Comment by saulius on Corporate campaigns affect 9 to 120 years of chicken life per dollar spent · 2019-07-20T15:06:08.876Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Glad you liked it :) I added a sentence about indirect effects in the first paragraph. I see your point about the title but I chose to leave it as it is because:

  1. I think that people don’t expect cost-effectiveness estimates to take all the indirect effects into account anyway. That said, I am afraid of it being misinterpreted as an estimate of what an additional donated dollar would achieve.
  2. However, anyone who would make important decisions based on this estimate would hopefully read more than just the title anyway.
  3. I wanted to grab the attention of some EAs who would not consider helping welfare reforms otherwise (and hence wouldn’t open an article called “Cost-effectiveness estimate of corporate animal welfare campaigns”).
  4. I wanted the result to be prominently featured because I'd rather the common knowledge within EA would be "it affects 9-120 years per dollar but there are many complications and indirect effects" rather than "it's unclear what the cost-effectiveness is". The former at least let’s people compare the scale of the effects with other interventions.
  5. I don’t want to change the title now because it could confuse some forum readers, and make it more difficult to find for readers who remember the old title.
Comment by saulius on Sperm sorting in cattle · 2019-07-16T00:00:30.026Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · EA · GW

If I were you, I would try to somehow talk to the kind of farmers you would target, and ask if they would grow more cows if all calves were born female, preferably without making it clear why you are asking. I think that no amount of armchair theorizing can substitute that. You might find out about other indirect effects this way as well.

Comment by saulius on Corporate campaigns affect 9 to 120 years of chicken life per dollar spent · 2019-07-10T17:27:25.973Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

my assumption is that improving welfare will raise costs, and higher costs will cause customers to switch providers. Are you at all worried about companies that follow through going out of business?

The value of Mean years of impact is smaller because I considered companies going bankrupt, but I didn’t think about them being more likely to go bankrupt (or decrease their market share) because of commitments. Note that companies that don’t follow-through (or don’t commit in the first place) will eventually have to face campaigns from animal advocates, which also puts them at a disadvantage. It’s not like animal advocates stop once half of a country is using higher welfare products. However, if a period between campaigns against different competitors is long, this can be a concern. I haven’t heard of anyone complaining about this though.

I wonder if companies that follow-through would be interested in sponsoring legislation that forces their competitors to also improve welfare? That could help solve this problem maybe?

I actually asked someone about this. They said that companies that made commitments stop campaigning against such legislation, but they haven’t heard about food companies sponsoring such legislation. I imagine that it would only make sense for very big food companies and I’m unsure if any company is big enough.

In any case, this might be an argument for people interested in farm animal welfare to concentrate their efforts on improving welfare for one animal product in one country at a time.

Animal activists are focusing on one issue at the time and indeed, Bollard (2017a) claims that this as one of the primary reasons why corporate campaigns are so successful. But we have enough resources to do it in multiple countries at the same time. Also, animal advocates that live in different countries can’t all work on one country at a time, they are better at achieving success in their own country.

people will probably substitute chicken meat with beef & pork to some degree as chicken prices rise

Good point. One could argue that this still would be a win from an animal welfare perspective (although a smaller one) because chicken requires many more hours of suffering per calorie than beef or pork (see http://ethical.diet/) and because broilers arguably live in worse conditions. On the other hand, cows and pigs are more complex animals. Also, maybe some people would substitute chicken with fish, which could be even worse. Thinking about this also makes me less excited about campaigns/legislation against veal crates and gestation crates for pigs because they might increase the consumption of chicken. I don’t know how much these reforms increase prices though.

Additionally it might make sense to concentrate on particular industries, e.g., hotels, high-end restaurants, fast food restaurants, etc. Presumably, McDonald’s is more worried about being undercut by Burger King than Marriot.

Also a good point. I don’t know if animal advocates do that.

Corporate campaigns affect 9 to 120 years of chicken life per dollar spent

2019-07-08T08:01:43.368Z · score: 89 (28 votes)
Comment by saulius on Did corporate campaigns in the US have any counterfactual impact? A quantitative model · 2019-06-27T01:53:12.342Z · score: 22 (8 votes) · EA · GW
Wholesale - the term seems to be synonymous with free-range - egg prices were in the $1.25 per dozen

Wholesale is not synonymous with free-range. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wholesaling I already pointed it out when you published this article on your website three weeks ago but I thought that I should point it out here as well because your cage-free egg prices (and consequently the results) could be incorrect because of this mistake.

