I am not a Terrorist

Vegans and non-vegans alike are welcome.
Post an intro here first to have your account authenticated by a mod, then you'll be able to post anywhere.
Even if you're here to lurk, please drop a short intro post here to let us know you're not a spammer so you aren't accidentally deleted.

Forum rules
Please read the full Forum Rules
Zane
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:54 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Re: I am not a Terrorist

Post by Zane » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm

The quote-and-quote can get too visually dense with these long exchanges, so I'll summarize and try to answer your questions. If I do not, please let me know.

Re: Tipping Points

You're more likely to die en route to the polling location than to have your vote make any actual difference. The same also goes for the environment: My choice to drive an air-craft carrier style pickup truck is not going to harm the environment. If I were the last remaining human on earth, I could keep feeding an urban assault vehicle gasoline and it will not make a dent in the ecosystem. It's like pissing in the Pacific. It's that my actions in concert with others could make difference, which is why voting should probably be mandatory, cars should be strictly regulated (due to negative externalities), and everyone should refuse to consume animal products.

So, no, I do not deny that if "*enough*" customers ask for sausages, an additional case will be purchased. What I'm saying is that one customer will not send a market signal. Also note that this even applies to the case itself. Farmer John doesn't say "Joe's Sausages just requested an additional case, so we better up production." Not even Joe's Sausages -- the restaurant itself -- is a large enough consumer to send a market signal. Sausage production wouldn't change if Joe jr. decided to turn the family business into a parking lot.
The probability of being the person who pushes consumption over that threshold may be small, but the effect is proportionally large to make up for it.
There are more former vegetarians and vegans than vegetarians and vegans, so what I should probably do is kill myself. The effect may be small, but my (almost certain) lack of consumption could have a potentially large impact.

This stuff with the nail and the horseshoe and the kingdom are the sort of rabble-rousing "noble" falsehoods that are used to motivate people. Maybe they have a place for some propaganda purpose, but the thinking is entirely fanciful.

Being Vegan because it will make a difference vs. the immorality of supporting animal exploitation industries.
In my experience, people who limit their reasons to be vegan are at higher risk of recidivism. Polls bear this out as well.
Maybe that's true. In my experience, however, I would prefer to innoculate people to misguided arguments. If someone goes vegan because they feel they are saving hundreds of animals per year, then they may abandon their diet once they realize it's not actually making a difference. If people vote in the off-chance their vote can make a difference, maybe they stop voting when it's pointed out they're not making a difference. On the whole, it's probably better to tell people the truth (but maybe not).

Firing a shot in a stadium
So you fire it off at the same time as half-time fireworks. Then is it morally permissible as long as you get lucky and hit nobody?
I thought my answer very clearly implied that it's morally impermissible. As I wrote: "Of course shooting a bullet in a stadium presents a credible risk to life. Even the mere crack of a gun shot causes harm." The (real) potential for stampede was an afterthought.
It's very concerning to me that you seem to be rejecting the probabilistic nature of moral responsibility.
It's simple: I do not. If I flip a coin three times, could it land on heads every single time? Sure. If I flip a coin 100 times, could it land on heads every single time? It's possible, but not the least bit likely. I think Isaac Asimov once remarked that some events are so statistically unlikely that we might as well say they're impossible. In one of his books, Richard Dawkins points out that's it's possible a marble statue could wave its hand back n' forth. Normally the molecules are bumping into each other and cancel each other out, but they could all go in one direction, and then in another.

Refraining from Eating Sausages vs. Direct Action

You characterize the former as "not speculative" but "basic economics and probability," adding "[t]hese are all known factors." The latter's benefits are described as "highly speculative" and "isn't comparable to accepting established economics and probability."

This strikes me as dishonest. When you're talking about sausages, you're being highly speculative. An empirical approach is fundamentally disinterested, but you seem attached to one outcome.

Earlier you remarked, "It's always both astonishing and frustrating when I meet somebody so committed to the 'your actions don't matter' mindset." This does not necessarily describe me, however. I'm saying certain actions will not have their intended effect. I am not saying an individual is incapable of causing change.

Regarding Joe's Sausages, what if you were to engage in a little monkeywrenching? What if you stole the sausages and fed them to the homeless? Or. if that's too risky, what if you popped into the restroom and flushed sponges to cause plumbing damages? This could close the business for a few days. Maybe it causes such a headache that the family shuts down its operations.

