Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-07T14:47:38.374Z · LW · GW

I have sharp sticks for that

That's my point. You're cheating now. Lions don't cheat.

over the fire.

Carnivores can eat raw meat.

I can assure my canines function perfectly well in that role

Nah they work better for plant foods. They aren't even very sharp. Also, other herbivores have canines but whatever.

Regardless of this bs^ doesn't matter whether we have canines or not or whether they are useful or not and we both know that. I don't need to explain the natural fallacy to you.

Coherent, you're not.

But you don't have to fit into my notions of coherency :-)

You're a fuck lol. I responded so nicely acknowledging I screwed up there, whatever.

In the interest of fair disclosure let me point out that I'm not really representative of the LW community.


Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-07T03:32:53.984Z · LW · GW

And canines, yep, I have some, they are sharp & pointy.

Go take down an antelope with only your teeth ;)

What are my other choices in morality besides subjective and objective?

I don't know. I was really trying to stray away from people arguing how there are no objective morals so killing and everything else is fine. I didn't want to argue about how there are no objective morals. There aren't objective morals, so I wanted to talk to people who actually had morals and would be willing to talk of them.

You don't have to fit into my false dichotomy. You do you.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-07T03:18:57.421Z · LW · GW

I don't kill humans for the same reason you do though. I could possibly be persuaded, but I'm not exactly sure what it would be. I think it would be something of the sort following: You would either have to convince me killing sleeping (I'm just gonna use sleep as equivalent to cruelty free for convenience sake) humans is ethically fine OR that cows are different in some way other than logistically speaking (I wouldn't say that the fact that cows can't kill you is morals, that's more practicality; so something other than the two (redemption killing or treatise) things you just named). Or to convince me that cows should not have the right to live on their lives all the way through. Something along these lines, and if you're going to go with how you were talking about different patterns of thought you'd have to be more specific.

You would possibly have to attack my underlying ethics since I don't kill sleeping humans for other reasons as we've discuss and that would be harder to change my opinion on.

If this is unclear, just ask me to rephrase. I'll just try to rephrase it below.

1) Killing humans without cruelty is ethical (I don't know you want to convince me of this one) 2) Humans and cows are different in some way other than treatise or redemption killing so that cows don't have the right to life 3) Or to change my view of "While a world where one's life and death is one's own choice is a good world in my view, I can't find myself getting axiomatically worked up over others acting on my behalf. I'm willing to make acausial deals- for example,"

Arguments that will not convince me is that "cows are not out kind, they are too far away from us, they are not human."

I also reread your post above.

I do not believe we are obliged to create entities (be they humans, cows, insects, or any other category) but we are not obliged not to do so. I think we are obliged to avoid creating entities that would prefer not to have been created. That still leaves us the option of creating entities that would prefer to have been created if we want to- for example, nobody is obliged to have children, but if they want to have children they can as long as they reasonably suspect those children would want to have existed. If I want cows to exist, I can morally cause that to happen as long as I take reasonable precautions to make sure they prefer existing. As you say, they might well not want to exist if that existence is being locked in a box and hurt. As I say, they probably do want to exist if that existence is wandering around a green pasture with the herd.

I agree with this. I think that beings can be created. My problem is ending already existing ones once they are created.

And like you continued on. I agree that their existence doesn't have to be perfect. We should just make it not horrible. Again, my problem is the force ending.

I'm gonna add in one more thing. I think this is an emotional appeal, but I think its true regardless. Do you think that your opinion would change if you interacted with other animals like cows on a more personal level more often (or possibly at all) and actually saw them as individuals rather than an idealized "cow." And if you have interacted a lots with cows on a personal level (such as farming), I'd like to hear your opinion as well.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-05T18:27:16.145Z · LW · GW

How do you justify when you don't eat 'cruelty free' meat? Those animals are suffering during their.

My other question would be, I don't understand why you don't care over the logic of the first paragraph to cows?

I do get what you're saying with creating beings that do have a decent life.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-04T01:49:09.475Z · LW · GW

Being perfectly honest, I actually don't understand what's wrong with starting with those words. Maybe this is a failure of communication on my part. I do understand that I shouldn't have said 'so surprised' and some of the other stuff, but what's wrong with asking, "Can I get your guys' perspectives on veganism?"

"I'm a vegan and invite you to squabble with me!"

I'd rather debate things coherently as that's what rationalism is about. I think I'm done here at this point though because not much is getting through on either side. Some of the replies I'm getting are typical (plant, "natural," comparing animals to rocks), even fallacious, which is probably why I give off an irritated vibe, which doesn't help either party when trying to find the truth.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-03T13:44:44.707Z · LW · GW

I'd like to hear the argument about why trees lives are worth antthing. Sure, they're worth instrumental value, but thats not what we're talking about. I'm arguing that trees are worth 0 and that animals are comparable to humans. Trees aren't conscious. Many animals are.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-03T01:13:19.230Z · LW · GW

All aspiring rationalists are equally correct, but some are more equally correct than others ;)

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-02T22:32:42.504Z · LW · GW

Anything specific? That's not really a crux... yet you criticize me for mine.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-02T04:34:43.668Z · LW · GW

What I consider "preserving my life" is weird enough that it could probably be its own conversation though :)

Sure, I could be interested in hearing this as a different topic.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-02T04:26:17.502Z · LW · GW

Thank you for linking the crux. I'll try to explain my morality as well.

