Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 22 September 2018 09:56:13AM 6 points [-]

The majority of people who took the survey reported being male (68%), while 26% of respondents reported that they were female, and 13% described themselves as other or declined to self-identify

That adds up to more than 100%. I am confused.

Comment author: Naryan 18 September 2018 03:49:55PM 4 points [-]

Great to see this being looked at. Do you have any examples of this method in use? I'd be interested to see various animals and situations ranked using this method - as it could provide a baseline to quantify the benefits of various interventions.

I also attempted to create my own method of comparing animal suffering while I was calculating the value of going vegetarian. I'll provide a quick summary here, and would love to hear if anyone else has tried something similar.

The approach was to create an internally consistent model based upon my naive intuitions and what data I could find. I spent a while tuning the model so that various trade-offs would make sense and didn't lead to incoherent preferences. It is super rough, but was a first step in my self-examination of ethics.

  1. I created a scale of the value of [human/animal] experience from torture (-1000) to self-actualization (+5) with neutral at 0.
  2. I guessed where various animal experiences fell on the scale, averaged over a lifetime. This is a very weak part of the model - and where Joey's method could really come in handy.
  3. I then multiplied the experience by the lifespan of the animal (as a percentage of human life).
  4. Finally, I added a 'cognitive/subjectivity' multiplier based on the animal's intelligence. This is contentious, but helps so I don't value the long-lived cicada (insect) the same as a human. This follows from other ethical considerations in my model, but some people prefer to remove this step.

The output of this rough model was to value various animal lives as a percentage of human lives - a more salient/comparable measure for me.

This model was built over about 5 hours and is still updating as I have more conversations around animal suffering. Would love to hear if anyone else tried a different strategy!

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 04:46:39PM 3 points [-]

I tried to do something similar when deciding where to donate. The most significant difference was step 4. I used neuron count as a multiplier. For example, according to http://reflectivedisequilibrium.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-is-brain-mass-distributed-among.html, cows on average have 13.6 times more neurons than chickens. So in my model, one minute of cow's life was 13.6 times more important than one minute of chicken's life of comparable quality. I've seen some people comparing the square root of neuron count instead. http://ethical.diet/ makes it easy to make these kinds of comparisons for farm animals.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 08:45:24AM *  10 points [-]

Thank you for tackling a very important problem. But currently I feel I’d be lost when trying to apply this model because there is more explanation needed for many factors. For example, how does the cortisol level weight against the dopamine level? And what levels are good? How to measure and weight various listed factors to assess anxiety? Etc.

Some examples of this model being applied would be very helpful for understanding the model. Is that the next step in your research?

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 08:49:59AM 2 points [-]

Also, I think the link "WAS research had a great summary" does not link to where you intended.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 18 September 2018 08:45:24AM *  10 points [-]

Thank you for tackling a very important problem. But currently I feel I’d be lost when trying to apply this model because there is more explanation needed for many factors. For example, how does the cortisol level weight against the dopamine level? And what levels are good? How to measure and weight various listed factors to assess anxiety? Etc.

Some examples of this model being applied would be very helpful for understanding the model. Is that the next step in your research?

Comment author: casebash 13 August 2018 06:16:45AM 0 points [-]

I am similarly suspicious. Someone should look into this more.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 13 August 2018 11:24:40AM 1 point [-]

I'm not sure how to look into this more. Note that the 1.17 billion figure is from the U.S. Goverment report so that should be dependable, at least for the lower bound. I think some more information could be gained by going to a baitshop, looking around and asking some questions (how many fish average person buys, is the industry on the decline, etc.). I myself can not do that because I'm not in the U.S.

Comment author: avacyn 11 August 2018 06:17:14PM 2 points [-]

I would upvote this twice if I could! I follow EAA stuff pretty closely and I haven't heard this discussed before. However, it seems like a highly important, neglected, and tractable cause area. The most exciting part in my mind is that progress has already started in some countries and states, meaning that it could be very tractable.

I'd love to see a more detailed analysis of the counterfactuals. For example, what percentage of bait fish will be replaced by artificial baits vs animals? If you used worms or other animals as bait, would you have to use more bait, or would it be a 1-1 replacement?

I'd also love to see some analysis about how existing laws came to exist. Who lobbied for these policies? Were they easy to pass, or were they controversial?

This is a great example of the utility of the EA forum - well researched and actionable. I'll do what I can to make sure this is on the radar of others in EAA.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 11 August 2018 08:03:10PM *  2 points [-]

Thanks. I encountered the 6 billion figure by accident when doing research about fish farmed for food for ACE. I wonder if there are other areas like this where a huge number of animals are hurt that animal activists are unaware of.

I don’t have good answers to your questions, but I'm going to do a bit of a brain dump here and answer them to the best of my knowledge, in case someone would find it valuable.

what percentage of bait fish will be replaced by artificial baits vs animals? If you used worms or other animals as bait, would you have to use more bait, or would it be a 1-1 replacement?

