80,000 Hours Mentioned in TED

Peter Singer gave a TED talk on “The Why and How of Effective Altruism,” which you can watch here, which mentions 80,000 Hours.

It’s been interesting to look at people’s reactions both on the TED website, and on YouTube. The comments have been better than I expected, and a lot of people have been very enthusiastic, which has been great.

The main criticisms seem to be:
1. Charity starts at home
2. Doing some amount of good is what matters, not trying to maximize
3. It’s unfair only to focus on the most cost-effective programs, when there are other causes you could focus on
4. There’s too much focus on the symptoms (which charitable donations do) rather than the root causes of global problems
5. Worries about some people (e.g. Gates) doing harm through the way they made their money
6. It’s impossible to compare effectiveness across charities because the outcomes are so different
7. You have no reason to be altruistic (and if you’re doing it because it makes you feel good, then that’s just another form of egoism)

Of course I think that the criticisms are mistaken, but it’s good to be aware of where the idea of effective altruism is unintuitive or controversial.

There were also a lot of comments about the pretty inappropriate Rolex advert that follows the talk!

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