Pathways to victory: How can we end animal agriculture? 2022-09-14T15:33:04.910Z
Maximising impact: the case for research to support animal advocacy efforts 2022-08-24T14:41:58.447Z
Divestment From Animal Agriculture: What Does It Achieve? 2022-03-16T10:34:12.365Z
[Linkpost] Taking on the World's Largest Food Companies | Vicky Bond from The Humane League 2022-01-16T17:35:30.585Z
Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness 2019-08-08T10:13:06.880Z
Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness 2019-06-21T14:40:41.115Z
Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects 2019-05-08T19:22:52.855Z
My recommendations for RSI treatment 2019-05-07T18:43:12.984Z
Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness 2019-04-28T17:52:52.679Z
The Evolution of Sentience as a Factor in the Cambrian Explosion: Setting up the Question 2019-03-11T17:54:10.089Z
Sharks probably do feel pain: a reply to Michael Tye and others 2019-02-04T13:51:50.241Z
Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience 2018-12-08T19:24:25.251Z


Comment by Max_Carpendale on Pathways to victory: How can we end animal agriculture? · 2022-09-18T14:17:12.887Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your engagement with the report!

One way to go is for animal protection to start advocating for a right bans at some point, yes. Another possibility is that the industry is simply run into the ground through costly welfare reforms and competition through alternatives. Maybe this wouldn't remove all animal exploitation, and some animal products would still be demanded as a luxury good, but it would seem pretty significant if the reform path way could bring us that far, would you agree? A agree there is more of a natural flow towards ending all animal exploitation through abolitionist messaging.

I'm not too sure about historical parallels of social movements that for welfare reforms. That's an important question, think about that.

By and large, I think a lot of animal protectionism probably doesn't overall reinforce continued animal use (though some parts of it might do so to some extent). It seems like the evidence that I describe points to momentum rather than complacency here. I guess if mental picture of animal protectionism is someone like Temple Grandin or other people working in animal welfare science, this is less clear, but I'm including groups that are working on and asking for welfare reforms, even if they ultimately have abolitionist goals.

Ultimately, I'm not arguing against running some abolitionist campaigns, but I am arguing against views that this is the only way to go, and that other approaches are harmful.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Pathways to victory: How can we end animal agriculture? · 2022-09-15T09:16:18.724Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your thoughts on this!

I think there's a pretty good argument that animal protectionism demands the nonuse of animals in all cases when that use necessarily involves a significant amount of suffering, which represent almost all cases, and makes the remaining cases prohibitively expensive. I describe his pathway in the piece.

You could argue that this stronger animal protection view is not implied by current rhetoric,  but the idea is that you build momentum and work up to stronger asks.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Directly Purchasing and Distributing Stunning Equipment to Fishing Boats Which Catch Enormous Amounts of Small Wild Fish · 2022-08-19T14:57:27.178Z · EA · GW

Hi Enginar,


This is a very interesting post, thank you for writing it! It fits very well into the idea of megaprojects for animals, or ways of using additional funding, which may become increasingly relevant as more funding comes into EA.

I've been working on a report on improving wild caught fish welfare at Animal Ask and the report should be relatively soon. I certainly share your thoughts that smaller fish should be the priority.

I have some (not necessarily decisive) worries about how this fits into the long-term strategy of animal advocacy. As you say, it is not exactly moral advocacy (though we should acknowledge that sometimes changing attitudes follows as a result of welfare improvements). I think moral advocacy is important not just for the current animal welfare ask, but for enabling future asks, so this seems less desirable from the perspective.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on My experience with imposter syndrome — and how to (partly) overcome it · 2022-04-22T13:56:12.982Z · EA · GW

Thanks so much for writing this! It's really good to hear from other members of the community who have struggled with this. It sounds like there are a lot of shared elements, and I think talking about it openly makes it easier for other people to do so. It's certainly been easier for me to bring up my imposter syndrome now that it's widely understood to be a problem in the community and bringing it up helps with recovering from it. 


Some things I find are helping in my case:

- Getting a lot of feedback. I find that my doubts flourish and grow in "the gaps" when I don't have much feedback. I sort of automatically convince myself that my work is terrible unless there is good positive evidence that it isn't, to reducing the situations where this can happen has been very valuable. This includes what you said about being more open with things like first drafts and the amount of time I spend on tasks. It's difficult because you reflexively want to avoid doing this when you have imposter syndrome because you don't want to be "found out". So imposter syndrome blocks off its own solution.  