Artificial baits seem to already be more popular. E.g. see http://www.anglersurvey.com/files/2012/10/AS3-1.png (“live bait” here means live baitfish, worms leeches, frogs, etc.). Although one text I read said that internet is biased towards artificials baits because they are used by people who take fishing more seriously (and therefore talk about it on internet more). So the survey might have a selection bias as well. I have a hunch that people who use baitfish would be more likely to switch to other types of life bait, rather than artificial bait. Also, if farming of live bait was banned, some would catch live batfish for themselves. That is probably better than farming though.

Before I read Peter Singer, I used to fish with my father. From experience, I can tell that if they switched to worms, many more worms and maggots would be used than baitfish. E.g. see the amounts in https://www.wormsdirectuk.co.uk/acatalog/dendrobaena.html. We would keep maggots in the fridge, sometimes would hook several of them and would buy more than needed just to be safe. I might write a separate article about worms and maggots as bait some time later. I do think that they suffer less (both, because they live shorter lives before being used, and they are less sentient). But it could be that they are very stressed in those containers. So yes, it’s possible that counterfactual is even worse.

By the way, maybe some questions like this can be answered by just going to a nearby fishing or bait store and asking some questions. E.g. how many fish and how many worms do people usually buy? I wish I could’ve done that while writing this, but I don’t live in the U.S.

I'd also love to see some analysis about how existing laws came to exist. Who lobbied for these policies? Were they easy to pass, or were they controversial?

Some of the links that I put in the article partly answer this question, especially for Scotland. It seems that these laws are always controversial, fishermen don’t want restrictions and people who care about ecology want them. E.g. see this 90 page risk report about ecological risks of importing one species of baitfish from Arkansas to Minnesota- https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/aboutdnr/reports/legislative/2018-minnow-import-report.pdf The length tells me that it is an important issue for some people. In North America, a lot of rules were implemented after an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) in Great Lakes and some other waters in 2005-06. Some details about regulation changes can be seen at this website https://www.outdoornews.com/search/baitfish+rule It seems that regulations are always done at state level and institutions like “Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board” are responsible for them.

Comment author: LewisBollard 09 August 2018 11:59:23PM 19 points [-]

Thanks for looking into this Saulius! I'd seen a few things re baitfish and it has been on my list to look more into for a while. But this will raise its priority -- and make my task easier by providing a lot of the underlying sources. I'll discuss this with some of the farm animal groups to see if they have ideas. In the meantime, let me know if you find more info.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 10 August 2018 10:39:19AM 7 points [-]

If there is some kind of info that you need, let me know. I'd be eager to help and I may know where to find it (because I spent some time reading about the subject).

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 01:54:43PM 3 points [-]

Possible. It could be that the industry inflates the numbers because they want to seem bigger than they are. Note that baitfish is not even the most popular type of bait.

One thing to consider though is how many baitfish people take per fishing trip. After a brief search, I haven't found exact numbers but this website is advising:

Request a discount when purchasing in bulk. Injured minnows may be sold at a discounted rate, but fish that are injured rarely thrive after a change in environment. Instead, request a free dozen for every 10 dozen that you purchase.

So I imagine that fishermen who do buy baitfish, buy a lot of it. I also read that they often don't use them all and throw the rest into a lake, even though that causes ecological issues and everyone is asking fishermen not to do it.

In general, I understand your intuition and I will probably think about this more later.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 03:44:12PM 2 points [-]

in https://www.iceshanty.com/ice_fishing/index.php?topic=246812.0 an angler asks in a forum how many minnows should she buy for her fishing trip. The most common answer is 2-3 dozens.

Comment author: LKor 09 August 2018 01:00:32PM *  2 points [-]

Ugg.. something smells fishy here.. : ) The numbers seem completely outlandish.. 1 - 10 billion for recreational fishing in the US? There are, what.. 300 - 500 million total population in the US, I believe? Even assuming 10% are into fishing, would they consume 1 billion bait fish?

I'm extremely skeptical of this and strongly inclined to make a bet against this info being accurate. Currently considering what exactly I'd be willing to put money down against. My intuition is that these figures might be off by a factor of ten or more.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 01:54:43PM 3 points [-]

Possible. It could be that the industry inflates the numbers because they want to seem bigger than they are. Note that baitfish is not even the most popular type of bait.

One thing to consider though is how many baitfish people take per fishing trip. After a brief search, I haven't found exact numbers but this website is advising:

Request a discount when purchasing in bulk. Injured minnows may be sold at a discounted rate, but fish that are injured rarely thrive after a change in environment. Instead, request a free dozen for every 10 dozen that you purchase.

So I imagine that fishermen who do buy baitfish, buy a lot of it. I also read that they often don't use them all and throw the rest into a lake, even though that causes ecological issues and everyone is asking fishermen not to do it.

In general, I understand your intuition and I will probably think about this more later.

Comment author: jayquigley 08 August 2018 10:23:49PM 4 points [-]

Amazing idea! I'll be thinking and talking more about this, including with the animal-issue lobbying organizations I've worked with here in the US and California.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 10:07:35AM 0 points [-]

great, please tell how it goes!

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