Your notation is confusing but I achieved a similar result.
>It seems to me much safer to lay the burden of proof on the moral indulgence—at very least, the burden of proof shouldn’t always rest on the demands of conscience.
I think I disagree. It seems to me that moral claims don’t exist in a vacuum, they require a combination of asserted values and contextualizing facts. If the contextualizing facts are not established, the asserted value is irrelevant. For instance, I might claim that we have a moral duty not to brush our hair because it produces static electricity, and static electricity is a painful experience for electrons. The asserted value is preventing suffering, which you might agree with, but my contextualizing facts are highly disputable, so you’re unlikely to shave your head and never wear another wool sweater just to be on the safe side.
It seems to me the burden of proof lies with the side making a claim further away from the socially established starting point, not necessarily either the conscience claimer or the indulgence claimer. In the case of animal welfare, I think most people already believe all the facts they need to conclude that harming chickens is morally bad and thus it makes more sense to ask them to justify the special pleading on behalf of the poultry industry.
One human’s moral arrogance is another human’s Occam’s razor. The evidence suggests to me, on grounds of both observation (very small organisms demonstrate very simple behaviour not consistent with a high level awareness) and theory (very small organisms have extremely minimal sensory/nervous architecture to contain qualia) that dust-mites are morally irrelevant, and the chance that I am mistaken in my opinion amounts to a Pascal’s Mugging.
“I recently read an essay by Peter Singer, Ethics Beyond Species and Beyond Instincts, in which he defined the moral as that which is universalizable, in this sense: “We can distinguish the moral from the nonmoral by appeal to the idea that when we think, judge, or act within the realm of the moral, we do so in a manner that we are prepared to apply to all others who are similarly placed.”
I read that, sat back, and said to myself: “I cannot do morality.”
I cannot do it in the same sense that an alcoholic cannot drink, and a person with an eating disorder cannot go on a diet. I am incapable of engaging with universalizable morality in a way that does not cause me severe mental harm. While I can reject a universalizable moral claim on an intellectual level, I am incapable of rejecting them– no matter how absurd or contradictory to other things I accept– on an emotional level. If I fail to live up to such a claim, I will hate myself and curl in a ball and be utterly nonfunctional for a few hours, causing harm to both myself and those who have to put up with me.
So (with much backsliding) I have started to make an effort to weed out the universalizable morality from my brain. I do things I want to do, and I don’t do things I don’t want to do.”
You and your girlfriend seem to have adopted a philosophical standard of morals which humans cannot uphold. I happen to believe that the case for the moral weight of organism lacking central nervous systems is extremely weak, but resisting the temptation to dismiss your position on those grounds alone I would say that if your slime civilization was proven real tomorrow, then there would be nothing to do except acknowledge the tragedy and move on with life. It’s not like human-dominated environments make up a majority of those that are so theoretically miserable for ants and dust mites and the bugs in Brian Tomasik’s compost, so even radical anti-natalism would accomplish a statistical nothing. If the ants suffered as you killed them, then the tragedy is not that you did it but that those ants were born into a world so hostile that if you hadn’t killed them because they can’t live in your apartment, then they would have been eaten by birds, or at war with other colonies, or frozen/drowned/dehydrated by the millions thanks to the weather.
Thankfully I do believe the case for the moral worth of ants is weak, so I hope you will consider seeking out counselling on how to reduce your/your girlfriend’s apparent feelings of shame for the largely hypothetical moral suffering you worry about causing.
I am not a true expert, but there is one major element of this narrative that most coverage leaves out— no matter what happens to the short-sellers, the price of Gamestop and other short squeezed stocks must eventually normalize to a “truer” valuation.
I have seen a truly alarming lack of recognition of this fact, with some people apparently believing the squeezed price is the new normal for GME. Here’s why that probably isn’t the case:
The value of a stock is tied to two factors. One is (broadly) the cash flows one can expect to receive in the form of dividends and other shareholder benefits, the other is the expectation of the stock’s value appreciating. Market manipulation like the current squeeze can cause the price of a stock to inflate based on that second factor. As the archetypal example, we look to the housing crash that caused the ’08 recession. Thousands of mortgages were given out because it was thought that home prices would continue to rise indefinitely, meaning the loans were low risk (because even if the home buyer couldn’t make their payment, the bank could seize the house and not take a loss). This was fine until it suddenly wasn’t anymore; the assets lost perceived value, and the remaining fundamentals, i.e. homeowners’ ability to service their debts, was not up to the task of keeping the banks solvent.
For Gamestop, I’m told there is some reason to think their fundamentals are getting better from where they were one year ago, but I have seen no compelling reasons that those fundamentals will deliver the kind of dividends that would traditionally command such share prices.