I'm using the word "suboptimal" to mean a state of affairs that is less than the highest standard. For example, I have a crick in my neck from looking down at my laptop right now, and there is not a fruit smoothie in my hand even though I want one. My life would be closer to optimal if I did not have a crick in my neck and did have a smoothie. My life would also be suboptimal if I was intense chronic pain. Suboptimal is a very broad term, I agree, but I think my usage of it is correct. How do you define that word?

So basically I don't care as much about positive utility compared to negative utility. I'll get on to that.

Alright so your crux could possibly be addressed by the below; it isn't really about the fact that the majority of humans prefer nonexisting as you say, its more explaining why there would be a 'preference' in non existence versus an existence of suffering, but I think it addresses your first point nonetheless:

If you're interested in a double crux, here's my half; if a majority of humans preferred not existing in the first place vs existing and having their lives cut short, then I would update strongly away from wanting farm animals being properly (that is, given enough space and exercise and food before being humanely killed) raised for meat.

I think you may find this a very interesting read:

One of the main points in it is this: "Intuitions like “Making people happy rather than making happy people” are linked to the view that non-existence does not constitute a deplorable state. Proponents of this view reason as follows: The suffering and/or frustrated preferences of a being constitute a real, tangible problem for that being. By contrast, non-existence is free of moral predicaments for any evaluating agent, given that per definitionem no such agent exists. Why, then, might we be tempted to consider non-existence a problem? Non-existence may seem unsettling to us, because from the perspective of existing beings, no-longer-existing is a daunting prospect. Importantly however, death or no-longer-existing differs fundamentally from never having been born, in that it is typically preceded and accompanied by suffering and/or frustrated preferences. Ultimately, any uneasiness about never having been born can only be explained by attitudes of those who do already live."

This is basically my view on abortion, nonhuman animal ethics, etc. I find a key distinction between painlessly killing a being that is already existing versus a being never existing at all. In other words, I think beings are worthy of moral consideration once they become conscious, even if they become unconscious for a time after that. However I do not find any beings that have never been conscious worthy of any consideration. The above article also notes the empathy gap, which I think is of key importance when talking about suffering.

So as you guessed it, I'm not a pure utilitarian. The best I would describe it besides the above part (which explains a majority of my view) would be I think that that having choice, or autonomy, gives life meaning (I don't think the only meaning) to conscious beings. This is why I'm against a robot reprogramming humans so they enjoy mindlessly picking up a boulder. I think that all conscious beings should have the right to themselves because if they don't have a right the right to themselves what do they have? This means that their life (and death) is their choice. Other people acting for them is acting in an authoritarian way against their choices. It is inherently authoritarian to kill any conscious being as you are taking away their autonomy of life. Conscious beings, when not suffering, enjoy life and have an interest in further living. This is why I wouldn't want them killed, even painlessly.

Just wondering, why do you think its wrong to kill sleeping humans?

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-01T19:11:01.056Z · LW · GW

You give the benefit of the doubt to even bugs based on weak evidence.

No I don't. I never said anything close to that. In fact, I don't even think there's enough evidence to warrant me from not eating honey.

but are morally opposed to eating other brainless things like bivalves.

Again, not opposed to this. I never said anything about this either. Stop assuming positions.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-01T18:06:42.579Z · LW · GW

Me being vegan isn't my only course of action. I convince others (on a micro level and I plan to do it on a macro level), I plan to donate to things, and push for actions like the one you said, but not really focused on school. I'm just getting into effective altruism, so obviously I'm more into consequentialist actions.

Part of me being vegan is so that I can convince others, not just the physical amount of meat I forego. You can't really convince others on a micro, macro, or institutional level if you yourself aren't following it.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-01T18:01:08.519Z · LW · GW

Well yes it would still be wrong. I'm talking about the act itself. You would be doing better than the majority of other people because you saved a bunch but then you're stilling doing something wrong.

For instance, if you saved 100 people, its still wrong to kill one.

I think that's what you were saying? If not, could you rephrase, because I don't think I understood you perfectly.

Also, could you explain what information you have to get to change your mind?

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-01T16:11:41.170Z · LW · GW

I'd like to hear the information what a lot of you would require for your minds to be changed as well!

So the crux of the matter for me is the consciousness of mammals and birds and some other nonhuman animals. As you go down the 'complexity scale' the consciousness of certain beings gets more debatable. It is less known and likely that fish are conscious compared to mammals. And it is less known and likely that insects are conscious compared to fish. However, there is quite the amount of evidence supporting consciousness in all mammals, birds, and some others based off evolution, physiology, and behavior.