Comment by saulius on 35 Independent Pieces of Evidence for Why New Corporate Campaigns Might (or Might Not) Work · 2019-06-06T20:13:42.095Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
I think I’m less concerned about an error in one of the parameters than you seem to be because of the different goals of the research.

Just to be clear, I wasn't concerned about the error, I saw that deleting the cell and then making other appropriate changes increases the estimated probability by only 3%. I only commented about it because I thought that it is easy to fix. I agree that the approach you chose has its benefits.

Comment by saulius on 35 Independent Pieces of Evidence for Why New Corporate Campaigns Might (or Might Not) Work · 2019-05-29T20:49:33.533Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · EA · GW
Of course, I feel fully confident that the true outcome will be somewhere between 0% and 100%, but this result is not that informative when we need to make a call.

If your 90% CI is between 0% and 100%, it can be a little bit informative to put that in the model (preferably with a custom probability distribution), because it would help to distinguish between interventions that help 0-2 animals per dollar spent, and interventions that help 1 animal per dollar spent. You should of course prefer the latter to avoid the optimizer's curse. If you end up not having actual 90% subjective confidence intervals because you want to make things simpler, I guess you should keep that in mind when filling the column for the strength of evidence in your Priority Asks table.

Comment by saulius on 35 Independent Pieces of Evidence for Why New Corporate Campaigns Might (or Might Not) Work · 2019-05-29T14:35:08.420Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · EA · GW

There is one part of the model that I disagree with:

When looking closely at the US cage-free campaigns, only one (Whole Foods) out of
the 20 companies affecting the highest number of hens has switched to cage-free
(though most deadlines are for planned for 2025). Those companies account for
66% of hens that, in theory, would be affected by the campaign. Which means that
companies that met their deadline (average of 54% rate globally, across different
issues), had a smaller impact that the 20 that didn’t follow through. 5% of pledges is
going to affect 66% of hens. That might suggest that enforcement will become more
difficult as reforms become more significant for the animals and more costly to the
industry.

You then use this in the model as a piece of evidence about the expected follow-through rate of all corporate commitments:
model
All other top 20 companies (with a possible exception of Costco which seems to be close to being cage-free anyway) have their deadlines set in the future, as you say, mostly 2025. You can’t say that they did not follow-through, we just have to wait until 2025 and see if they will, nobody expected them to be 100% cage-free this early. If I were you, I would remove this cell from the model.

Comment by saulius on 35 Independent Pieces of Evidence for Why New Corporate Campaigns Might (or Might Not) Work · 2019-05-24T17:05:45.983Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

This is very interesting and useful, thank you!

I’m a little puzzled about how to interpret the results though, and it’s related with a maths problem that I’ve been confused about for a while. However, I have to warn that this is confusing and it might be counterproductive to think about it because of that.

Do you mean that if you start a new campaign for a new ask, then you expect 39% - 50% of companies that make commitments to follow through? If that is the case, the confidence interval seems to be very narrow. My 90% Subjective Confidence Interval (SCI) for that would be 0% - 100%. For example, there can be commitments like stopping chick culling which depend on the creation of new technologies. Scientists might fail to create such technologies in which case it’s 0%. Or they might make them very cheap and then everyone fulfils their commitments (100%).

Another way to interpret the result is that it is your subjective probability that a given company will follow through. But then I’m not sure it makes sense to have a 90% SCI of what your own subjective probability is. What would that even mean? How would you check that the true value is in the confidence interval?

But even if in your cost-effectiveness estimate you would use a point estimate (44%) instead of a SCI (39% - 50%) for the probability, I wouldn’t be sure about how to interpret the results. The result would still be a SCI because you will probably use SCIs in other parts of your calculations. But then that wouldn’t be a 90% SCI of the number of animal affected. It would be a 90% SCI of the expected value of the number of animals affected. But then again, I don’t know how to interpret a 90% SCI of an expected value.

