Martín Soto

Mathematical Logic grad student, doing AI Safety research for ethical reasons.

Did SERI MATS with Vivek Hebbar (MIRI).

Working on Decision Theory with Abram Demski (MIRI).

Working on macro-strategy with the Center on Long-term Risk.

Wiki Contributions


Just want to quickly flag that, based on my anecdotal experience, the vegan communities I was thinking of in which nutrition was thoroughly discussed didn't involve learning from vegan elders either. They were mostly students, and had learned about nutrition from the internet, books, memes and visiting professionals, and in fact I recall them as being more heavy on the nutrition talk than the older vegans I've met (even if the elders also supplemented etc.). I feel like the adequate seriousness with which they treated nutrition came more from a place of positive and optimistic "let's do things the right way" (to be a good example, to maintain some important boundaries that will allow us to help sustainably, etc.).

Another is that compulsive optimization doesn't lead people to neglect something as simple as iron.

I disagree, I think unfortunately this and worse can happen in some environments and mental spaces.

(See also this new comment.)

First off, thanks for including that edit (which is certainly better than nothing), although that still doesn't neglect that (given the public status of the post) your summaries will be the only thing almost everyone sees (as much as you link to these comments or my original text), and that in this thread I have certainly just been trying to get my positions not misrepresented (so I find it completely false that I'm purposefully imposing an unnecessary tax, even if it's true that engaging with this misrepresentation debate takes some effort, like any epistemic endeavor).

Here's the two main reasons why I wouldn't find your proposal above fair:

  1. I expect most people who will see this post / read your summaries of my position to have already seen it (although someone correct me if I'm wrong about viewership dynamics in LessWrong). As a consequence, I'd gain much less from such a disclaimer / rethinking of the post being incorporated now (although of course it would be positive for me / something I could point people towards).
    Of course, this is not solely a consequence of your actions, but also of my delayed response times (as I had already anticipated in our clarifications thread).
    1. A second order effect is that most people who have seen the post up until now will have been "skimmers" (because it was just in frontpage, just released, etc.), while probably more of the people who read the post in the future will be more thorough readers (because they "went digging for it", etc.). As I've tried to make explicit in the past, my worry is more about the social dynamics consequences of having such a post (with such a framing) receive a lot of public attention, than with any scientific inquiry into nutrition, or any emphasis on public health. Thus, I perceive most of the disvalue coming from the skimmers' reactions to such a public signal. More on this below.
  2. My worry is exactly that such a post (with such a framing) will not be correctly processed by too many readers (and more concretely, the "skimmers", or the median upvoter/downvoter), in the sense that they will take away (mostly emotionally / gutturally) the wrong update (especially action-wise) from the actual information in the post (and previous posts).
    Yes: I am claiming that I cannot assume perfect epistemics from LessWrong readers. More concretely, I am claiming that there is a predictable bias in one of two emotional / ethical directions, which exists mainly due to the broader ethical / cultural context we experience (from which LessWrong is not insulated).
    Even if we want LessWrong to become a transparent hub of information sharing (in which indeed epistemic virtue is correctly assumed of the other), I claim that the best way to get there is not through completely implementing this transparent information sharing immediately in the hopes that individuals / groups will respond correctly. This would amount to ignoring a part of reality that steers our behavior too much to be neglected: social dynamics and culturally inherited biases. I claim the best way to get there is by implementing this transparency wherever it's clearly granted, but necessarily being strategic in situations when some unwanted dynamics and biases are at play. The alternative, being completely transparent ("hands off the simulacrum levels"), amounts to leaving a lot of instrumental free energy on the table for these already existing dynamics and biases to hoard (as they have always done). It amounts to having a dualistic (as opposed to embedded) picture of reality, in which epistemics cannot be affected by the contingent or instrumental. And furthermore, I claim this topic (public health related to animal ethics) is unfortunately one of the tricky situations in which such strategicness (as opposed to naive transparency) is the best approach (even if it requires some more efforts on our part).
    Of course, you can disagree with these claims, but I hope it's clear why I don't find a public jury is to be trusted on this matter.
    1. You might respond "huh, but we're not talking about deciding things about animal ethics here. We're talking about deciding rationally whether some comments were or weren't useful. We certainly should be able to at least trust the crowd on that?" I don't think that's the case for this topic, given how strong the "vegans bad" / "vegans annoying" immune reaction is for most people generally (that is, the background bias present in our culture / the internet).
    2. As an example, in this thread there are some people (like you and Jim) who have engaged with my responses / position fairly deeply, and for now disagreed. I don't expect the bulk of the upvotes / downvotes in this thread (or if we were to carry out such a public vote) to come from this camp, but more from "skimmers" and first reactions (that wouldn't enter the nuance of my position, which is, granted, slightly complex). Indeed (and of course based on my anecdotal experience on the internet and different circles, including EA circles), I expect way too many anonymous readers/voters to, upon seeing something like human health and animal ethics weighed off in this way, would just jump on the bandwagon of punishing the veganism meme for the hell of it.
      And let me also note that, while further engagement and explicit reasoning should help with recognizing those nuances (although you have reached a different conclusion), I don't expect this to eliminate some strong emotional reactions to this topic, that drive our rational points ("we are not immune to propaganda"). And again, given the cultural background, I expect these to go more in one direction than the other.