One of the following would have to be proven for me to change my opinion:

1) That mammals and birds are not conscious, ie they do not feel subjectively nor can they suffer, or that their consciousness doesn't mean anything in any meaningful way. Or maybe convincing me that if the N (N being how many animals are equal to a human) is an extremely large number, nonhuman animals should not be considered

2) That consciousness shouldn't be a determining factor over moral consideration (I doubt this will change as this is my baseline morality).

I would continue being vegan for other reasons, but I would not try to convince others, unless the following were proven:

1) That factory farming does not actually contribute a significant amount of greenhouse gases

2) That meat production could be more sustainable compared to plant farming to feed a growing population (I personally think food should be given to people, but that gets into a different political issue)

3) Along with 2), that meat consumption wasn't contributing so highly to water scarcity

4) That it was perfectly healthy in average portions (This may already be proven)

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-01T15:59:14.152Z · LW · GW

Yes it does. I'm just arguing that they are comparable.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-01T15:51:44.197Z · LW · GW

Is it some deontological objection to killing living things?


Vegetables are also alive.


To killing animals in particular?

Yes, all mammals, birds, and more are conscious. Many more are self aware. Pigs are of similar intelligence to dogs, so it could be highly likely they are self aware just like dogs are.

I thought we were over this "soul" thing.

Stop being so condescending please.

Commercial vegetable farming kills animals! Pesticides kill insects with nerve gas. If they're conscious, that's a horrible way to die. But that wasn't your true objection. It cuts short future experiences.

Trophic levels.

In that case, why not eat them?

If they aren't conscious, I'm not against it. However, we don't know enough right now on insect consciousness; the subject is very hazy.

You can't eliminate your harm to animals.

Strawman. No vegan has ever said that. Vegans are constantly correcting people saying how its about minimizing suffering, not eliminating.

Try to improve the system.

I'm doing both. I'm an effective altruist and anti-speciesist.

Fund science to determine where the threshold of consciousness is, so you can target your interventions appropriately.

There's more information on this than you seem to say.

Fund charities that change meat in school lunch from chicken to beef.

I get what you're saying here, but that's silly. I'd push for plant foods.

Take this seriously or you're just signaling.

I do. This isn't signalling. I've thought about every single question you've asked here at prior times. These aren't new to me.

I think I've laid out a pretty good case for why Veganism makes no sense

Not really. You seem extremely opposed to it.

I'm sure you'll come up with some rationalization I haven't thought of in order to avoid changing your mind.

Because there's no possible way I could be right, right? It'd have to be rationalizing, lol.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-07-01T15:42:42.811Z · LW · GW

Animistic cultures feel may feel empathy for sacred objects, like boulders or trees, or dead ancestors, or even imaginary deities with no physical form.

Ya.. I'm not buying this here - that's a giant false equivalency. You're comparing inanimate objects to conscious beings; you're also comparing religion and spiritual cultures to scientific arguments.

Where do we draw that line? Is it only a matter of degree, not kind? How much uncertainty do we tolerate before changing the category? If you take the precautionary principle, so that something is morally important if there's even a small chance it could be, aren't you the same as the rock worshipers neglecting their fellow humans?

I'm not saying this is black and white, but its not nearly as gray as you're making it out to be. You can pick solid, semi-non arbitrary places to put the line. To start, biocentricity is never actually followed; no one cares about bacteria. Anthromocentricity is based on a marginal cases argument and speciesism. Sentiocentricity is based on the fact that these other beings feel things like ourselves and experience the world subjectively. That's why I pick sentiocentricity. Sentient beings can suffer, and I inherently think suffering is wrong. If you don't think suffering is wrong, there's nothing to say here.

Why do you believe animals can suffer? No, we can't take this as a settled axiom. Many people do not believe this. But I'll try to steelman. My thoughts are that generally humans can suffer. Humans are a type of animal, thus there exists a type of animal that can suffer. We are related to other species in almost exactly the same sense that we are related to our grandparents (and thereby our cousins), just more generations back. Perhaps whatever makes us morally relevant evolved before we were human, or even appeared more than once through convergent evolution. Not every organism need have this. You are related to vegetables in the evolutionary sense. That's why they're biochemically similar enough to ourselves that we can eat them. You're willing to eat vegetables, so mere relation isn't enough for moral weight.

You're really bringing up the plant argument? Even if plants were morally considerable, which they aren't because they can't suffer, it would be more altruistic to eat plants because of the way trophic levels work.

Consider the Mimosa pudica, a plant that recoils to touch. Is it morally acceptable to farm and kill such a plant? That's just an obvious case.

Aversive behaviors is not indicative of suffering. Plants don't even have a central nervous system.

But again, you're fine with eating plants.

You say I'm fine with eating plants, as if this isn't a problem to you. If you care so much about plants, become a jain.

I think it is a near certainty that the simplest of animals

Based off what evidence? I'm not saying something either way for animals like jellyfish, but you can't just say "near-certain" with no backing.

I also think there's a significant chance that animals as advanced as gorillas are not conscious in any morally relevant way.

