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

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Comment author: Larks 22 December 2015 09:42:48PM *  4 points [-]

Hey Bernadette,

I think your general argument:

If making people richer is bad because it increases meat consumption, then this has many implications other than just for AMF - it is an argument for many otherwise abhorrent actions and policies.

is a good one.

But I think you could present it better. At the moment some of your examples are very partisan - in a US context you have two very anti-right-wing examples, and no anti-left-wing examples. Thinking about Politics is the Mindkiller, this is likely to make it hard for right-wing readers to appreciate your point. Their instinctive reaction to your post will be hostility and defensiveness:

"No, doesn't she realise that 'universal health care' costs far more than it is worth? Experiments like the RAND and Oregon healthcare experiments show that giving people more healthcare than they would buy themselves doesn't make them any healthier, it just increases taxes even further!"

"No, gun rights are an important human right - violating them to try to reduce murders makes as much sense as banning gay sex as a policy to fight HIV/AIDs."

Now, these responses would miss the point of your argument. Your argument doesn't depend on which policies would make people in the first world poorer. Ideally, your right-wing reader would instead substitute

  • Support political parties that promote pointless regulation (reducing economic growth)
  • Support minimum wages (unemployed people can't afford meat)
  • Support mandatory contraception and abortion (people who are never born can't eat meat)

for your suggested examples and then come to agree with your substantive point. But I think in practice this is unlikely - it takes substantial effort to overcome the instinctive negative response

But you can avoid this reaction, and make it easier for people from diverse political backgrounds to agree with you, by either including political examples from a variety of perspectives - say, swap out one of the anti-right-wing examples for an anti-left-wing one - or better yet by simply not using any directly political examples at all. Your first and last examples do this well - sufficiently concrete that people can understand what they mean, but sufficiently abstract that readers can think of examples consistent with their other views.

edit: formatting