– Paying special attention to positive feedback to increase its salience and make it more difficult to rationalize away.

– Psychotherapy for guidance during this process.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Divestment From Animal Agriculture: What Does It Achieve? · 2022-03-17T07:28:50.512Z · EA · GW

Hi James,

Thanks for your deep engagement with the report and thoughtful comment! No, it didn't come across as blunt or rude or anything! :)

I was thinking of something closer to a vegan outreach campaign that was optimized for delegitimizing the industry when I wrote that. We did write that we think that its an institutional focus is more effective, and perhaps its abolitionist focus too, though veganism can also be framed in that way. Perhaps the report should have talked more about how other types of animal  campaigns can (and should) leverage the stigmatization process. 

I don't think veganism is really a quiet act of omission. Generally quite a few other people will come to know that you are vegan and veganism gets plenty of popular press. I don't think this would be happening if there were much fewer vegans. Maybe if veganism only involved dietary choices, but that's not what you're getting with vegan outreach, unless you're really leading with the health arguments. Having said that, I agree that it looks like divestment is better at getting press, though hard to say exactly. We did cite that as the strongest reason for engaging in divestment.

It does still seem to be like basically all animal advocacy campaigns involve stigmatization to some significant extent. It's not much of a jump from meat is immoral to the companies that are creating it are immoral. Legislative campaigns also involve pointing out serious inadequacies in the industry practice that need to be reformed, though the message may not be as strong here.

I think there is something to the idea that divestment hits closer to the pocketbook with the stigmatization that it brings, though I'm not convinced that that makes up for the paucity of direct effects.

I do think there should be people trying divestment in the animal advocacy context and seeing how it goes, but unless the results proved us wrong, based on the arguments in this report, I wouldn't recommend a big shift of resources towards it.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Managing 'Imposters' · 2022-01-30T21:31:26.251Z · EA · GW

It's great to see the subject getting attention!

Getting plenty of honest – but understanding and contextualized – feedback has been particularly useful for me in dealing with imposter syndrome. It lets me worry less that I'm actually making tons of errors but they aren't being caught or that my managers are just being nice about it. It's a counterintuitive thing, so it was great to see it covered in this article.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on [Linkpost] Taking on the World's Largest Food Companies | Vicky Bond from The Humane League · 2022-01-16T17:58:29.747Z · EA · GW

This is a topical discussion topic in the movement. See this discussion for example:

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Introducing Effective Self-Help · 2022-01-09T10:24:09.447Z · EA · GW

Really looking forward to your articles!

It seems like you have a good strategy for producing high-quality articles (and particularly happy you'll be ordering by effect size).

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Have you considered switching countries to save money? · 2022-01-02T00:03:29.471Z · EA · GW

It must be gorgeous, and definitely appealing, but isn't it in the top ten for murder rate per captita?

Comment by Max_Carpendale on World's First Octopus Farm - Linkpost · 2021-12-22T13:43:33.617Z · EA · GW

Really unfortunate development. Compassion In World Farming recently released a report on the subject and why it's a terrible idea.

I want to make a couple of points here:

1) Since octopuses are carnivorous, a much larger number of fishes will be used to feed them

2) Since this is such a new development, it's an important time to oppose this and try to nip it in the bud

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Countering imposter syndrome · 2021-12-20T19:07:35.116Z · EA · GW

I get quite bad imposter syndrome, and I can take a stab at this.

Here are some general points I'd make here.

1) My imposter syndrome seems to come from a quite separate psychological process. So I could have my rational assessment of the situation (including some beliefs that work against imposter syndrome) but still feel the imposter syndrome quite strongly. Obviously they aren't completely unrelated, but they often do seem quite separate.

2) Imposter syndrome for me isn't just the belief that I am the least competent person in the room/org, it is the belief that I am uniquely  awful at the work or task. The part of me that feels like an imposter might sometimes acknowledge that I can maintain a veneer of competence, but that I have critical faults that undermine any ability to contribute in the end. That appearance of competence feels utterly hollow.

3) It has been valuable for me to imagine (in sober moments) if my worst fears are true and how bad that would really be. But when I am in the grips of imposter syndrome I'm liable to catastrophize and think that it would be absolutely awful and think that those worst fears are true.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on When to get off the train to crazy town? · 2021-11-27T16:56:15.149Z · EA · GW

I had a similar journey. I still think that utilitarian is a good description for me, since it seems basically right to me in all non-sci-fi scenarios, but I don't have any confidence in the extreme edge cases.  

