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Effective Altruism: Presentation and Launch

Many of us seek to help others by supporting charitable causes that we consider important. This is especially true during the holiday season which often inspires an outpouring of charitable giving. People are helped and we feel good about doing something useful.

But is that enough?

How do you decide who or what causes should benefit from your generosity?

Given that charitable decisions can literally affect life and death situations, do donors have more responsibilities than they think?
- Is it really true that some charities are better than others?
- Are some interventions hundreds of times better at achieving the same goal?
- How would you react to finding out that your act of kindness was actually not as effective as you thought?

Why would it be that I shouldn't give food to the food bank?

A combination of critical thinking, psychology, and moral philosophy, this presentation will explore the emerging movement and philosophy of Effective Altruism: What it is, How it works, Why it is happening, and What you can do to be more effective when helping others.

Darren McKee is the host of the popular podcast The Reality Check that explores controversies and curiosities using science and critical thinking and is a member of the Ottawa Skeptics.
If you enjoyed his previous talks on"Skepticism and Morality" and "A Better Choice than Free Will", be sure to catch this one launching Effective Altruism in Ottawa.


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  • Giovanni

    Thanks for the presentation Darren. It was great to see there is an actual movement behind improving quality of charitable outcomes.

    As for what I like to get out of this group is try to identify a problem/issue (could be local, or nation wide, or global, etc). As a team, come up with the best way to solve that problem. Identify actions that aligns with the solution (could be support existing charities, or partner with one, or create a new one, etc). And finally execute and measure the outcomes.

    Just a suggestion and what I hope to get out of this group.

    January 15, 2014

    • Darren

      Thank you for sharing your perspective, I appreciate it. The more communication the better.
      We'll have to see how the group feels but I currently imagine multiple projects or groups exploring different (but related) things.

      January 23, 2014

  • Brittany

    The turn up for this event was so great we hardly had room to fit everybody, although I noticed there was perhaps a larger space upstairs that could be utilized in future. Over all I'd say it went really well for a first meeting and I look forward to the next one. Perhaps at some point we could organize the group to investigate local and/or popular charities to determine their effectiveness and help us make better choices.

    January 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I enjoyed the presentation of this MeetUp. It was well prepared, lively, and the visuals helped. Some worthwhile resources were given, and lots to think about. Congratulations to Darren, he did a great job, and handled questions well.

    2 · January 13, 2014

  • Fram R. E.

    Very Interesting, glad I went

    2 · January 13, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very clear presentation, good questions from the audience

    2 · January 12, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Interesting concept. Would be great to develop EA criteria to help make our choice of charity. Pub was too noisy.

    2 · January 12, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry for the last minute cancellation but if my driveway is any indication of the shape of the roads I think it best if I not venture anywhere today. I look forward to learning more and attending a future meet-up.

    January 12, 2014

  • Pam

    Sorry can't make it as have to visit ill family abroad. Hope to make the next event when we get back to Ottawa.

    January 6, 2014

  • Dan

    Sorry. Can't make it that day. I will be overseas in January. Have a great meeting!

    December 19, 2013

  • Leah M.

    So sorry to have to miss this, but I'll be in Baltimore that day. Hope to have better luck with the next meeting.

    1 · December 17, 2013

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