Daily Stuntz — Effective Altruism
I am about halfway through Doing Good Better by William MacAskill and am fascinated by the concepts and examples so far. It is the type of information that after I read it, it seems so obvious and I wonder why I never thought about it like this before and why it isnt more “mainstream”. This also makes me want to read conflicting views or responses and I will do that after I finish the book. At some point in the next few days I will go into details about the book itself, but as you may be considering what to do for family or friends around the holidays, or how to help in the world I wanted to bring up effective altruism.
The site has a lot of good information https://www.effectivealtruism.org/ and suggested ways to make an impact. My experience involved adjusting to a few things so in case it is helpful I will walk through them very briefly below.
- Almost all in the developing world. The book goes into why and the incredible disparity between income and wealth, so the value of an additional dollar in the developing world is just so much greater. This requires taking emotion out of it as I am seeing lot of pictures of food lines and stories or folks economically by the pandemic here in the US and want to help. Much like prioritization in business, the theory is try to focus on what makes the biggest impact as you cannot do everything.
- Not based on personal attachment. We may be impacted by a particular disease or challenge and want to support that cause (I am on the Board of a Foundation in just this situation). But if that is not the biggest area of need why are we doing it? This gets into measuring needs and challenges which is covered in the book, but there are established metrics that make sense.
- High risk high reward. This is something I am going to spend more time on, but organizations that go after large initiatives that if successful would have an incredible impact, but may take decades or never reach that impact are still worth funding. Expected value comes into play here, but it was an adjustment for me to think about helping very short term versus going after something that would change the lives of millions of people, but take years or decades.
There is a lot of need in the world so no matter what, I hope you consider contributing to charitable organizations this month and trying to make the biggest impact with your contribution.