I think that one way to model cost-effectiveness in a way that makes mathematical sense is to have a probability distribution of the percentage of companies that will follow through. The distribution would have some weight on 0%, some weight on 100% and some weight in between. Another way would be to use point estimates everywhere and say that it is an expected value. Of course, no one will die if you mix these two things, but the result might be difficult to interpret.

If anyone thinks that my reasoning here is wrong, I’d be very curious to hear because I encounter this problem quite often nowadays. And currently I am making a cost-effectiveness model of corporate campaigns myself, and I don’t quite know what to do with the uncertainty about following through...

Comment by saulius on 35 Independent Pieces of Evidence for Why New Corporate Campaigns Might (or Might Not) Work · 2019-05-24T13:00:38.387Z · score: 19 (7 votes) · EA · GW

More space per chicken is just one of the requirements. Probably the most important requirement is to use higher welfare breeds, which generally grow more slowly. But there are more requirements regarding lighting, enrichments, etc. You can see the full ask in the European Chicken Commitment. Asks for other regions are similar and can be seen here.

Comment by saulius on EA Forum: Footnotes are live, and other updates · 2019-05-21T08:57:18.171Z · score: 12 (10 votes) · EA · GW

This[1] will save me so much time, thank you!


  1. When I say this, I mean the footnote thing. You are seeing an example of it right now. The bios thing is cool too though :) ↩︎

Comment by saulius on [deleted post] 2019-05-21T08:56:46.538Z

This[1] will save me so much time, thank you!


  1. When I say this, I mean the footnote thing. The bios thing is cool too though :) ↩︎

Comment by saulius on [deleted post] 2019-05-21T08:52:29.444Z

This sentence has an inline footnote, which is probably the easiest kind to use while writing. [1]


  1. Here’s the note, which will appear at the bottom of the post once it’s published. ↩︎

Comment by saulius on Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift and Lifestyle Drift · 2019-05-16T10:11:11.562Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm confused about what is happening here. I remember reading this article a year ago, and most of the comments are almost exactly one year old. But for some reason the date of the post is "8th May 2019" and the post is in the first page of the forum where it says that it was posted 8 days ago. I guess there is some kind of a bug in the forum that caused the date of the post to be wrong.

Comment by saulius on What is the current best estimate of the cumulative elasticity of chicken? · 2019-05-03T15:08:55.447Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I don't quite understand this comment. I don't think there was any discussion here about vegetarianism vs. clean meat R&D. Maybe you should clarify if it's important :)

Comment by saulius on What is the current best estimate of the cumulative elasticity of chicken? · 2019-05-03T10:08:50.904Z · score: 15 (9 votes) · EA · GW

According to the article The Impact of Food Prices on Consumption: A Systematic Review of Research on the Price Elasticity of Demand for Food, the elasticity for poultry in the U.S. is 0.68 (95% confidence interval is 0.44-0.92). This value is based on 23 estimates. Table 1 in the article contains elasticities of other animal products as well. But on a closer look this seems to not be the thing that you are looking for: "we sought to estimate the effects of price changes on consumer demand".

In general, I would say that your friend is right that consuming less chicken might lead to less of a difference in supply than one would naively think, but it still leads to a difference. At least that's my understanding. But I have a very shallow understanding of this topic.

Comment by saulius on EA Forum Prize: Winners for February 2019 · 2019-04-17T10:53:58.994Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I guess another thing to watch out for is whether the prize consistently creates controversies like the one in the thread above. If it does, then maybe the prize is more distracting than useful.

Comment by saulius on EA Forum Prize: Winners for February 2019 · 2019-04-17T10:21:58.164Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I didn't think that far, I just expressed a concerned. But no one said it requires a significant time investment and Peter said the opposite, so maybe there is no problem :)

Comment by saulius on What are people's objections to earning-to-give? · 2019-04-14T22:29:00.041Z · score: 31 (19 votes) · EA · GW

I wanted to write something similar. I saved up the money that I donated by buying cheaper food and living in cheaper places. It all felt a bit pointless when I saw that the orgs that I donated to spend some of that money on fancy offices in expensive areas. But if I remember correctly, it wasn't a big deal as I continued donating to them. I thought that from an utilitarian POV it could be the right decision on their part.