If you were to do an honest assessment, assigning probabilities amorally, then the direct action could have a higher expected return. Your arguments remind me of followers of Ayn Rand who insist that "initiating force" goes against our self-interest because lying, cheating and stealing could lead to a bad reputation/jail time/etc. Yes, true, fair enough. In the real world, however, there are prudent predator situations where one could lie and credibly get away with it (this is also similar to Socrates' famous encounter with Thrasymachus in Book I of The Republic).

Of course, I would never put my own skin in the game. If anything, I would prefer to think that such activities are counter-productive -- precisely because they demand more in terms of self-sacrifice (and there's almost no personal material benefit).

I did not understand what you were trying to say here:
We can use all of those arguments against violent activism.
That we shouldn't do it for other reasons.
But ALSO that the net empirical effect is likely bad.

It's important to have a fallback if somebody finds your original approach to be unconvincing. There's no reason to abandon the evidence.

Likewise, it's a weaker position to argue your more controversial moral position, and then if rejected have nothing empirical to fall back on. Not everybody is going to agree that it's still wrong if it doesn't have an effect.

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 9272
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:43 pm

Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
You're more likely to die en route to the polling location than to have your vote make any actual difference.
That's plausible. But are you saying that the difference in outcome between having Clinton instead of Trump for four years isn't worth a brave voter sacrificing his or her life to get to the polls?

The question is if the probability times magnitude of risk outweighs the probability times magnitude of benefit.
If it does, it's good to do.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
My choice to drive an air-craft carrier style pickup truck is not going to harm the environment.
You're making the same mistake of equating a low probability to no probability.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
It's that my actions in concert with others could make difference, which is why voting should probably be mandatory, cars should be strictly regulated (due to negative externalities), and everyone should refuse to consume animal products.
That's also true, and it's another viable argument. But there's no reason to dismiss the fact of large probabilistic effects as a more rigorous way of describing it if somebody doesn't accept that.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
So, no, I do not deny that if "*enough*" customers ask for sausages, an additional case will be purchased. What I'm saying is that one customer will not send a market signal.
"Enough" is a number. Period. We may not know what the number is, 10, 100, a million... but it's a number, and passing it represents a threshold.
If the threshold is 50 customers asking and 49 have already asked, then ONE more does tip the scales and result in that signal being sent.

There are cases where you can act without effect.

If you KNOW for certain that the threshold is 50 and that only 40 people have asked, and you also know that it resets at the end up the business day (5:00 p.m.) and it's 4:59 now and there's nobody else in the store and nobody outside within sprinting distance to possibly make it by 5:00, then you can act without effect.

However, if any of those variables are unknown then from YOUR perspective there is a possibility that your actions will have an effect.

Probability here is all in the unknowns. Your responsibility is based on what you know and can reasonably know, and that includes respecting the possibility of unlikely consequence, particularly when that consequence is very substantial.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
Also note that this even applies to the case itself.
Yes, and there's always threshold. Which means your one non-purchase could cause the store to buy less, and could reach a threshold for the manufacturer, then for the farmer, etc. Even the closure of an entire factory farm, or the choice not to open another one from one single consumer.

As you go up the chain, the odds of having the effect fall but the magnitude of the effect rises. The total probability x magnitude stay about the same. Eat one less chicken, one less chicken dies. Actually a little more than one chicken due to waste (you'd have to look at that proportion), maybe two fewer chickens die.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
There are more former vegetarians and vegans than vegetarians and vegans, so what I should probably do is kill myself. The effect may be small, but my (almost certain) lack of consumption could have a potentially large impact.
A single live vegan does more good than many live meat eaters do harm.
Also, ex-vegans are mostly not hostile to veganism, and can be politically supportive. Even people eating less meat and being favorable to plant based options could do more good than harm.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
This stuff with the nail and the horseshoe and the kingdom are the sort of rabble-rousing "noble" falsehoods that are used to motivate people. Maybe they have a place for some propaganda purpose, but the thinking is entirely fanciful.
It's not fanciful, it's logically sound and empirically true.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
Maybe that's true. In my experience, however, I would prefer to innoculate people to misguided arguments.
That's great, which is why we have a whole article on the old "Name The Trait" argument.
wiki/index.php/NameTheTrait

