Effective Altruism Is Lame

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A very nice Scottish fellow named Will MacAskill has been gaining popularity recently for championing the movement of “Effective Altruism.”

The concept is simple. It encourages people to give their charitable donations…effectively. Not blindly, not in a way that feels good…but effectively.

The Harvard professor, Steven Pinker, calls this movement “one of the great new ideas of the 21st century.”

Effective Altruism has been a satisfactory answer to the swath of negative press about charities in the last several decades. It’s well documented that charities, in general, do a poor job of being effectively altruistic. On the surface, this truly does seem like a “great new idea.”

Now let’s put things in perspective.

Imagine someone started an electronics store called “Effective Electronics.” Their tagline would be, “Our Stuff Basically Works.”

In what world would a store like that be successful?

The ONLY world a store like Effective Electronics could thrive would be one where every other electronics store available has been selling defective equipment. Customers would flock to this store because, “Finally, a company that’s not completely throwing away every dollar I give it!”

Obviously Effective Altruism is a good thing, and I support it. But it’s existence is indicative of just how ineffectively charities have done the one thing they’re supposed to do: help people.

I bought the domain ExceptionalAltruism.com. Someone should tell Steven Pinker.

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