Effective altruism

Tom Golden
Tom Golden

What is "effective altruism"?

Enter Wikipedia:

Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that uses evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. Effective altruism encourages individuals to consider all causes and actions and to act in the way that brings about the greatest positive impact, based upon their values.

Real-world manifestation

Organisations such as GiveWell are based upon this principle.

GiveWell tells you where you should actually be giving your money.

Here is a list of their recommended charities: https://www.givewell.org/charities/top-charities

Why I care

Growing up in a relatively poor household, things were more about what I needed rather than what I wanted. My motivation to work hard has always been to achieve financial security, nothing more.

I reached financial security when I got my first big job, aged 21. Ever since, I have maintained the commitment I made to myself as a schoolkid, to give as much as I reasonably can, without damaging my own financial security.

People are frequently told to save up for a house, or a car, or whatever else. Not only are these expensive, but they're not necessary. Pre-fab homes are cheap, and nice. Public transport is good by me.

The average house in London is over £1,300,000, (~US$1,700,000). That's orders of magnitude more expensive than alternative solutions.

The numbers

According to GiveWell, the AMF (Against Malaria Foundation) can save a person's life for every US$4,000 donated. That's been rigourously tested, measured and proven. What's less well talked about is the additional cases of malaria you would prevent.

According to this World Health Organization report, in 2016 there were 445,000 deaths from malaria. The same report says that in the same year, there were 216,000,000 cases of it.

Dividing the latter with the former, we see that approximately 485 people contract malaria for every one person who dies from it. This means that not only are you saving on average one life per $4,000 donated, but also preventing nearly 500 people from contracting it at all. Five hundred people who can spend extra time at school, or work to feed themselves and their families.

A new Toyota Corolla costs $19,990. That's the equivalent of approximately 5 lives and 2421 non-lethally infected.

Give what you can. Now. The price of a human's life will in all likelihood go up. The best time to contribute to saving lives is right now. :)

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