Is Britain a Nation of Scrooges?

Times Literary Supplement

December 22, 2016


Is Follow Your Passion Good Career Advice?

Next Avenue

December 18, 2015

The author of 'Doing Good Better' is no fan of following your passion.


5 Criticisms of Billionaire Mega-Philanthropy, Debunked


December 4, 2015

“Couple decides to give majority of their earnings to charity” is hardly a headline that you’d expect people to take umbrage at. But when you replace “couple” with “Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan,” suddenly everyone goes crazy.


Why Giving Is the Best Gift This Year


December 3, 2015


Will Mark Zuckerberg’s Billions Help Tackle the World’s Problems?

The Guardian

December 2, 2015

The birth of their first child has prompted the Facebook tycoon and his wife Priscilla Chan to announce a $45bn charitable foundation. William MacAskill and Deborah Orr respond to the news.


Mark Zuckerberg’s Donation Is a Perfect Model for How Anyone Can Change the World


December 2, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg and his partner Priscilla Chan announced yesterday that over the course of their lifetime they will donate 99% of their Facebook shares, currently valued at $45 billion, to their newly formed charitable foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.


How to Make a Difference This Tuesday

The Independent

December 1, 2015

If Black Friday feels like an alien invader from the homeland of consumer excess then today may be the perfect antidote.


The Truth about Animal Charities, Cats and Dogs

The Guardian

November 19, 2015

Donations to human charities dwarf those to animal charities. But the money we get could be used more effectively if people weren’t so sentimental about pets.


The Shockingly Simple Ways You Can Make a Difference in the World

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

November 17, 2015

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that nothing you do ever really matters. In a world still plagued by war, poverty and devastating natural disasters, you might believe that no one person can actually make a difference. But you’d be wrong.


Does Divestment Work?

The New Yorker

October 20, 2015

Divestment campaigns have the potential to do good, but only with caveats.


This Couple Lives on 6% of Their Income So They Can Give $100,000 a Year to Charity


October 9, 2015

Julia Wise is a social worker and her husband, Jeff Kaufman, is a software engineer. In 2013, their combined income was just under $245,000, putting them in the top 10% of US households. And yet, excluding taxes and savings, they lived on just $15,280, or 6.25% of their income.


Here’s How to Find a Career That Is Both Personally Satisfying and Will Make a Difference


September 25, 2015

As Peter Hurford entered his final year at Denison University, he needed to figure out what he was going to do with his life. He was 22, majoring in political science and psychology. He knew he wanted a career that would both be personally satisfying and would make a big difference to the world, but he had no idea where to start.


Working for a Hedge Fund Could Be the Most Charitable Thing You Do

The Washington Post

September 10, 2015

We shouldn’t decry those earning to give. In the eyes of these people, there’s a catastrophe happening every day: 20,000 children dying from poverty, even though it costs just $3,500 to save one. In that context, asking “Will I be a better person if pursue this career?” rather than “Will I do the most good?” seems like moral narcissism.


What is the Most Effective Way to Help Refugees?

The Guardian

September 4, 2015

Donations can be helpful but are unsustainable in this instance, whereas political action could bring about real change.


The Many, Many Problems With "Follow Your Passion"


August 28, 2015

Don't follow passions. Instead ask yourself: If you were to invest the time, how good would you become at this career, compared to other careers you might choose?


Can You Guess Which Government Programs Work? Most People Can't.


August 17, 2015

We asked more than 100 subjects to guess which of these 10 interventions we described would help, which would have no effect, and which would do harm. If they couldn’t guess any better than a chimpanzee choosing at random, we would expect them to get three or four out of 10 correct on average (because there are three options). In reality, people got four out of 10 — just a tiny bit better than chance. One person managed eight out of 10, and nobody did better than that.


You Have 80,000 Hours in Your Career. Here's How to Do the Most Good with Them


August 3, 2015

An interview with Dylan Matthews about what effective altruism is, and why it suggests that getting a PhD in economics or starting a tech company could be better for the world than going to work for a charity.


Why Giving Now Multiplies the Value of a
Donor's Dollar

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

August 3, 2015

Investing now so you can donate more later on what may sound like a smart strategy, but there are some good reasons not to wait.


