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Retention in EA - Part III: Retention Comparisons

Thanks, Ben! That all seems fair enough for these purposes. 

Fwiw, I think that number might be more the arithmetic mean of some observations. Interpreting it as a geometric mean seems like it doesn’t strongly violate much, but I think the geometric mean is going to be a little bit lower. 

But yeah, I doubt it makes much of a difference in the scheme of things! 

Thanks again for sharing all this :)  

Retention in EA - Part III: Retention Comparisons

Thanks for writing this! I found it a really interesting series and kudos to you for sharing earlier-stage thinking publicly. I definitely know that I can find sharing such thinking pretty daunting! 

Small point:

>ACE estimates that the average vegetarian stays vegetarian for 3.9-7.2 years, implying a five-year dropout rate of 53%-77%. 

I think that 3.9-7.2 is their estimate for (i) the average vegetarian adherence length, but you might be interpreting that here as more like (ii) the median length of vegetarian adherence? 

From that ACE report:

> We can see in the Guesstimate model that after multiplying, the length of adherence for current vegetarians is 32–49 years.

And then they calculate the length for former vegetarians using the following as a basis:

I’d say the underlying distribution here is pretty skewed, so the difference between that average vegetarian length and median vegetarian length might be pretty significant. 

So I guess my pretty quick sense is that the median vegetarian adherence length may be a fair bit shorter than 3.9 - 7.2 years. And if you are interpreting that 3.9-7.2 as being more about the median length, and it was in fact a fair bit shorter, then that could meaningfully change some of your conclusions here.     

I think that is all somewhat nitpicky though, and I could certainly be wrong about it! Regardless, thanks again for sharing all of this. :)

AGB's Shortform

Here’s a relevant thread from ~5 years ago(!) when some people were briefly discussing points along these lines. I think it illustrates both some similar points and also offers some quick responses to them. 

Please do hit see in context to see some further responses there!

And agree, I would also like to further understand the arguments here :)

Animal Welfare Fund Grants – August 2020

Yeah, good point. I think I was counting that within 6. Thanks for drawing attention to that factor specifically!

Animal Welfare Fund Grants – August 2020

Sure! Here are some of my quick(ish) thoughts that don’t necessarily represent those of others on the fund:

  1. Generally not wanting the fund to be more than ~50% of any group's budget. That could cause over-reliance on the fund, hurt their fundraising efforts with other funders, and possibly disincentivize other funders from contributing to promising groups.
  2. Larger groups often do a variety of programs, some of which may be much less impactful. There’s some reason to be wary of funging less impactful programs and that may generally lean one away from funding larger groups who are capable of easily absorbing grants of more than say $100k.
  3. My sense is that smaller and medium sized groups aren’t able to absorb a significant amount of additional funding without significant diminishing returns. E.g., it seems that a lot of groups in our space have experienced really significant growing pains from trying to scale too quickly.
  4. Believing a number of promising opportunities are in low and middle income countries. Dollars can quite go far overseas and RFMF of small-medium size international group can easily be significantly filled by a $10-$30k grant. It also seems important to build up a now nascent movement in a large number of countries.
  5. Our granting cycle is every four months and we often fund some groups in multiple payouts over a year. E.g., while the meta fund may only make essentially one grant per group in a 12 month granting cycle, we might make 2-3 grants to numerous groups over the same period. Looking at individual payout reports might give the impression we are inclined to split funding across a large number of groups, perhaps significantly more so than viewing grant totals over a 12 month period.
  6. I think there’s some comparative advantage reasoning going on, because we want to add value to what can easily be achieved elsewhere. For instance, it is much easier for us to fund international groups than it is for small individual donors. We might also be more risk-neutral than a lot of other funders in the space, which can lend itself to funding less-established groups. Some other funds and funders also seem to focus more on promising groups that have scaled, and given their allocation of funding it can make most sense for us to focus on smaller opportunities.

I think all those thoughts might go some way in explaining the apparent split of funds across a relatively large number of grantees.

Estimates of global captive vertebrate numbers

Thanks for writing this up Saulius! I think it is a really useful addition to the literature on EAA and I could see myself returning to it multiple times in future. You seem good at writing such content! :)

Some thoughts that I had after reading this piece:

- I think there’s a decent chance that if one were to dive deeper into captive invertebrates then this could lead to discoveries of tens of billions of animals that are in captivity that the movement currently largely neglects

- One important point I think worth highlighting about the numbers is their differential growth rates. That is, for instance, not only are there many more farmed fish than pigs or cows but the annual increase in the number of farmed fish is much greater than that for pigs or cows

- “Captivity” seems a binary distinction applied to an underlying continuum of something like “the degree to which people control an animal’s habitat.” I wonder if there are some edge cases that could significantly impact the numbers reported here. For instance, and this could certainly be stretching the definition of “captivity” but if fish ladder-type structures were included then that could be another significant source of fish in captivity, even if each fish only spends a small amount of time in them

- I agree with the update towards China being even more important than previously thought given numbers of quail, frogs, and turtles. Relatedly, something that feels important is most, if not all, of the five countries with the most farmed vertebrate animals are Asian countries

Farmed Animal Funders Custom Shallow Review: On Selecting Funding Strategies In General And On Focusing Funding On Open-Access Scientific Research For Plant-Based Alternatives

Sorry for my slow reply! I think that I missed the notification for this.

You’re right I accidentally linked the wrong article. IIRC, this was the article that I should have linked. I believe that it outlines the high-moisture twin-screw extrusion method, a method which decades later proved important for the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger.

I hope this helps! Would be curious about any takes you have in this area.

How frequently do ACE and Open Phil agree about animal charities?

[Fwiw: I previously worked at ACE and now work at Farmed Animal Funders. I'm also on the committee for EA Animal Welfare Fund]

Thanks for writing this, Ben! It is an interesting analysis. Here are some thoughts that I had while reading:

  • What could also be interesting would be looking at the concordance/ disconcordance between some of the regranting funds in this area (e.g., EAA fund, EA Animal Welfare Fund, and OWA.)
  • What could also be interesting for Open Phil and ACE is comparing and contrasting the funding allocations across the concordant groups.
  • Some of the discordance between Open Phil and ACE might also be explained by different views about the potential of cultivated meat, different overall capacities for funding, and different approaches on restricting funding.

Lastly, two quick notes:

Three charities which were named “Standout Charities” by ACE but did not receive Open Phil grants did receive grants from the Centre for Effective Altruism’s Animal Welfare Fund (Animal Ethics, Faunalytics, and Compassion in World Farming - USA).

I think Compassion in World Farming - USA has received three Open Phil grants.


None of the charities ACE comprehensively reviewed but did not recommend have received a grant from Open Phil.

I think Compassion in World Farming International has been comprehensively reviewed by ACE and then not recommended but have received several Open Phil grants.



The ITN framework, cost-effectiveness, and cause prioritisation

Thanks for completing this analysis on the advantages and disadvantages of the INT framework! I particularly like you clearly enumerating your points.

I think there are some important points not adequately covered in the alternative INT framework and discussion of cost-effectiveness estimates. Namely:

(1) To a significant extent cause prioritization involves estimating long-term counterfactual impacts

(2) Neglectedness could be instrumental to estimating long-term counterfactual impacts because the more neglected a cause the more potential to translate to greater far future trajectory changes, as opposed to accelerating proximate changes

Insect herbivores, life history and wild animal welfare

Really interesting article!

Various approximations of the total number of insect individuals range between 1017-1019 (Williams 1960 , Hölldobler & Wilson (1990), Bar-On et al. (2018)).

I think that 17 and 19 should be exponents :)

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