Comment author: direct_feedback 21 September 2018 03:50:31PM 0 points [-]

I found it to be a pleasant read, thanks. I always like clear distinctions between concepts and I feel your article does this well. The article also seems to include several partially implicit recommendations. I feel these recommendations should either have been made more explicit and more structured or should not have been there.

  1. In various parts of the article you make a connection between the effectiveness of a community building organisation and them receiving money. To me it is unclear whether you are recommending that more money should be allocated towards community building (in which case I feel there is a lack of supportive evidence presented) or whether you are just posting a hypothesis (in which case I feel it is presented too much as a recommendation).

  2. The conclusion of the article also seems to hold a recommendation. To me it is unclear what the difference is between your recommendation and the current situation. Right now I feel slightly confused and if pressed I would guess (based on the paragraph including the “-yay, meta!-” comment) that you would like to cut out a middle layer?

These are just two examples, similar issues arise for me with the other recommendations. A possible way of solving this (next time?) could be to include your recommendations as bullet points in your conclusion and explicitly state to what open question the recommendation pertains and how your recommendation differs from the current consensus opinion or current situation. I think this will facilitate discussion.

Overall I like it as I feel all your recommendations seem both relevant and sensible. I just feel it could be improved by being more explicit and structured in your recommendations.

Comment author: laurenwhetstone 21 September 2018 03:43:46PM 0 points [-]

We've fixed the data link so it should be working now. Apologies for the inconvenience!

Comment author: Chi 21 September 2018 03:25:14PM *  1 point [-]
Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 20 September 2018 09:53:34PM 0 points [-]

It seems from experience like the median news piece is fairly underwhelming (~0 long-term impact) but there is a small chance of very large impact, so it's hard to get the exact expected value.

Comment author: Greg_Colbourn 20 September 2018 04:10:20PM *  1 point [-]

Yes I saw, and it's great! That's a bit different to what I'm thinking of though, in that TED is more something that people actively seek out/watch.

I'm thinking in terms of pieces that reach millions of passive readers/viewers (i.e. national newspapers and TV). [Context: The EA Hotel has recently been receiving a fair few requests to do pieces of this type].

Comment author: laurenwhetstone 20 September 2018 04:21:12AM 12 points [-]

The results from the 2018 Survey are about to be posted in the next day. I'll need enough upvotes to post and then we'll be sharing out: -Methodology -Demographics of the EA Survey -Community Demographics & Characteristics

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 19 September 2018 09:50:09PM 2 points [-]

Will did just give a TED talk.

Comment author: Julia_Wise  (EA Profile) 19 September 2018 07:40:52PM *  2 points [-]

I didn't fully understand the steps here - we'll be moving to an open beta soon, and the full version (with all posts and comments from the current forum ported over, links redirected, etc) will likely open in October.

EDIT: Aaand I misunderstood again. If you've requested to join the open beta, we should be adding you this week. Open beta will be in October, and full transition after that.

Comment author: Jeff_Kaufman 19 September 2018 05:58:15PM 0 points [-]

a few random old posts on a sidebar

In my case I just have a list of posts I thought were good and want more people to see, but in a forum with voting you could show highly upvoted older posts.

Comment author: Greg_Colbourn 19 September 2018 03:36:45PM *  3 points [-]

The recent survey of the community, showed that the media has played a comparatively small role in getting people involved.

Following David Moss, I'm curious about how much mass media on EA there has actually been? Could it not just be that we are not seeing new EAs as a result of media exposure simply because there has been hardly any of it in the last few years? What are the biggest TV appearances EA has featured in recently?

Given a lack of recent mass media, it's hard to say how many productive new EAs could result from a big mainstream media piece, and in the event they do, how long it would’ve taken for them to hear about EA otherwise. [This speaking about the English-speaking world].

Comment author: MikeJohnson 18 September 2018 08:00:22PM 1 point [-]

Glad to see work on this.

It seems to me there are two questions here: (1) what are the average effects of different environments (e.g. wilderness; factory farm) on animal well-being? (2) what is the average hedonic well-being of different species?

It feels like you're attempting to find a method that will give the combined score for any given animal. But maybe it'd be best to focus on each individually. Some of the methods you mentioned (e.g. cortisol levels, behavior anomalies, self-narcotization) seem fairly solid for addressing (1), if you had more data. What's the biggest hurdle to gathering more data? Can you think of any clever ways to gather lots of data cheaply? Basically it seems really useful to try to build an intra-species hedonic comparison first, and worry about inter-species comparisons later.