So, what shall we do? The only thing that seems viable close to your proposal would be having the voters be "a selected crowd", but I don't know how to select it (if we had half and half this could look too much like a culture war, although probably that'd be even better than the random crowd due to explicitly engaging deeply with the text). Although maybe we could agree on 2-3 people. To be honest, that's sounding like a lot of work, and as I mentioned I don't think there's that much more in this debate for me. But I truly think I have been strongly misrepresented, so if we did find 2-3 people who seemed impartial and epistemically virtuous I'd deem it positive to have them look at my newest, overly explicit explanation and express opinions.

So, since your main worry was that I hadn't made my explanation of misrepresentation explicit enough (and indeed, I agree that I hadn't yet written it out in completely explicit detail, simply because I knew that would require a lot of time), I have in this new comment provided the most explicit version I can muster myself to compose. I have made it explicit (and as a consequence long) enough that I don't think I have many more thoughts to add, and it is a faithful representation of my opinions about how I've been misrepresented.
I think having that out there, for you (and Jim, etc.) to be able to completely read my thoughts and re-consider whether I was misrepresented, and for any passer-by who wants to stop by to see, is the best I can do for now. In fact, I would recommend (granted you don't change your mind more strongly due to reading that) that your edit linked to this new, completely explicit version, instead of my original comment written in 10 minutes.

I will also note (since you seemed to care about the public opinions of people about the misrepresentation issue) that 3 people (not counting Slapstick here) (only one vegan) have privately reached out to me to say they agree that I have been strongly misrepresented. Maybe there's a dynamic here in which some people agree more with my points but stay more silent due to being in the periphery of the community (maybe because of perceived wrong-epistemics in exchanges like this one, or having different standards for information-sharing / what constitutes misrepresentation, etc.).

I think my position has been strongly misrepresented here.

As per the conclusion of this other comment thread, I here present a completely explicit explanation of where and how I believe my position to have been strongly misrepresented. (Slapstick also had a shot at that in this shorter comment.)

Misrepresentation 1: Mistaking arguments

Elizabeth summarizes

The charitable explanation here is that my post focuses on naive veganism, and Soto thinks that’s a made-up problem. He believes this because all of the vegans he knows (through vegan advocacy networks) are well-educated on nutrition.

It is false that I think naive veganism is a made-up problem, and I think Elizabeth is taking the wrong conclusions from the wrong comments.

Her second sentence is clearly a reference to this short comment of mine (which was written as a first reaction to her posts, before my longer and more nuanced explanation of my actual position):

I don't doubt your anecdotal experience is as you're telling it, but mine has been completely different, so much so that it sounds crazy to me to spend a whole year being vegan, and participating in animal advocacy, without hearing mention of B12 supplementation. Literally all vegans I've met have very prominently stressed the importance of dietary health and B12 supplementation.

