A clever researcher decided he wanted to measure altruism. He’s tried testing it in the laboratory, but lab settings are often importantly different than the outside world, so he wanted to do an experiment in ‘the field’.

Rich and poor differ in lots of different ways. There are reasons to think poor people would be more generous, and reasons to think rich people would be more generous. Neither result would surprise me. The idea that you’ve found one of those reasons, decided that reason doesn’t really count, and then miraculously all the other reasons exactly cancel out?

The good news is we don’t need to compromise on truth or say “Credo quia absurdum; certum est, quia impossibile” to avoid feeling bad about not being perfectly good. We can care about things that don’t show up as the maximum direct good done in a utilitarian calculus, do mostly object level things, and still sleep at night.

Believing that everyone will eventually become Bodhisattva and/or senior research analyst is absurd. Believing this will happen on its own is doubly absurd. But we don’t want everyone to be that. It wouldn’t even be a good idea. It is safe to not feel bad for spending your time and money doing object level things and enjoying ordinary life. You do not need to make everyone an effective altruist. Mostly you should confirm you do a lot of good, then make yourself effective.

Read the source article at Berkeley Culture Discussion