Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 18 September 2017 03:38:47AM 1 point [-]

Update: this series is going to take months – not weeks – to finish.

After further reflection, I'm doing another major overhaul of my draft. I've also had to commit to doing more other work than in the last month than expected.

(In other words: planning fallacy.)

Comment author: jayquigley 11 August 2017 10:07:10PM 2 points [-]

If BCA were a major animal protection organization such as HSUS or PETA, I would mostly agree with you. But we are an all-volunteer force of around 4 dedicated members in one of the very most progressive cities in the U.S. What we should prioritize is not the building of awareness but rather the accumulation of inspiring legislative victories which will help mobilize the rest of those who are already aware of animal issues.

Rather than "run[ning] around and try[ing] to do something about every incidence of suffering [we] see", we are prioritizing attainable, potentially replicable, key legislative victories.

Incidentally, we've begun to think that if we run out of such potential initiatives, we should switch focus to educating local progressive political leaders about farmed animal issues.

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 12 August 2017 09:40:09AM 0 points [-]

Fair point. You seem to be opening up the way to show what's possible to larger organisations.

Having said that, can't you connect these two? Can't you one one end take practical steps to showing that real legal progress is possible while at the other end show the big picture that you're working towards and why?

Thinking big around a shared goal could the increase cohesion and ambition of the idealistic people you're connected with and work with on each new project from now on (this reminds me of Elon Musk's leadership approach, who unfortunately doesn't seem to care much about animal issues).

Comment author: jayquigley 09 August 2017 04:38:15AM *  4 points [-]

Speaking specifically for Fur Free Berkeley, and speculating on behalf of Fur Free West Hollywood, the reasons for focusing on banning fur were that it was:

  • attainable yet challenging

  • a meaningful step in an incremental progression toward further, more all-encompassing reforms

  • a farmed animal issue with which the general public has substantial sympathy

  • an industry wherein welfare misdeeds are egregious and relatively well-understood

  • an issue on which both welfare reformers and staunch abolitionists can agree (because it is a form of outright prohibition rather than welfare-oriented reform)

  • a form of animal farming that people can thoroughly sympathize with, encouraging further sympathies with other varieties of farmed animals, including the massive classes of individuals you mention

Specifically in the case of going for a second ban, there were additional advantages:

  • The legal language was already formulated

  • The WeHo law had already been successfully defended in federal court

As for the reasoning process for pursuing a given item, our unofficial criteria tend to be related to attainability (especially, in talking with legislators, do they feel excited enough about an idea to sponsor the item), defensibility (how worried would the bill's backer be about backlash), and momentum for the broader animal advocacy movement.

We do have further legislation ideas, some of which would make Berkeley the first to accomplish a particular feat. While we're not ready to announce anything yet, you can stay tuned on what we're up to by following us on Facebook:

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 11 August 2017 04:57:18PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the explanation for your decision to focus on fur at this point.

a form of animal farming that people can thoroughly sympathize with, encouraging further sympathies with other varieties of farmed animals, including the massive classes of individuals you mention

I'm curious – if you see this particular ban as a stepping stone to larger behavioural change in the state of California – how are you using your success here as leverage to make citizens become aware of the suffering happening on a much larger scale in intensive factory farms?

I saw this article on extending your progress to other animals. But, to be fair, it isn't clear to me yet how you're prioritising these areas.

In the Netherlands, I have seen a tendency amongst animal welfare charities to run around and try to do something about every incidence of suffering they see. While I understand this and admire these efforts, I try to bring across to them that becoming really good at one or two areas would make them capable of helping more animals overall, even by virtue of specialisation.

Comment author: Vincent-Soderberg 14 July 2017 04:14:20PM 1 point [-]

suggestion for possible low hanging fruit: getting DGB, The life you can save, and 80k into all the libraries in netherlands. Im constantly surprised how few libraries have the books in sweden, and the benefit of it is that once you get it in, at least a few people will read it, and it gets easier for a potental EA to get into EA if there is good reading material in their vicinity. thats my idea at least

other then that, i'll be going to Fest i Nord (a mormon convent), and i'll likely meet someone from netherlands. I'll be sure to mention the EAN to them!

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 11 August 2017 01:18:04PM *  0 points [-]

I had missed your comment, Vincent, so here's a late reply. :-)

I like your idea of distributing introductory books to EA through libraries (especially university colleges, where students seem more multidisciplinary and idealistic). Last May, we actually collaborated with a publisher to get a new translated book of Peter Singer out.

Here's the deal. From my perspective, it will probably take too much time and attention away from EAN to directly work on distributing the books. Our current strategy for representing EA publicly in the Netherlands is to do it in limited, low marginal cost ways – through our online channels and invitations from media or lecture platforms (this falls under strategy point 4: EA-related in the Netherlands).

I think we should aim to become extremely competent by specialising in these approaches, which also means not getting distracted by other outreach opportunities (unless focusing on one of those instead will contribute more to building a thriving EA community).

To explore this concept more deeply:

People tend to naturally specialise in economic markets. This seems more difficult in the EA community because in a transaction, a product (information, skills, and other forms of capital) is often not offered in return for currency units (a medium of exchange) but instead in the expectation of reciprocity (that the other party is 1. aligned enough with your consequentialist preferences and 2. capable of fulfilling these moral preferences sufficiently using what you give them). It's not even barter (the exchange of products as would be done in moral trade, i.e. where moral preferences diverge) but the formation of trust-based partnerships towards shared long-term goals.

My hope (and what we're testing) is that collaborating on building a fractal social network structure – with EAs clustering around different adaptable network targets with corresponding specialised expertise at each layer – would result in a more optimal division of labour.