As should be obvious, this is not contesting the existence of naive veganism ("I don't doubt your anecdotal experience"), but just contrasting it with my own personal anecdotal experience. This was part of my first reaction, and didn't yet involve a presentation of my actual holistic position.

Elizabeth arrives at the conclusion that, because of my anecdotal experience, I believe naive veganism doesn't exist (I don't trust the other anecdotal experiences reported by her or other commenters), and that's the reason why I don't agree with her framing. I think my longer explanation makes it evident that I'm not ignoring the existence of naive veganism, but instead quantitatively weighing against other consequences of Elizabeth's posts and framings. For example:

To the extent the naive transition accounts are representative of what's going on in rat/EA spheres, some intervention that reduces the number of transitions that are naive (while fixing the number of transitions) would be a Pareto-improvement. And an intervention that reduces the number of transitions that are naive, and decreases way less the number of transitions, would also be net-positive.


My worry, though, is that signaling out veganism for this is not the most efficient way to achieve this. I hypothesize that

  1. Naive transitions are more correlated with social dynamics about insuficient self-care not exclusive (nor close to exclusive) to veganism in rat/EA spheres.

Of course, these two excerpts are already present in the screenshots presented in the post (which indeed contain some central parts of my position, although leave out some important nuance), so I find this misrepresentation especially hard to understand or explain. I think it's obvious, when saying something like "Naive transitions are more correlated with social dynamics...", that I endorse their existence (or at least their possible existence).

Yet another example, in the longer text I say:

It feels weird for me to think about solutions to this community problem, since in my other spheres it hasn't arisen.

This explicitly acknowledges that this is a problem that exists in this community. Indeed, engaging with Elizabeth's writing and other anecdotal accounts in the comments has updated upwards my opinion of how many naive vegans exist in the rationalist community. But this is mostly independent of my position, as the next paragraph addresses.

You might worry, still, that my position (even if this is not stated explicitly) is motivated in reality by such a belief, and other arguments are rationalizations. First off I will note that this is a more complex inference, and while it is possible to believe it, it's clearly not a faithful representation of the explicit text, and should be flagged as such. But nonetheless, on the hopes of convincing you that this is not going on, I will point out that my actual position and arguments have to do mostly with social dynamics, epistemics, and especially the community's relationship to ethics. (See Misrepresentation 2: Mistaking claims for proof.)

Given, then, that the most important consequences of all this go through dynamics, epistemics and relationship to ethics (since this community has some chance of steering big parts of the future), I think it's clear that my position isn't that sensitive to the exact number of naive vegans. My position is not about ignoring those that exist: it is about how to come about solving the problem. It is about praxis, framing and optimal social dynamics.

Even more concretely, you might worry I'm pulling off a Motte and Bailey, trying to "quietly imply" with my text that the number of naive vegans is low, even if I don't say it explicitly. You might get this vibe, for example, from the following phrasing:

To the extent the naive transition accounts are representative of what's going on in rat/EA spheres,...

I want to make clear that this phrasing is chosen to emphasize that I think we're still somewhat far from having rigorous scientific knowledge about how prevalent naive veganism is in the community (for example, because your sample sizes are small, as I have mentioned in the past). That's not to neglect the possibility of naive veganism being importantly prevalent, as acknowledged in excerpts above.

I also want to flag that, in the short comment mentioned above, I said the following:

since most vegans do supplement [citation needed, but it's been my extensive personal and online experience, and all famous vegan resources I've seen stress this]

This indeed is expressing my belief that, generally, vegans do supplement, based on my anecdotal experience and other sources. This is not yet talking explicitly about whether this is the case within the community (I didn't have strong opinions about that yet), but it should correctly be interpreted (in the context of that short comment) as a vague prior I am using to be (a priori) doubtful of deriving strong conclusions about the prevalence in the community. I do still think this vague prior is still somewhat useful, and that we still don't have conclusive evidence (as mentioned above). But it is also true (as mentioned above) that this was my first reaction, written before my long text holistically representing my position, and since then I have updated upwards my opinion of how many naive vegans exist in the rationalist community. So it makes sense that this first short comment was more tinged by an implicit lower likelihood of that possibility, but this was superseded by further engaging with posts and comments, and that is explicitly acknowledged in my latter text, as the above excerpts demonstrate.