I also want to say that I'm not sure that I now enjoy my job as a researcher at an EA org more than I enjoyed earning to give as a programmer. I thought that doing something directly meaningful would be much more enjoyable and make me more motivated day-to-day, but it's not happening. I think that what matters more (at least for me) is the nature of the task and whether it's easy to get into a flow.


As for social status, I always felt that even in EA circles (e.g. at EA Globals) it mostly depends on how charismatic/socially smooth you are and that what you do for a living has little impact on it. Maybe it's different in places other than the UK, I don't know. I guess I'm saying all these things because I want to show earning-to-givers that the other side might not be as glamorous as it can seem.

Comment by saulius on [Link] The Optimizer's Curse & Wrong-Way Reductions · 2019-04-14T20:07:24.699Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm interested in what you think about using subjective confidence intervals to estimate effectiveness of charities and then comparing them. To account for the optimizer's curse, we can penalize charities that have wider confidence intervals. Not sure how it would be done in practice, but there probably is a mathematical method to calculate how much they should be penalized. Confidence intervals communicate both, value and uncertainty at the same time and therefore avoid some of the problems that you talk about.

Comment by saulius on EA Forum Prize: Winners for February 2019 · 2019-04-13T22:35:53.433Z · score: 1 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Voters are important people whose time is valuable, and I'm a bit concerned about the time they spend to decide whom to vote for. For example, I don't want them to read the very long post I've written just to decide whether to vote for it (provided it's not relevant/interesting for them otherwise). I expect them to have more important things to do with their time. I understand that they are not obliged to read it. But being a voter probably puts some pressure on them to read the forum more than they would otherwise, and that might come at the expense of other work. Also, making voting decisions of this kind can be mentally tiring. And if voters don't put much energy into it because they are busy with more important stuff, then wrong posts get selected.

Comment by saulius on 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year · 2019-04-05T16:09:16.440Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

In some cases, fish are released when they are small in size, and then recaptured when they are bigger (this is called sea ranching). This can be economically viable because it's expensive to grow big fish in farms and their mortality rate in the wild is low compared to juveniles. In other cases, they try to augment or (re)create self-sustaining populations which increases the catch in the long term.

Comment by saulius on 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year · 2019-04-03T00:39:13.451Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

These fish are not slaughtered, they are released into natural waters. But I wouldn't jump to conclusions that quickly :)

Comment by saulius on 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year · 2019-04-02T21:03:40.622Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Icefish might weigh less than 10 grams, they really look tiny. Also, I see some wild-caught icefish in a fishcount table but it's ten times less in weight than farmed icefish. It could be that these stats don't include all the icefish though.

Fishcount also estimated that each year 0.45-1 trillion wild-caught fish are used to make fishmeal and fish oil, and that between 140 and 490 billion wild-caught fish are fed directly to farmed fish. But all of these fish seem to be wild-caught. This article also seems to assume that (although I only skimmed it). I haven't seen evidence that fish are farmed to feed other farmed fish, I'm not sure if that could be economically viable.

Comment by saulius on 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year · 2019-04-02T20:30:17.426Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I don't quite understand this estimation. It seems you are comparing Albert Schweitzer Foundation's work with an intervention that improves welfare for farmed food fish (rather than stocked fish)? It seems that the graph includes wild-caught fish. According to a fishcount estimate, in 2015 Germany slaughtered 8-66 million farmed fish. In general, my intuition is that those variables would not be similar to the ones in chicken campaigns.

Comment by saulius on 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year · 2019-04-02T17:49:23.774Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Also, the full quote from Honglang (2007) is:

According to an investigation report in 2001, there were 16 435 fish seed production units and of these, about 8 072 were well equipped for hatching and juvenile rearing. Total production of all the hatchery is 13 385 billion individuals which meet the need for grow-out production. There are 8 171 hatcheries of the “four major domesticated fish”, 6 700 hatcheries for common carp and crucian carp and 499 for tilapia. The rest of the hatcheries are for river crab (515), reptile (203) and shellfish (1 017).

According to the same article, “four major domesticated fish” are black carp, grass carp, silver carp and bighead carp.

I think this and other sources would mention that most of the fish are of one tiny species that is relatively unimportant commercially and produced by a small number of hatcheries. Or maybe they would exclude them from statistics. But this is not a very strong evidence.