Where are you getting this? You have nothing backing this. You can say you think this, but you can't randomly say there's a "significant chance."

I am morally opposed to farming and eating animals that can pass the mirror test.

See, this gets more nuanced than you probably originally thought. When it comes to the mirror test, its not as a black and white as you may think. Not all animals use sight as their primary sense. Just learning this piece of information calls for a revamp of the test; its not as if this test was the most fool proof to begin with. I bring this up because dogs were recently found to be self-aware based on smell rather than sight; dogs primarily use sound and smell. Many other animals use other senses.

Look at criticisms of the test^

What about humans too young to pass the mirror test? Is it morally acceptable to kill them?

That's a question you gotta ask for your own moral framework. You're the one wanting to kill non-self aware beings.

Are vegans as a subculture generally pro life, or pro choice?

This is irrelevant. Most vegans are pro choice because pro life is based on very little actual evidence while pro life is.

Lower animals may have some analogue to our pain response, but that doesn't mean it hurts.

What does lower animals mean? And sure it does, mammals and birds are conscious so it isn't just a pain response. It isn't just noiception.

If a wild animal attacks your human friend, you shoot it dead. If a dog attacks you while you're unarmed you pin it to the ground and gouge out its brains through its eye socket before it rips your guts out. It's the right thing to do.

Rhetorical appeal haha?

if you had a pet cat, would you feed it a vegan diet? Even though it's an obligate carnivore, and would probably suffer terribly from malnutrition? Do carnivores get a pass? Do carnivores have a right to exist? Is it okay to eat them instead? Is it wrong to keep pets? Only if they're carnivores? Why such prejudice against omnivores, like humans? Meat is also a natural part of our diet. Despite your biased vegan friends telling you that meat is unhealthy, it's not. Most humans struggle getting adequate nutrition as it is. A strict prohibition on animal products makes that worse.

I have answers for all of these, but you asked so many loaded questions. I don't have a pet cat, but if I did, I would preferable feed said cat lab meat. Do carnivores get a pass? They don't get a pass, but for now they do require meat. I'm in favor of minimizing wild animal suffering and there are different strategies for that, being genetic engineering, lab meat for carnivores, etc. This is too far in the future because we don't have control of the biosphere, so the environment will have to do for now. Is it wrong to keep pets? No, as long as they aren't treated as property and so they are treated as family. Meat is also a natural part of our diet? Wait, so something being natural makes it right? Nope. Despite your biased vegan friends telling you that meat is unhealthy, it's not. Thanks for being condescending, but no I've done the research myself. It can be more healthy. High doses of processed meat is unhealthy; I can link sources.

But maybe you think farm animals are more innocent than indifferent. They're more domesticated. Not to mention herbivores. Cows have certainly been know to kill humans though. Pigs even kill human children. Maybe cows are not very nice people.

This is low, especially for a rationalists. We both know that had nothing to do with anything and was only a rhetorical appeal. Its not like many humans are nice people: murder, wars, etc etc.

All I'm seeing here is a whole ton of sophisticated arguing and a whole lack of actual knowledge on the subject. You wrongly assume that vegans are hippies who act on their feelings and there's no factual basis behind it. You sure its not that you just really want to keep eating your tasty bacon and steak?

You say you're against killing self aware beings. If pigs were proven to be self aware, would you quit eating them?

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T23:17:44.096Z · LW · GW

It's not that a chicken, pig, or cow's life is worth some minimal but comparable amount. Because even then there would be some threshold were N chickens, pigs, or cow happiness-meters (for some suitably large N) would be worth 1 human's.

I'm arguing they are comparable. See, I don't think the N is that large.

is not obviously relevant to whether it is moral for humans to eat them.

Sure it is. That's the crux of the matter.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T20:09:23.774Z · LW · GW

A question. Would you rather be born and live for thirty years and then be executed, or never be born at all?

I would personally rather have been born, but I am not everyone. I have an excellent life that I'm very grateful for. Like you yourself say though, I think the majority disagrees with me on this. This [the fact that most would prefer to not exist than a hellish life] is partially, only partially, why I think its wrong to kill the animals either way.

(I am planning to make extraordinary efforts to prolong my life, but what that means to me is a little odd.)

I'm curious, have you acted on this? Even this requires lots of day-to-day effort in keeping healthy.

If it's not about utilitarian ethics, what is it about? Why is it wrong to kill a human in their sleep? For me, killing humans is wrong because then other humans might kill me (Kantian reasons basically, with a bit of Hobbes thrown in =P) as well as because they are like me and will probably enjoy living (utilitarian reasons) and because "thou shalt not kill" is a really good deontological rule that helps people live together. Oh, and I'd probably get arrested and sent to jail. Of those, all of them protect a baby or a severely mentally disabled person, and the only one that protects a cow is the utilitarian reason. Cows aren't going to try and get vengeance for their fallen brother, and no judge will convict me of the murder.