Finally, one might say "well, of course Elizabeth didn't mean that you literally think 0 naive vegans exist, it was just a way to say you thought too few of them existed, or you were purposefully not putting weight on them". First off, even if those had been my actual stated or implied positions, I want to note this use of unwarranted hyperbole can already tinge a summary with unwarranted implications (especially a short summary of a long text), and thus would find it an implicit misrepresentation. And this is indeed part of what I think is going on, and that's why I repeatedly mention my problem is more with framing and course of action than with informational content itself. But also, as evidenced by the excerpts and reasoning above, it is not the case that I think too few naive vegans exist, or I purposefully don't represent them. I acknowledge the possibility that naive veganism is prevalent amongst community vegans, and also imply that my worries are not too sensitive to the exact number of naive vegans, and are of a different nature (related to epistemics and dynamics).

In summary, I think Elizabeth went something like "huh, if Martín is expressing these complex worries, it probably is just because he thinks naive veganism is not a real problem, since he could be understood to have some doubts about that in his early comments". And I claim that is not what's going on, and it's completely missing the point of my position, which doesn't rely in any way on naive veganism not being a thing. On the contrary, it discusses directly what to do in a community where naive veganism is big. I hope the above excerpts and reasoning demonstrated that.

Misrepresentation 2: Mistaking claims

Elizabeth summarizes

I have a lot of respect for Soto for doing the math and so clearly stating his position that “the damage to people who implement veganism badly is less important to me than the damage to animals caused by eating them”.

This, of course, makes it very explicitly sound like in my text I only weigh two variables against each other: disvalue caused by naive veganism, and disvalue caused by animal exploitation.

This is missing a third variable that is very present in my long text, and to which many paragraphs are dedicated or make reference: the consequences of all this (posts, framing, actions, etc.) for social dynamics of the community, and the community's (and its individuals') relationship to ethics.

In fact, not only is this third variable very present in the text, but also in some places I explicitly say it's the most important variable of the three, so demonstrating that my arguments have mostly to do with it. Here's one excerpt making that explicit:

As an extreme example, I very strongly feel like financing the worst moral disaster of current times so that "a few more x-risk researchers are not slightly put off from working in our office" is way past the deontological failsafes. As a less extreme example, I strongly feel like sending a message that will predictably be integrated by most people as "I can put even less mental weight on this one ethical issue that sometimes slightly annoyed me" also is. And in both cases, especially because of what they signal, and the kind of community they incentivize.

Here's another one, even more clear:

But I am even more worried about the harder-to-pin-down communal effects, "tone setting", and the steering of very important sub-areas of the EA community into sub-optimal ethical seriousness (according to me), which is too swayed by intellectual fuzzies, instead of actual utilons.

And finally, in my response answering some clarificatory questions from Elizabeth (several days before this post was published), here's an even more explicit one:

Of course, I too don't optimize for "number of vegans in the world", but just a complex mixture including that as a small part. And as hinted above, if I care about that parameter it's mainly because of the effects I think it has in the community. I think it's a symptom (and also an especially actionable lever) of more general "not thinking about ethics / Sincerity in the ways that are correct". As conscious as the members of this community try to be about many things, I think it's especially easy (through social dynamics) to turn a blind eye on this, and I think that's been happening too much.

Indeed, one of Elizabeth's screenshots already emphasizes this, placing it as one of the central parts of my argument (although doesn't yet explicitly mention that it's, for me, the most important consequence):

Relatedly, incentivizing a community that's more prone to ignoring important parts of the holistic picture when that goes to the selfish benefit of individuals. (And that's certainly something we don't want to happen around the people taking important ethical decisions for the future.)