When the short squeeze passes, some Wall Street firms will have taken a big loss, but many small investors will be left holding a stock that may still nominally bear a $300+ price per share, but will probably not be able to deliver the same cash flows or stability as holding the same amount of a business with stronger fundamentals than GameStop. In the absence of people shorting, you end up deciding whether to keep your money tied up in GME, which will return $X over however long you hold it, or some other stock that could return $2x or $3x. At this point, after the short squeeze is resolved, the price will start to fall again.
The investors who were able to sell the $300 stocks to firms obligated to meet short contracts will realize a big cash gain, but anyone left holding the stock after that are likely to be in a seriously bad way.
This, of course, is not investment advice. If I knew exactly when the people holding GME were going to get nervous and try to liquidate, I could just take out new shorts and get rich ( and if enough people did that maybe WSB would just try to squeeze those shorts again!). What all of this boils down to is that this is not the new normal, it is a speculation bubble, and bubbles pop.
Saskatchewanian checking in here. As with your Vancouver Island example, there’s a lot of heterogeneity here too. The south of the province, where I grew up, has extremely low numbers of cases even relative to the sparse rural population, while anywhere north of Saskatoon where I currently live is doing fairly badly relative to their sparse rural population. I don’t have a strong gears-level understanding of why this should be except some vague notion that the North sees more traffic entering and exiting in the course of resource extraction industries, and close living quarters associated with the same. Plus something something rampant spread in First Nations which I don’t even want to get into.
The notion of weirdness points has never spoken to me, personally, because it seems to collapse a lot of social nuance into a singular dichotomy of weird/not weird, and furthermore that weirdness is in some sense measurable and fungible. Neither, I think, is true, and the framework ought to be dissolved. So what’s goes into a “weirdness point”?
How familiar is the idea? - Vegetarians/vegans are a little weird, but most people probably know a handful and most have a notion that those people care about animal welfare and maybe some even know about nutritional ideas or the effect of meat on the climate. Cryonicists are extremely uncommon and their philosophy is not widely spread so people need to do a bigger intellectual lift to understand them.
How appropriate is the sharing? - A vegan has an understandable reason to mention their diet almost any time a meal is shared, but if they never stop talking about it at parties, people will be annoyed and less sympathetic. The appropriate time to bring up cryonics is… During discussions about philosophy of death? Futurism? Maybe you can get away with it if someone just asks you what you’re reading lately.
How demanding is the idea? - People tend to not be huge fans of being asked to do things they wouldn’t normally want to do. This is of course a fundamental obstacle to anyone looking to change the world for the better, but it still bears consideration. More demanding ideas require more compelling evidence and more time to allow people to come around to them, and will often require a lighter touch up front to not be dismissed entirely.
All of these factors and more besides will constitute the weirdness of an idea, but to me none of them suggests the best strategy is to hide your ideas. It seems to me that dissolving a weirdness point just tells us something we could probably have figured out in the first place— weirdness exists only in social contexts and can thus be moderated by just developing better social skills. I can be honest about the vast majority of beliefs I hold by just picking the right moments to share them and choosing the way I frame them based on my understanding of the points above. That’s not propaganda papering over a forgettable version of myself, it’s just correct gameplay.
Are there any resources that amount to “80,000 Hours for (hopefully reformed) underachievers”? I’ve been weighing the possibility of going back to school in the hopes of getting into a higher-impact field, but my academic resume from my bachelor’s is pretty lackluster, leaving me unsure where to start reconstruction. My mental health and general level of conscientiousness are both considerably improved from my younger years so I’m optimistic I can exceed my past self.
Not necessarily. If I am an academic whose research is undermined by bias, I may be irrational but not stupid, and if I am in a social environment where certain signals of stupid beliefs are advantageous, I may be stupid but not irrational. It seems to be the latter is more what the author is getting at.
See my comments above for some discussion of this topic. Broadly speaking we do know how to keep farmland productive but there are uncaptured externalities and other inadequacies to be accounted for.
That’s fair, and I’m grumbling less as an ag scientist or policy person than as a layperson born and raised in the ag industry. It is my opinion that the commercial ag industry in my country both contains inadequacies and is a system of no free energy, to borrow from Inadequate Equilibria.
To elaborate, I observe the following facts:
Conventional agriculture using fertilizer and pesticide creates negative externalities, notably by polluting runoff and consuming non-renewable resources (fertilizer is made from potash, a reasonably abundant but not infinite mineral which also creates a carbon footprint to mine).
Organic agriculture sacrifices considerable output as practiced, and is not actually optimized for minimal environmental impact but rather to maximize appeal to the organic food market, and as such also contains negative externalities which are not currently captured.
