KelseyPiper comments on Expected Value Estimates You Can (Maybe) Take Literally - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: KelseyPiper 07 April 2016 02:50:53AM 4 points [-]

All your posts on cause prioritization have been really valuable for me but I think this is my favorite so far. It clearly motivates what you're doing and the circumstances under which we'll end up being forced to do it, it compares the result you got from using a formal mathematical model to the result you got when you tried to use your intuitions and informal reasoning on the same problem, which both helps sanity-check the mathematical model and helps make the case that it's a useful endeavor for people who already have estimates they've arrived at through informal reasoning, and it spells out the framework explicitly enough other people can use it.

I'm curious why you don't think the specific numbers can be trusted. My instincts are that the cage free numbers are dubious as to how much they improve animal lives, that your choice of prior will affect this so much it's probably worth having a table of results given different reasonable priors, and that "the value of chickens relative to humans" is the wrong way to think about how good averting chicken suffering is compared to making people happier or saving their lives (chickens are way less valuable to me than humans. chicken-torture is probably nearly as morally bad as human-torture; I am not sure that the things which make torture bad vary between chickens and people). Are those the numbers that you wanted us to flag as dubious, or were you thinking of different ones?

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 07 April 2016 03:26:00AM 2 points [-]

I'm curious why you don't think the specific numbers can be trusted.

This post is the first step in an ongoing project to build a formal model for evaluating interventions. As a result, a lot of the numbers I give here are pretty rough. I've changed some of them since writing this and will probably change some more. I'm working on a customizable spreadsheet that will allow people to put in their own inputs and get a posterior. I want people to be able to use the process I describe in this essay, but I don't go into much detail on how I performed calculations since I'm going to do that later.

In short, I believe the results in this post are mostly correct but you should consider it a rough first attempt.