Pure utilitarianism leads to claims that I personally find absurd: taking people off the street for their organs, AI tinkering with our mind so we enjoy what we would call meaningless behavior now (picking up a rock and setting it down forever), repugnant conclusion, etc. I would argue that two of your points aren't really talking about whether its wrong to kill humans. The fear that other humans will kill you isn't really morality, its just logistics so that you yourself don't know. Obviously its against the law to kill humans, but I don't really want to talk about that. The point I'm making is the ethics and the laws surrounding them should be changed to include other animals; the current system has little relevance. I think the "thou shalt not kill" is archaic and there is no reasoning behind it. I think what you were trying to say there is that it would help prevent chaos to have that rule, which I agree with. Now the reason that I think its wrong to kill a sleep human is because they both would enjoy living on (utilitarian ethics) and I think they have a right to own themselves. They own their mind and body as its them. By killing them, you are acting authoritatively and you are taking away their freedom; their freedom to live or die that is. I apply this same rule to the other animals.

Cows aren't going to try and get vengeance for their fallen brother

Yes, but just because you can get away with something doesn't make it moral; I thought we were talking morals here.

no judge will convict me of the murder

Again, I wasn't talking about the legality. I'm challenging eating meat as an unethical practice.

Now if you're going to use the word suboptimal to describe both your life and a factory farmed cow's life, I think your definition much too vague to be meaningful in this discussion. Your life is nothing like that of a factory farmed cow's.

(Of course, if you would prefer no life to a life cut short, or if you believe there is literally no farm that gives its livestock lives worth living, then we may be at an impasse. I am curious at what makes a life worth living to you, since few lives indeed are optimal.)

Probably not being stuck in a box and getting beat your whole life. The only reason I'd ever want to have a shitty life is the hope of living on to a better time. The thing with these animals, they don't have that hope. They die at the end.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T13:57:04.743Z · LW · GW

Very true. Thanks for catching me. I need to work on my communication skills.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T13:56:05.091Z · LW · GW

I didn't think they weren't numerous. There just isn't a point debating morality with someone who says "morality is subjective." I usually leave those people alone.

I don't think I consciously had this thought though, so thank you that actually could be a different explanation.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T13:54:00.724Z · LW · GW

people who spent a pleasant day are more willing to do some unpleasant but important task in the evening, compared with people who had a busy and frustrating day and how they finally have one hour of free time that they can spend either doing something unpleasant but important, or browsing web.

This makes a lot of sense. I'm a get-shit-done kinda guy and this could possibly be because I'm also very happy most of the time. I think that I've had a bunch of unintentional and intentional success spirals that I'm very grateful for.

The thing about "far mode" vs "near mode" makes a lot of sense when you were talking about exercise as well.

Just on a personal note and from personal (anecdotal; but there is probably non anecdotal evidence as well somewhere) experience, eating healthy and exercise are the types of things to give you more energy and motivation to do more things that give you even more energy. They are like their own success spirals.

I appreciate your in depth response, thank you.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T13:46:19.763Z · LW · GW

I see now that it could be evidence. I do think its the second paragraph though. I have questioned myself very deeply on this from many angles and I still think I'm correct. I think there's a collective delusion on acting upon arguments for veganism. The difference between veganism and other philosophies is you actually have to do something on a day to day basis unlike a lot of others.

I am very open to being wrong. I know exactly what information would have to be presented to change my opinion.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T13:43:23.930Z · LW · GW

I never said the second quote. Someone was arguing that this site isn't about change. I argued it is.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T13:37:59.384Z · LW · GW

Ah I see the argument! That's interesting I hadn't heard of it like that and I would understand if you thought the chicken's life was near worthless. However, I'm going to challenge you on saying that the chicken's life is that minimal amount. Chickens are consciousness and feels pain and pleasure. Should you could rationalize and say "oh but its different from humans" but from what cause? There's nothing to make you think this.

I can move on to chickens, but let's talk about pigs for instance because they are easier. I find it very hard to believe that a pig's life is worth this minimal amount that you say. Pigs are around the intelligence of dogs. They can problem solve, they can have emotional bonds, and they have preferences. They experience life and are happy on a bright breezy day or they suffer if they are abused as they are. Going back to dogs, dogs have been shown to be empathetic. This has been shown in how they understand how to deceive. They will lead humans to less reward if they are in turn rewarded less. I may have to find this study. The other thing that was shown recently is that dogs are self aware. The mirror test is flawed and not all animals go primarily by sight. Dogs for instance go by smell and hearing. There was a test on smell that showed that dogs are self aware as they understand their own scent versus that of another dog. This leads to the conclusion that we should do more tests of different kinds because we were leaving out key information.

Also, pigs are some entity. Its easy to label them. When 'pigs' come to mind you just think of the average pig, rather than the total of a bunch of different individuals which allows you to de-empathize with them. Referring them as its also allows you to de-empathize.

As for chickens, they are probably less emotional than pigs, but they are not brainless as you would guess. They have internal lives and get joy from things and suffer as well. There was a study where chickens were shown to exhibit self control to gain access to more food if they self controlled.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T02:35:23.658Z · LW · GW

I thought I started out fine. I'm not trying to kick shit up. The other person said "That you don't know other big numbers?" so I responded with the same tone.