I do admit that, stylistically speaking, this point would have been more efficiently communicated had I explicitly mentioned its importance very near the top of my text (so that it appeared, for example, explicitly mentioned in her first screenshot).

Nonetheless, as the above excerpts show, the point (this third, even more important variable) was made explicit in some fragments of the text (even if the reader could have already understood it as implied by other parts that don't mention it explicitly). And so, I cannot help but see Elizabeth's sentence above as a direct and centrally important misrepresentation of what the text explicitly communicated.

You might worry, again, that there's some Motte and Bailey going on, of the form "explicitly mention those things, but don't do it at the top of the text, so that it seems like truly animal ethics is the only thing you care about, or something". While I'm not exactly sure what I'd gain from this practice (since anyway it's patent that many readers disagree with me ethically about the importance of animals, so I might as well downweigh its importance), I will still respond to this worry by pointing that, even if the importance of this third variable is only explicitly mentioned further down in the text, most of the text (and indeed, even parts of the screenshots) already deals with it directly, thus implying its importance and centrality to my position, and furthermore most of the text discussed / builds towards the importance of this third variable in a more detailed and nuanced way than just stating it explicitly (to give a better holistic picture of my thoughts and arguments).

In summary, not only does this representation neglect a central part of my text (and something that I explicitly mentioned was the most important variable in my argument), but also, because of that, attributes to me a statement that I haven't stated and do not hold. While I am uncertain about it (mostly because of remaining doubts about how prevalent naive veganism is), it is conceivable (if we lived in a world with high naive veganism) that, if we ignored all consequences of these posts/framings/actions except for the two variables Elizabeth mentions, attacking naive veganism through these posts is at least net-positive (even if, still, in my opinion, not the optimal approach). But of course, the situation completely changes when realistically taking into account all consequences.

How might Elizabeth have arrived at this misrepresentation? Well, it is true that at the start of my long text I mention:

And an intervention that reduces the number of transitions that are naive, and decreases way less the number of transitions, would also be net-positive.

It is clear how this short piece of text can be interpreted as implying that the only two important variables are the number of naive transitions and the number of transitions (even if I shortly later make clear these are not the only important variables, and most of the text is devoted to discussing this, and I even explicitly mention that is not the case). But clearly that doesn't imply that I believe "the damage to people who implement veganism badly is less important to me than the damage to animals caused by eating them". I was just stating that, under some situations, it can make sense to develop certain kinds of health-focused interventions (to make evident that I'm not saying "one should never talk about vegan nutrition", which is what Elizabeth was accusing me of doing). And indeed a central part of my position as stated in the text was that interventions are necessary, but of a different shape to Elizabeth's posts (and I go on to explicitly recommend examples of these shapes). But of course that's not the same as engaging in a detailed discussion about which damages are most important, or already taking into account all of the more complex consequences that different kinds of interventions can have (which I go on to discuss in more detail in the text).

Misrepresentation 3: Missing counter-arguments and important nuance

Elizabeth explains

There are a few problems here, but the most fundamental is that enacting his desired policy of suppressing public discussion of nutrition issues with plant-exclusive diets will prevent us from getting the information to know if problems are widespread. My post and a commenter’s report on their college group are apparently the first time he’s heard of vegans who didn’t live and breathe B12. 

But I can’t trust his math because he’s cut himself off from half the information necessary to do the calculations. How can he estimate the number of vegans harmed or lost due to nutritional issues if he doesn’t let people talk about them in public?

First off, the repeated emphasis on "My post and a commenter's report..." (when addressing this different point she's brought up) again makes it sound as if my position was affected or relied on a twisted perception of the world in which naive vegans don't exist. I have already addressed why this is not the case in Misrepresentation 1: Mistaking arguments, but I would like to call attention again to the fact that framing and tone are used to caricaturize my position, or make it seem like I haven't explicitly addressed Elizabeth's point here (and I haven't done so because of a twisted perception). I already find this mildly misleading, given I both had directly addressed that point, and that the content of the text clearly shows my position doesn't depend on the non-existence of naive veganism as a community problem. But of course, it's not clear (in this one particular sentence) where authorial liberties of interpretation should end. Maybe Elizabeth is just trying to psychoanalyze me here, finding the hidden motives for my text (even when the text explicitly states different things). First, I would have preferred this to be flagged more clearly, since the impression I (and probably most readers, who of course won't read my long comment) get from this paragraph is that of implying that my text showcased an obvious-to-all naiveté and didn't address these points. Second, in Misrepresentation 1: Mistaking arguments I have argued why these hidden motives are not real (and again, that is clear form the content of the long text).

