should update their subjective Bayesian beliefs about causation based on social movement case studies. However, at least to my understanding of the current methods, they cannot provide causal identification, thus vastly limiting the magnitude of that update. (In my mind, to probably <10%.)

What I'm struggling to understand fundamentally is your conception of the quality of evidence. If you find the qual

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1Jamie_Harris1yInteresting. Let's imagine a specific question that we might be interested in, e.g. do incremental improvements (e.g. on welfare of animals or prisoners) encourage momentum for further change or complacency [https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/foundational-questions-summaries#momentum-vs.-complacency-from-welfare-reforms[ax][ay]] ? ~10% sounds about right to me as an upper limit on an update from a single case study. But a case study will provide information on far more questions of interest than this single question. And as we look at several case studies and start to compare between them, then I can imagine an update of more like ~40% from historical social movement evidence in general on any single question of interest. That may be so, but they would be providing evidence on very different types of cause and effect relationships. E.g. the effects of motivational interviews on dietary behaviour, vs the effects of incremental improvements (e.g. on welfare of animals or prisoners) on a movement's momentum for further change. When I'm thinking about the value of social movement case studies compared to RCTs, I'm also thinking about their ability to provide evidence on the questions that I think are most important.
Health Behavior Interventions Literature Review

Hi Jamie, I'm glad to see this work out and will look forward to reading it in more depth. Congratulations—I'm sure it was hugely labor intensive! In my quick read, I was confused by this point:

Weaknesses of the health behavior literature, despite decades of research and huge amounts of funding, suggest serious limitations of experimental and observational research in other contexts, such as the farmed animal movement.

I think this is too pessimistic and somewhat short-term thinking. Instead, I would explain the weakness of the current health behavior l

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1Jamie_Harris1yThanks Jacob! It's great to see what was interesting / useful / confusing etc for people, and generally quite hard to get detailed feedback, so I appreciate you taking the time to read and reply. I'm sure we could debate these topics at length; that's a tempting prospect, but I'll just reply to some specific parts here. I still think RCTs have their uses. It's just that they can be limited in various ways and that other research methods have some advantages over them, as discussed in the "EAA RCTs v intuition/speculation/anecdotes v case studies v external findings [https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/foundational-questions-summaries#[meta]-social-movements-vs.-eaa-randomized-controlled-trials-(rcts)-vs.-intuition/speculation/anecdotes-vs.-external-findings] " section you refer to. To summarise my view update from this review in other terms: Lots of money has gone into health behaviour research. I expected the health behaviour literature to come to some fairly strong conclusions about the value of some intervention types over others. This didn't seem to be the case, given various limitations and inconsistencies in the research. Hence, I'm less optimistic about the usefulness of conducting comparable research now, relative to other types of research that we could conduct. I don't agree with this. I think that you can look for evidence that X caused Y in a particular case, rather than just that X preceded Y. (Of course, often the evidence is very weak or nonexistent that X caused Y.) I discuss that in more depth here [https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/blog/what-can-the-farmed-animal-movement-learn-from-history#how-confident-can-we-be-in-judgements-about-historical-causation?] . You then have the separate problems of How much weight should we place on strategic knowledge from individual historical cases? [https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/blog/what-can-the-farmed-animal-movement-learn-from-history#how-much-weight-should-we-place-on-strategic-knowledge-from-indiv
How to Measure Capacity for Welfare and Moral Status

Thanks for the helpful clarifications and responses, Jason. I don't have anything to add at this point, but look forward to reading more of your work!

How to Measure Capacity for Welfare and Moral Status

Hi Jason, thank you for writing this. I appreciate the refreshing reiteration that we do and must make trade-offs between the interests of different species, as well as your careful philosophical treatment. A few thoughts:

An animal’s capacity for welfare is how good or bad its life can go. An animal’s moral status is the degree to which an animal’s experiences or interests matter morally.

While capacity and moral weight are important parameters, I think there also remains significant empirical uncertainty about actual experience as well. Without elimina

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2Jason Schukraft1yHi Jacob, Thanks for your comment! I’m happy to chat in more detail if you’d like to set up a call. I agree, and I fully support more research aimed at figuring out how to measure realized welfare. For many comparisons of specific interventions, learning more about the realized welfare of a given group of animals (and how a change in conditions would affect realized welfare) is going to be much more action-relevant than information about capacity for welfare. Considerations pertaining to capacity for welfare are most pertinent to big-picture questions about how we should allocate resources across fairly distinct types of animals (e.g., chickens vs. fish vs. crustaceans vs. insects). I think some uncertainties surrounding capacity for welfare can be resolved without fully solving the problem of how to measure realized welfare in every case. Of course, measuring realized welfare and measuring capacity for welfare share many of the same conceptual and practical hurdles, so we may be able to make progress on the two in tandem. Not sure how much we disagree here. I certainly think all-things-considered expert judgments have an important role to play in assessing capacity for welfare. The post emphasizes the atomistic approach because it’s a lot more complicated (and thus warrants deeper explanation) and also because it’s much more likely to uncover action-relevant information that our untutored all-things-considered judgments may miss. (I liken the project to RP’s previous work on invertebrate sentience [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/AMFuSWrsutBFraZtE/invertebrate-sentience-a-useful-empirical-resource-1] , which required many subjective judgment calls but ultimately whose main contribution was a compilation of hard data on 53 empirically measurable features [https://www.rethinkpriorities.org/invertebrate-sentience-table] that are relevant to assessing whether or not an animal is sentient.) Yeah, I could be convinced that order is the wrong taxonomic rank.
Effective Animal Advocacy Resources