But this isn't a misguided argument.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
If someone goes vegan because they feel they are saving hundreds of animals per year, then they may abandon their diet once they realize it's not actually making a difference.
Then we need to explain that *yes* they are saving hundreds a year, but in a statistical way, and that actions based on probability are the only practical basis for moral choices.
It's a bit more work to explain, but then there's no risk of that argument being debunked (no more risk than all of mathematics being overturned).
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
If people vote in the off-chance their vote can make a difference, maybe they stop voting when it's pointed out they're not making a difference.
You mean when somebody lies to them and equates a low probability to zero probability.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
I thought my answer very clearly implied that it's morally impermissible. As I wrote: "Of course shooting a bullet in a stadium presents a credible risk to life.
One in a billion is credible too. At which point does it become morally permissible?
How many empty chambers have to be in the pistol before it's OK to point it at somebody and pull the trigger?
Ten, a hundred, a thousand, a million, a billion?

Can you recognize that without benefit to outweigh it the wrongness of an action is proportional to risk, and that because that risk is never zero that wrongness never fully vanishes?
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
I think Isaac Asimov once remarked that some events are so statistically unlikely that we might as well say they're impossible.
He was wrong. And it's of utmost importance to moral decision making, particularly when the outcome of those unlikely events is so huge.

Probability x Magnitude

When an event's magnitude doesn't grow in inverse relation to probability, that's something else and it's less worthy of consideration.

Like the firing into a stadium example: the reduction in probability of killing somebody from nearly 100% shooting straight at somebody to less than one in a million firing into a large volume of space is NOT accompanied by a larger death toll if the somebody is hit. That makes the animal agriculture example much stronger.

Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
In one of his books, Richard Dawkins points out that's it's possible a marble statue could wave its hand back n' forth. Normally the molecules are bumping into each other and cancel each other out, but they could all go in one direction, and then in another.
Yes, and these are both: 1. Of astronomically lower probability than all animal agriculture being ended in a short time by one consumer, and 2. Morally insignificant.

There's nothing of moral import in some rock moving around.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
Refraining from Eating Sausages vs. Direct Action

You characterize the former as "not speculative" but "basic economics and probability," adding "[t]hese are all known factors." The latter's benefits are described as "highly speculative" and "isn't comparable to accepting established economics and probability."
It depends on the kind of direct action. Direct action that draws positive attention to veganism is likely very beneficial.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
I'm saying certain actions will not have their intended effect. I am not saying an individual is incapable of causing change.
You don't know that they won't have the intended effect: it's only unlikely that they'll have exactly the intended effect. But the average effect would be the intended effect, and for most people that will be satisfactory.

The much larger chance is that they do nothing, and then a small chance is that they have an effect much larger than the intended effect.
The important and morally relevant point is that the larger effect is inversely proportional to the drop in probability, so the average effect IS the intended effect, which makes "eat one less chicken and save a chicken" not dishonest. It probably actually does more than that due to waste.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
Regarding Joe's Sausages, what if you were to engage in a little monkeywrenching? What if you stole the sausages and fed them to the homeless? Or. if that's too risky, what if you popped into the restroom and flushed sponges to cause plumbing damages? This could close the business for a few days. Maybe it causes such a headache that the family shuts down its operations.
The trouble is that if you don't know what you're doing, these can have unintended effect.
Just not buying the sausages is a very clear action that's almost impossible to backfire.

Stealing them may make them think more people are buying them, and cause more sausages to be ordered. Not everybody does inventory based on receipts, sometimes it's just a visual check.
Flushing sponges may be found out and give the vegan movement bad press. It may also cause all of the sausages to spoil, while the store collects insurance, then orders an entirely new inventory.

It's very hard to reliably predict not just the probability of a good effect, but whether the average effect would even be good at all.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
Your arguments remind me of followers of Ayn Rand who insist that "initiating force" goes against our self-interest because lying, cheating and stealing could lead to a bad reputation/jail time/etc. Yes, true, fair enough. In the real world, however, there are prudent predator situations where one could lie and credibly get away with it (this is also similar to Socrates' famous encounter with Thrasymachus in Book I of The Republic).
Randroids are wrong. There are a lot of cases where reputation on an individual level doesn't matter that much, and individuals can get away with bad behavior and benefit. There are a lot of people who provide evidence that being evil and dishonest can be very profitable. The current U.S. president, for example. We can only hope they'll get what they've earned, but it doesn't always happen.