Isn't mitigating biases change?

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T02:33:20.479Z · LW · GW

I agree.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T02:32:12.983Z · LW · GW

It's interesting that you don't defend the idea that this website is supposed to be about pushing for change in your reply but a more general one, that this website is about valuing change.

I don't follow. I did defend that its about change.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-30T02:16:23.489Z · LW · GW

This is what I would've said, but you did it in a much more eloquent fashion. Thank you!

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:45:00.590Z · LW · GW

Oh come on. You know what I meant with the first part. There's no number of deaths in history comparable to this number.

Where did I get that idea? Frequently quoted on this site is, "Not every change is improvement, but improvement starts with a change" or something to that liking. This site is all about mitigating cognitive biases as well as related fields, so it IS about change. Learning about biases and mitigating them is all about change. Or maybe I was under the false assumption that the people wanted to mitigate the biases and in reality they just want to learn about them.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:34:54.533Z · LW · GW

I hope this a joke. This is low brow even for a response from an average person.

"canine teeth tho"

C'mon, I was expecting more from lesswrong community.

I'm not saying there is objective morality. If you think its subjective, I'm not addressing you here.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:33:32.769Z · LW · GW

I have to say I really think its the backwards rationalization. Everyone here eating meat as a strong drive to want to keep eating it, so there is a lot of motivation to argue that way.

As for your first point, I see what you're saying, but obviously not all vegans think that. A lot of the point is getting the message across to other people as you can't make the message if you yourself eat meat.

I'm against all animal farms so I really don't know how to address that. I mean its a pretty easy argument to say they suffer more in the intensive environments. They're in cages and they're abused their wholes lives. No room to move and only pain.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:27:20.717Z · LW · GW

Honestly looking at the replies, this makes the most sense. I guess this is the answer I was looking for, thank you! I better understand the difference between thought and action.

Just curious, would you put yourself in this same category? If so, do you know why you or others are like this? If so, what goes through your mind because it obviously isn't rationalization? Is it lack of motivation? How do you live with it?

To be perfectly honest, I was hoping for better responses from lesswrong community, many of which would classify themselves as aspiring rationalists, but these seem only a bit better than the average reddit responses. There's so much motivated reasoning behind wanting to keep meat, and from what I've seen here, veganism doesn't get brought up here that much because its so devoted to AI and related fields.

Would you happen to know of any places where there are rationalists debating applied ethics? Maybe that's mainly the type of thing effective altruism is doing.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:26:09.070Z · LW · GW

Is it ok to eat severely mentally disabled humans than?

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:25:41.179Z · LW · GW

The only way for your argument to work is if you think a human's brief minutes of taste outweighs the happiness of the entire animal's life, which is extremely ludicrous. This isn't a nonhuman animals vs humans thing anyway. You can be just as a happy and have just as much great tasting food as a vegan.

I addressed a similar argument above to a self-labeled pescetarian.

I think that starting off by claiming an opposing position is "ridiculous" is very counter productive. Also a debate like this probably doesn't have a "simple answer."

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:22:45.462Z · LW · GW

I see what you're saying with the first part of your argument and it's good the subject at least crosses your mind, but for my moral framework, it isn't solely about utilitarian ethics. I don't think happy animals should be killed for the same reason I don't think humans should be killed in their sleep. You may bring up that humans have ideas for the future and such, but do babies? Why then is it wrong to kill babies? Because they will be more conscious in the future, perhaps. How about the severely mentally disabled than? Right here we see an argument from marginal cases. Severely mentally disabled somehow have rights but the other animals don't.

Now with the second part of your first paragraph, I think that's more about you acting on your ethical principles, which you really aren't. You admit that you are supporting sup optimal lives, which confuses me. Do you not have the will to act? Maybe you're just fearful of change. You admit switching on and off would be slow. Why not just full switch, or at least try it?

I think many here make the false assumption that a vegan life is less enjoyable.

As for the second paragraph, I think this gets into an argument about abortion as well. The best position I've come up with for all of that is that beings that aren't conscious aren't worth anything, but as soon as they become conscious they are worth something even if they go unconscious afterward. This position isn't perfect, but any other position leads to extremely absurd conclusions.

Thanks for a more in depth response btw!

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:12:14.965Z · LW · GW

I see what you're saying but I have to disagree. I agree that humans are worth more. Here's the thing though. You have to compare the numbers. This isn't one animal to one human, where I WOULD pick the human. The fact is that 60+ billion animals are slaughtered each year. And as we both probably know, at that point its just a statistic, but take a moment to think about how much that really is. There's no other number comparable to it.

While I applaud that you are pescetarian, I think more can be done and more should be changed. I think that if you pushed yourself to change, as that's all rationalism is about, it could be just as an excellent a quality of life for yourself if not better. There are soo many foods out there.