Comment by Max_Carpendale on New Intuitions for Cultured Meat · 2021-11-27T10:07:58.810Z · EA · GW

Adam Shriver has a few papers on breeding animals with the pain genes knocked out. See this paper for example.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Sentience Institute 2021 End of Year Summary · 2021-11-26T21:30:10.855Z · EA · GW

This Awesome! I'm a big fan of your work. There really aren't any other organizations like Sentience Institute, so it's a pity you're not getting more funding .

I'm curious about your reasoning for the greater focus specifically on artificial sentience? Does it seem like the right time now?

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything! · 2021-05-13T20:53:19.699Z · EA · GW

Congrats on being the new fund chair, Kieran!

I notice you've made a huge grant to Wild Animal Initiative. That's great! 

With work on this subject, I'm curious how you would prioritize between research to inform future interventions, advocacy to raise concern about the subject, and current interventions to improve wild animal welfare? 

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Killing the ants · 2021-03-02T06:33:45.137Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this. While doing research on invertebrate sentience I've wondered about this kind of thing. I don't deliberately harm arthropods, but I haven't stopped hiking (where I'll probably step on many arthropods), and I definitely haven't stopped washing. It's true that you could give a means ends justification that help more animals by continuing to work I'm doing without disrupting my lifestyle by worrying about these things, but I'd be horrified if my normal life involved harming even a fraction as many large animals - I just don't feel the same way about arthropods I guess.

It would be convenient if mites happen to have minuscule moral weight to justify our everyday behaviour, but I don't think the arguments are good enough to be confident enough in that. People just seem to feel very definitely about these cases, whether or not there exist any good moral justification for it.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2021-01-15T21:11:03.780Z · EA · GW

Yeah, even the information for total number of neurons is absent for many invertebrates. More specific information like that would rarely be available.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on What was the first being on Earth to experience suffering? · 2020-07-12T17:22:37.839Z · EA · GW

There is also the excellent book length treatment of the subject, The Ancient Origins of Consciousness.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on How should we run the EA Forum Prize? · 2020-06-23T22:12:13.585Z · EA · GW

In my case at least, I can say that both the money and the reputation for winning was extremely valuable. Thanks for that!

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Is it suffering or involuntary suffering that's bad, and when is it (involuntary) suffering? · 2020-06-23T22:05:01.431Z · EA · GW

I'm a hedonistic utilitarian, and I think that even voluntary suffering is be intrinsically bad, as long as it's still suffering at that point. Here the reasons I explain the phenomena that you note in your question. My answers are partially overlapping but some of the solutions you suggest.

- I personally mostly listen/watch/read media that deals with negative emotions. When I do this I sometimes have a twinge of the negative emotion, but I don't think I would really describe it is negatively valenced. Sometimes it may involve a bit of negative valence, which may be outweighed from the aesthetic appreciation that I get from it.

It seems like 'negative emotions' can sometimes not have negative valence in this way even though they retain their other features. I think this is similar to how 'pain' from exercise can sometimes have a neutral or even positive valence (at least that's how I characterize it). It seems like the secondary resistance to emotions can be generating some or all of the negative valence associated with them.

- Similarly, for an emotion like grief, I think it's either the case that I don't experience it as really negatively valenced or I'm getting immediate counterbalancing positive emotions from it (like a sense of meaning and connection).

- Sometimes negative events can be cathartic, meaning that they provide relief from the negative emotion. I often find crying to do this and crying sort of feels good for this reason (or at least it feels much less bad than the alternative in that situation).

- I think sometimes I also irrationally pursue negatively balanced emotions. For example, by ruminating. Not sure that I have anything insightful to say about why this happens.

It seems to be hard to figure out exactly which of these is happening in a given situation.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on COVID-19 brief for friends and family · 2020-03-02T19:26:14.070Z · EA · GW

I get frequent muscle pain in my head and face and I normally believe that by massaging them. I've started to use use a part of my shirt or maybe another object as a barrier to let me do this without touching my hands to my face, but I guess my shirt could also pick up some of the virus, and I could be infected that way. Not sure what my other options are.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Who should give sperm/eggs? · 2020-02-09T10:23:51.928Z · EA · GW

I think you can travel to another country to donate eggs there. I think in general you get paid more in other countries if you are of certain demographics.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on In praise of unhistoric heroism · 2020-01-26T19:52:57.396Z · EA · GW

There's is a trap that consequentialists can easily fall into that the author describes beautifully in this post. I think the solution solution within consequentialism is to see that consequentialism doesn't recommend that we we only praise the highest achievers. Praise and blame are only justified within consequentialism when they produce good consequences, and it's beneficial to praise a wide variety of people, most especially people who are trying their hardest to improve the world.