Now for a group, this is magnified, because any negative press affects the whole.

If you're really sure you can get away with something, I would say I just don't trust your judgement because people are too stupid. We're in this together, and unlike for psychopaths rising or falling on their own, your actions also affect my activism.

If you had a magic power to know for sure your actions wouldn't reflect badly on the group, and to know for sure you could get away with unintended consequences... then I'd say you need professional help because magic powers don't exist. ;)

Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
I did not understand what you were trying to say here:
My point was made again here. I think your arguments are easier for people to dismiss than a strong probabilistic consequentialist argument. Your argument might be easier to make, and if that's so it's fine to make it first, but when it's not convincing you need something else to fall back on.

Zane
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:54 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by Zane » Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:43 pm
That's plausible. But are you saying that the difference in outcome between having Clinton instead of Trump for four years isn't worth a brave voter sacrificing his or her life to get to the polls?
First off, most voters have a zero percent chance of altering the outcome of a presidential election. I reside in California, so if my vote COULD tip the Golden State to Clinton, then Trump's close competitiveness here means he almost certainly won the vast majority of other states, so our 55 electoral votes still wouldn't make a difference. As it happens, this is very similar to your misunderstanding regarding sausages vis-a-vis markets.
The question is if the probability times magnitude of risk outweighs the probability times magnitude of benefit.
If it does, it's good to do.
This elides the reality of opportunity costs. In the mid-90s, Michael Jordan's accountant says, "guess what, MJ? You made $300,000 playing baseball. Congratulations, you're in the top 1%." But an economist points out that playing baseball actually cost him 30 million dollars in income, which is about how much he could've made had he stayed in the NBA.

A net good can still be sub-optimal. This is particularly relevant in the case of the underground vs. above-ground activism.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
My choice to drive an air-craft carrier style pickup truck is not going to harm the environment.
You're making the same mistake of equating a low probability to no probability.
One of the problems with the quote/quote is that you're balkanizing my posts. This sentence is directly connected to what follows.

Re: Stopping Free-Riders
That's also true, and it's another viable argument. But there's no reason to dismiss the fact of large probabilistic effects as a more rigorous way of describing it if somebody doesn't accept that.
Except these "probabilistic effects" are not at all rigorous. They're entirely fanciful.
Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm
So, no, I do not deny that if "*enough*" customers ask for sausages, an additional case will be purchased. What I'm saying is that one customer will not send a market signal.
"Enough" is a number. Period. We may not know what the number is, 10, 100, a million... but it's a number, and passing it represents a threshold.
If the threshold is 50 customers asking and 49 have already asked, then ONE more does tip the scales and result in that signal being sent.

There are cases where you can act without effect.

If you KNOW for certain that the threshold is 50 and that only 40 people have asked, and you also know that it resets at the end up the business day (5:00 p.m.) and it's 4:59 now and there's nobody else in the store and nobody outside within sprinting distance to possibly make it by 5:00, then you can act without effect.

However, if any of those variables are unknown then from YOUR perspective there is a possibility that your actions will have an effect.

Probability here is all in the unknowns. Your responsibility is based on what you know and can reasonably know, and that includes respecting the possibility of unlikely consequence, particularly when that consequence is very substantial.[/quote]

Maybe this is all my fault. I thought it was understood that "market signal" was related to the production of food in this scenario. So, as a consumer, maybe I can encourage the local joint to buy one more case of sausages, but this in no way affects overall sausage production. If we rescued one pig from a farm, then we would spare suffering and fewer sausages will be produced, but again, it would not send a market signal in the form of higher prices (and inventory would almost certainly remain unaffected).
Yes, and there's always threshold. Which means your one non-purchase could cause the store to buy less, and could reach a threshold for the manufacturer, then for the farmer, etc. Even the closure of an entire factory farm, or the choice not to open another one from one single consumer.

As you go up the chain, the odds of having the effect fall but the magnitude of the effect rises. The total probability x magnitude stay about the same. Eat one less chicken, one less chicken dies. Actually a little more than one chicken due to waste (you'd have to look at that proportion), maybe two fewer chickens die.
You're flying off the rails. Markets are not nearly that precise. I also thought you were well beyond the idea that eating one less chicken means that a chicken is somehow spared. That is completely false.

