Book review – Doing good better – William MacAskill
Hailing from a conservative Indian family where we are taught to extract maximum value out of every penny or item, I found “Doing good better” to be extremely appealing. I have had reservations against donating money, the greatest one being that I did not have much to spare and hence would not give it for those causes with minimal impact. So I had to educate myself which program was the best and this book helped me gain clarity.
It has been five years since I graduated from my Masters program and I have missed graphs and statistics. I have always had a fascination towards topics where popular assumptions are broken down through logic, reasoning and most importantly, numbers. For those of you who love reading such a genre of articles, this book will appeal to your intellect.
The book provides a great starting point to evaluate various organizations and causes to gauge their effectiveness and impact. But that expectation is a given considering the title is “Doing good better”. Having said that, I am now aware of a few causes that do real good; capable of asking valid questions & qualifiers before parting with my money for any causes. Moreover, I am well aware of how much I can be influenced and drawn towards certain causes and well publicized events where the impact of my donation would not really make much difference in the overall scheme of things. My latest blog on “Why I won’t donate to the Manchester bombing” is based on some of the concepts outlined in this book. So, in essence, this book has more than “met expectations” and delivered to promise of educating me of how to do good, better.
I also found some sections of the book irrelevant for me and would happily skip those if I reread the book. For example, I am already too deep into my career to consider a path more aligned with effective altruism. Also, I do not for one bit find it practical for me to evaluate between a PHD or a computer science degree, keeping altruism as the end goal. As the saying goes, we Indians become engineers first before figuring out what we want to become in our lives.
In summary, read this book if you :
- Are remotely interested in doing good to the world
- Like the use of logical & data driven arguments to overcome popular assumptions
- Are convinced the one individual cannot make a significant difference to the world
- Want to choose between eating chicken/beef or ham, keeping in mind the environment/animals themselves