Photograph via snooOG

[Community moved to r/effectivealtruism]

If you're trying to do as much good as possible, how do you go about it? How should you give your money and use your time? How can we coordinate? How else can we be effective in our altruism?

If you're trying to do as much good as possible, how do you go about it? How should you give your money and use your time? How can we coordinate? How else can we be effective in our altruism?

(Note: Submissions asking for donations to a specific charity are usually not good for this subreddit. While many organizations are doing very worthwhile activities we're interested in which organizations are the most worthwhile.)



1,756 Subscribers


Happy Cakeday, r/smartgiving! Today you're 11

Let's look back at some memorable moments and interesting insights from last year.

Your top 1 posts:

16:20 UTC


Happy Cakeday, r/smartgiving! Today you're 10

Let's look back at some memorable moments and interesting insights from last year.

Your top 1 posts:

16:20 UTC


Happy Cakeday, r/smartgiving! Today you're 9

Let's look back at some memorable moments and interesting insights from last year.

Your top 1 posts:

1 Comment
16:00 UTC


What should I do with my hair?

I just cut off some of my hair (~10in) and was planning to donate it to Wigs for Kids or something like that. However, there's probably a more effective way to donate it--like selling it and giving the money to AMF, for instance.

However, is that really the most effective way to go? I'm not sure how to sell it without getting scammed, and from the little research I've done I'm not likely to get more than $200 or so from it. Is that worth bringing happiness to someone losing their hair? What do you guys think?

21:42 UTC


/r/effective altruism or /r/smartgiving?

Hello, UmamiSalami here. I would like to take an informal poll. I've brought up the following topic with Peter Hurford and Tom Ash and would like to get people's opinions.

We have two subreddits, /r/effectivealtruism and /r/smartgiving. We should keep one and use the other as a redirect to avoid confusion and fragmentation.

Which name do you prefer?

(don't judge based on the current content of either subreddit - it will all be substantially improved)

21:11 UTC


Legitimate Criticisms of EA?

So, further to this exchange, I was wondering if anybody had come across legitimate criticisms of EA?

To be clear, I'm defining 'legitimate' in broad compliance with the following points. They're not set in stone, but I think are good general criteria.

  1. It has a consistently applied definition of 'good'. This for example, gives a definition of 'good' - helping people - but then vacilitates between that and "creating warm fuzzies". Which I guess is technically in keeping, but.. no.

  2. It deals with something important to EA as a whole. This article for example spends most of its time saying that X-risk is Pascal's Mugging, and some EA's are concerned about that, therefore EA is concerned about that, and that's absurd, thus EA is absurd. However, if we (for some strange reason) removed X-risk as an area, EA wouldn't really change in any substantial fashion - the validity or methodology of the underlying ideas are not diminished in any way.

  3. It is internally coherent. This article trends towards a beginning point, but then wanders off into... whatever the hell it's saying, I'm still confused.

So, in the interests of acknowledging criticisms to improve, has anyone thought of or seen or heard of legitimate criticisms of effective altruism?

01:44 UTC


Anyone Know a way to find a reliable Locked-In Syndrome Charity?

I heard of this problem people usually get after a stroke where someone becomes completely paralyzed and can only gain back movement with intense effort. I encourage everyone to learn about it. Just curious if there is any reliable charities I can donate to that will truly put the money toward locked-in syndrome medical research or efforts to help those who have it recover.

I was also looking for one for tourettes as well.

I just wanna make sure my money goes to actually helping people.

Thanks for the help!

1 Comment
06:54 UTC


Why Mobile Phones in Very Poor Countries?

I know mobiles can be enormously helpful in developing countries, but why is it (seemingly, I'm not confident in this assessment) that we see more effort to get mobile phones into very poor hands, when those same individuals often don't have what we would consider the basics: clean water, electricity? It just seems that they would be higher priority?

Or is this one of those sideways thinkings that doesn't make sense on first blush but really has an enormous impact, so that's the rationale?

I'm not saying I think it's a bad idea, to be clear. I'm just not sure of the rationale for getting mobiles and mobile internet in very poor countries.

00:44 UTC


teaching kids to reduce existential risk

I think reducing risks to human civilization's long-term survival, such as climate change or nuclear war, is important. But I am a person who probably cannot do much myself. I think the biggest impact I can have is to make a decent amount of money, raise a large family with the right values, and hope one of my children goes on to do something.

Look at all those guys educating their kids in religious schools. I don't see what the point is of that, but if there was an existential risk school, I might try sending my (future) kids there

20:52 UTC


Overpopulation Counter-Arguments

I'm sure we've all seen those objections, "saving lives means that they'll overpopulate and lead to more harm!" The old Mathusian doctrine. I know it's crap, given that reductions in infant mortality has been shown to disproportionately reduce fertility rates, but can anyone help me with persuasive arguments against this old standby? The only other counter-arguments I can think of are a bit more on the confrontational side, and it's my experience that that rarely changes peoples minds.