Suppose Jack drives across the country. He's returning home from a rare visit to his parents. He eats chicken almost everyday, and sees a small family farm from the highway. He stops off to buy one, but can't bear to see this particular bird slaughtered. She has too much personality. He decides to keep her as a pet, but his diet remains unchanged.

Jill drives across the country to visit her parents. She passes the same farm, but does not even consider stopping because she's a vegan.

All other things being equal, over the course of a year, who do we expect has saved more animal lives, Jack or Jill? The answer most likely to be true is Jack.
Then we need to explain that *yes* [vegans] are saving hundreds a year, but in a statistical way, and that actions based on probability are the only practical basis for moral choices.
It's a bit more work to explain, but then there's no risk of that argument being debunked (no more risk than all of mathematics being overturned).
I wish you had come out and said this sooner because it's certainly false. It's ignorant of mathematics and economics. I think this topic deserves its own thread on the main forum.

I read the rest of your post, and I'll leave you with the last word on those overlapping discussions. I would just be reiterating what I already said.

Zane
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:54 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by Zane » Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:26 pm

I created a thread on the main forum, but it's pending moderator approval.

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 9272
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:59 pm

Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
First off, most voters have a zero percent chance of altering the outcome of a presidential election.
Are you saying 0.000...1% chance, or are you saying actually 0% decimal place zeros out to infinity?
If the latter, you're completely wrong, and you're either lying to yourself or you're just being dishonest here.
Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
I reside in California, so if my vote COULD tip the Golden State to Clinton, then Trump's close competitiveness here means he almost certainly won the vast majority of other states, so our 55 electoral votes still wouldn't make a difference.
Almost certainly. That is, not certainly. Thus, yes there is a chance that your vote makes a difference.
A small chance is NOT a zero chance. Calling it so is inherently dishonest.

I have no misunderstanding of the SMALL chances here, but you're being dishonest if you're calling them zero.
Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
A net good can still be sub-optimal. This is particularly relevant in the case of the underground vs. above-ground activism.
Of course, if the opportunity cost is high then that's another argument entirely.

Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
Except these "probabilistic effects" are not at all rigorous. They're entirely fanciful.
Any guesses on numbers are just guesses, but the fact of there being a chance is not fanciful at all, it's based on our lack of perfect knowledge, and even the lack of perfect determinism of reality. That's undeniable if you don't throw out all of physics.
Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
Maybe this is all my fault. I thought it was understood that "market signal" was related to the production of food in this scenario. So, as a consumer, maybe I can encourage the local joint to buy one more case of sausages, but this in no way affects overall sausage production.
I already explained why it does: if enough local sausage joints buy one less case (another aspect of probability) your local place could tip the scale and reduce production.
Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
If we rescued one pig from a farm, then we would spare suffering and fewer sausages will be produced, but again, it would not send a market signal in the form of higher prices (and inventory would almost certainly remain unaffected).
Why do you think fewer sausages will be produced if you rescue a pig? Seems you're completely ignorant of how farms operate. Slaughter time is a flexible. A company will meet quota if it has to buy more pigs at suboptimal weight, and farmers often hold on to some animals beyond optimal weight depending on market conditions. Rescuing pigs will just mean more pigs are killed younger and at a lower weight to make enough sausages, and production will absorb that loss. That is: More pigs will die.

You'd have to rescue probably tens of thousands of pigs to see any actual reduction in sausage supply.

Now rescuing even one DOES cost them some money, and if the company were near the red that could push it over. Again, probability. If that cost enough money, and if they didn't have insurance or something (or even if it increased premiums) then it could result in businesses closing... but it could also have an unintended effect of just killing more pigs (as I explained).
Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
Markets are not nearly that precise.
I explained we're talking probabilistic effects.
Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
I also thought you were well beyond the idea that eating one less chicken means that a chicken is somehow spared. That is completely false.
It's statistically true in an ideal model. Again I explained it's probabilistic.
Do you need somebody to make a simulation of this for you?

Most chickens not eaten don't result in any change, but some of those chickens result in a huge change, thus the average effect is about 1:1. A little more than that saved due to waste.
Throw in subsidies and things become more complicated, but that also applies political pressure. The more government money thrown into animal ag the more likely there will be resistance against that, and it still tends to cost farms money.