Almost no commercial agriculture in my area, organic or otherwise, incorporates livestock into land rotation cycles. Although I don’t have sources at hand, I am under the impression that evidence suggests that grazing animals provide not just replenishment of macronutrients, but also help to maintain a robust and fertile microbiome. Although labour is a factor, consider that under status quo, ranchers own land, and farmers own different land, and that land changing hands once every several years would on its own be an improvement.
Most commercial ag operations are extremely conservative with regard to implementing and operational changes, for good reason. Being subject to both global market fluctuations and climate fluctuations is an unenviable business position.
Combine all these things I have seen firsthand, and I do conclude there is a better global maximum out there somewhere. And granted, if I were appointed Ag Czar it would no doubt be a Great Leap Forward-like disaster because I don’t have the in-depth knowledge required to overhaul a complex ecological and economic system.
To bring all this back to the original thesis of the post, the precise reason I raised these gripes is because I agree with jasoncrawford that the waterline for industrial literacy is too low and more people should have a basic grasp of how these systems work. But like the Gell-Mann in the apocryphal story about trusting the news, I looked at his list of “things people should know about industry” and thought “Well… I have something to add to that, if people are going to take this post as a starting point for things that are important to know”.
Agricultural practice is my Gell-Mann pet peeve. While it’s true that fertilizer and pest control are currently central to large swaths of the commercial ag industry, this is not necessarily a case of pure necessity so much as local maxima— for many crops we could reduce dependence on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides by integrating livestock, multi-cropping land, etc. Some of them are also ecologically unsustainable as practiced and may eventually need to be replaced.
That said, this doesn’t actually detract from the central point; I would very much like to live in a world where those questions are actually engaged with by the general populace as opposed to being defined by like, Whole Foods marketing copy and the US corn lobby.
Seems like this question relies on a huge number of technical questions and assumptions such that a back of the envelope estimate would be meaningless and a rigorous examination would be highly difficult, nigh impossible. Natural albedo fluctuates wildly on a global scale from year to year and there are so many confounding factors and feedback systems in global climate that it seems insane to even estimate how much artificial mirror surface is needed, let alone how much it would cost not just to launch all that material, but to coordinate orbital patterns and control systems for it.
Elsewherism strike me as the most usable of these options for aesthetic reasons. Spooky Axiology at a Distance is the name of my new prog rock band.
Duct tape is a stereotype, but having a few kinds of tape including duct, electrical, and athletic can be useful. Less so for building objects like you’ve shown but often for fixing or sealing.
Steel wire is cheap and sometimes comes in handy for providing simple shaped objects or securing pieces together flexibly.
Wooden pallets can often be acquired for free and either used as-is (I have two serving as gardening boxes in my backyard) or stripped down for wood.
Paint! Anything you build can be made 75% less obviously DIY with the appropriate coat of paint applied. Spray paint requires no brushes but does require careful choice of workspace to not make a mess. Canned paint needs only a work surface with a layer of newspaper laid down, but requires some hygiene to maintain brushes and not let it dry out prematurely.
No, don’t do this. If you threaten someone with a higher level of violence than you can deliver, it’s more likely they try to pre-emptively attack you (i.e. shoot you first) and you will have no defense against this. If you cannot win a violent encounter then compliance is generally the safest strategy.
Droplets would be number one on my list of transmission vectors for people other than the hand hygiene intensive cases I mentioned, yes.
I don’t want to come down against good hygiene practices, exactly, but my prior is that this is a completely unimportant change for most people to make. The waterline of sanitary practices in Western nations is high enough that increasing the frequency and thoroughness of the average person’s handwashing seems likely to be subject to serious diminishing returns.
Consider that we’re starting from a status quo where most people’s hands are washed 3-5 times a day, even if lazily. Yeah it’s not 100% effective, but I don’t think it has to be in most circumstances.
Is there good epidemiological data that estimates how many disease transmissions have insufficient hand hygiene as an important/necessary vector? Because I would bet that outside of unusual cases like food service and medical workers, the number is low.
I’ll agree that “they couldn’t pay you enough” is technically hyperbole but I can’t imagine taking that sin seriously enough that it damages the credibility of the argument.
As for the message, here’s how I interpret the thesis: “immoral maze work environments have large hedonic costs of a type that are not well offset by monetary compensation (or other promised rewards)”. Which is distinct from, although related to, “money doesn’t buy happiness”.
I also disagree that all advice has to be positive to be actionable. Most people are aware of a variety of career paths they might pursue depending on their situation and talents; it’s perfectly adequate to say “don’t pursue middle management at a large corporation” because the reader can just update towards their other options.