I made Discussion Tree: State of Animal Rights Debate. My tree diagram summarizes pro-animal-rights arguments from Peter Singer and asks some questions about major issues he didn’t cover. It reveals that his arguments were incomplete. The incompleteness I’ve focused on is that they don’t address issues related to computers and software. Maybe animals are like self-driving cars with some extra features, not like humans. Self-driving cars aren’t intelligent, conscious or capable of suffering. Singer doesn’t try to address that issue.
I did additional research to find arguments to add to my discussion tree. I found no answers to basic computer science questions from the animal welfare advocates.
I posted to five pro animal rights forums asking for links to written material (like books, articles, or blog posts) making arguments that Singer didn’t make, so I could read about why they’re right. I received no relevant responses and almost zero interest.
Later, I and others posted to eleven more places. Although this resulted in a bunch of discussion, I was not referred to a single piece of relevant literature. No one had a single piece of evidence to differentiate animals from fancy self-driving cars, nor any substantive argument. Many people insulted me. None had a scientific, materialist worldview, incorporating computer science principles, and could give any argument against my position which is compatible with that type of worldview. Nor did they give arguments that that kind of worldview is false. No one said anything that could plausibly have changed my mind. And people didn’t quote from my discussion tree and respond, nor suggest text for a new node. I linked and documented lots of the discussion on this page.
I was referred to dozens of pieces of literature, but none were relevant. In general, searching for terms like “software”, “hardware”, “algorithm” and “compu” immediately showed the source was irrelevant.
I also went to a vegan Discord for a YouTube debater to ask if they could help me improve my discussion tree diagram. I streamed what happened. Summary: They laughed at my view, then asked me to debate in voice chat (instead of giving literature), then banned me for not responding in 30 seconds while they knew I was busy fixing an audio issue.
This illustrates several things. First, my discussion tree shows how you can begin researching a topic in an organized way. You can pick a topic and create something similar. If you want to learn, it’s a great approach.
Second, there’s a serious lack of interest in discussion or debate in the world, and most people are quite ignorant and don’t even know of sources which argue why their beliefs are correct. They have some sources for why they’re right and rival views X and Y are wrong, but no answer to view Z, and will just keep giving you their answers to X and Y. Are you better or do you know of anyone who is better? Speak up.
Third, animal rights advocates broadly don’t know anything about computers and software and haven’t tried to update their thinking to take that stuff into account. Sad!
I encourage people to try creating a discussion tree on a topic that interests them, then ask for help finding sources and adding arguments to it. See what people, with what conclusions, have anything they’re willing to contribute, or not. You’ll learn a lot about the topic and about the rationality of the advocates of each viewpoint. It’ll help you judge issues yourself instead of deferring to the conclusions of experts (rather than their arguments). Even if you were happy to defer to expert opinions, it’s hard because experts disagree with each other; a discussion tree can help you organize those expert arguments.
You can also use discussion trees to organize and keep track of debates/discussions you have – as the conversation goes along, keep notes in a tree diagram.
This content was borrowed from my free email newsletter. Sign up here.