There's no plausible unintended negative consequence to *not* buying and consuming chicken, unlike some bad press getting direct action.
Zane wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:09 pm
Suppose Jack drives across the country. He's returning home from a rare visit to his parents. He eats chicken almost everyday, and sees a small family farm from the highway. He stops off to buy one, but can't bear to see this particular bird slaughtered. She has too much personality. He decides to keep her as a pet, but his diet remains unchanged.

Jill drives across the country to visit her parents. She passes the same farm, but does not even consider stopping because she's a vegan.

All other things being equal, over the course of a year, who do we expect has saved more animal lives, Jack or Jill? The answer most likely to be true is Jack.
No, statistically Jill has saved more animals, Jack saved zero because that bird was replaced, and again slaughter time is variable, and due to the purchase the farm may have even expanded its operation. Jack probably caused more harm where Jill prevented it by not economically contributing. Jack is also now spending a lot of money caring for a chicken, which is just terribly wasteful.

The only way Jack saves chicken lives is if his pet chicken inspired people to give up on eating chickens.

We do not *buy* people out of slavery, it just incentivizes the slavers. That's pouring fuel on the fire. Same for animal ag.


I'll check out your thread later. I think you have a lot to learn about Mathematics, I sense you're falling prey to the Dunning Kruger effect. It's not clear to me why you'd be so committed to this belief.

Zane
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:54 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by Zane » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm

Distinguishing between infinitesimally small numbers and zero.

Your insistence here is symptomatic of the weakness of your arguments and pretensions of "mathematics." The number is effectively zero.

Incidentally, you're talking about situations where the margin of error exceeds the margin of victory. If my vote did make a difference, there would be a mandatory recount, and after a recount the numbers would come out differently. And that's after pretending Trump loses states like Pennsylvania but somehow manages to come close in California.

In terms of opportunity costs, we've already established that I'm more likely to die on the way to the polls. As far as expected net benefit goes, I could be doing something more productive.
Almost certainly. That is, not certainly.
My qualifying remark was purely academic (and in the worst sense of the word). It's possible a crash of rhinos could break through my door at this very moment, but I'm confident they won't. My confidence edges into what can be called certainty for the purposes of every day language.
Why do you think fewer sausages will be produced if you rescue a pig? Seems you're completely ignorant of how farms operate. Slaughter time is a flexible. A company will meet quota if it has to buy more pigs at suboptimal weight, and farmers often hold on to some animals beyond optimal weight depending on market conditions. Rescuing pigs will just mean more pigs are killed younger and at a lower weight to make enough sausages, and production will absorb that loss. That is: More pigs will die.
Oh, my goodness. We're talking about rescuing one pig, not multiple pigs. It's not going to increase breeding operations (I know, I know, no rain drop believes it caused the flood). If it helps, you can imagine the rescue occurring the night before the journey to the slaughterhouse. By the way, the ignorance of market economics that you demonstrate suggests factory farming is marvelously efficient. You make the faculty at George Mason University look like rank Marxists. Who knew markets were so responsive? Physicists should be suffering from economics-envy.
It's statistically true in an ideal model. Again I explained it's probabilistic.
Do you need somebody to make a simulation of this for you?
Please.

I'm pairing the following comments together:
I already explained why it does: if enough local sausage joints buy one less case (another aspect of probability) your local place could tip the scale and reduce production.
Most chickens not eaten don't result in any change, but some of those chickens result in a huge change, thus the average effect is about 1:1. A little more than that saved due to waste.
Ay yi yi yi. So... to clarify. Consumers buy sausages/chicken/etc and the typical purchaser does not disrupt production/supply, but one refusal can result in huge changes. It's impossible to say who had this profound effect -- and, indeed, it doesn't matter because credit is owed to everyone participating in the boycott (by analogy my ballot did not deliver victory to President-elect Clinton; credit goes to everyone who voted for her). When we add up the numbers and divide, each of us will have saved however many animals it would've taken to feed us (plus there's a benefit in "saved waste").

Is this a fair summary?
There's no plausible unintended negative consequence to *not* buying and consuming chicken, unlike some bad press getting direct action.
Agreed, but this a false dichotomy.

