PDF ´ BOOK Doing Good Better Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference

DOC Doing Good Better Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference

PDF ´ BOOK Doing Good Better Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference ☆ Most of us want to make a difference We donate our time and money to charities and causes we deem worthy choose careers we consider meaningful and patronize businesses and buy products we believe maNs to real life scenarios MacAskill shows how many of our assumptions about doing good are misguided For instance he argues one can potentially save lives by becoming a plastic surgeon rather than a heart surgeon; measuring overhead costs is an inaccurate gauge of a charity’s effectiveness; and it generally doesn’t make sense for individuals to donate to disaster relief MacAskill urges us to think differently set aside biases and use evidence and careful reasoning rather than act on impulse When we do this when we apply the head and the heart to each of our altruistic endeavors we find that each of us has the power to do an astonishing amount of go If you're at all like me you know how important it is to do your part by contributing your money and time to worthy causes but the decision making involved can be exhausting Whenever you read statistics about global health crises and the number of people living in grinding poverty it is easy to wind up feeling overwhelmed and guilty like your efforts would be just a drop in the bucket It can seem much easier to donate to domestic programs where you feel like you may identify with the recipients and it may seem easier to see the effects of your donation William MacAskill has done a wonderful job of presenting a rational way to evaluate different causes and programs so that you can have the biggest impact with the money andor time you donate He very neatly lays out the argument that if you happen to be born and are living in the developed world you've already hit the lottery wealth wise and by donating part of your income income you likely won't even miss you can vastly improve the lives of the extremely poor in developing nations All of this is done in an upbeat way that makes you realize that you are in a position to make a HUGE difference in the lives of others MacAskill points out that the most efficient programs are a hundred times able to improve the lives of the extremely poor than good but less efficient programs For the amount of money that you can easily set aside even if you have a pretty unremarkable job in a Western country you can save lives and raise the standard of living for someone else substantially He gives one memorable illustration where he states that it is like you are in a bar where you can either buy yourself a beer for 5 or buy someone else a beer for 5 cents As he said you'd probably be buying people a lot of rounds MacAskill also has an interesting chapter about selecting the best career path to make a difference Sometimes this is counter intuitive You might imagine that you would be able to do by getting an MD and going to work in Kenya when in fact you'd be better off staying in your own country and donating a larger part of your greater compensation to effective charities It's all fascinating stuff and I found myself tearing through the book in a matter of two days If you are interested in effective altruism I can highly recommend Doing Good Better

William MacAskill à Doing Good Better Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference PDF