Comment by saulius on 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year · 2019-04-02T17:33:26.132Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I didn’t know about whitebait. It’s an interesting theory. I haven’t found much information about whitebait/Salangidae farming or fisheries. I only see one species of icefish in fishcount aquaculture statistics - Clearhead icefish (Protosalanx hyalocranius). All of them are produced by China. Fishcount certainly underestimated their numbers by assigning a generic mean weight of 322-1,081 grams. If their mean weight is 10 grams (this is just a guess), there would be 2.1 billion of them produced every year - a lot, but not nearly enough to explain those huge numbers. But there are many tonnes of farmed fish with no species specified in fishcount and it could be that some of them are icefish.

Can we make any inferences about what percent of wild-caught fish were originally stocked in specific areas? Or has any research been done (via tagging, genetic markers, species, etc) to try to estimate that?

Yes, I’ve seen such statistics in many articles. For example, Stopha (2018) claims that “[o]ver the past decade (2008–2017), hatcheries contributed an annual average of about one-third of the total Alaska commercial salmon harvest. By species, Alaska hatchery fish contributed an annual average 66% of the chum, 40% of the pink, 23% of the coho, 20% of the Chinook, and 5% of the sockeye salmon in the total commercial harvest over the decade.” I remember tagging being mentioned as a way to estimate it.

35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year

2019-04-02T13:16:07.994Z · score: 81 (33 votes)
Comment by saulius on The Importance of Time Capping · 2019-03-26T14:39:58.431Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I think that time capping can sometimes be the right decision but I’m also afraid of people overapplying it in research. I remember how I was writing Is the percentage of vegetarians and vegans in the U.S. increasing? I did a couple of days of research, concluded that veg*ism is trending upwards, and planned to share my findings in a short post. I was hoping to finish it in a week. But when writing it up, I realized that some of the evidence was conflicting. Part of me wanted to ignore it so I could get it over with sooner. But sharing analysis with a wrong conclusion can be harmful. So I dug deeper. The week turned into months. My conclusions became more nuanced. I was thinking that if I changed my opinion or found an important piece of evidence yesterday, it would be foolish to stop thinking and searching for more evidence today because the probability of me changing my opinion again is significant. I think that this is a useful heuristic. If I would’ve time-capped, I would’ve published the wrong conclusion. Maybe someone would've later did more research and correct it, but that would’ve required more effort spent on the issue overall, overall research on the topic would be more difficult to comprehend because it would be in multiple places, and some people would hold incorrect opinion despite the new research because they only read my incorrect research.

Comment by saulius on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-05T00:04:20.768Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Also, if there is a shortage of ops people within EA, and you find a person that is good for you org but wouldn't apply to other orgs, you should be more willing to hire them, because you would increase the pool of EA ops people.

Comment by saulius on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-05T00:01:32.683Z · score: 14 (7 votes) · EA · GW

I once heard the advice that if you are a donor who finds an opportunity that is worth EA money, you should just donate to it, even if you think that you could find a better opportunity after more research. Because if everyone only looks for the very best available opportunity, everyone will have to spend much more time evaluating many projects, or evaluations will be less deep.

The same advice could be adapted to hiring in some cases. If you find an ops person who is good enough to do ops for some EA org, you should consider hiring them, even if you think you could find a better candidate after more search. Because otherwise orgs will have to spend more time evaluating candidates, and candidates will have to spend more time applying.

In other words, having a lower threshold for hiring could be cooperative with other EA orgs in some game-theoretical scenario. Of course, if we go too far in this direction, we will no longer have a good grasp on where the threshold for being hired is, and best people might not get hired. And there are other complications. But EA orgs could go a little bit in this direction.

Comment by saulius on Bounty: Guide To Switching From Farmed Fish To Wild-Caught Fish · 2019-03-02T14:55:02.286Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Note that this is also relevant for the question of whether eating more wild-caught fish is good for fish. If humans continuously restock waters with hatchery-produced juveniles to compensate for wild-caught fish, fishing might not affect wild fish populations in the same way.

Comment by saulius on Bounty: Guide To Switching From Farmed Fish To Wild-Caught Fish · 2019-03-02T14:44:00.037Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

One complication is that tens of billions of fish are raised in hatcheries for a little bit, and then released into the wild, to enhance wild stocks, so that more fish could be caught later. You could say that they are farmed for a little bit. I am currently writing an article about that.