It's also again worth noting that direct action invites wild flights of imagination about dire consequences (the same goes for refusing to cast a California(!) ballot for Clinton), while the negative consequences of traditional vegan evangelism are (correctly) termed implausible.
No, statistically Jill has saved more animals, Jack saved zero because that bird was replaced, and again slaughter time is variable, and due to the purchase the farm may have even expanded its operation. Jack probably caused more harm where Jill prevented it by not economically contributing. Jack is also now spending a lot of money caring for a chicken, which is just terribly wasteful.
Your innumeracy/economic illiteracy reminds me of the old joke about tourists at the natural history museum. They ask a security guard how old the dinosaur bones are and he responds, "68 million, four years, one month and three days old." Jaws drop. "Wow. How are they so precise?" "Well," the guard explains, "It was 68 million when I first started working here, and that was exactly four years, one month and three days ago."

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 9272
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:29 am

Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
Distinguishing between infinitesimally small numbers and zero.

Your insistence here is symptomatic of the weakness of your arguments and pretensions of "mathematics." The number is effectively zero.
It is not, and I explained why. Your insistence on that is just dishonest. It makes all the difference in ethics.
Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
Incidentally, you're talking about situations where the margin of error exceeds the margin of victory. If my vote did make a difference, there would be a mandatory recount, and after a recount the numbers would come out differently.
AGAIN, thresholds. How do you not grasp this?

Instead understand that your vote was the one extra vote needed to NOT have a recount, which if it was done would result in Trump winning instead.

It's like you're trying to avoid comprehending this concept because it messes with your world view.

Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
As far as expected net benefit goes, I could be doing something more productive.
Then do something more productive instead of voting if you want.

The best arguments against veganism are things like "it takes more time to find vegan options and I'm working in a high impact charity where my every minute saves human lives"
There are some people who have legitimate excuses in the way of opportunity cost.

Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
Oh, my goodness. We're talking about rescuing one pig, not multiple pigs. It's not going to increase breeding operations (I know, I know, no rain drop believes it caused the flood).
And again, threshold. Your one rescue adds to other sources of loss, and they decide to breed more. Or buy more from elsewhere to fill the order fully, where more are bred.

You can not act in a vacuum. The belief that you can is simply delusion.

Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
If it helps, you can imagine the rescue occurring the night before the journey to the slaughterhouse.
That's not helpful. Farmers do not typically send all of their pigs to slaughter at once.

And no, they don't have to be efficient; they can have HUGE margins of error and massive waste, but the point of it being a threshold is that something can break through those margins.

Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
Who knew markets were so responsive? Physicists should be suffering from economics-envy.
I've already addressed this, and your straw-man is pushing the rules.
Insults are fine, but misrepresenting my argument is not.

Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
It's statistically true in an ideal model. Again I explained it's probabilistic.
Do you need somebody to make a simulation of this for you?
Please.
If the simulation shows what I'm describing, will you finally admit it and concede this point?
Is Javascript OK?
Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
So... to clarify. Consumers buy sausages/chicken/etc and the typical purchaser does not disrupt production/supply, but one refusal can result in huge changes. It's impossible to say who had this profound effect -- and, indeed, it doesn't matter because credit is owed to everyone participating in the boycott (by analogy my ballot did not deliver victory to President-elect Clinton; credit goes to everyone who voted for her). When we add up the numbers and divide, each of us will have saved however many animals it would've taken to feed us (plus there's a benefit in "saved waste").
That's not really what I'm saying, but it's a decent argument. I'm talking more about the personal morality of the action based on following rules of probability regardless of actual outcome.

But for simplicity's sake we can go with that.

And yes, I know that you can just leave it at:
Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
credit is owed to everyone participating in the boycott (by analogy my ballot did not deliver victory to President-elect Clinton; credit goes to everyone who voted for her). When we add up the numbers and divide, each of us will have saved however many animals it would've taken to feed us (plus there's a benefit in "saved waste").
And by all means, just make that argument if you want. I would normally just say that too.
HOWEVER, some people are not convinced that credit is or can be shared like that, or think it sound too ad hoc or idealistic, and they need the probability based explanation to drive the point home.

Case in point:
viewtopic.php?t=2806

Read that: wherein YOUR kind of argument was not persuasive, but mine was.

If the mere shared credit argument does not work, you suffer not at all for having more argument options to back it up.
What is the risk, exactly, of having an additional argument you may fall back on if the previous has failed to be persuasive?