Suandered by lack of information bad data and our own prejudice As an antidote he and his colleagues developed effective altruism a practical data driven approach that allows each of us to make a tremendous difference regardless of our resources Effective altruists believe that it’s not enough to simply do good; we must do good better At the core of this philosophy are five key uestions that help guide our altruistic decisions How many people benefit and by how much Is this the most effective thing I can do Is this area neglected What would have happened otherwise What are the chances of success and how good would success be By applying these uestio As someone who works in the social profit also known as the nonprofit sector I picked up Doing Good Better because the topic is endlessly interesting to me and because of his apparent emphasis on evidence based programming Unfortunately this book was an all around disappointment Here's a short summary of my issues with this book1 MacAskill's apparent misunderstanding of programs and causes CAUSES are things that individuals and organizations want to do PROGRAMS are the means by which organizations and individuals try to affect their cause of choice For example Mothers Against Drunk Driving MADD is built on the cause of preventing and ultimately eliminating drunk driving In service to this cause they run several programs such as a victim helpline and a Speakers Bureau for educating the public Causes organizations and programs are different but MacAskill treats all these like they mean the same thing2 MacAskill's emphasis on some causes over others I pejoratively call these his 'worthy causes' It is the worst sort of rankling to read about how some causes are inherently 'better' than others either because they 'affect people' 'they reduce suffering ' note that this is by MacAskill's definition of 'suffering' or some combination of the two He consistently refuses to recognize that social profits improve people's lives in a variety of ways via innumerable different causes and those causes each in turn affect other areas of people's lives unrelated to the original cause None of these are easily uantifiable and they do have ripple effects that are difficult if not impossible to perceive especially over the long term Plus there's the ethical issue of effectively saying that some people's suffering as determined by cause is worth trying to fix than another's There's just no getting around this no matter how much he tries to dress it up with economics vocabulary3 MacAskill's constant conflating of programs and causes Programs and causes are not the same thing and looking at multiple programs that all try affect the same cause will show some programs to be effective than others I agree with him in saying that we should fund the ones and not the ones that don't and I also agree that if works especially well for its chosen cause that one should be institutionalized not supported by the charity of others What is misleading is when MacAskill gives an example of an organization with an emphasis on only one of their programs most organizations run than one program This leads the reader into thinking of that program and that cause as being the same they are not and by extension leads the reader into thinking about the cause whatever MacAskill says about the organization spoiler alert it's probably something bad This is unfair to the cause that has been targeted via a backroad There are some social profits that do not do good work for a variety of reasons but this does not mean the causes they are meant to serve are ‘unworthy’ of our concern or effort 4 MacAskill’s insistence on comparing causes that target different groups or that serve different areas of well being It is fallacious and misleading to try to compare distributing condoms to distributing bed nets in Africa for example Not only do the two target different groups sexually active individuals vs everyone but they attempt to affect different causes stop the spread of STDs particularly HIV vs stop the spread of malaria from mosuitos to humans and encounter different difficulties for example condom use is attacked by religious conservatives in Africa as being ‘against the will of god’ and it has been documented that missionaries preach that condom use will result in the person going to hell 5 MacAskill’s assumption that a social profit’s overhead ratio or amount has to do with their program’s effectiveness There are cheap programs out there that result in very favorable overhead ratio as long as the organization has a decent revenue But those programs may or may not be good programs ones that positively impact the people they serve There are also organizations that have a very high overhead by amount but the overhead reflects the size and scope of the organization Big Brothers Big Sisters for example is a multibillion dollar social profit that operates thousands of clubs and serves hundreds of thousands of kids annually The organization has been attacked over the CEO’s compensation which seemed considerable in terms of pure numbers but was actually in line with CEO compensation for similar sized organizations And why shouldn’t a social profit pay someone a proportionate competitive salary that will attract a leader whose job it is to scale up the organization 6 MacAskill’s willingness to ignore psychology when it is in his favor to do so despite claiming to support rationality as applied to everything It’s one thing to argue that people should support ‘worthy causes’ by his standards because it’s the most rational thing to do but it is entirely another to refuse the realities of a very very irrational world Running evidence based programs is someone is something that every organization should do but the fact is that most donors want to donate to people not causes That is why advertising and outreach for social profits are structured around individuals and stories and evidence is one the organization’s website Trying to reverse the emphasis on the two would be an awesome way to alienate potential donors volunteers members or others who could help the organization achieve its cause something that will definitely not help the people that the organization is meant to serve 7 MacAskill’s willingness to ignore the limitations of math and science when it is in his favor to do so It is one thing to bring out statistics to support a claim analyze the statistical claims of others and point out flaws in methodology but it becomes misleading when you refuse to apply the same standards to the stats in defense of your own side of the argument Evidence is extremely limited for some of the claims MacAskill makes about particular causes like one or two studies but he fails to make clear during that argument that the data may or may not be trustworthy because outliers positive or negative are likely to present themselves in smaller data sets despite pointing out that exact flaw with regards to a social profit’s data earlier in an earlier chapter 8 MacAskill's apparent refusal to properly cite sources in text Instead of the typical method of in text citation for nonfiction meant for the general public a number at the end of a sentence that corresponds to a chapter specific list of citations making it easy for the reader to tell what has been cited and where to find the citation there are no in text citations at all There is a section for citations at the end of the book sorted by chapter but the lack of in text citations makes it very difficult to tell without constantly flipping back to the citations section at least what is opinion and where things cited as facts have come from9 MacAskill’s premise and general insistence that economics is the answer to everything He unuestioningly promotes the assumption that altruism can be outsourced to others and that not only is this good but it is something that should be admired I understand that not everyone can help in every way not everyone has vacation days or the inclination to go to Africa for example but – again – it is one thing to promote donating to charity and completely another to promote donating to charity as a replacement for acting ethically yourself This is especially important in light of the fact that preliminary studies regarding ethical behavior and economics are not encouraging In the most commonly cited study of this nature an Israeli daycare service started financially penalizing parents for picking up their children late The fine a financial incentive to pick up kids on time actually caused an increase in the number of late pickups because a norm of the situation changed ‘I pick up my kid on time because it’s the right thing to do’ became ‘As long as I pay the fine it’s not a problem if I pick up my kid late’ This has major implications for the kind of outsourced altruism that MacAskill is promoting but he doesn’t even mention it Additionally he refuses to acknowledge the admittedly fuzzy issue of taking responsibility for oneself and one’s own actions It’s one thing to donate to a ‘save the rainforest’ cause but

KINDLE ☆ Doing Good Better Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference à William MacAskill

Doing Good Better Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a DifferenceMost of us want to make a difference We donate our time and money to charities and causes we deem worthy choose careers we consider meaningful and patronize businesses and buy products we believe make the world a better place Unfortunately we often base these decisions on assumptions and emotions rather than facts As a result even our best intentions often lead to ineffective and sometimes downright harmful outcomes How can we do better While a researcher at Oxford trying to figure out which career would allow him to have the greatest impact William MacAskill confronted this problem head on He discovered that much of the potential for change was being Easy to read well researched only didn't give it 5 because it proved my husband has been right about everything he's been saying for years Very annoying