Comment author: Denise_Melchin 11 November 2017 10:43:23PM *  11 points [-]

Hi Kathy,

as I said before, thank you very much for your research into this! I agree with you that it is an important issue.

I'd be interested to hear about estimates of how much sexual violence lowers quality of life compared to other issues like poverty and depression. My hunch is that it causes similar amounts of suffering (whereby similar means 'within an order of magnitude') but I don't have any evidence for this.

Unfortunately your post is somewhat long which makes it a bit hard to read. More structure and maybe splitting it up into a few posts would help. People, even EA forum readers, tend to be lazy - and it'd be disappointing if thereby fewer people get informed on potential strategies to address sexual violence. I'm happy to work with you on this if you like.

I have to admit that I haven't read your post completely yet myself, so therefore I'm only commenting on one point related to the content for now.

I disagree with your characterisation of people who commit rape. [Edit: Kathy actually doesn't mischaracterise this in the article, but since it's a common misconception which is important to avoid I'll let the rest of the comment stand.]

I think the idea of the dichotomy of 'rapists' and 'non-rapists' is fundamentally misguided and a case of fundamental attribution error.

The type of rapist which you describe in your post who consciously makes the decision to ignore lack of consent isn't the only type of person who commits rape. Therefore the study you're citing only constitutes a lower bound of the number of rapists.

This is more speculative, but I think it's likely lots of people have done sexual activities with someone else without having sufficient evidence that their sex partner is consenting. It's only most of the time they get lucky and the other person wanted the sexual activities as much as them. If they're not so lucky, that makes them rapists.

That said, I do think there's a spectrum here - between people who cannot quite be bothered to properly check for consent to sex every time and people who will happily ignore lack of consent to sex in most situations.

Only addressing the latter of those can thereby only be a start to addressing the whole problem. This also leads to the important question of how the number of rapes committed is distributed. Are most acts of sexual violence committed by a select particularly egregious few or by the presumably more common 'casual rapist'? Answering this question is relevant for picking the strategies to focus on. This is because it seems plausible that different types of people who commit rape require different strategies to stop them.

Thank you for putting so much time and thought into your post.


Comment author: Denise_Melchin 25 July 2017 01:31:47PM *  0 points [-]

That's a great talk, thank you for it. This is why I've started to mind that people get encouraged to figure out what "their cause area" is.

Apart from the fact that they're likely to change their mind within a few years anyway, it's more valuable for the world for them to focus on what they're good at even if it's not in their preferred cause area. Cooperation between cause areas is important.

(Also, "figuring out what the best cause areas are" might be something that should also be done by people whose comparative advantage it is).

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 06 June 2017 03:34:29PM 3 points [-]

What is your model of why other people in the AI safety field disagree with you/don't consider this as important as you?

Comment author: MichaelPlant 07 December 2016 11:22:50AM 1 point [-]

in response to your first point, yes I did mix those up.

And for the 2nd, I'm thinking hedonically and am leaning on the literature on hedonic adaptation. I'm not sure how to think about re-doing the calculations if I was using preferences util. So I think it's consistent to say "I would give up much more than a year of life to keep my child alive" whilst recognising that few (any?) events have a long term impact on happiness, either positive or negative.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 08 December 2016 06:42:41PM *  3 points [-]

I think the results on 'hedonic adaption' are much less straightforward than you think they are. In general I'd caution against making strong claims that completely go against common sense about people's preferences based on just reading a few studies.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 04 June 2016 12:15:34PM 3 points [-]

I agree with David Moss.

Apart from that, the cat will eat those meat cans whether you own it or someone else own it. If you don't increase demand of pets by getting your cat from an animal shelter, this should be fine (besides the costs David mentioned). But you really shouldn't get them from a breeder.

Comment author: Paul_Christiano 06 April 2016 02:55:37PM *  5 points [-]

Thanks for pointing that out.

Compare to this post about a similar specific issue

One difference is that the current post is about a concrete project that has a utilitarian justification and is being philanthropically funded. In some abstract sense it seems like this should be as on-topic as other object-level discussion.

Edit: What I originally thought this post would be about is dangers to cognition from climate change, which I think would be a slightly better fit.

I don't disagree that people might be more interested in that, but it's psychologically/sociologically interesting that it would be a better fit. It's not clear what the relevant difference is.

The paper also isn't accessible.

Thanks, linked to non-paywalled version.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 08 April 2016 11:30:42AM 0 points [-]

Well, the upvotes are speaking for themselves! :-)

My point was that it's not clear to me how it relates to doing 'the most good'. If you had mentioned you want to have this research to influence public policy or to highlight it as an underappreciated risk of global warming, the connection would be less removed than very specific productivity advice (compared to very specific finance advice).

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 06 April 2016 01:05:16PM *  0 points [-]

I generally appreciate your posts and comments, but I wonder whether the EA forum is the right forum for this particular one. It's quite specific. Compare to this post about a similar specific issue and the top comment:

Edit: What I originally thought this post would be about is dangers to cognition from climate change, which I think would be a slightly better fit.

The paper also isn't accessible.

Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 22 January 2016 08:57:33PM *  0 points [-]

Sounds like we have been talking past one another - I'm really only talking about closed-door conversations and thoughts in your head. Clearly you have to be much more careful when speaking to a wide audience.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 22 January 2016 09:08:57PM 2 points [-]

That wasn't really clear though, since this discussion started upon the term being used in public facing channels.

Comment author: Toby_Ord 21 January 2016 11:45:26AM 15 points [-]

The terms 'softcore EAs' and 'hardcore EAs' are simply terrible. I strongly urge people to use other words to talk about these groups.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 21 January 2016 12:14:24PM 2 points [-]

I totally agree, came here to make the same comment.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 05 January 2016 07:28:09PM 1 point [-]

"I've previously discussed my concerns about the obstacles to changing one's mind about cause prioritization, and I can imagine ethical offsetting at the cause area level being used to remind oneself about various causes of suffering in the world and the organizations working to stop them. This could make it easier to change one’s mind about what’s most effective. It seems somewhat plausible that offsetting would help make the community better at updating and better informed."

This has roughly been my reasoning for considering donating small sums to Animal suffering as a cause area and Climate Change as a cause area. (Though I haven't done so yet.) I think it helps people to keep an open mind and am therefore happy to see them offsetting their 'wrong' behaviour.

I agree with Ryan's and Linch's comments as well.

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