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Comment author: FrameBenignly 23 November 2014 04:41:23PM *  5 points [-]

1) The calculation is wrong. If point 1 is the base number (which you seem to be setting at 0.05 of $5), then point 5 (value animal places on their own life) should increase the value of vegetarianism however it decreases it in your model.

2) You're setting the value of 12.5 days of human suffering at $5. That is insane. By comparison, governments tend to set a human life at $10,000,000, and average lifespans are around 78 years, so 12.5 days is equivalent to about $4,000. The UK's QALY is set at $50,000 which comes to $1,700.

3) T̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶i̶s̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶r̶g̶u̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶e̶f̶f̶e̶c̶t̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶l̶t̶r̶u̶i̶s̶m̶;̶ ̶i̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶u̶t̶i̶l̶i̶t̶a̶r̶i̶a̶n̶i̶s̶m̶.̶ Eating meat does not increase your ability to donate to charity. It actually generally decreases it because meat tends to cost more; especially if government subsidies were removed.

For others considering vegetarianism as a lifestyle, I will say that I was a pollotarian for several years before becoming a full vegetarian. Your other options include becoming a pescetarian or a pollopescetarian. Cows and pigs are more similar to humans so the likelihood of reducing net harm is much greater by not eating them than for other animals. This can be a useful transition stage into full vegetarian, or you're still improving the world even if you never make the full switch.

EDIT - replaced "after including government subsidies" with "if government subsidies were removed"; same meaning but less ambiguous

Comment author: jkaufman 24 November 2014 01:20:05AM 11 points [-]

You're setting the value of 12.5 days of human suffering at $5. That is insane. By comparison, governments tend to set a human life at $10,000,000, and average lifespans are around 78 years, so 12.5 days is equivalent to about $4,000. The UK's QALY is set at $50,000 which comes to $1,700.

Our world is insane. You can currently pay $5 and alleviate 12.5 days of human suffering.

(That's $146 per QALY/DALY, which is close to GiveWell's estimate for the benefit of donating to SCI. See how cost effective is mass deworming.)

Comment author: jkaufman 20 November 2014 04:51:08PM 5 points [-]

I haven't thought about this much since 2011 [1] but I think what they've done in hardware is something previously people have done in software. It doesn't sound like they (or anyone else) has been able to demonstrate learning on their simulated nematode.

[1] I looked into nematode simulations several years ago, and talked to a few people including Stephen Larson at the Open Worm project: http://www.jefftk.com/p/whole-brain-emulation-and-nematodes

Comment author: Salemicus 17 November 2014 04:30:41PM *  1 point [-]

I wonder how RobbBB, and other vegans, feel about lions on the Serengeti. When they kill gazelles, is that morally wrong? Obviously, they aren't going to be dissuaded by your blog posts, but in a utilitarian framework, I would think that suffering caused by lions' carnivorous tastes is just as "bad" as that caused by humans. Should we put all carnivores in zoos and feed them meat substitutes? Or should lions be free to hunt, regardless of the suffering it may cause the gazelle, because that's their nature?

Comment author: jkaufman 17 November 2014 07:45:29PM 2 points [-]

People who approach veganism from utilitarian ideas would group this question in with a bunch of others under wild animal suffering. The general idea is that suffering is just as bad whether human caused or natural, though it's often hard to figure out what actions most reduce suffering (for example, if we killed all the predators there would be lots more prey animals, but if they tend to have lives that are on average worse than not living at all then this would be a bad thing.)

Comment author: MrMind 17 November 2014 09:16:58AM 0 points [-]

I personally know at least one rabid vegan for whom 1 cow > 1 person.

Comment author: jkaufman 17 November 2014 07:42:02PM 1 point [-]

Why ">" and not "="? Is this true for other animals too or are cows special?

Comment author: jkaufman 17 November 2014 07:40:47PM 6 points [-]

It does depend on how much you're giving. Handling checks requires some overhead in terms of time for the recipient. For example, GiveWell suggests that people sending them less than $1,000 do so via credit card and above that via check.

Comment author: Alsadius 17 November 2014 12:56:20AM *  1 point [-]

http://lesswrong.com/lw/jsx/proportional_giving/anqn

Upon looking back at it, I clearly misread you - there's a pretty big difference between donating 30-33% and keeping 30-33%. Apologies.

(Also, while I suspect you've probably considered this, is that the most tax-efficient way of donating? I can't speak to American tax law, but up here in Canada, one person donating all their income is a waste of possible tax credits, and the goal should be to bring both partners down to a similar post-donations income to minimize tax payable)

Comment author: jkaufman 17 November 2014 07:33:21PM *  1 point [-]

Julia and I file as "married filing jointly" which means from the government's perspective we're one financial unit that earned some money and donated some money. With my 30% (pre tax) and Julia's 100% (post tax), last year came to 40.5% overall (pre tax).

Talking about having separate numbers for the two of us does tend to confuse people, though, so we've switched to both of using giving 50% (pre tax).

Comment author: tog 15 November 2014 02:30:30PM *  6 points [-]

Have you guys ever been tempted to make it 50.1% so you can say it's a majority? ;) Or do you think it's better not to seem too extreme?

In response to comment by tog on The Atheist's Tithe
Comment author: jkaufman 16 November 2014 09:48:56PM *  0 points [-]

50% seems like a nice clean number, and giving 50.1% so we can say "most" seems likely to alternate people because it's picky, technical, and possibly intended to mislead.

(Now, as of this year our goal is to donate half of our tax reported income, but it's really hard to figure our what your final income numbers will be until you receive all your 1099s and full out taxes. So we'll probably aim slightly high and it may end up being a literal majority regardless.)

Comment author: Alsadius 15 November 2014 03:36:03AM *  0 points [-]

My(admittedly brief) Googling mentioned all of your income and roughly 2/3 of his being donated. I'll edit for accuracy.

Comment author: jkaufman 16 November 2014 09:45:18PM *  1 point [-]

Link? If someone's passing on inflated numbers we'd like to see if we can sort things out with them.

Comment author: jkaufman 10 November 2014 02:16:38AM 1 point [-]

This is very close to what I work on full time at Google. I work on pagespeed which is open source, but the old [website mobilizer] (http://www.google.com/gwt/n) might be closer to what you're thinking of.

I'm happy to answer questions about these or about how workable various ideas are.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 01 November 2014 05:14:20PM 2 points [-]

For some sites, text-based client apps may be a feasible alternative to Web browsers — but the same restrictions that sites use to deter spambots also make it hard to write text-based client programs that can post.

To find out how hard this would be, I just spent a little while investigating Twitter's APIs, which I've never used before.

A program to fetch and display a user's public Twitter posts is literally seven lines of Python; the hardest part of it is getting credentials from Twitter. Twitter requires that each client program have an "API secret" which is not supposed to be divulged to the user. Any given API secret is restricted in how many queries it can send, so if you share the same secret to everyone who uses your code base, it'll stop working. (Unless you pay Twitter, I suppose.)

This pretty much means that you can't hand everyone a Python script that lets them use Twitter from the command line; at minimum, each user would have to go on the Twitter API web site (logging in with a conventional browser) to get an API secret, then edit the script.

For posting or editing, Web APIs often require some sort of verification other than a username and password — such as a captcha answer, which depends on graphics. In the Twitter case, they won't let an account post via the API without an associated mobile phone number.

Comment author: jkaufman 10 November 2014 02:07:53AM 0 points [-]

Whatever happens when the user logs into twitter with a conventional browser to get an api key is something you could do in your script.

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