Your opinions might change as you take into account the full ranges of possible estimates, relative robustness, and longer-term effects. I’m pretty uncertain about the relative value of global poverty work vs. animal work, even given a non-speciesist account. See “Global poverty could be more cost-effective than animal advocacy (even for non-speciesists)” for a sketch of what I’m talking about.
The first impression though is that animal charities should be accepted as more effective until proven otherwise by some large positive AMF flow-through effect that outweighs saving a life (maybe reducing insect populations?) Until then it seems much more straightforward to donate to ACE charities, specifically the cage-free ones.
It’s a rather weak consideration though. I think I’d most rather invest in more research to figure out these comparisons.
You might also want to take longer-run effects into account, as is discussed in this article: http://globalprioritiesproject.org/2014/06/human-and-animal-interventions/
This is absurd. Not because human lives are necessarily inherently more valuable than other animal lives, but rather because the calculation is ridiculously unrefined and cannot be used to support the conclusion.
The idea of basing the calculation on a simple neuronal count is flat out wrong, because humans aren’t even at the top in an even, 1:1 weighting in that regard, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_by_number_of_neurons . If it were that easy, the point could much more easily be made by just looking at elephant charities rather than chicken charities. It should be obvious right away from this that the argument from neuronal count is wrong.
And then, even if there is something to the idea, why arbitrarily use a square root in the calculation? Its only purpose seems to be to make the ratio closer: from 391 to 20.
And then it also assumes that there is a direct relationship between neuronal count and capacity for suffering, ignoring all other brain functions such as “thinking, memory, language, things that don’t contribute to the raw suffering that is necessary for moral worth,” which should itself appear absurd for obvious reasons.
And then there is also the basic assumption that ethics is based on suffering, which is a whole other subject (and doesn’t need to be discussed here, and is perhaps the least controversial aspect).
Any one of the aspects being wrong is enough to draw the conclusion into serious doubt, but almost the entire chain of aspects is questionable.
I think that when someone puts a number on an unknown value, the only good response is to say whether it’s too high or too low. Merely describing the uncertainty doesn’t get us anywhere closer to knowing where to donate. Animal charities could easily be better than the OP suggests.
Since there are less than 1 million elephants alive today, even if each elephant has modestly more moral value than each human, elephant welfare is still very unlikely to meet the importance criteria.