Specific studies are good, but since most people don't find them all that persuasive, they're suboptimal.

07:21 UTC


Where are heroic effective altruists recognised? If I wanted a snap-shot of people who have made major contributions to the movement, where can I find them? It would sure be nice to have role models

16:27 UTC


Is medicine a good career choice?

I am a philosophy graduate who will be moving into studying medicine. Is this a good career choice from an effective altruist perspective?

I looked at the 80000 hours website, and it list medicine as one of the choices for me. Another, strangely enough, is philosophy PhD (which I would have thought not that good of a choice).

And would 'earning to give' be a good strategy? This is, however, a strategy generally not recommended. But with medicine, it might be better to make and donate money as a Hollywood plastic surgeon than as someone directly caring for the worst off.

(Other options given to me by the site are, as said above, philosophy, as well as politics and public policy. Things which I don't think are necesarilly inconsistent with me studying medicine.)

04:22 UTC


Difficult moral question on value of a life...

I'm curious what people's thoughts are on this question.

Effective altruism tends to encourage implicitly putting a value on a life by assuming that all lives are of equal value, thus we should try to use our resources in the most effective manner to save the most lives. e.g. buying 10,000 mosquito nets to prevent malaria rather than funding x amount of meals at a local food shelter.

I think most of us have no trouble with this conclusion, even though both are positive contributions to the world. But if we take this logic to the extreme by making it personal, do we think the same?

Example: you, or (perhaps even more difficult) your child, are sick and it will cost $1mm to treat with some experimental program, without which you/the child will die. Do you pay for the treatment or buy 200k (or however many that will buy) mosquito nets and save untold amounts of lives? On one hand, we ultimately have to look out for ourselves and our offspring, this is the more basic primal drive. Additionally if we stay alive, we are able to make more positive contributions to the world in the future. On the other hand, is your/your child's life worth more than 100,000 lives? I'm sure many similar thought experiments could be designed to ask the same question.

I posed this to someone today who was absolutely horrified that such a thought would ever enter my mind. I am equally horrified that she thinks there are some questions that should never be asked - it was simply a question and I had no conclusion about it. Furthermore, the fact that a question like this is in a very moral grey area, and completely subject to circumstance and opinion, means to me that there cannot be a definitive answer - which she emphatically disagreed with. This is particularly odd given how emphatically she tried to earlier argue that there is no such thing as right and wrong and people are free to think and do whatever they like, which I told her was completely wrong because there are many things which are essentially universal, verifiable truths (people are free to think 1+1=3, but its just plain wrong).

Any thoughts on any of the above?


Another thought would be the typical hollywood terrorist dilemma - Do you give in and give them what they want (secret code for a nuclear launch) and the hostage (perhaps you and or your family) lives (probably will get killed anyway), or do you hold strong and hopefully save more lives?

23:52 UTC


Why doesn't Bill Gates just fully fund the top charities recommended by EA organizations like GiveWell?

I was wondering: Presumably Bill Gates is an effective altruist. So why isn't he funding, say, the Against Malaria Foundation or other similar "top charities" (as recommended by GiveWell et al.)? [It seems like he can easily fully fund all of these "top charities" for the foreseeable future.] Wouldn't this suggest that he doesn't regard these "top charities" as being very effective? Instead he has preferred to spend, for example, hundreds of millions of dollars on developing a malaria vaccine. So is it simply that Bill Gates and (most of) the EA community disagree on where money is best put to use? Or is there some other difference/disagreement?

02:19 UTC


Fundraising site for matched donations?

Hi, I've committed to donated 2% of my income to effective charities, but I've been thinking about giving more. However, I work with people who donate a fair bit and thought it'd be great if there was a website where I can raise funds for a nonprofit and promise to match whatever is raised (up to a limit). Is there a good way to facilitate this? I did some googling but only found sites about corporate gift matching. For full disclosure these are coworkers, so aren't necessarily people I'm friends with on social networks.


12:46 UTC


Smartphone Donation Apps

So I was recently made aware that there are apps for smartphones that allow you to donate to various causes, like Givelify. Has anyone used any of these? Were they useful/good/easy to use?

10:54 UTC


What is the most effective way for me to make a donation right now in response to the crises in Syria?

Apologies if this is outside the scope of this sub: I'm not soliciting for a particular cause, so I'm assuming I'm okay to post.

I thought EAs might have some thoughts on where might be the most effective organisation to make a small donation to in response to the humanitarian crises in Syria. There are oodles of charities, causes etc soliciting for donations and I've no idea which should be priorities or how donations will be used.

I'm in the UK, so I need to be able to make a donation from here.

19:37 UTC


Which charities do you donate to?

21:43 UTC

Back To Top