For a fuller spectrum account of what it is to live a moral life, you can add 'virtue consequentialism' to your consequentialism. This position is just the observation that within consequentialism, virtues can be defined as character traits that lead to good consequences, and it's useful to cultivate these.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Doing good is as good as it ever was · 2020-01-25T17:06:15.752Z · EA · GW

I've been in the community since about 2011, and I've also noticed this happening in myself and quite a few others who have been in the community for a long time. I'm not aware of any data on the subject. Denise's explanation of this and this post sounds right to me.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on EA Hotel Fundraiser 7: Pitch focusing on case studies with counterfactuals · 2019-11-23T17:36:22.804Z · EA · GW

I came to the hotel as I was finishing a contract for Rethink Prioritites, worked for them there for one month, then did indepenent research. Now I am employed at an EA org again, and I am paying cost price.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Opinion: Estimating Invertebrate Sentience · 2019-11-19T20:44:34.055Z · EA · GW
I agree that sentience, at least as we've defined it, is an all-or-nothing phenomenon (which is a common view in philosophy but not as common in neuroscience).

What do you think of the argument that there may be cases where it's unclear if the term is appropriate or not. So there would be a grey area where there is a "sort of" sentience. I've talked to some people who think that this grey area might be taxonomically large, including most invertebrates.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on How worried should I be about a childless Disneyland? · 2019-10-28T20:08:51.739Z · EA · GW

Yeah, I meant it to be synonymous with agent.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on How worried should I be about a childless Disneyland? · 2019-10-28T19:05:04.024Z · EA · GW

Do you mainly see these scenarios as likely because you don't think there is likely to be many beings in future worlds or because you think that the beings that exist in those future worlds are unlikely to be conscious?

I had some thoughts about the second case. I've done some research on consciousness, but I still feel quite lost when it comes to this type of question.

It definitely seems like some machine minds could be conscious (we are basically in existence proof of that), but I don't know how to think about if a specific architecture would be required. My intuition is that most intelligent architectures other than something like a lookup table would be conscious, but don't think that intuitions based on anything substantial.

By the way, there is a strange hard sci-fi horror novel called Blindsight that basically "argues" that the future belongs to nonconscious minds and this scenario is likely.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Is there a clear writeup summarizing the arguments for why deep ecology is wrong? · 2019-10-28T17:54:18.583Z · EA · GW


I personally would disagree that variety of experience is morally relevant. Obviously, most people enjoy variety of their own experiences, but that's already waded into the total hedonistic utilitarian equation because it makes us happier. So I don't think that we need to add it as a separate thing that has intrinsic moral value. Looking at diversity can also be aesthetically pleasing for us, but that gets waited in to the equation because it makes us happy, and so, again, I don't think we need to say it has intrinsic moral value. I don't think our aesthetic appreciation of biodiversity is a very significant source of happiness, though, compared to the well-being of the much larger number of animals involved.

I think what you said makes sense given that moral position. I haven't heard a name for the position that diversity of experience is intrinsically morally significant, but I have a friend who I think argued for a similar position, and I'll ask him.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Is there a clear writeup summarizing the arguments for why deep ecology is wrong? · 2019-10-26T10:05:38.491Z · EA · GW

Animal Ethics has written about this. Here are some of our relevant posts on the subject. Hopefully they are helpful.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Does improving animal rights now improve the far future? · 2019-09-19T09:13:31.803Z · EA · GW

Imagine you heard about alien civilization that was pivoted towards colonizing the stars. But most of these aliens had almost no moral recognition and some of them were raised in inhumane conditions to be killed for trivial reasons for the other aliens. If I heard about this situation, I would be pretty concerned about what the aliens would do when they started colonizing the stars. I wouldn't be rooting for them by trying to prevent existential risk instead of trying to improve their values.

But of course, that's a description of our society. There are some additional details about our society that make me more hopeful about it, but it seems quite weird to say that improving our values in this way wouldn't be important.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-09-07T17:11:18.614Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your comment! I read your article and left a comment on it here. I'll try to think more about psychosomatics and add a section on it when I have time.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on The Moral Circle is not a Circle · 2019-08-25T11:40:31.451Z · EA · GW

It seems to me like when most EA's are talking about an expanding circle what we are talking about is either an expanding circle of moral concern towards 1) all sentient beings or 2) equal consideration of interests for all entities (with the background understanding that only sentient beings have interests).