That said-- on inter-species comparisons, I don't think any of the methods you mention are likely to give a good answer to (2), especially as none deal directly with brain activity. It's possible (although I don't know for sure) that some of QRI's work is relevant here- essentially, we have a method ('CDNS') that could be adapted to estimate the degree to which a given connectome is naturally 'tuned' toward harmony or dissonance. This would face many of the same data & validation challenges you mention for other proxy measures, but essentially I'm skeptical that it's possible to address (2) without something like what QRI is doing, that actually looks at brain activity and doesn't rely on hard-coded assumptions about things that could be species-specific and are probably leaky anyway (e.g., brain region X is associated with pain).

If it checks out, this could give a rough inter-species comparison of natural hedonic set-points between literally any two connectomes-- cows, chickens, rats, grasshoppers, mosquitos, humans. Probably not an end-all-be-all, but a useful tool in the toolbox. More on our 'CDNS' method.

Comment author: Joey 18 September 2018 05:22:38PM 3 points [-]

Examples coming soon. We are currently aiming to have ~15 done and published by 10/7/18. Our full goal of this project is to create a consistent systematic baseline to quantify the benefits of various interventions which would then allows us to compare specific charity ideas and rank what might be the best few to found within the animal movement. is the closest thing to calculating the value of going vegetarian that I know.

Comment author: Joey 18 September 2018 05:22:23PM 4 points [-]

Yes indeed, that is the next step. We plan on applying this system to ~15 animal situations and doing a 1-5 hour report on each. This would be both for different animals (e.g. wild rat and factory farmed cows) and different welfare situations for the same animal (e.g. a report each for battery caged laying hens vs enriched cage laying hens)

On biological markers specifically, from the research we have done so far, it's very hard to find any consistent biological markers, not to mention situations where we have a bunch that we can cross compare on the same animal. Generally a good score might look like “some cortisol tests have been done on rats in an ideal living situation vs wild rats and the cortisol levels are about the same” where if the same study was done but the cortisol levels were much higher in the wild rats, that would be an indication of lower wild rat welfare.

Comment author: Joey 18 September 2018 05:22:09PM 1 point [-]

Thanks. Fixed.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 04:46:39PM 3 points [-]

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, 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. makes it easy to make these kinds of comparisons for farm animals.

Comment author: Naryan 18 September 2018 03:49:55PM 4 points [-]

Great to see this being looked at. Do you have any examples of this method in use? I'd be interested to see various animals and situations ranked using this method - as it could provide a baseline to quantify the benefits of various interventions.

I also attempted to create my own method of comparing animal suffering while I was calculating the value of going vegetarian. I'll provide a quick summary here, and would love to hear if anyone else has tried something similar.

The approach was to create an internally consistent model based upon my naive intuitions and what data I could find. I spent a while tuning the model so that various trade-offs would make sense and didn't lead to incoherent preferences. It is super rough, but was a first step in my self-examination of ethics.

  1. I created a scale of the value of [human/animal] experience from torture (-1000) to self-actualization (+5) with neutral at 0.
  2. I guessed where various animal experiences fell on the scale, averaged over a lifetime. This is a very weak part of the model - and where Joey's method could really come in handy.
  3. I then multiplied the experience by the lifespan of the animal (as a percentage of human life).
  4. Finally, I added a 'cognitive/subjectivity' multiplier based on the animal's intelligence. This is contentious, but helps so I don't value the long-lived cicada (insect) the same as a human. This follows from other ethical considerations in my model, but some people prefer to remove this step.

The output of this rough model was to value various animal lives as a percentage of human lives - a more salient/comparable measure for me.

This model was built over about 5 hours and is still updating as I have more conversations around animal suffering. Would love to hear if anyone else tried a different strategy!

Comment author: devayanikaur 18 September 2018 11:41:09AM *  0 points [-]

I was looking for something like this…I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs….Keep sharing.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 08:49:59AM 2 points [-]

Also, I think the link "WAS research had a great summary" does not link to where you intended.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 08:45:24AM *  8 points [-]

Thank you for tackling a very important problem. But currently I feel I’d be lost when trying to apply this model because there is more explanation needed for many factors. For example, how does the cortisol level weight against the dopamine level? And what levels are good? How to measure and weight various listed factors to assess anxiety? Etc.

Some examples of this model being applied would be very helpful for understanding the model. Is that the next step in your research?

Comment author: riceissa  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 04:54:48AM 16 points [-]

I have two questions:

  1. Is there a full list of grantees and respective grant amounts for the referral-based round?

  2. Is there some sort of evaluation process for funded projects that have concluded? I am curious especially about the outcomes of the projects that were funded in the 2017 round (that have now had the money for about a year). This question was asked about a year ago, but the details seemed uncertain at the time so I am re-asking the question.

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