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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"Highly useful guidelines to finding the perfect charity worthy of your money." (Kirkus Reviews)

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 08-30-16

If You're Serious About Helping--

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:
Inspiring.
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!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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fascinating data driven approach to altruism

fascinating data driven approach to maximizing your impact on. the world. donating money Marty be better than your time!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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So Good!

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An ethical freakonomics

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.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Perhaps the most important book of my life

The book is on an extremely important subject: how to have a bigger impact on the world. Macaskill's thinking is incredibly clear, and I found myself enthusiastically applying the book's advice to my own life. The narrator was very easy to listen to, and I plan on listening to the book again, but this time read the text version at the same time and take notes. I am trying not to shove effective altruism down my friend's throats, but I am certainly letting them know I want them to listen to this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting, important, and well narrated!

If the idea of helping make the world a better place sounds appealing to you, you should definitely read this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Two thumbs up! Thought-provoking and informative

This books works well on two levels: first, it presents effective altruism clearly, and then, it also lays out guidelines for decision-making.

The former is interesting, but necessarily focuses on more global issues. If you're hoping to be able to determine which veterans' group would be more deserving of your donations, this book will not directly help you. However, it lays the groundwork for clear decision-making which you can pursue independently.

This latter I found to be a terrific refresher on something we are forced to deal with daily. I was initially concerned that the book would be laden with statistics and formulae for determining individual charities' effectiveness. It is not (phew). Instead, it shows a way of thinking about how to determine effectiveness in a direct, easy-to-appreciate manner. This I found to be both instructive and invaluable.

Key to the whole is the narrator. His tone and pacing make the material ACCESSIBLE. I gave him five stars for that. His presentation style was fairly engrossing, which was surprising, given the seriousness of the subject matter.

In the end, I decided I could figure out how to evaluate what I chose to do charity-wise. I also was happy to discover that I could apply this analytical technique to many other issues in my life. We are all faced with so many decisions every day. This book just seemed to help me better prepare to deal with them.

Not an overly long "read" but a worthwhile one indeed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Altruism broken down to its simplicity

I absolutely loved this book. William does a great job explaining all of the different paths to living an altruistic life. You evaluate your life, your connections and your skills to fund the most effective way for you to help others. He goes in depth about specific charities, diseases, global problems and personal lifestyle choices. All of which effect the lives of others and the world as a whole. Very informative!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story > performance

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The narrator sounds very depressing.

The content is OK but 1hour should be more than enough to cover it.
The narrator sounds very depressing, not sure anyone else feeling the same way?

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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