So should a competent organiser in the Netherlands reach out to us wanting to build an 'EA Literature network', we'd be open to exploring this!

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 06 August 2017 01:55:44PM *  6 points [-]

This looks like a well-structured analysis. My respect for the successful lobby work in California. I was curious how you would place interventions on helping fur-bearing animals in an overall strategy to reduce the most animal suffering.

It makes intuitive sense to me that these animals (as well as dogs traded for meat) live decidedly miserable lives. The case made by organisations like Animal Charity Evaluators though is that the suffering of livestock animals like broiler chickens should be prioritised because they occur on a massive scale and tend to get even less attention from people.

As a quick comparison, each year roughly 25 million dogs are killed for food worldwide, 100 million animals for their fur, compared to about 53 billion chickens (at least 500x as much).

What are your views on this? How much is the strong statement that banning fur makes against speciesism part of Berkeley Coalition for Animals' strategy? How do you think to continue from here? I'm generally curious here to learn about your organisation's reasoning process for concentrating on a specific area.


Effective Altruism as a Market in Moral Goods – Introduction

This is post 1 of a 5-part series, where I tentatively apply the market and network concepts in the table below (links to definitions/examples) to hopefully gain a better applied understanding of how the EA community operates. I welcome your feedback in the comments section throughout.   1) Introduction 2)... Read More
Comment author: DardanBastiaan 04 July 2017 11:33:15AM *  1 point [-]

Looking at the list of friends to the Leiden chapter, I am impressed with both the amount of people on it as well as with the amount of talent I know some of these folk to possess. On the other hand, the activities thus far planned out and put out there these past few months, based on for example the 2 people that attended the last event, seem to have been largely unsuccessful.

There is a middle road, I think, combining the best of both our views. Rather than having a core group hosting activities which very few would attend, I envision having a core group that first raises awareness throughout Leiden and otherwise working pragmatically, which could include hosting events, to further the EA agenda. If some of these people are anything I know them to be, i.e. highly talented, motivated individuals, then we'd be able to stick together based on our shared passion and desire for a stimulating environment alone. The risk of such a group falling apart would in that sense be far smaller than what I had estimated it to be in my previous post.

Anyway, again, I very much look forward to working more closely with you and those already active in Leiden.

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 04 July 2017 02:03:03PM *  0 points [-]

Yes, I think connecting with potentially interested people on existing platforms makes sense for local groups, as an example. The subtle difference for me is that you wouldn't try to 'convert' the entire existing network but instead have targeted conversations with participants (e.g. talking with altruistic, analytical people at an Amnesty event or inviting people to schedule a cup of coffee at the end of your own event).

I'll connect you with the current organiser. Looking forward to exploring this idea further with you!

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 03 July 2017 10:49:24PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the points!

First off, you might be interested in helping continue the EA Leiden group (the current organiser has just finished her Masters and is going back to Germany):!/profile.php?id=100015874785676 Please let me know if you want me to connect you with her.

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 03 July 2017 11:19:34PM *  3 points [-]

Second, I lean towards focusing on enabling a handful of small number of highly-committed and capable people in a network instead of trying to shift hundreds of people towards EA.

Besides the outsized impact that these few individuals can have, the time cost of coordinating a large group of slightly motivated people (as you alluded to) and the difficulty of fostering a rigorous EA culture and network effects within such a group for those who the concept 'clicks', mean that I personally have a strong preference for quality over quantity (similar to Kevin Kelly's 1000 true fans concept or Y Combinator's advice of focusing on making initial customers love the product).

To some extent, EAN's strategy leans this way because we focus on building EA Networks instead of influencing existing networks.

The broad reasoning done by Sjir and I (based in part on useful advice given by others in the community) are build on layers of unproven assumptions. I can imagine counterexamples for local groups such as having low cost, low bar ways of getting people acquainted with EA like pub socials, to help build up a core circle of people.

In general, I want to be wary though of aiming for short-term effects by collecting many people instead of building up our collective capacity to solve big problems.

Comment author: DardanBastiaan 03 July 2017 06:06:02PM *  3 points [-]

First off: sign me up. There's a bunch of (potentially) relevant networks I'm connected into in Leiden, e.g. Amnesty, ISN (International student network), LDU (Leiden Debating Union), EUSA (European Student Association), but in which I have yet not been able to get through the change I should have pushed harder for. For example, I once had the idea to set up a debating tournament as to not only raise awareness, but do so amongst those who would be most open to its message and most able to then do something about it, namely debaters. This particular idea might not be as feasible as I once thought it was, but there's always other opportunities to be thought of.

Here are potential network collaborations that we’re exploring right now: Local/student groups These would clearly define their target groups and offer newcomers a path to learn about EA principles and build up their capacity to do good (established groups like EA London and EA Berkeley are inspirations to us here).

Based on having been in a book club with a community of about ~300 individuals, it's really difficult to get a large group of individuals to be consistently involved. It follows that this strategy has a high risk of failing, demotivating those involved in the failure from staying involved in EA. If you want to go ahead with this, it needs to be thought out well.

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 03 July 2017 10:49:24PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the points!

First off, you might be interested in helping continue the EA Leiden group (the current organiser has just finished her Masters and is going back to Germany):!/profile.php?id=100015874785676 Please let me know if you want me to connect you with her.


Testing an EA network-building strategy in the Netherlands

Last January, Effective Altruism Netherlands (EAN) became a registered charity in the Netherlands. The organisation consists of a three-person board and two full-time employees, Sjir Hoeijmakers and yours truly (Remmelt Ellen). Note: as of writing, we are still fundraising to cover our salaries. On 28 May, we publicly launched with... Read More

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