Comment by saulius on Review of Education Interventions and Charities in Sub-Saharan Africa · 2019-03-02T14:07:29.681Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Have you seen Founders Pledge report on Women's Empowerment? Seems relevant.

Comment by saulius on Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments? · 2019-02-23T02:04:38.605Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I mentioned that U.S. egg producers are not transitioning to cage-free housing as fast as they should. That means that many U.S. companies probably made less progress than they should have, which is not something they want to report. Europe may not have a similar problem.

I also vaguely remember someone telling me in a conversation that there are cultural differences: European companies are more likely to make promises only when they already have a clear plan how to make a change, or even to just announce that a change was already made without any prior promises. I don’t know if that is really true.

Comment by saulius on Rodents farmed for pet snake food · 2019-02-21T13:07:58.507Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I wonder if outreach to not buy dogs and cats could be more effective for reducing the number of farmed animals than vegan advocacy. And if corporate campaigns that encourage dog and cat food manufacturers to use higher welfare animals (e.g. gestation-crate-free pigs, broilers that are stocked less densely) could be effective.

Comment by saulius on Rodents farmed for pet snake food · 2019-02-21T12:51:54.732Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

ok, but I will leave my comment as it is because it seems that many people conflate RP and CE, and maybe some of them will see my comment :)

Comment by saulius on Rodents farmed for pet snake food · 2019-02-21T12:46:59.696Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

It seems that meat produced for consumption by dogs and cats normally comes from the very same factory farms that produce human food. Because Animals claims that


Pet foods are made from both 4-D meat (animals that are dead, dying, diseased or disabled), and the leftover bits—referred to on pet food labels as “meat by-products”—of slaughtered farm animals. These parts include the snouts, udders, lungs, feet, organs, ears and other parts that humans don’t want to consume.

Of course, this doesn’t change much. Pet food allows meat industry to be more profitable, which leads to them farming more animals. I agree that this is a strong consideration against having carnivorous pets. There was a discussion about it in the EA forum here.

Comment by saulius on Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments? · 2019-02-21T11:54:51.672Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think that it's important for decision makers within charities to be aware of these problems, not necessarily the campaigners. I talked to some campaign managers when writing this post and it seemed that they were aware about most of these things anyway. But it could be that there are some decision makers in animal orgs for whom it would be useful to read this. Not sure how to make sure that they see it.

Comment by saulius on Rodents farmed for pet snake food · 2019-02-21T00:56:38.806Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · EA · GW

  • This post is by Rethink Priorities (RP), not Charity Entrepreneurship (CE)! These two organisations are not affiliated. RP does foundational research on neglected causes. CE aims to create high-impact charities.
  • My worry is that many people might not even know that owning a pet snake is a possibility. Any publicity about this issue could make more people aware that they can own snakes, which could lead to increased sales of pet snakes. I don’t know if this concern is valid, it’s based only on my intuitions, and your intuitions are as good as mine here. Everyone knows that dogs can be pets, so the situation is not analogous. Unfortunately, the impact of news stories on snake ownership can’t be evaluated because there is not enough data about snake ownership. There is only yearly data for the UK and it has a large margin of error. In other countries there is much less data.
  • I wouldn’t know how recommending alternative snakes could be done effectively. It may also be difficult to do without sending a message that it’s ok to own pet snakes. And yes, I am similarly extremely uncertain about whether that would be an improvement.
  • One day I’d like to look into changing agricultural practices to protect field mice, it does seem to be an important topic. However, it’s not in immediate RP plans.

Glad you liked the post :)

Comment by saulius on Why we look at the limiting factor instead of the problem scale · 2019-02-20T20:45:32.951Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

The way I see it, if a cause is big in scale and few people are working on it, there is a significant probability of finding some low-hanging fruits within it. So looking at the scale is useful for determining in which cause areas to look for cost-effective interventions. However, once you have some idea of how cost-effective interventions are, looking at the scale or neglectedness is not very useful.

WAS (Wild Animal Suffering) is a huge problem space, and we are only beginning to explore possible interventions. That doesn't mean that founding WAS charities right now is a good idea. However, it does suggest that searching for effective WAS interventions might be worthwhile.

