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 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 squandered 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 simply to do good; we must do good better.
At the core of this philosophy are five key questions 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 questions to real-life scenarios, MacAskill shows how many of our assumptions about doing good are misguided.
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 good.
©2015 William MacAskill (P)2015 Gildan Media LLC
"Highly useful guidelines to finding the perfect charity worthy of your money." (Kirkus Reviews)
By applying economic principles to ethics and altruism, this author has made some very interesting and important conclusions about the best ways we can influence the world. This is the most fascinating book I've read or listened to in past decade. It is extremely well researched and well written so it's a joy to listen to as well.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I've always been grateful for what I have, for a job where I'm able to make a difference, for, well, everything, even though I know, comparatively, I don't have that much...
But after listening to this book, I was awestruck as to where I rank in the world: I'm most definitely a HAVE. And it made me want to do more with all that I have and I can share.
"Doing Good Better" is a good step-by-step for doing something. There are formats and formulas (the formula went over my head), but mostly, there are the guiding questions which, quite honestly, can be pretty tough. You do a sort of charity/helper triage, which sounds, and feels brutal.
Mostly, just don't go by your emotions, even though, as an emotional person, I have to think... "HUH?!?" MacAskill has stories of Rwanda, where only those with a chance could be saved, or of how he met with women in a fistula hospital, and despite their hugs, he still knew he could make more of a difference elsewhere.
Tough stuff, but true and most certainly though provoking.
Don't worry: This book isn't one big guilt-trip. Rather it is, quite simply:
By the way, there's a website: effectivealtruism.org, if you want to see how you can help. Nothing, no action, no single dollar, is too small!
I absolutely loved the book! Very indepth and clear and broad details. The methods for engaging in altruistic activities are very sensible and I think transferable to other areas of life. It's very encouraging
I loved the book's content; no other comments there.
I habitually listen to audio books at 1.25 or 1.5 speed. At 1.25, this was one of the better performances I heard. But at standard speed, it was nearly intolerable droning. Listen at 1.25 or you'll doze off.
Extremely thought provoking. Should be on college curriculum for people starting careers and in community and church reading groups of those wrestling with where to put their time and money. At the same time I want to read reviews. I suspect the author undervalued so very important things. Need to find the holes first.
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