The act of giving itself has positive impact
The positive impact is normalisation of altruism, which leads to others being more altruistic in the way they think/behave/vote. The size of this effect is very hard to measure - like any social movement - but because it could be large we should be careful about throwing the "cultural change" aspect of the movement out (which I think is what's happening with the shift in focus to impactful careers).
Personal anecdote: I'm a doctor in Australia. Doctors are paid very well and have huge potential to fund good causes and influence positive change. Despite this, I witness a lot of doctors getting caught up in jealously comparing themselves to other doctors and their lifestyles. Lavish lifestyle is the norm and I've seen this lead to doctors:
- Advocating for redirecting public funding to increasing their own wages
- Taking the first class flight to that conference in Berlin because their colleagues do
- Justifying buying a new Mini because the gastroenterologist drives a Morgan
- Avoiding giving to charity
These represent a huge pool of resources that aren't being used because it's not the norm, and that's just within medicine.
Norms are hard to change but a coordinated movement of people giving might have a significant effect. It was certainly other people giving that inspired me to start giving.
I think we should at least consider that we might be losing effectiveness by giving too much space to 80,000 Hours-style impactful careers talk and pushing giving to the side. I haven't seen much consideration of this on the forum
Open Thread: July 2021
Hi! My name is Henry Howard. I'm a doctor in Australia. I'm giving 50% of my income to charity all 2021 to normalise taking only what we need and Giving What We Can. You can find me at:
I love the principle of doing altruism effectively but I am hesitant to align myself with the Effective Altruism movement.
I'm worried about the Effective Altruism movement's shifting focus to longtermism which I suspect is a "Pascal's mugging" by a utility monster (the monster being the theoretical quintillions of future humans) and which I worry is making the movement look unhinged, impractical and is limiting its appeal and impact.
I'm mostly vegan but I'm concerned about overemphasis on animal welfare. I feel that the Effective Altruism movement overvalues animal well-being vs human well-being. I also feel it ignores that improving human welfare is an avenue to improving animal welfare (people who are struggling don't have room to think about whether their chickens are free range).