Now on to Elizabeth's main point. In my response to Elizabeth's response to my long text (which was sent several days before the post's publication), I addressed some clarifications that Elizabeth had asked for. There, answering directly to her claims that (on her immediate experience) the number of "naive vegans turned non-naive" had been much greater than the number of "vegans turned non-vegan" (which, again, my holistic position doesn't too strongly quantitatively rely on), I said:

The negative effects of the kind "everyone treats veganism less seriously, and as a result less people transition or are vocal about it" will be much more diffused, hard-to-track, and not-observed, than the positive effects of the kind "this concrete individual started vegan supplements". Indeed, I fear you might be down-playing how easy it is for people to arrive (more or less consciously) at these rationalized positions, and that's of course based on my anecdotal experience both inside and outside this community.

Thus, to her claim that I have "cut myself off from half the information", I was already pre-emptively responding by noting that (in my opinion) she has cut herself off from the other half of the information, by ignoring these kind of more diluted effects (that, according to my position, have the biggest impact on the third and most important variable of social dynamics, epistemics, and ethical seriousness). Again, it is also clear in this excerpt that I am worrying more about "diluted effects on social dynamics" than about "the exact figure of how wide-spread naive veganism is".

Indeed (and making a more general diagnostic of the misrepresentation that has happened here), I think Elizabeth hasn't correctly understood that my holistic position, as represented in those texts (and demonstrated in the excerpts presented above), brought forth a more general argument, not limited to short-term interventions against naive veganism, nor sensitively relying on how widespread naive veganism is.
Elizabeth understands me as saying "we should ignore naive veganism". And then, of course, the bigger naive veganism is, the bigger a mistake I might have been making. But in reality my arguments and worries are about framing and tone, and comparing different interventions based on all of their consequences, including the "non-perfectly-epistemic" consequences of undesirably exacerbating this or that dynamic. Here's an excerpt of my original long text exemplifying that:

As must be clear, I'd be very happy with treating the root causes, related to the internalized optimizy and obsessive mindset, instead of the single symptom of naive vegan transitions. This is an enormously complex issue, but I a prior think available health and wellbeing resources, and their continuous establishment as a resource that should be used by most people (as an easy route to having that part of life under control and not spiraling, similar to how "food on weekdays" is solved for us by our employers), would provide the individualization and nuance that these problems require.

Even more clearly, here is one excerpt where I mention I'm okay with running clinical trials to get whatever information we might need to better navigate this situation:

Something like running small group analytics on some naive vegans as an excuse for them to start thinking more seriously about their health? Yes, nice! That's individualized, that's immediately useful. But additionally extracting some low-confidence conclusions and using them to broadcast the above message (or a message that will get first-order approximated to that by 75%) seems negative.

The above makes clear that my worry is not about obtaining or making available that information. It is about the framing and tone of Elizabeth's message, and the consequences it will have when naively broadcast (without accounting for a part of reality: social dynamics).