Given this definition of what it means to expand the moral circle, I don't think Gwern's talk of a narrowing moral circle is relevant. For the list of entities that Gwern has described us as having lost moral concern for, we did not lose moral concern for them for reasons having to do with their sentience. Even when these entities are plausibly sentient (such as with sacred animals) it seems like people's moral concern for them is primarily based on other factors. Therefore they should not count as data points in the trend of how our moral circle is or is not expanding.

Also, quite plausibly, a big reason why we have lost concern for these entities is because of an increasingly scientifically and metaphysically accurate view of the world that causes us to not regard these entities to be seen as special, to have interests, or even to exist at all.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-08-09T11:49:31.044Z · EA · GW

Thank you! :)

Thanks for mentioning C. elegans behavioural flexibility. I had meant to comment about that, but forgot to. That's a great paper on the subject.

I think people sometimes unfairly minimize the cognitive abilities of some invertebrates because it gives them cleaner and more straightforward answers about which organisms are conscious, according to their preferred theory.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-08-08T14:11:34.891Z · EA · GW

You are very welcome! :)

That passage is also one of my favourite parts of his answers, thanks for highlighting it.

I'll take a look at that David Pearce post, thanks for the link.

Thanks for pointing at the typo, fixed it now.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Ways Frugality Increases Productivity · 2019-07-19T19:45:38.658Z · EA · GW

Another way that frugality can improve productivity is that it can reduce the amount of time you spend buying, looking after, organizing, tidying, and thinking about physical possessions (because you probably have fewer of them). Of course, people who aren't frugal don't necessarily have more things, but they tend to have more of them.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Six-month update and summer fundraiser at Wild Animal Initiative · 2019-07-17T17:50:43.818Z · EA · GW


I'm particularly excited about the paper submissions and the increased academic expertise of your staff. That seems very important in getting this work taken more seriously.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Invertebrate Welfare Cause Profile · 2019-07-17T17:41:55.807Z · EA · GW

Excellent post!

Staying within the phylum, snails are consumed by humans in many cultures[53] and have attracted some attention as an edge case of consciousness in philosophical circles. A representative from class Gastropoda would therefore be useful.

It looks like there is a small error here. Aplysia was included on the table and is from class Gastropoda.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on What Do Unconscious Processes in Humans Tell Us About Sentience? · 2019-06-22T13:09:02.564Z · EA · GW

Great article! I like the conceptual clarification that you do about what it means to say that a process is unconscious and how people use this term inconsistently in the literature. I've never seen that put so well and it's important.

I was wondering what you think of cases where a good idea 'spontaneously' occurs to someone while there thinking about something unrelated or while their mind is wandering. I only know anecdotes about this phenomenon, but I think it's a widespread phenomenon that most people would experience something like this themselves.

Some people have some of their best ideas in this way and it seems to satisfy both criteria for being an unconscious process. I am not sure if it's directly related to any of the potential consciousness indicating features, but it seems like an example of very complex cognition being unconscious. Albeit it's a bit murky how it occurs.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-06-22T12:50:27.347Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Good thoughts!

I'm also not sure if we know how expensive emotions are. In particular, even if some emotions are complicated, I'm not sure if the basic conscious experience of pain is complicated (at least the affective part of the experience, maybe not the sensory part). It subjectively seems like quite a simple feeling, but I don't know much about this, and I'd like to learn more.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-06-21T15:05:39.396Z · EA · GW

Shelley Adamo misunderstands first question in part c) of her answer. I didn't mean to suggest that biology was required for consciousness, just that biological organisms might be more likely to have underlying homology with humans, which could mean that they might be conscious while similarly complex AI would not be.I think that our best theories of consciousness suggest that at some point AI will be conscious.

An issue with a written interview like this is that you can't make clarifications on the fly to head off misunderstandings. I hope to improve on conducting these interviews in the future.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-06-18T17:12:57.619Z · EA · GW

That's fantastic!

Comment by Max_Carpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-06-18T17:08:56.725Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the recommendations! I'll try to take a look at the evidence for eccentric training, I wasn't aware of that. I didn't go into any specific recommendations about strength training, because I expect that because I wanted to keep the post fairly short and because I expect my recommendations would depend a lot on specific case, and so couldn't be communicated well in a general post. But if it's as effective as you say, I definitely should have mentioned it.

