The weekly link roundup is where I list links for the links that I liked for the week. Remember that I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in every article. Feel free to comment or ask. Lastly, it may be worth noting that I do try to sort these links in the order that I like them, descending. You can see the other roundups via the category page.
- How Much Direct Suffering Is Caused by Various Animal Foods?: “Consuming equal weights of different animal products may produce vastly different expected amounts of direct suffering. Farmed seafood may cause the most, followed by poultry products. Pork, beef, and especially milk produce considerably less suffering in comparison. As an extreme case, creating demand for a kg of farmed catfish meat is expected to cause 20,000 times as much suffering as creating demand for a kg of milk.”
- Why Activists Should Consider Making Lots of Money: “A number of people go to work for nonprofit organizations because they care about making a difference to the world. However, in many cases, these people might be able to make a bigger total impact by making a lot of money in business and then funding other people to accomplish the ‘do-gooder’ work. This is especially true if the skills they would bring to a nonprofit job are easily replaceable or otherwise not highly valuable.”
- We Can End World Poverty: “On the bright side, extreme poverty can be eliminated, and 30 years is a reasonable, if not a conservative, timeframe. Substantial progress has already occurred due to economic growth in the developing countries: researchers estimate that the number of people living in extreme poverty was nearly halved in the past decade. [...] With identifying good charities being so easy and the costs of doing good so low, even a high school student in the U.S. can prevent a few deaths just on summer earnings!”
- The Mechanics of Moral Evaluation: “Imagine a hammer, an ordinary claw hammer, used primarily for driving nails into wood, though also for pulling them out. Imagine that I point to an example of this humble but indispensable tool, and I say, ‘This is a good hammer.’ What do I mean when I say it? Well, presumably something like this: it has the properties or characteristics that make it efficient for driving nails into wood. [...] Moral evaluations are important, but they are not radically different from all the other evaluations that we make every day, even if we wish they were.”
- Donating toward Efficient Online Veg Ads: “A few animal groups, including The Humane League, are running ads on Facebook pointing to videos of factory farming and encouraging viewers to go veg. Based on survey data for reduced meat consumption after seeing the videos, I estimate that each $1 donated toward The Humane League’s veg ads prevents ~120 days of suffering on factory farms and 20 additional fish deaths. The actual number could be several times higher.”
- Religion’s Odd Relationship with Atheism: “It almost beggars belief that many self-proclaimed so-called moral experts of the modern world – men and women of cloth, such as rabbi Adam Jacobs – exhibit such a shocking ignorance of modern ethical and evolutionary theory. Jacobs penned a piece for the Huffington Post recently that could serve as a template for the gross misunderstanding of how atheism and morality are related. [...] He might as well be saying ‘because there’s no edict from God over the rules of cricket, you can just give yourself a century and refuse to leave if you’re caught out.’ Just because it isn’t written in the bible, doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules to cricket (cricket nihilism). And it doesn’t mean you can play by whatever rules you choose (cricket egoism).”
- The 2012 Election Was Good for Political Science: “In late September, I was involved in an email exchange in which a historian stated that ‘Someone should do a piece cataloging down all the poli sci consensi being undone this season.’ Now I can write with some confidence that the findings of the political science canon were largely confirmed by the 2012 election. And those findings deserve some plaudits alongside the polls, the forecasters, and the ‘nerds’ at the heart of the winning presidential campaign. In our book, The Gamble, Lynn Vavreck and I are attempting to show how those lessons can inform our understanding of the 2012 election. Here is a list of findings that I think hold up reasonably well, with citations to representative studies and findings from our book where possible.”
- Support the Undeserving Poor: “Murrary Rothbard asks: ‘Why won’t the left acknowledge the difference between deserving poor and undeserving poor. Why support the feckless, lazy & irresponsible?’ I’d answer thusly: 1. I’m surprised a libertarian is asking. Two of the great and correct insights of libertarianism are that the state has very limited knowledge, and that its interventions often lead to people gaming the system. This is true of welfare spending as of anything else. The government doesn’t have the knowhow to distinguish well between the deserving and undeserving poor.”
- Lives Can’t Be Saved: “We talk a lot about ‘saving lives’, but we shouldn’t — it’s really quite misleading. At best, we may save a few decades of someone’s life. Death is never banished; merely postponed. ‘Reducing’ the number of deaths in the world is not a coherent goal: we know there will be exactly one for each life, and there’s no changing that (modulo immortality research). What we really mean here is that we aim to extend life. It’s worth being clear on this, since not all life-extensions are equal, but a rhetorical focus on ‘death’ (or ‘life-saving’) occludes this fact.”
- Miracles and Historical Method, Richard Carrier Skepticon 5: “Carrier talks about how to think critically about history generally, using miracles as an entertaining example. Builds on his talk last year on Bayes’ Theorem, but this time it’s more about method than math, and surveys a lot of real-world examples of miracles from the ancient world (pagan, Jewish and Christian). Summarizes some of what is covered in much more detail in his book.”
- Language Learning: “One of my biggest personal failures is that I am still effectively monolingual. I’ve tried learning a couple of languages: Latin, Spanish, Japanese, and even (in a fit of mad optimism) Finnish. As it is I can sort of half-communicate at a drunken-four-year-old level in Japanese and have pretty much forgotten or never learned the others. [...] So imagine this – I’m going to use Japanese here because it’s the only language I could even remotely try to use as an example without making a total fool of myself, and I’ll thank you for not correcting the inevitable errors. The course is a novel. Could be any novel, but I imagine for cutesiness reasons you’d want to use a classic from the culture you’re studying, like The Tale of Genji or Death Note.”
- Sunk Costs in Careers: “n my last post we looked at sunk costs. We saw that having paid for something distorts how you think about it later on. This is a very common experience in career decisions. You might be in a degree course you don’t want to be on, or climbing the ladder in a company you aren’t sure about, or find out that the dream job you’ve spent years working for isn’t as good as expected. It is only by forgetting these sunk costs that you can make the right career decisions and have as much impact as you can. If you find yourself in this situation what can you do?”
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