Re: @MagnusVinding and biases towards a focus on WAS

[Writing here instead of a long thread. This is similar to how I'd respond to the same question over email.]

Thanks for the tag. I'm not sure what exactly you're looking for. I'd agree there are no "similarly strong” biases in the sense that, among self-identified animal advocates, the biases away from wild animal suffering are much stronger than biases toward. It also depends a lot on which area of animal advocacy you're comparing it to. With farmed animals, lab animals, companion animals, future animals, etc. there are going to be particular biases for and against each area. It’s hard to speak generally about biases for all non-WAS animal advocacy.

But if I had to generalize, I'd say the strongest ones are:

a) The perpetrator of domestic animal harm is humans. So there’s a bias towards focusing on WAS because it involves an external wrong rather than one committed by us or our fellow humans. (Obviously this is not true in every case, e.g. if the domestic animal harm is committed by a human out-group, we may be biased in favor of focusing on it.)

b) The prototypical domestic animal is, in general, harder to empathize with. This hinges strongly on definitions because it’s not clear how to average domestic vs wild animals. But I think at this stage of the WAS movement, the average may be a gazelle or similar creature, who is easier to empathize with than chickens, rats, etc.

c) There are a lot of negative stereotypes of activists, vegans, and animal rights activists. The WAS movement currently has a relatively blank slate in the sense that it doesn’t yet have stereotypes about it.

d) WAS can line up very well with a lot of environmentalist feelings. Obviously it can also run against some of them, which has been a much stronger focus of the WAS movement to date (I weakly think this is a significant mistake). But WAS can be directly associated with ‘help nature’ in a way that domestic animal advocacy usually can't.

e) Biases away from anthropogenic s-risks. If we really want to average domestic animal issues, we may place a lot of weight on potential human-caused suffering in the far future. This gets quite sci-fi, but it could be gene-edited animals that function as highly efficient biological machines. Or we could include artificial sentience. This would be its own list of 10+ biases against anthropogenic s-risks in favor of near-term domestic or near-term WAS issues. (Obviously, this hinges strongly on definitions too, since it's unclear whether to call spreading WAS beyond earth anthropogenic/domestic or WAS/naturogenic.)

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