Variola/Smallpox—Victory over a Scourge to Our Species

Fourmilab Cult Watch informs you that this Kurzgesagt “video was made possible through a grant by Open Philanthropy” according to the description on YouTube. Open Philanthropy “is a research and grantmaking foundation that makes grants based on the doctrine of effective altruism” (Wikipedia). Effective altruism, a cult popular in Silicon Valley, is backed by such luminaries as philosopher and infanticide advocate Peter Singer and cryptocurrency confidence man Sam Bankman-Fried. The Wikipedia article on effective altruism notes:

In a 2023 Time magazine article, seven women reported misconduct and controversy in the effective altruism movement. They accused men within the movement, typically in the Bay Area, of using their power to groom younger women for polyamorous sexual relationships. The accusers argued that the majority male demographic and the polyamorous subculture combine to create an environment where sexual misconduct can be tolerated, excused or rationalised away.

Effective altruism is behind the Shrimp Welfare Project, launched in 2021 by its Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program. On 2022-11-03, the project published the rationale for concern with shrimp welfare, “What matters to shrimps? Factors affecting shrimp welfare in aquaculture”.


Informing such initiatives is effective altruism guru and Scottish philosopher William MacAskill’s concept of neuron-counting. You see, around 400 billion shrimp are farmed every year. If each shrimp has around 100,000 neurons (I can’t find a figure for shrimp; this is for lobsters, which should be comparable), then there are around 4\times 10^{16} neurons in the shrimp harvested every year. There are around 86 billion neurons in the human brain and around 8 billion humans on earth, so something like 7\times 10^{20} human neurons. By this scale, wiping out or causing the suffering of 400 billion shrimp every year would be, by neuron counting, equivalent to doing the same to around half a million humans per year, hence shrimp welfare.

I wonder if they also regret the eradication of the variola virus, albeit its having not a single neuron.


Is EA like modern “art” ? A scam hidden inside what looks like a practical joke?