I would honestly make the argument that the majority of meat-eaters are not on the curve, but rather willfully ignorant of how bad factory farming is.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T21:09:27.714Z · LW · GW

I get what you're saying. That's not evidence that I'm false though. Its not really evidence towards anything. How about we actually discuss the issue than rather that what other people think.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-27T03:16:16.675Z · LW · GW

I stated the morality given of which I was talking.... Plus I was asking for perspectives anyway. Why not give yours?

Comment by Zarm on Can anyone be rational and not vegan? · 2017-06-26T23:18:44.079Z · LW · GW

I know this is an old comment, but I still wanted to address it.

Yes, you strongly doubt that, as you should doubt everything, but you're offering no addition to the conversation. You're just saying, I see this, but I doubt it. Would you like to discuss the topic in greater detail? I think I know quite a bit about it and when it comes to economy, nutrition, and morality, there are very strong arguments in favor of veganism.

Comment by Zarm on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-26T23:11:40.003Z · LW · GW

I'm extremely surprised that the percentage of vegans here is only slightly higher than the general public. I would consider myself an aspiring rationalist and I've had countless, countless arguments over the subject of animal rights and from everything I've found (which is a whole lot), the arguments side heavily towards veganism. I can literally play bingo with the responses I get from the average person, that's how reoccurring the rationalizations are. I can go on in much, much greater extant as to why veganism is a good idea, and from posts and comments I've seen on here, it seems that most people on here don't actually know too much about it, but for this I'm going to leave it at this.

Now, I'm not addressing those that say morality is subjective and those that live solely for themselves.

For those that DO think unnecessary suffering is wrong and have other altruistic tendencies, what is your perspective on veganism?

Comment by Zarm on Ethical Diets · 2017-06-26T22:58:40.532Z · LW · GW

Eat less meat.

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (9th thread, May 2016) · 2017-03-06T13:33:20.262Z · LW · GW

Thank you for such a clear response and the additional info! :) I have read most of the sequences but some of those links are new to me.

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-03-04T01:42:21.207Z · LW · GW

This is a dangerous statement to make. Would you change your mind about Veg*ism? What would it take?

Sure, very easily. You would have to prove to me that 1) Animals aren't conscious or for some reason aren't worth moral consideration 2) Global warming doesn't exist or factory farming doesn't affect it 3) Meat is healthy (I understand paleo can be healthy so this point may not matter) 4) Meat is cheaper, more efficient, and more sustainable compared to plants

We grow plants, many more are not automatically fed.

True, but I think they should be ;)

Factory farming exists because it is efficient.

No it doesn't. It exists because it WAS convenient and efficient. It is now not the best possible solution. It is cheaper and more efficient to produce plants calorie and protein-wise.

There was a recent meta-study confirming that meat has no link to any of those. I would add the caveat that processed meats are less healthy, but that's a factor of the preservatives not the meat itself. If there is a healthy aspect to veg* it would be about extra effort applied to food maintenance as a lifestyle not about the benefits of vegetables instead of meat. (no link because I don't have it on hand but have asked around to see if I can find it)

Nah I know correlation =/= causation.

Not all plant matter is viable for human consumption. Humans can't eat grass. By feeding it to cows we can harvest nutrients from parts of the earth that are not always viable for human crops.

Most cows don't eat grass in factory farming condition. I don't really get what you're saying with the not viable thing. We could always switch those for viable crops and it would be more efficient.

You would make more friends around here describing yourself as, "aspiring rationalist" as we do. And being careful about the label "rational" and using it as an identity (see: keep your identity small)

I didn't know this was a thing. My bad. This was more of a semantics things. I thought of the word "rationalist" as the same as what you think "aspiring rationalist" is.

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (9th thread, May 2016) · 2017-03-04T01:35:10.547Z · LW · GW

If my worldview was, "animals are inferior and their suffering is irrelevant".

Wouldn't that be an irrational 'axiom' to start from though? Maybe the inferior part works, but you can't just say their suffering is irrelevant. If you go off the basis that humans matter just because than that's a case of special pleading saying humans are better because they are human. There suffering may be less but it isn't irrelevant because they can suffer.

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-03-04T00:16:22.269Z · LW · GW

My main reason is animal suffering but thanks for the new information. I'll look that up and keep that in mind!

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (9th thread, May 2016) · 2017-03-04T00:14:21.230Z · LW · GW

There is usually a distribution of a few "hardcore" members, and many lukewarm ones. In a statistics that includes all of them, the behavior of the hardcore members can easily disappear.

Could you explain this more in depth; I'm failing to grasp this completely. I apologize.

if we ignore the animal suffering

Why would we do that?

Or maybe it's just that food doesn't get as high priority as e.g. education, making money, or exercise, so people focus their attention on the other things.

I guess, but you can usually focus on multiple things at once, and most people have certain causes they ascribe to.

Or, most obviously -- just because people know something is the right thing to do, it doesn't mean they will automatically start doing it! Not even if they identify as "rationalists".

Really? Why not though? All humans, excluding sociopaths, have empathy. I'll admit I see this a bit though.

In my bubble of local hardcore aspiring rationalists, vegetarianism or veganism is almost the norm.

