If it did, I am surprised why no one focused on that rather than the title. For me Capitalism is the cause or one of the biggest contributors or the maintainer to many of the issues we are facing, Global poverty and climate change to name a few.
I might give you climate change – though I would note that e.g. communist states also have very bad environmental records (see e.g. the Aral Sea), so there is still some work to be done to strengthen that case.
I don’t agree with global poverty – I currently think capitalism has historically been, and will continue to be, one of the most important forces bringing people out of poverty.
People say a lot of silly things regarding the connection between capitalism and poverty. There might be a more sensible case for a link between the two, but I haven’t heard it yet.
Thank you for being open minded. In terms of factory farming and capitalism, can I ask you if you don’t think that factory farming came as a result of capitalism? And wether countries with less developed capitalist systems (if you even can call them capitalists) have less animal suffering?
I can certainly see a story where capitalism was the genesis and remains the driver of factory farming. But the more fundamental problem is that most people don’t see animals as morally important, and that applies across nearly all economic systems.
There’s a complicating factor here, which is that capitalism makes countries rich, and rich people want to eat more meat, so it’s possible that that is most of the driver here. One could respond to that that in that case making countries rich is bad on net, but I think any path to a good world is going to involve making everyone in the world a lot richer, so if factory farming is near-inevitable in rich countries (in the absence of good technological alternatives) then I’m reluctant to blame capitalism, as opposed to humans in general.
I would be interested in seeing data on factory farming in less capitalist countries (e.g. the Soviet Union), compared to more free-market countries of similar wealth (if one can find any).
In contrast, the contribution of cryptocurrency to the world appears to be very much negative.
In contrast, the contribution of cryptocurrency to the world appears to be very much negative.
Is this based solely on the electricity usage? You haven’t given any other reason why we should assume that crypto money was obtained unethically—and the electricity reason seems to be a pretty weak one to me.
Many EAs, me included, are pretty sympathetic to capitalism as an economic system – certainly much more so than many other communities that place a strong emphasis on helping others.
This certainly isn’t universal within EA, but it is common. Personally, I think this has become a bit of a tribal signal within EA, such that people are a bit too ready to downvote anti-capitalist content. That said, given this context, it’s probably a good idea to ask questions like this in a somewhat more measured style, and provide some concrete arguments that people can engage with.
(One thing that would significantly update me in an anti-capitalist direction, for example, would be to provide evidence that capitalism leads to significantly more factory farming than other economic systems, even accounting for differences in wealth.)
To clarify, when meerpirat say that people on the EA Forum are volunteers, they don’t (I assume) mean that there is some dedicated team of volunteers whose job it is to answer Forum questions.
Rather, they simply mean that most users of the Forum are not paid to use it.
(I’m not sure if you were in fact confused about this, but I thought your comment above potentially implied that you were, so I wanted to make this clear just in case.)
While I didn’t like Khorton’s original comment, this comment comes across as spiteful and mean, while contributing little or nothing of value. I strong-downvoted it.
I feel I have explained myself fairly well on this thread already, see for example here:
One could imagine, for example, a post that contains similar content but is written with far more sympathy for what ACE and co. are trying to do here, even if the author disagrees (strongly) with its implementation. I think this post actually does better on this than many past posts on this topic, but taken as a whole we are still a long way from where I would like to be.
Whatever information you want to convey, there are always a very wide range of ways to convey that information, which will vary substantially in their effects. With very controversial stuff like this, it is especially worth putting thought into how to convey that information in the manner that is best for the world.
I’ve actually been quite impressed with Hypatia’s behaviour on this point since the post went up, in terms of updating the post based on feedback and moderating its tone. I think my version of this post would try even harder to be nice and sympathetic to pro-SJ EAs than this, but I’m not very unhappy with the current version of the OP.
(The ensuing discussion has also brought to light several things that made me update in the direction of ACE’s behaviour being even worse than I thought, which makes me more sympathetic to the OP in its original form, though I stand by my original comments.)
Yeah, to be clear I’m happy for EA and EA-adjacent orgs to publish news they’re excited about on the Forum, and this certainly qualifies.
Something about the phrasing does bug me, but I’m not sure exactly what. This could be explained by WAI copying phrasing from another source (e.g. promotional material) to make this post, which would be understandable as a time-saver.
I feel a bit bad about my other comment being the first and only comment here, because while I stand by what I said there I also think this coverage is great news and WAI is totally justified in being really excited about it. So, congratulations!
I’d be interested in getting others’ takes here, but as currently phrased this post feels a bit too much like marketing / propaganda for me to be comfortable with it as a post on this Forum.
(I continue to be very supportive of WAI’s mission, methods, and staff.)
Thanks, Jakub. Good to get the perspective of someone more closely involved in this.
