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Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back Paperback – August 2, 2016
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“This is the most valuable guide to charitable giving ever published. Even readers who disagree with MacAskill’s conclusions about the value of particular charitable donations will make smarter decisions by learning from his analysis.”—Paul Brest, co-director, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and former president, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
"A straightforward guide to help anyone make the largest possible difference in the lives of others." —Sue Desmond-Hellman, CEO of the Gates Foundation
"We research hotels and headphones and sushi bars—but not charities. That is lunacy. And in this powerful and persuasive book, William MacAskill shows us how much we stand to gain from a little bit of thoughtfulness: The same donation could do hundreds of times more good if given to the most effective charities, rather than the least"—Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive
“Effective altruism—efforts that actually help people rather than making you feel good or helping you show off—is one of the great new ideas of the twenty-first century. Doing Good Better is the definitive guide to this exciting new movement.”—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of The Better Angels of Our Nature
“Doing Good Better is a superb achievement. This must-read book will lead people to change their careers, their lives, and the world, for the better.”—Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, author of Animal Liberation and The Most Good You Can Do
“Doing Good Better is a must-read for anyone with both a heart and a brain. MacAskill demolishes the lazy myths of nothing-you-can-do-ism and demonstrates the power of asking the right questions. This is an important book. It's also surprisingly fun. Figuring out what really helps people is a challenging scientific puzzle, and these pages are full of unexpected twists—enlightening and invigorating.”—Joshua Greene, director of Harvard's Moral Cognition Lab, author of Moral Tribes
“Humanity currently spends more money on cigarette ads than on making sure that we as a species survive this century. We've got our priorities all wrong, and we need effective altruism to right them. If you want to make a real difference on the biggest issues of our time, you need to read Doing Good Better.”— Jaan Tallinn, cofounder, Skype and Kazaa
“Doing Good Better has rare combination of strikingly original ideas, effortless clarity of delivery, and a thoroughgoing practicality that leaves the reader inspired to get out of their chair and take on the world. Humanity faces some big challenges in the 21st century; this is a much-needed manifesto for social change, and Will MacAskill is the ideal ambassador.”—Eric Drexler, founder of nanotechnology and author of Engines of Creation
“MacAskill tackles a monumental question: how can we make the biggest difference for the greatest number of people? His answer is a grand vision to make giving, volunteering, spending, and working more worthwhile.”—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take
“Are you interested in giving away money more effectively? This is the very best book on how to do that.” —Tyler Cowen, Holbert C. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University and author of Average is Over
“I wish I'd had this structure and insights twenty years ago!”—Caroline Fiennes, Director, Giving Evidence
About the Author
- Publisher : Avery; Reprint edition (August 2, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1592409660
- ISBN-13 : 978-1592409662
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #27,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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I highly admire the effort in rating popular charity organizations and providing a framework that can be used to evaluate them.
In pursuing the goal of "choosing the best possible fit for our donation", the author put a limit on the ways we can do better.
There's implied priority on helping better the poorest of all people with insignificant description on how this differs from utilitarianism.
No acknowledgement for effective altruism towards our community, our friends and family or ourselves.
Doing Good Better is well-written and well-researched. For people familiar with the subject matter there will be some repetition. However, I was positively surprised that compared to Peter Singer's 'The Most Good You Can Do', MacAskill's book is really full of new information and new ways of thinking about things.
MacAskill breaks effective altruism down into five key questions and a few core topics. Each of them is illustrated with examples that are actually good to know. That's a key difference to 'The Most Good You Can Do'.
For example, the chapter on ethical consumerism tells you which popular climate-saving measures are not really helping much (and which are) and the chapter on expected value helps you figure out which risks are worth taking, e.g. how bad it is to ride a motor bike compared to using ecstasy. The careers chapter contains some options I might actually try.
All of this culminates into a pretty decent understanding of how to make a big difference.The book ultimately provides ways to get involved with the effective altruism movement.
A read that's both entertaining and indispensable if you want to make a difference.
Without explicitly asking ourselves MacAskill's Second Key Question of Effective Altruism, "Is this the most effective thing you can do?" we may end up having a "merely very good" impact with our lives, which surprisingly is nowhere near as good as the best impact we potentially could have.
As MacAskill writes, "When it comes to doing good, fat-tailed distributions seem to be everywhere. It’s not always true that exactly 80 percent of the value comes from the top 20 percent of activities—sometimes things are even more extreme than that, and sometimes less. But the general rule that most of the value generated comes from the very best activities is very common" (p. 50).
If we don't consciously try to achieve the most good we can and purse that challenge with careful reasoning, then it's likely we won't achieve anywhere near our potential. That's why effective altruism is important and why I was very happy to learn that there is a growing community of people who agree about the importance of this sort of thinking.
The central lesson for readers is to pay greater attention to the scale, tractability, and neglectedness of an issue. Instead of blindly following one's gut, we can make rough calculations about each of these factors, and in doing so, our impact can be multiplied by orders of magnitude. For anyone looking for a quick overview of his book, check out its appendix. It contains a helpful summary of takeaways that should be in everyone's cognitive toolbox. That said, the whole book is well worth a read.
Top reviews from other countries
His research base appears sound, while some of his discoveries are hair-raising about the way in which large amounts of money are wasted in apparently 'good' causes, for example 'Fairtrade', where almost all of the money is swallowed up by 'middlemen', while yet other 'obviously' better approaches to pumping water is also a huge waste of money, with the 'heart ruling the head'.
The framework MacAskill provides can be used to assess & identify charities & causes which are likely to have the most effective, efficient impact on people's lives, in many cases where relatively small amounts of money can have an impact far beyond what might be imagined.
If this still seems like too much hard work, MacAskill helps identify some current projects where donors can be assured their money will be effectively & efficiently used, and also the details of the regulatory body for charities which monitors the on-going effectiveness of these charities/projects, to ensure money donated can be wisely targeted in the future. There's also an interesting chapter on how to make a difference by your choice of career, and an exploration of ecosystem issues (& global warming), and the nature of poverty & 'sweatshops', revealing the latter to have a much more beneficial face than might be expected.
Fascinating & thought-provoking reading.
The author expresses a radical way of thinking about how to do the most good with both money and time. It has really opened my eyes and transformed my thought processes in deciding which organisations to support.
If you'd like your charity donations to make the biggest positive impact on the greatest number of people possible then this is a must read.