Rodents farmed for pet snake food

2019-02-20T19:54:28.356Z · score: 64 (26 votes)
Comment by saulius on Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments? · 2019-02-06T14:10:00.625Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I think that relevant animal orgs know better whether it's good to outreach to news outlets and how/when to do it, so I will not do it myself.

Comment by saulius on EA Hotel Fundraiser 2: current guests and their projects · 2019-02-06T01:47:12.735Z · score: 23 (11 votes) · EA · GW

Some other considerations:

  • Living in the hotel might make people work more because less effort needs to be expanded on taking care of food, having a social life, etc.
  • For some having a place to work around other like-minded people is important for productivity
  • People sometimes learn relevant EA things from each other during daily conversations
  • Living in the hotel might prevent value drift and increase the engagement with EA (this is probably the most important one)
Comment by saulius on EA Hotel Fundraiser 2: current guests and their projects · 2019-02-06T01:44:20.274Z · score: 13 (10 votes) · EA · GW

Also see:

Comment by saulius on What are some lists of open questions in effective altruism? · 2019-02-05T12:05:38.241Z · score: 14 (8 votes) · EA · GW

Effectivethesis.com contains many possible topics

There’s also Jacy Reese’s 2018 list of half-baked volunteer research ideas

There are some research ideas at the end of EA Summit’s list

Global Priorities Institute's research agenda a has very many possible research projects listed.

80,000 hours as a list of potentially promising paths that they haven't written reviews on yet. I vaguely remember them mentioning somewhere that it could be valuable for people to write reviews about careers they are seriously considering. I guess 80,000 hours framework could be used for that.

Comment by saulius on Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments? · 2019-02-04T20:01:38.612Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yes, I initially noticed that as well but forgot to do anything about it. I already have a contact with the person responsible for EggTrack reports, so will tell her. Although it might be too late for them to fix it. Thank you for pointing this out!

Comment by saulius on Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments? · 2019-02-03T21:21:50.379Z · score: 10 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I think it depends on the nature of the article. An article that talks negatively about companies that broke their commitments (or did not report progress) can incentivize companies to keep their commitments. The same article could also mention companies that met their commitments.

Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments?

2019-02-01T10:24:26.297Z · score: 111 (45 votes)
Comment by saulius on Climate Change Is, In General, Not An Existential Risk · 2019-01-11T23:37:05.770Z · score: 26 (15 votes) · EA · GW

Also see Is climate change an existential risk? by John Halstead. He gave a talk about it at EAG London 2018 as well.

Comment by saulius on List of possible EA meta-charities and projects · 2019-01-11T08:21:29.169Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

https://www.effectivegiving.nl is also working on it. They are (or were) organising a weekend for them.

Comment by saulius on List of possible EA meta-charities and projects · 2019-01-10T21:47:26.955Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Hmmm, it would be interesting to organise another event like this where we brainstorm about possible new EA cause areas. Maybe I will do it sometime :-) Or someone else could do it.

List of possible EA meta-charities and projects

2019-01-09T11:28:29.773Z · score: 56 (35 votes)
Comment by saulius on EA Survey 2018 Series: Community Demographics & Characteristics · 2018-09-22T09:56:13.211Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA · GW

The majority of people who took the survey reported being male (68%), while 26% of respondents reported that they were female, and 13% described themselves as other or declined to self-identify

That adds up to more than 100%. I am confused.

Comment by saulius on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-09-18T16:46:39.806Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I tried to do something similar when deciding where to donate. The most significant difference was step 4. I used neuron count as a multiplier. For example, according to http://reflectivedisequilibrium.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-is-brain-mass-distributed-among.html, cows on average have 13.6 times more neurons than chickens. So in my model, one minute of cow's life was 13.6 times more important than one minute of chicken's life of comparable quality. I've seen some people comparing the square root of neuron count instead. http://ethical.diet/ makes it easy to make these kinds of comparisons for farm animals.

Fish used as live bait by recreational fishermen

2018-08-08T20:56:25.455Z · score: 46 (38 votes)

A lesson from an EA weekend in London: pairing people up to talk 1 on 1 for 30 mins seems to be very useful

2018-06-12T11:38:39.913Z · score: 16 (16 votes)

Fact checking comparison between trachoma surgeries and guide dogs

2017-05-10T22:33:21.864Z · score: 32 (31 votes)