I'm planning on updating this post at some point and I'll mention eccentric training and mention you in the acknowledgements if the evidence find it does look good.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-06-18T11:55:20.071Z · EA · GW

Hi Tofan, I'm glad you got relief from that! That must be amazing for you! Sorry if this comment is a bit caustic, in general I'm critical, though undecided about Sarno. I tried it and it hasn't worked for me. I'm definitely aware of it, and I've read Sarno's books. Sarno insists that you might have to fully believe his theory to get the results, and it's possible I haven't succeeded in doing that, though I have 'tried on' the hypothesis. I've also tried out the "Curable" app and found that they advocate a less extreme and more plausible version of the psychosomatic pain hypothesis then Sarno.

I was planning on adding a section on investigating the possibility of your pain is psychosomatic, but I've left that out for now because I didn't feel I had a settled opinion on the subject or knew what to recommend.

Sarno says some things that I view as deeply problematic, like when he says that lifting techniques doesn't matter or when he recommends discontinuing physical therapies. His theory of unconscious rage being responsible for chronic pain is also Freudian, and Freud is quite discredited.

My leading hypothesis about why he gets the results that he does in some cases is that his treatment gets people to return to activity and helps remove the psychological contribution to pain. Some people are probably actually recovered enough that returning to his fine and even helpful. I also imagine for a lot of people (myself included) the secondary psychological reaction to the pain (such as viewing yourself as crippled and feeling helpless) is more significant than the pain itself.

What makes you think there is more scientific backing to the TMS theory than the RSI theory? It seems to be true that there is a lot that isn't understood about how chronic pain and RSI work, but TMS seems to me even more mysterious.

I like Paul Ingraham's analysis of Sarno here.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:31:49.860Z · EA · GW

Thanks, I fixed those typos.

I guess my basic reason for thinking so is because there is around six order of magnitude difference in how much meat a cow provides and how much meat a cricket provides. But if you think about which attributes provide evidence of consciousness, I don't think you'll find that cows do not have vastly more of these than do crickets and cricket consciousness seems like a reasonable hypothesis.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:17:50.798Z · EA · GW

It's true that their minds are more divergent from ours, but I think that tends to mean there is more uncertainty about what they feel stress in response to, not that they feel less environmentally induced stress. Also, as I say in the post, the uncertainty makes it harder to improve their welfare.

I probably should have paid more attention to arguments about how they could have net positive welfare to have a more balanced post. Though I have seen a real bias in favour of eating insects (at least outside the EA community), and so I still see this post as contributing to a more balanced discussion of the issue. And for the reasons I given the post I still view it is unlikely that they have net positive welfare.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:07:37.401Z · EA · GW

My impression is that experts are divided as to whether or not insects have phenomenal consciousness. Some people seem to have strong intuitions one way, and others have strong intuitions the other way. Ultimately I don't think we know enough about the subject for anyone to be too confident one way or the other, and given this uncertainty we should take precautions.

I didn't think it was worth getting into the question how likely it is that insects are conscious because it's something that I've written about extensively elsewhere (mostly in a forthcoming report). And there are other posts on the question. In hindsight maybe a paragraph on it would have been good.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:05:45.748Z · EA · GW

Haha, oh, I didn't know you wrote that page :) That's good enough for the future.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-05-29T12:02:49.317Z · EA · GW

Yeah, I think this is a worry for his view. I do also personally assign a somewhat higher likelihood to invertebrate consciousness than modern AI consciousness because of evolutionary relatedness, greater structural homology, and because they probably satisfy more of the criteria for consciousness that I would use.

You might be interested in my next interview on this subject which will be with someone who discusses modern AI and robotics findings in the context of invertebrate consciousness, and comes to a more sceptical conclusion based on that.

Comment by Max_Carpendale on Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-05-29T11:52:59.209Z · EA · GW

I think he may be answering the question in terms of sensory pain rather than affective pain. I was mainly interested in affective pain, I probably should have specified that in the question. In terms of sensory pain it seems to me like his answer make sense and is right because it makes sense that more nociceptors would give you a richer and more complex sensory pain. But it doesn't make sense in terms of affective pain.

I agree with Siebe that he is using 'suffering' in a nonstandard way. He seems to be using 'pain' to refer to 'acute pain" and 'suffering' to refer to 'long-lasting, non-acute pain.'