Effective Altruism- October

I am attaching my EA donation slip for October below. I took the Effective Altruism pledge last year, in which I pledged to donate 10% of my lifetime earnings to the organization.

Today is a special day for many Indians, including myself, as today is Gandhi Jayanti, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Reading his autobiography was one of the most influential decisions of my life, and a lot of my life’s decisions were based on trying (and mostly failing) to follow in his footsteps- like going vegan (very few people know that Gandhi was vegan *before it was cool*), trying to donate a part of my salary, trying to be helpful to everyone, etc. Although I’ve failed in a lot of the above, I’ve also had some modest successes.

Gandhi’s influence in my life has changed over the past few years. I’ve helped myself to the odd dairy dessert way too many times. I’ve also been treated extremely badly by people who I’ve tried to be nice to. But most importantly, I’ve slowly realized that Gandhi’s ideas were mostly bad in the long run for society. It tries to negate basic human tendencies like selfishness by trying to establish primarily agricultural and socialistic communities, sexuality by trying to promote abstinence, etc. He may have had some success with these, but I’ve mostly failed.

After doing some random unfocused reading, I have realized that before having grand visions for society, we should have some evidence on whether our vision will work or not. I’ve found Abhijit Banerjee’s writings on experimentation in economics to be quite relevant in these matters. Despite Gandhi’s lack of insight into behavioral economics, he was an amazing man, and I am humbled by the opportunity to be able to donate some money towards social upliftment on his birthday.

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Graduate student

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