Oh, hmm I guess I just missed it.

Thank you for your response and your hypotheses! These responses are great compared to the usual yelling match ... anywhere else.

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (9th thread, May 2016) · 2017-03-04T00:09:40.698Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the polite and formal response! I understand what you're saying about the chicken and fish. Pescetarian is much better than just eating all the red meat you can get your hands on.

When you look at animal suffering, things get a lot more speculative. Clearly you can't treat a chicken's suffering the same as a human's, but how many chickens does it take to be equivalent to a human? At what point is a chicken's life not worth living? This quickly bogs down in questions of the repugnant conclusion, a standard paradox in utilitarianism. Although I have seen no thorough analysis of the topic, my sense is that 1) Scaling of moral value is probably more-than-linear with brain mass (that is, you are worth more than the ~300 chickens it would take to equal your gray matter) but I can't be much more precise than that 2) Most of the world's neurons are in wild inverterbrates: which argues against focusing specially on domesticated vertebrates 3) Effort expended to reduce animal suffering is largely self-contained--that is, if you choose not to eat a chicken, you probably reduce the number of factory-farmed chickens by about one, with no longer-term effects. Effort to help humans, on the other hand, often has a difficult-to-estimate multiplier from follow-on effects. See here for more on this argument:

Now I understand what you're saying about the animal suffering, but I'd like to add some things. If you don't eat many chickens or many cows than you can save more than one because you're consistently abstaining from meat consumption. Its also not about making the long term effects on your own; its contributing so that something like factory farming can be changed into something more sustainable, more environmentally friendly, and more addressing animal concerns once more people boycott meat. Even if you were to choose to compare gray matter, you have to compare that its the animal's death vs the human's quite minor pleasure that could have been just as pleasurable eating/doing something else.

If it makes your life more difficult and reduces the amount of good you can do in other ways, it may not be worth it.

For you, does it really make life more difficult? From my personal experience and hearing about others, the only hard part is the changing process. Its only difficult in certain situations because of society, and the point of boycotting is to change the society so its easier as well the other benefits.

Thanks again for responding!

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-03-03T13:31:29.672Z · LW · GW

Why do you think that rationalism would lead people to becoming veg(etari)an?

Because it is the rational choice. There are barely any benefits to eating meat and a ton for vegetarianism. Animals are conscious to pleasure and pain and can suffer (ask for sources - its a documented fact). If you gave any consideration at all to animals you would abhor factory farming as 50+billion die each year. Factory farming contributes to 50% of greenhouse emissions. On a macro-economic scale, plant foods are much more sustainable and many more people could be fed if we grew plants. Factory farming is inefficient. On a micro-economic scale, vegetarian foods are cheaper: rice, pasta, beans, etc. Vegetarians and vegans are healthier and general with lower mortality rate, lower bmi, lower risk of heart disease. There are no deficiencies. You do have to take a B12 pill if you are vegan, but lots of livestock are fed B12 pills anyway and they are extremely cheap. Like 10$ for hundreds of them, and this money can be gotten from the money saved from not buying meat.

The only real benefit to eat meat is convenience and that's because of society.

As for counterarguments:

"Meat is delicious" - Just because something is pleasurable doesn't mean its right to infringe on others' rights. We don't allow a lot of things because of this: ie rape etc. Also, if you cared about taste, you would spend more money and effort towards meals.

"Plant rights" - Usually this a joke. My rebuttal is slippery slope etc. Also even if plants should have rights, vegetarianism uses less plants because 70% of plant goods are used to feeding livestock.

There are many arguments but I don't want to counter them all unless you bring them up because that would take too much time.

As for ancom, well that's what I've come up with that's rational? If I hear a new thing my opinion may change, but I believe in equality and liberty.

Comment by Zarm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-03-02T22:22:13.846Z · LW · GW

Hey! My name's Jared and I'm a senior in high school. I guess I started being a "rationalist" a couple months ago (or a bit more) when I started looking at the list of cognitive biases on Wikipedia. I've tried very hard to mitigate almost all of them as much as I can and I plan on furthering myself down this path. I've read a lot of the sequences on here and I like to read a lot of rationalwiki and I also try to get information from many different sources.

As for my views, I am first a rationalist and make sure I am open to changing my mind about ANYTHING because reality doesn't change on your ability to stomach it.

As for labels, I'm vegan (or at least strict vegetarian), anarcho-communist (something around the range of left libertarian), agnostic (not in the sense that I'm on the fence but that I'm sure that we don't know - so militant agnostic lol).

My main first question is, since you guy are rationalists, why aren't you vegetarian or vegan? The percentage that is vegetarian on sites like lesswrong and rationalwiki is hardly higher than the public (or seems so). I would think considering you are rationalists you would understand vegetarian or veganism and go for it for sure. Am I missing something because this actually blows my mind? If you oppose it, I really wanna hear some arguments because I've never heard a single even somewhat convincing argument and I've argued with oh so many people about it. Obviously goal of veganism is to lessen suffering not end it etc.

But yeah hey!