Jakub Stencel

Director of Global Development, co-founder @ Anima International
Working (6-15 years of experience)
864Kraków, PolskaJoined Feb 2019


  • Attended an EA Global conference
  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group


I'm really excited for this. Wishing you all the best in this crucial and neglected work Dustin.

Please make sure to reach out to Anima International to use our resources whenever you'll feel like we could help. We will also happily advertise any open positions here to our staff.

Yeah, this is what I meant in this point, but NunoSempere's comment made me confused about strength of my model here and I interpret this confusion as either me getting something wrongly here or not fully getting his comment. I will think/discuss it more and update the phrasing here just to be sure it's not misguided. Thank you for that.

Thanks for pointing this out Fai!

Seems like a major oversight on my part to not make it clearer. Will edit the blog post.

Thank you Oscar.

I'll use this opportunity to underline again that the biggest push influencing the changes in our organization in this area was Weronika Żurek who made the tremendous work challenging some of the premises held by more senior people. Not to mention that she is very early in her career (still studies) which makes me even more in awe of her reasoning.

Thanks for the comment Michael. It's really informative.

Do you have any good sources that describe your points in more depth? These would be good for us to follow.

In regards to robustness and cluelessness - I agree. This is probably the strongest update based on the new considerations highlighted in the blog post. Similar conclusion was formed, especially among senior campaigners, although we used different phrases for that during discussions.

Answer by Jakub StencelNov 23, 2022175

(Disclaimer: I'm from an animal advocacy group and working in the field for over 10 years.)

Just a point on how the footage from farms is representative, based on your point about not trusting them.

I think you are correct to be skeptical to some of the claims made by documentaries, I feel like some are exaggerating and trying to increase the weight of the claims to make the documentary more appealing. Apart from my personal problem with bending the truth, it's also, I quite confidently think, a bad long-term strategy for the movement. But it highly depends on the filmmaker.

But I really want to note that it's very hard to convey the message to the public about the conditions that animals live in. You may expect that the more brutal footage the better, but it's not the case. We do investigations without knowledge of farm owners (you can check our footage here - https://animainternational.org/resources/investigations - and use it if needed!) and very often we have to use the less inhumane conditions, because our data shows that on average most people are not receptive to faithfully brutal material. It has to be the milder content with enough context for people to sympathize with animals. So you may expect "cherry-picking" in a different direction that you are worried about in terms of them being representative.

There is also an unsurprising problem of not understanding specie welfare needs and animals not showing their suffering in a human's perception compatible way (especially if these are not mammals), so you may see a picture of an animal without any wounds, but it may be in a great suffering because of behavioral needs deprivation (example - repetitive behavior). This is very hard to convey.

So for me, quantitative assessments of suffering between species in farming conditions is the best tool to understand whether animals suffer and to which degree. But I'll add personally that there is an intuition that you get by working with footage/being on farms/working in field that is sometimes hard to capture just by looking at literature (kinda in a similar direction as a point about ground visits when distributing bednets made here). I also wonder how measurement is skewing the results sometimes.

Generally, my bet is that the more data we will get, the more it will show animals suffer more than we expected. My very strong view is that there is sufficient information and it's mostly due to biases that make us discriminate needs of other beings welfare that some people remain undecided on this issue (i.e. we treat interests of non-similar beings to us as less important - animals, future people, digital minds, etc. based on evolutionary heuristics instead of reasoning). That is, unless someone has Yudkowsky's view of sentience with which I strongly disagree (or to be more correct - I disagree with my understanding of that view), but seems logical and coherent to me.

Thank you again for this work and posting it on EA Forums. I love the presentation of the research summary.

I was considering writing something similar, but investing time in writing a post is hard, so thank you for writing this.

While I understand emotions we all feel, I'm under an impression that effective altruism community is now reacting in a way that they try to educate public NOT to - to use anecdotal examples and emotional states to guide the decision making. While it's very human to react in such a way I see that I'm growing more and more anxious of this direction observing the discourse.

Of course what happened is devastating and that there is a lot of constructive feedback and good questions to be asked, but I hope we can preserve our commitment to compassion and truth-seeking even in hard moments like this. The things that worry me can be seen in how demanding people are to the EA leaders - to the point of almost blaming them for this without enough evidence or sympathy. And that even not that good proposals earn a lot of support because I feel we are all incentivizied to be critical of EA (and it's good to feel better about ourselves by distancing ourselves from the misery that FTX caused).

I'm also worried about EA doing things now (both community here and established orgs) to influence optics rather than for the sake of integrity. It would be worrying if true, because if so it may lead to the recreating potentials errors, like people silencing themselves instead of having good-faith arguments. I hope that accountability will prevail and both community and people will be open where we screwed up and, if needed, there will be consequences, instead of us protecting the brand of EA at any cost.

But I want to mention that I'm also incredibly impressed by some people here and generally very happy to consider myself part of this community. I admire the courage, integrity and sobriety of thinking of many people here. After spending recently way more time on EA Forums than I should, I came to conclusion that I would want to especially mention Habryka for his behavior and comments during the last period . It's really a privilege to have such people in EA community (and I'm really sorry for not mentioning other people behaving in a similar way who I didn't notice).

I applaud that you wrote how you feel against social incentives.

It seems to me that the main way for our community to avoid allowing future devastating mistakes like with SBF/FTX is to have more posts like this and norms that encourage dissenting opinions and go against hype (anti-hype?).

Especially if it's true that people had heard rumors about some problems or had some reasons to act on pieces of information in regards to SBF character, but silenced themselves. Punishing socially these kind of posts seems like recreating the environment for such moral and truth-seeking failure.

On a relevant note, it's a bit problematic that main posts don't have disagree voting though, because maybe people vote on whether they agree and don't necessary want to punish you for expressing your feelings.

Load more