Elizabeth comments on Why EA events should be (at least) vegetarian - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Elizabeth 15 November 2015 04:59:24PM 2 points [-]

So there’s not an analogous situation to help other people understand this from an animal advocate’s perspective, but to put it mildly, when other people eat animals at EA events, it feels as if some people at that event gathered in a circle and began writing hate articles against the Centre for Effective Altruism or cutting up malaria nets that the Against Malaria Foundation was planning to distribute. It feels like a slap in the face to our work, and worse, like a dismissal of the plight of the billions of suffering farmed animals

I agree with your conclusion, and co-lead an EA group that puts it into practice. But I'm incredibly uncomfortable with framing this as "because it upsets people" rather than "because it's the right thing to do." My group lost at least one member because the concept of QALYs was profoundly upsetting to them- should we stop using QALYs to prevent that? Where is the line?

Comment author: tyrael 17 November 2015 07:22:57AM *  1 point [-]

It's definitely a trade-off. I think many more EAs are bothered by other people eating animals than the use of QALYs, that eating animals is far less useful than QALYs, and (less certain here) they are bothered for more EA reasons. If a large number of EAs opposed the use of QALYs because, for example, they felt QALYs painted a very misleading picture of what makes for the worst health issues, then I do think the EA community should seriously reconsider their use.

I do worry, for example, that people could start acting upset by something in order to make changes in the EA community. Although that abuse is possible, I think accepting some risk of it is worth making people more comfortable in cases of genuine discomfort. If I started seeing more abuse, I could change my views, but right now I think there's basically none. So given the lack of these issues, I'm okay with a norm of, "When something is upsetting a lot of community members and doesn't have a clear, substantial benefit for other community members, we should strongly reconsider including it in the community."

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 15 November 2015 05:28:27PM 0 points [-]

It's extremely difficult to persuade people that being veg*an is the right thing to do. It's relatively easy to persuade people that they shouldn't do things that strongly upset many members of their community.