I am an unemployed, paranoid schizophrenic who recently started studying stoicsm, Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness and begun to sort my personal problems out. I now want to contribute to society in a meaningful way and I Googled “Effective Altruism” with a view to discovering how to best invest my time and I found you.
My initial impression was that I wanted to do something I could directly see the positive impact I had so you may not be a good fit. I have been considering helping people who are struggling with life and achieving even the basics, much as I have based on my own recent experiences but the idea of maximizing the return on investment for sentient beings on the investment I and others make appeals so, that’s where I’m at and what brought me here.
There is a lot of information on this site! Too much for me to digest right now. I’ll give you my initial reactions then perhaps read more if you seem like people I should connect with to further my dual intentions of effective contribution and living a life of satisfaction.
Sorry if this has been discussed before or falls foul of etiquette, if it does it can be edited or deleted. I wonder if any effective altruism movements ever do anything for communities on a local level in the developed world, beyond the big direct impact issues such as factory farming? I understand that resources often make a bigger difference in the developing world but if you also target neglected but noticeable things in the communities of the developed world, even if they seem trivial in scope, people who haven’t heard of you will know you exist. It could serve as a gateway to introduce people attracted to altruism to contributing in an effective way. Getting involved in a wider scope of issues may dilute the mission if managed poorly but managed correctly I wonder if it would be good PR and advertising?
That’s all for now except to offer one thing. I used to be very, very overweight, spend most of my time in bed and catch a taxi round the corner. I’m planning to run my first marathon in September. I have a paid regular entry, if I am sold on Effective Altruism I could run in aid of this cause, though I know not how much impact it would have, more than just running for myself I’m sure.
Thanks for reading.
Hey Rob, welcome to the forum!
Given your interest in Buddhism, you might be interested to join the Buddhists in EA Facebook group. There is also an EA Meditation community that you or others interested in mindfulness can join. I believe they have 3 weekly guided meditations for people to join. Two people in my group in EA Philippines regularly join the meditations and find them valuable.
Regarding what you said about wanting to do something you could directly see the impact of, I think there’s many ways you can still achieve this within EA. As you learn more about EA, you can have 1-1′s or chats with people newer to EA than you, and help them learn more about EA or one of its causes/concepts, give them career or productivity advice, or even just some tips on mindfulness.
Also, being able to volunteer for an EA project can allow you to see some more direct impact other than just donating. There might be a volunteer or job opportunity that might interest you in the EA Work Club.
Lastly, regarding if anyone in EA is doing anything for communities on a local level in the developed world, I can think of a few ideas:
Mental health is a big problem both in developed and developing countries, and is prioritized by some people in the EA community. For example, the charity Canopie, incubated by the EA org Charity Entrepreneurship, are developing and testing a mobile app to treat pregnancy-related mental health issues in the United States. So I think if you can find ways to cost-effectively improve mental health in your local community, that could still be impactful to work on.
Another thing that involves local communities is if you’re in the U.S., having approval voting become the voting method in your state could be high-impact, because of how approval voting can lessen polarization. The EA-aligned org called The Center for Election Science works on this.
Finding ways to get involved or educated about the policymaking in your area, and seeing if you can advocate for more effective and evidence-based policies, can plausibly be high-impact too.
Finally, I guess doing EA community building work, or running Rationality talks/workshops for your local community, are ways you can introduce people in your area to some relevant ideas, which can help them think of other ways they can make an impact on the world.
I hope some of these links and ideas help!
Thank you, your reply appears helpful and is greatfully received. I am located in the UK rather than the USA.
I will look deeper into EA.