Monday, October 20, 2014

On caring

Interesting way to think about solving the world's problems.

In short:
Do you think it's worth it to give $3 to clean oil off a bird and save its life?
If so, then it follows that it'd be worth it to give $2.4 million if you could save the lives of 800,000 birds. (if not, why not?) Wait, but that's more money than I'll make in my entire life -- what about my house, my kids, etc.

So you (or at least I) really don't think it's worth $3 to save a bird. The reason is that there are way too many other problems in the way. Yeah, if I brought an oily bird to you, I could trigger some mental circuit that's a remnant from caveman days where you care about cute little animals, but our world is so big that if you cared that much about everything, you'd go nuts. There are a million huge problems and you can't solve them all.

The way I take it from here is: well, best to make the largest total contribution I can. Better to spend 30 years being a -1, then be a +1000 for a year. Don't worry about all the little birds along the way.

(which is convenient, as it's what I was realistically going to do anyway. Well.)