MichaelDickens comments on Quantifying the Impact of Economic Growth on Meat Consumption - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 22 December 2015 03:44:10PM 11 points [-]

This is a really important consideration, and thank you for writing about it. Economic growth (both for developing and developed countries) is not as straightforwardly good as some people make it out to be. Generally I expect that making people wealthier will be good in the long term, but I'm pretty uncertain about this, and I'm concerned that GiveWell top charities are not as straightforwardly good as people make them out to be (I discussed this in my post yesterday).

I'm somewhat bothered by the downvotes here, and by how a lot of EAs seem hostile toward "weird" ideas. Given that a lot of really important subjects sound "weird" (wild-animal suffering, AI risk, etc.), it's really important that we're able to talk about weird subjects.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 23 December 2015 12:19:42AM 2 points [-]

Thanks, your post was actually the thing that reminded me about this topic and inspired me to try to go out and make some progress on the issue.

I don't think these numbers are likely to make aid bad because I think that aid improves welfare more-than-proportionally to its impact on the economy. In other words I suspect (uninformed opinion here) that the impact of aid on well being is significant while its impact on economic growth is smaller, in comparison to the normal correlation between wealth and happiness that we see when economies develop for normal reasons. So the human welfare/animal welfare tradeoff for charities could easily be good even if the human welfare/animal welfare tradeoff for economic development in general is bad.

I think at least I've given a low enough upper bound on the issue that we can have an easier time determining that certain other far-reaching concerns can outweigh it, and that's an important step.

The only thing that really worries me about the discussion taking place is that no one's pointed out any problems or adjustments to my calculations, and I wrote this between midnight and 4am, so I have a high prior for having messed something up or done something contentious, and I'd hope that people would do more to point out issues with the methodology rather than taking the results at face value.

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 23 December 2015 01:40:14AM 1 point [-]

I haven't looked over your calculations that carefully but I don't see any obvious problems.