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Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference Paperback – 7 Jul 2016

4.3 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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  • Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference
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  • The Life You Can Save: How to play your part in ending world poverty
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Guardian Faber Publishing; Main edition (7 July 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783350512
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783350513
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Beautifully written and extremely smart. Doing Good Better should be required reading for anyone interested in making the world better. (Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics)

Effective altruism - efforts that actually help people rather than making you feel good or helping you show off - is one of the great new ideas of the 21st century. Doing Good Better is the definitive guide to this exciting new movement. (Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Better Angels of Our Nature.)

A surprising and often counterintuitive look at the best ways to make a difference.. [MacAskill] is that rarest of beasts: a do-gooder who uses his head more than his heart. (Sunday Times)

Explains how good intentions can lead to bad outcomes, but also shows how to spend and give away our money more effectively by thinking rationally rather than being swayed emotionally. (Alice Thomson The Times)

Brilliant... a manual that bounces along, full of counterintuitive insight. I've already changed the charities I donate to as a result of MacAskill's advice, and if you read the book, I expect you will too... The author has fire in his belly and an urgent desire to make the world a better place. His plea is simply to follow the evidence - and as a result, not to waste a minute or a dollar more. (Guardian, BOOK OF THE WEEK)

We research hotels and headphones and sushi bars-but not charities. That is lunacy. And in this powerful and persuasive book, William MacAskill shows us how much we stand to gain from a little bit of thoughtfulness: The same donation could do hundreds of times more good if given to the most effective charities, rather than the least. If you care about the impact of the time or money you contribute to good causes, this book is a must-read. (Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive)

Groundbreaking ... a brilliant, smart and refreshing take on the best way to make a difference in the world, MacAskill's wonderfully written vision will strike a chord with anyone who has ever wanted to help a cause. (The Herald)

[Satisfyingly counterintuitive]...a feel-good guide to getting good done (Amia Srinivasan London Review of Books)

A data nerd after my own heart. (Bill Gates)

A very good book about charity ... Lots of clever, crisp thinking here. You'll see charity anew. You might give more. (Evening Standard)

Book Description

A radical reassessment of how we can most effectively help others by a rising star of philosophy and leading social entrepreneur.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 Dec. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given the amount of money donated to charities which never reaches the intended recipients, this book is long overdue. MacAskill provides an analytic framework with which to assess the 'most effective' ways in which our money can work for us after donation.

His research base appears sound, while some of his discoveries are hair-raising about the way in which large amounts of money are wasted in apparently 'good' causes, for example 'Fairtrade', where almost all of the money is swallowed up by 'middlemen', while yet other 'obviously' better approaches to pumping water is also a huge waste of money, with the 'heart ruling the head'.

The framework MacAskill provides can be used to assess & identify charities & causes which are likely to have the most effective, efficient impact on people's lives, in many cases where relatively small amounts of money can have an impact far beyond what might be imagined.

If this still seems like too much hard work, MacAskill helps identify some current projects where donors can be assured their money will be effectively & efficiently used, and also the details of the regulatory body for charities which monitors the on-going effectiveness of these charities/projects, to ensure money donated can be wisely targeted in the future. There's also an interesting chapter on how to make a difference by your choice of career, and an exploration of ecosystem issues (& global warming), and the nature of poverty & 'sweatshops', revealing the latter to have a much more beneficial face than might be expected.

Fascinating & thought-provoking reading.
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I really wanted to like this book and was looking forward to some clear and concise advice about what charities to support to make the biggest difference to people in need of support.
Unfortunately for me this book is long-winded - everything is explained as if to a not-very-bright junior school aged child. On the other hand it is alsofrequently simplistic and reductive in its analysis. Even worse it'it reads as a kind of relentlessly upbeat American management speak - I could almost imagine one of those dreadful morning meetings where everyone has to cheer the latest flavour of the month.
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Brilliant book that actually changed my world view of development issues. The challenge now is to put it into practise...
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Easy to read with loads of practical advice on how to make a real difference rather than just feeling good about giving
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Book arrived in good time and the condition of the book was as described.
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... not much to say about this book. The research is good but clearly biased to a utilitarian approach that will not necessarily suit everyone's views.
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Format: Paperback
A chapter or two into this book, I was already thinking about people I could recommend it to. To begin with, he discusses an exciting idea for pumping water from the ground in developing countries – the PlayPump – a kind of roundabout that kids could play on and pump water at the same time. It didn’t work out in the end and MacAskill uses it as an illustration for his central premise: that we need to evaluate ideas, conduct studies, and examine data before we donate huge amounts of money to any cause. In other words, that we need to be better at quantifying the benefit of money that we donate to charities (or any time or money that we use to do good). Then he introduces some stats on income – if you earn more than $28,000, the typical income in the US, you’re in the richest 5% of the world’s population, and $52,000 puts you in the 1% globally. Since 20% of the world’s population earn less than $550 per year ($1.50 per day), a small portion of your income would make a much bigger impact in their lives than it would in your own.

That only covers the intro and the first chapter, and I feel that the book was interesting for a while after that but then went steadily downhill. MacAskill is an associate professor of philosophy at Oxford University, but I was surprised that most of his book is based on economics, and it’s strange that it lacks both the wider and deeper perspective that I would have expected based on his chosen field. But then, he got his PhD barely three years ago. In short, he attempts to reduce everything to a number – how much difference do you make by donating to one charity versus another. I’m a scientist – I believe in objective evaluation of data to reach a conclusion. But MacAskill’s book has several problems. Maybe it’s better if I go through them as a list.
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Format: Paperback
In Doing Good Better, William MacAskill outlines the good, the bad and the ugly of the charity world, showing us how donating to some causes can seem extremely worthwhile but not deliver any significant value, while other less obvious causes can be a goldmine of goodness. This is a great introduction to the world of Effective Altruism, and will likely change the questions you ask when donating to charity to much more effective ones, likely to lead to a better outcome for all. The money and time you spend on this book are very, very worthwhile, and your investment will produce great returns.
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