I would say it may not be ideal as a first argument, because there are so many mathematically incompetent people who will not be capable of understanding it (like yourself, it seems), but to disregard it as an option is counterproductive.

Zane wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:34 pm
No, statistically Jill has saved more animals, Jack saved zero because that bird was replaced, and again slaughter time is variable, and due to the purchase the farm may have even expanded its operation. Jack probably caused more harm where Jill prevented it by not economically contributing. Jack is also now spending a lot of money caring for a chicken, which is just terribly wasteful.
Your innumeracy/economic illiteracy reminds me of the old joke about tourists at the natural history museum. They ask a security guard how old the dinosaur bones are and he responds, "68 million, four years, one month and three days old." Jaws drop. "Wow. How are they so precise?" "Well," the guard explains, "It was 68 million when I first started working here, and that was exactly four years, one month and three days ago."
Aha, the Dunning Kruger effect rears its head again. You misunderstand so thoroughly the issue that you can't see where this analogy is wildly inaccurate.

The 68 million years is based on a probability curve based on the prevalence of certain radioactive decay products and elements within the rocks in that stratum. With a lot of sampling the confidence can be very high.
Knowing with certainty that four years, one month, and three days has elapsed since the measurement was made absolutely DOES shift that probability curve four years one month and three days over. But if the measurement itself didn't have enough significant figures, then that just wouldn't be reflected in a sanitized total. It's obviously still older, but conveying that in the same number would imply a certainty about the original age we don't have. We only have a few significant figures for the half-lives of some of these materials (that may not always be true as quantum physics advances; we may some day be able to tell within years how old rocks are based on more precise half-lives if we collect enough samples).
The bones are older, but in a way that isn't useful to mathematical analysis due to OUR ignorance of the original age.

The only issue with this guard -- and the point of the joke -- is a misunderstanding of significant figures, and it's a funny joke that highlights their importance and intuitive difficulty. But it's also not at all relevant to the issue I'm raising.

The probability matter I'm discussing here has *nothing* to do with our ability to measure. These things can remain completely unknowable, steeped in impossible to measure chaotic functions.
It's not about having the significant figures of measurement to show people, it's about it simply *being* older/more/less/etc.
The universe doesn't care how many of few significant figures you have, it doesn't care that you don't know something. Things still age even if you can't figure out how old they are, resources still accrue and decisions are still made based on many variables even if you can't count them. Things still *have* more precise values even if you're ignorant of them and don't have the significant figures to show it.

Your position is something like a cosmic narcissism: one that insists that in fact because we humans don't have the significant figures to describe it with precision, dinosaur bones simply do not and can not age at all. A far more absurd error than the guard in that joke made.
Your position seems like the belief that if humans don't know something then there's nothing there to know at all.
It's absurd to say that these bones are exactly the same age four years ago as they are today. They aren't, we just don't really know that well how old they started out as.
Likewise the number of stars in the observable universe is precise and doesn't care how many significant figures we can estimate. Stars don't vanish into Schrödinger's box just because we can't precisely count them. If you really think whole galaxies simply don't exist because we can't measure them, I'm afraid there's not much that can be done for you. Cosmic narcissism is probable an incurable affliction, and if that's your problem I don't think there's much point in carrying on discussing this because you'll never be capable of understanding that the universe carries on being whatever it is without your being able to comprehend it with any precision.

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 9272
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:47 am

@Zane It's been a bit over a week, you usually respond quickly.

Do you finally understand my points and have you conceded, or are you (as I asked) holding out for a simulation that proves this?
What would convince you?

Zane
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:54 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by Zane » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:48 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:47 am
@Zane It's been a bit over a week, you usually respond quickly.

Do you finally understand my points and have you conceded, or are you (as I asked) holding out for a simulation that proves this?
What would convince you?
I noticed a lack of reply for several days and stopped checking. Based your post, you're struggling to read for comprehension. I can reply later, but it would be more efficient to consolidate these arguments in the more topical thread.

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 9272
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:00 am

Zane wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:48 pm
I noticed a lack of reply for several days and stopped checking.
You should have received a notification. It may not be working.

Some ideas, such as that you're advocating, are too inconsistent to be comprehensible. I can comprehend that your beliefs are in a state of internal contradiction, but that doesn't really solve this disagreement.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest