• Can Atacik

Evidence based altruism



"What's the worst that could happen?". This was the title of an article that I was reading in this week The Economist. And I came across something very inspiring, something I would not have expected to find in an article with this title.


Years ago, I studied evidenced based policy making with Lawrence Sherman. Larry Sherman is one of the pioneers in using evidence to develop, manage and fine tune policy. His courageous work in policing is covered with testimonials in Malcom Gladwell's innovative audiobook Talking to Strangers.



The article in the Economist led to me to Effective Altruism. Not a rocket science idea, and something that I am sure has been thought of by many, but probably not exercised due to lack of data and a systematic approach. What is Effective Altruism? In the words of the organization:

Effective altruism is changing the way we do good.

"Effective altruism is about answering one simple question: how can we use our resources to help others the most? Rather than just doing what feels right, we use evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on. But it's no use answering the question unless you act on it. Effective altruism is about following through. It's about being generous with your time and your money to do the most good you can."


Billions of dollars and thousands of hours by very qualified people are spent every year on altruism. However, most of it with no compass or guidance on where those efforts are most needed and what works. I am looking forward to following Effective Altruism as they help fellow do gooders not just feel good about what they do, but help them actually make the most of what they have to offer to this world.


This is particularly relevant not just for philanthropy and NGO work, but for investors, as ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing is becoming more and more popular. Investors need to make sure that they are not just buying window dressing and that their dollars are actually making the impact they wish to see.


Unlike the title of the Economist article, I'd like to think and focus on what the best that can happen.


Relevant reading: https://80000hours.org



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