Finally, Elizabeth says my desired policy is "suppressing public opinion". Of course, that's already a value judgement, and it's tricky to debate what counts as "suppressing public opinion", and what as "acknowledging the existence of social dynamics, and not shooting yourself in the foot by doing something that seems bad when taking them into account". I'm confident that my explanations and excerpts above satisfactorily argue for my having advocated for the latter, and not the former. But then again, as with hidden motives mentioned above, arriving at different conclusions than I do about this (about the nature of what I have written) is not misrepresentation, just an opinion.
What I do find worrisome is how this opinion has been presented and broadcast (so, again, framing). If my position had been more transparently represented, or if Elizabeth had given up on trying to represent it faithfully in a short text, and Elizabeth had nonetheless mentioned explicitly that her interpretation of that text was that I was trying to suppress public discussion (even though I had explicitly addressed public discussion and when and how it might be net-positive), then maybe it would have been easier for the average reader to notice that there might be an important difference of interpretations going on here, and that they shouldn't update so hard on her interpretation as if I had explicitly said "we shouldn't publicly discuss this (under any framing)". And even then I would worry this over-represented your side of the story (although part of that is unavoidable).
But this was not the case. These interpretations were presented in a shape pretty indistinguishable from what would have been an explicit endorsed summary. Her summary looks completely the same as it would look had I not addressed and answered the points she brings up in any way, or explicitly stated the claims and attitudes she attributes to me.

In summary, although I do think this third misrepresentation is less explicitly evident than the other two (due to mixing up with Elizabeth's interpretation of things), I don't think her opinions have been presented in a shape well-calibrated about what I was and wasn't saying, and I think this has led the average reader to, together with Elizabeth, strongly misrepresent my central positions.

Thank you for reading this wall of overly explicit text.

This only asserts that there's a mismatch; it provides no actual evidence of one

I didn't provide quotes from my text when the mismatch was obvious enough from any read/skim of the text. In this case, for example, even the screenshots of my text included in the post demonstrate that I do think naive transitions to veganism exist. So of course this is more a point about framing, and indeed notice that I already mentioned in another comment that this one example might not constitute a strong misrepresentation, as the other two do (after all, it's just an hyperbole), although it  still gives me worries about biased tone-setting in a vaguer way.

Pretty straightforwardly, if the pilot study results had only been sent through private communications, then they wouldn't have public discussion (ie, public discussion would be suppressed).

In the text I clearly address why

  1. My proposal is not suppressing public discussion of plant-based nutrition, but constructing some more holistic approach whose shape isn't solely focused on plant-based diets, or whose tone and framing aren't like this one (more in my text).
  2. I don't think it's true private communications "prevent us from getting the information" in important ways (even if taking into account the social dynamics dimension of things will always, of course, be a further hindrance). And also, I don't think public communications give us some of the most important information.

I hope it is now clear why I think Elizabeth's quoted sentence is a misrepresentation, since neither I push for suppressing public discussions of plant-based nutrition (only a certain non-holistic approach to this, more concretely, Elizabeth's approach), nor I ignored the possible worry that this prevents us from obtaining useful information (on the contrary, I addressed this). Of course we can object-level argue about whether these (my positions) are true (that's what I was trying to do with Elizabeth, although as stated she didn't respond to these two further points), but what's clear is that they are the ones represented in my text.

More generally, I think this is a kind of "community-health combating of symptoms" with many externalities for the epistemic and moral capabilities of our community (and ignoring them by ignoring the social dynamics at play in our community and society seems like wishful thinking, we are not immune to propaganda), and I think different actions will lead to a healthier and more robust community without the same externalities (all of this detailed in my text).

In any event, I will stop engaging now. I just wanted my name not to be associated with those positions in a post that will be read by so many people, but it's not looking like Elizabeth will fix that, and having my intentions challenged constantly so that I need to explain my each and every mental move is too draining.

As I've object-level argued above, I believe these summaries fall into the category of misrepresentation, not just interpretation. And I don't believe an author should maintain such misrepresentations in their text in light of evidence about them.

In any event, certainly a link to my comment is better than nothing. At this point I'm just looking for any gesture in the direction of avoiding my name from being associated with positions I do not hold.

As mentioned, my main objective in writing these comments is not have associated with a position I don't hold. Many people will see that part of the post, but not go into the comments, and even more will go into the comments but won't see my short explanation of how my position has been misrepresented, since it has been heavily down-voted (although I yet have to hear any object-level argument for why the misrepresentation actually hasn't happened or my conduct is epistemically undesirable). So why wouldn't I demand for the most public part of all this to not strongly misrepresent my position?