[T]he first email Anima International received about issues with CARE was information that ACE had chosen to freeze Anima International’s funds from the Recommended Charity Fund with the stated reasons being what they believed to be racist behaviour of our staff members and the lack of appropriate response to this from Anima International’s leadership.
Are you able to give an indication of how long Anima’s funding was frozen? Are we talking hours? Days? Weeks?
The embedded claim being objected to is that the group is “explicitly aligned with one side” (of this dispute).
NB: I didn’t downvote this comment and would be interested to know why people did.
(I’m not sure how much the group admins want the group description waved around on the Forum, given that nobody has linked to it so far. I’ve tried to strike the right balance here but am open to cutting stuff if a group admin tells me they’d prefer something different.)
The group describes itself as a “group for EAs into getting on with conservatives and liberals alike, and who want EA itself to be more welcoming to people of all different political stripes”, and links to resources that are clearly in support of open discussion and against censoring true beliefs for the sake of avoiding offence. It even explicitly says controversial topics “are welcome”, as long as you “use stricter epistemic standards in proportion to how offensive [your claim] is”.
Even though it does not make any angry claims about cancel culture, I defend my claim that this group is clearly oriented towards the free-speech end of EA and away from the censor-opposing-views-to-protect-vulnerable-groups end.
I’m not saying the group is bad! Merely that I think, based on evidence, that my claim is reasonable. I also still don’t understand why joining this group would address these problems; I think explaining the model for the last thing might be a more effective way to change my mind, but it also might be too much of a tangent for this comment thread.
Perhaps. However, this post makes specific claims about ACE. And even though these claims have been discussed somewhat informally on Facebook, this post provides a far more solid writeup. So it does seem to be making a signficantly new contribution to the discussion and not just rewarming leftovers.
My claim was not that this post didn’t contain new information, or that it was badly written – merely that it is part of a pattern that concerns me, and that more effort could be being made to mitigate the bad effects of this pattern.
On the contrary, now that this has been written up on the forum it gives people something to link to. So forum posts aren’t just read by people who regularly read the forum.
I wasn’t saying they wouldn’t see it, I was saying they wouldn’t engage with it – that they will disagree with it silently, feel more alienated from the Forum, and move a little further away from the other side of EA than they were before. I think the anonymous comment below is quite strong evidence that I’m on the right track here.
If you want to avoid a split in the movement, I’d like to encourage you to join the Effective Altruists for Political Tolerance Facebook group and contribute there.
I’m honestly a bit flummoxed here. Why would contributing to a Facebook group explicitly aligned with one side of this dispute help avoid a split?
Thanks, this comment was a pretty big update for me towards Hypatia’s interpretation (I’d previously been much closer to Ben’s).
Footnote 50 from that blockquote is also relevant:
In addition to lengthy email correspondence, our impression here was informed by evidence we cannot publish, including calls with Anima International’s leadership and correspondence in a public Facebook group (“Effective Animal Advocacy – Discussion”). Even though Anima and the ACE staff members who are discussed in the email thread encouraged us to publish the email correspondence, members of the evaluations committee decided against this to protect the privacy of the third parties mentioned, and to assure charities that we keep our private correspondence confidential.
I think private discussions are very important, but I don’t feel good about a world where they entirely substitute for this kind of public disagreement. I think past Forum controversies of this kind have often been quite valuable.
Previous criticism of ACE in venues like the Forum has primarily been about its research methodology (e.g. here and response here).
It’s been a while since I followed EAA research closely, but it’s my impression ACE has improved its research methodology substantially and removed/replaced a lot of the old content people were concerned about – at least as far as non-DEI issues are concerned.
Turning to the object level: I feel pretty torn here.
On the one hand, I agree the business with CARE was quite bad and share all the standard concerns about SJ discourse norms and cancel culture.
On the other hand, we’ve had quite a bit of anti-cancel-culture stuff on the Forum lately. There’s been much more of that than of pro-SJ/pro-DEI content, and it’s generally got much higher karma. I think the message that the subset of EA that is highly active on the Forum generally disapproves of cancel culture has been made pretty clearly.
I’m sceptical that further content in this vein will have the desired effect on EA and EA-adjacent groups and individuals who are less active on the Forum, other than to alienate them and promote a split in the movement, while also exposing EA to substantial PR risk. I think a lot of more SJ-sympathetic EAs already feel that the Forum is not a space for them – simply affirming that doesn’t seem to me to be terribly useful. Not giving ACE prior warning before publishing the post further cements an adversarial us-and-them dynamic I’m not very happy about.
I don’t really know how that cashes out as far as this post and posts like it are concerned. Biting one’s tongue about what does seem like problematic behaviour would hardly be ideal. But as I’ve said several times in the past, I do wish we could be having this discussion in a more productive and conciliatory way, which has less of a chance of ending in an acrimonious split.
I like the concept of anonymity risks and agree that is a fair argument against advance sharing.