Why Eating Eggs Causes More Suffering than Eating Beef


July 31, 2015

An interview with Dylan Matthews about why choosing not to consume eggs or chicken can make a really significant difference.


The Best Person Who Ever Lived Is an Unknown Ukrainian Man

Boing Boing

July 30, 2015

Out of everyone who ever existed, who has done the most good for humanity? It's a difficult question.


Nine “Corrections” of English that Make Smart People Look Silly


July 28, 2015

Language pedants aren’t the saviors of the English language: more often than not, they are the ones doing the murdering.


Skydiving for Charity Is a Terrible Idea—Here’s a Better One


July 24, 2015

If we really want to do good, we need to focus on our ability to reason.


This Week, Let’s Dump a Few Ice Buckets to Wipe Out Malaria Too


August 18, 2014

The ice bucket challenge is a symbol for much that’s wrong with contemporary charity: a celebration of good intentions without regard for good outcomes. It is iconic for what I call donor-focused philanthropy—making charitable giving about the giver, rather than about those who need help.


The Cold, Hard Truth about the Ice Bucket Challenge


August 14, 2014

Via the ice bucket challenge, celebrities and the general public have fun and receive publicity; at the same time, millions of dollars are raised for a good cause. It’s a win-win, right? Sadly, things are not so simple.


Peter Buffett: Philanthropy Disguises Itself as a Fix When it’s a Part of the Problem


April 30, 2014

An exchange between Peter Buffett and Will MacAskill.


What Warren Buffett's Son Doesn't Understand about the World


August 1, 2013

Modern-day philanthropy is merely a means of buying indulgences: giving those who created problems such as global poverty an easy conscience and a better brand. The mega-philanthropists makes themselves out to look like altruists, but really it’s all a facade, serving to hide the world’s real need for deep, systemic change. Or so says Warren Buffet’s son, Peter Buffett, in an op-ed for the New York Times.


Vegetarians Live Longer, But it’s not Because They Don’t Eat Meat


June 5, 2013

One of the most basic concepts in science is that correlation does not imply causation—even though it is sometimes highly suggestive of it. For example, in post-war Germany, as the stork population fell, so did the human birth rate. But as I was deeply troubled to learn, storks do not cause babies—rather, economic growth led to both destruction of stork habitat, and to declining fertility rates. So it goes with vegetarianism and longevity.


What We Can Learn from One of the Worst Charities in the World


May 16, 2013

Homeopaths Without Borders (HWB) has provided homeopathic care and education in Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka. Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, it has focused efforts there, too. Besides minor ailments, HWB also treats malaria, typhoid, cholera, dengue fever, advanced diabetes, and educates about the “beneficial effects” of these treatments. Laugh or cry? I can’t decide.


The Best Career Advice You'll Never Hear in a Graduation Speech


April 18, 2013

“Follow your passion” is the stupidest career advice I’ve ever heard. Why? Because my passion in life is for singing bad karaoke. My friend Dodgy Dave’s passion is for dealing crack cocaine. Some of my friends have many passions. Most of my friends have none.


Best-selling Business Books—the Only Place Atari and Circuit City are Held up as Model Companies


April 3, 2013

There’s a formula to the typical business book: look at some successful companies, analyze them, make some true generalizations of those companies, and then advise others to do the same. The trouble is, this is basically useless.


Why Men Should Change Their Last Name When They Get Married

The Atlantic

March 5, 2013

More than 50% of Americans think the woman should be legally required to take her husband’s name in heterosexual marriages. The reason typically given is that having the same name increases a sense of family identity. But why should that mean that the woman takes the man’s name in heterosexual marriages.


To Save the World, Don’t Get a Job at a Charity; Go Work on Wall Street


February 27, 2013

Few people think of finance as an ethical career choice. Top undergraduates who want to “make a difference” are encouraged to forgo the allure of Wall Street and work in the charity sector. And many people in finance have a mid-career ethical crisis and switch to something fulfilling. Yet, while researching ethical career choice, I concluded that it’s in fact better to earn a lot of money and donate a good chunk of it to the most cost-effective charities—a path that I call “earning to give.”