What we're about
We're a small, friendly group of people interested in doing the most good we can.
We meet up in the pub on a monthly basis. We also hold talks and special events.
If you're interested in coming along, just CC to an event. Please do message me (Jacob Funnell) or drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions at all! :)
Like us on Facebook here (https://www.facebook.com/EffectiveAltruismBrighton/)!
Effective Altruism is an exciting and fast-growing movement which attracts people from across the globe. If you want to know what the fuss is about and you have two minutes, you can find out everything below:
Length and reading time: 800 words/ 2 minutes 30 seconds
What is Effective Altruism?
Effective Altruism is a broad, diverse movement of people who are interested in doing the most good possible.
Questions like these are probably already woven into your life. You might find this in small things – standing in a supermarket, wondering if you should worry about the food miles on a piece of fruit. Or you could be unsure what to do about larger decisions, like whether you can really trust any charity to do real, effective work. And it goes as far as ultimate questions about your whole life – is what you do at work everyday helping anyone? Could you do something else that did more good?
Effective Altruism doesn't have definitive answers to these questions. But it does have some plausible responses and some tools for thinking about all of them. And it'll also raise some questions you may not have thought of before.
This doesn't sound especially new. Isn't this what people have been doing already?
Yes! Effective Altruism's big contribution is to try and bring together diverse tools and evidence from a variety of fields, like philosophy, economics, international development and even computer science to answer these questions. We usually prefer evidence and reason over going with your gut.
Let's take giving to charity. How would you assess whether a charity is good or not? This is very big problem, because charities don't give us the kind of feedback that you'd get if you spent your money on a product or service.
For example, if you buy a kettle online and it's faulty, you immediately know. You can do something about it, like get a refund or replacement. And you're compelled to do it, especially if your caffeine needs are as high as mine.
But with charity, that often doesn't happen. You don't get that direct feedback. You'll get basically the same level of feedback if the money is spent well or badly, ie no reliable feedback at all.
This isn't a question of whether the people working at a charity are good people, or trustworthy people.
It's just about whether or not they're really making the impact they'd like to. That's the kind of constructive scepticism that lets us help others in the best ways we can.
How is it possible to get feedback on charities? It'd be a waste of time to demand a charity tell me exactly what it spent my specific donations on.
That's why independent charity evaluation is so important. This means that people outside a charity can evaluate their effectiveness.
If you want to have a look at what happens when charities are rigorously assessed, GiveWell (http://www.givewell.org/) (for poverty relief) and Animal Charity Evaluators (http://www.animalcharityevaluators.org/) (for animal welfare) are two highly respected organizations that have done amazing work to find the best places you can donate to.
At EA Brighton, we sometimes do fundraising for them.
What other things do you do? Do you do direct activism?
As Effective Altruists, we do activism when it's got good evidence behind it.
For example, Animal Charity Evaluators have found a very promising charity called Animal Equality. They provide virtual reality headsets, which let you see what it's like to be an animal in a slaughterhouse. This is a very effective way for making people think more carefully about their relationship to animals.
Setting up a pop-up stall for this (like our sister group EA Sussex have done) is an example of activism that can have an enormous impact.
What about my life and my everyday actions?
There's a lot of disagreement within Effective Altruism about the importance of everyday actions, such as ethical consumerism and recycling.
But one thing which unites Effective Altruists is that when it comes to the areas where you can have really big impacts – such as your career choices and the targets of your donations – you should think carefully about both.
You can learn more about Effective Altruism's career's advice at 80,000 Hours (https://80000hours.org/).
Why should I be interested in Effective Altruism?
You might find there are lots of things you disagree with in Effective Altruism. You may find that Effective Altruism appeals to you more than any other approach to doing good. Either way, you'll find new ways of thinking about having a positive impact.
Where do I find out more?
This talk is great:
Will MacAskill's book Doing Good Better (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Doing-Good-Better-Difference/dp/1592409105?tag=s4charityuk-21) is absolutely brilliant and covers all the important areas of EA. I thoroughly recommend it.
And finally ... come along to a meeting and say hi!