The Brooks Animal Law Digest is a good new resource. (Also, I noticed the version of this article on RP's website suggest leaving a comment, but a comment field is not available there.) Thanks for putting this all together, Saulius!

2saulius2yI added it and corrected the RP website, thanks!
The Individual and the Bathwater

I don't think anyone is suggesting shifting "most of the resources" (Jacy only suggests 50% of existing individual resources) and certainly not all resources, so I don’t think the "and" not "or" message is really relevant. Of course, if there are people who hold this view I’d be curious to learn more. I think the question for most is identifying the optimal ratio. Sentience Institute is also quite clear on the evidence underlying that belief and it's not a lack of a link between advocacy and diet, but the existence of more public support for institutional

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5Tom_Beggs2yHi Jacob, Thanks for the thoughtful reply! I’ll address each point one at a time. Your comments are in bold: First, I'm not sure I follow the "Institutions are likely aiming for "good enough."" section: if an improvement in animal welfare is profitable, it should presumably happen without any advocacy. But I'm not sure it then follows that "the pressure of public opinion is needed to drive welfare beyond "good enough". The last line is really close to the central thesis of the work. In this section, I discuss the fact that agri-corps and governments may be driven in part by concerns about health and antibiotic resistance, which would increase the tractability of institutional campaigns. That boost would be short-lived once those relatively low bars are met. Most asks we make of corporations will likely not increase profits. In order to minimize any negative financial impact, institutions will do the least amount needed ("good enough") to maintain positive public opinion. Additional public pressure will be needed to take the next step, and so on. Second, most corporate cage-free commitments don't rely on consumer “willingness to pay” for cage-free eggs per se. Instead of asking people to directly choose cage-free over caged eggs, entire restaurant chains and states provide exclusively cage-free eggs, so the choice would have to be made at the restaurant or state-level. It’s possible people would then choose not to buy certain products or patronize particular restaurants, but given the low price elasticity of eggs I wouldn’t expect this to be a large effect; it seems even less likely that people in Los Angeles or San Francisco would drive hours to obtain modestly cheaper eggs. I think restaurants could face the same type of pressure that producers do: if you’re putting a more expensive product on the plate, you need consumers to support those costs. If they don’t, your competitors have an advantage. The choice of a slightly more expensive breakfast that feature
The Individual and the Bathwater

Thank you for writing this, Tom. I've split my comments in two, with another on the larger issue of individual v institutional interventions. Here I’ll focus on the particulars of cage-free commitments as a case study.

First, I'm not sure I follow the "Institutions are likely aiming for "good enough."" section: if an improvement in animal welfare is profitable, it should presumably happen without any advocacy. But I'm not sure it then follows that "the pressure of public opinion is needed to drive welfare beyond "good enough"".

Second, most corporate cage-fr

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[Link] Surveying US College and University Dining Services for Potential Collaboration on Diet Change Research 2017-2018

Thank you, Aaron! I think your observation that animal product consumption differs systematically between restaurants, grocery stores and other venues is likely accurate. This study mitigated the problem by selecting for campuses where most of the food purchased can be tracked via the dining services, thus providing a more complete picture of individual diets. Of course, these diets may not be representative of the general population but at least a more complete picture of individual diet reduces selection biases between food venues. That said, we didn't f

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Measuring Change in Diet for Animal Advocacy

Thank you for your thoughtful questions, Aaron!

1. I don't know of any existing funding opportunities, although I'd say more research with non-self-reported dietary outcomes would be worthwhile and volunteer researchers with the appropriate skills could certainly be involved there. Volunteers with connections at colleges, universities, restaurants or grocery stores could also be valuable for building collaborations. There may also be as-of-yet undiscovered allies in advocating for transparency in the food system, perhaps among groups fighting obesity or gen

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Wild Animal Welfare Literature Library: Consciousness and Ecology

Thank you for this resource, Evan! Several pieces I haven't seen before here.

How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey.

Very interesting results and glad to see more comprehensive research quantify people's priors on the promise of a broad array of interventions! Will the anonymized raw data be made available for further analysis? I'd especially be interested to see a clustering analysis of where people fall on these issues.

2Joey3ySadly I was pretty specific with what data I was going to publish and this is it. I suspect that identities of some people could be determined with the full raw data so can understand why people would not want it published.