Effective Altruism is basically just the idea that we subject to rigor any ideas we have about how to make the world a better place, and then invest our time and money in those things that have actually demonstrated efficacy in proportion to the amount of good we can do with it.
This may sound obvious, but a lot of times people give to charity based on the expectation that their donation will improve the world in some way, despite that there is little to no such evidence, or even evidence that such a program doesn't work or has a terrible return on investment.
The thing that surprised me is that a lot of people don't care if their donation will have any kind of positive impact, because the reason they give is to signal to those around them how generous and good they are. If you actually care about helping people, and not just giving the appearance of helping people, you should look at which charities are actually effective and give you a good bang for your buck and donate to those.
If you want a career in making the world a better place, you could sit in your armchair and come with some idea of what you would hypothesize would be a good use of your time and talents, or you could look to which jobs would actually help people the most, and then picking one that suits your talents and interests.
You have to pick achievable goals. If you tell people that donating less than all their money makes them awful they’ll donate no money and feel awful. On the other hand if you tell them to donate 10% and that’s enough then they donate a bunch more than they would have (i.e. Giving what we can).
There’s also a lot of emphasis on choosing careers that either have large impacts or make a bunch of money that you can donate to charity (i.e. 10,000 hours)
Finally there’s a really interesting question - if a philosopher raises the chance that a multibillionaire donate their fortune by 0.1% that might be more valuable than anything else they could do.
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