I get it this incurs some extra effort on Elizabeth (as does any change or discussion), but I'm trying to minimize that by offering myself to write the alternate summary, or even just remove that part of the text (which should take minimal effort). She's literally said things I didn't claim (especially the third example), and a demand to fix that doesn't seem so far-fetched to me that the first guess is I'm just trying to mud the waters.

Maybe we're still fresh from the Nonlinear exchange and are especially wary of tactical incurring of costs, but of course I don't even need to point out how radically different this situation is.

It's true the boundary between interpretation and strong misrepresentation is fuzzy. In my parent comment I'm providing object-level arguments for why this is a case of strong misrepresentation. This is aggravated by the fact that this post will be seen by a hundred times more people than my actual text, by the fact that Elizabeth herself reached out for these clarifications (which I've spent time to compose), and by the fact that I offered to quickly review the write-up more than a week ago.

I'm not trying to incur any extra costs, Elizabeth is free to post her opinions even if I believe doing so is net-negative. I'm literally just commenting so that my name is not associated with opinions which are literally not held by me (this being completely explicited in my linked text, but of course this being too long for almost anyone to actually check first-hand).

This stood out to me as strange. Are you referring to this comment?

No, I was referring to this one, and the ones in that thread, all part of an exchange in which Elizabeth reached out to me for clarification.

In the one you quoted I was still not entering that much detail.

I'll answer your comment nonetheless.

It sounds like you're saying that the nutritional requirements of veganism are so complex that they require individualized professional assistance, that there is no one-page "do this and you will get all the nutrients you need" document that will work for a the vast majority of vegans.

No, what I was saying wasn't as extreme. I was just saying that it's good general practice to visit a nutritionist at least once, learn some of the nutritional basics and perform blood tests periodically (each 1 or 2 years). That's not contradictory with the fact that most vegans won't need to pour a noticeable amount of hours into all this (or better said, they will have to do that the first 1-2 months, but mostly not afterwards). Also, there is no one-page be-all end-all for any kind of nutrition, not only veganism. But there certainly exist a lot of fast and easy basic resources.

After reading your post, I feel like you are making a distinction without a difference here. You mention community dynamics, but they are all community dynamics about the ethical implications of veganism in the community, not the epistemic implications. It seems perfectly fair for Elizabeth to summarize your position the way she does.

Yes, of course, we were talking about veganism. But in the actual comment I was referring to, I did talk about epistemic implications, not only implications for animal ethics (as big as they already are). What I meant is "if there is something that worries me even more than the animal ethics consequences of this (which are big), it is breeding a community that shies away from basic ethical responsibility at the earliest possibility and rationalizes the choice (because of the consequences this can have for navigating the precipice)".

Yes, your quotes show that I believe (and have stated explicitly) that publishing posts like this one is net-negative. That was the topic of our whole conversation. That doesn't imply that I'm commenting to increase the costs of these publications. I tried to convince Elizabeth that this was net-negative, and she completely ignored those qualms, and that's epistemically respectable. I am commenting mainly to avoid my name from being associated with some positions that I literally do not hold.

I believe that her summaries are a strong misrepresentation of my views, and explained why in the above comment through object-level references comparing my text to her summaries. If you don't provide object-level reasons why the things I pointed out in my above comment are wrong, then I can do nothing with this information. (To be clear, I do think the screenshots are fairly central parts of my clarifications, but her summaries misrepresent and directly contradict other parts of them which I had also presented as central and important.)

I do observe that providing these arguments is a time cost for you, or fixing the misrepresentations is a time cost for Elizabeth, etc. So the argument "you are just increasing the costs" will always be available for you to make. And to that the only thing I can say is... I'm not trying to get the post taken down, I'm not talking about any other parts of the post, just the ones that summarize my position.

Yes, I was referring to your written summaries of my position, which are mostly consistent with the shown screenshots, but not with other parts of my answers. That's why I kindly demand these pieces of text attached to my name to be changed to stop misrepresenting my position (I can provide written alternate versions if that helps), or at least removed while this is pending.

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