I’ve finally read Doing Good Better. And I couldn’t recommend it more highly. I wish I had read this years ago (like many books.)
I’m sharing my review both here and where I wrote it on GoodReads.
I also gave an intro to it and shared it on YouTube or sharing-ready on LinkedIn
Who should read this book: everyone.
You have an amazing opportunity. You can save a life. You can probably save dozens of lives. Odds are good that you can even save hundreds of lives.
If you had a life where you got a chance to kick in a door on a burning building and save a kid from a burning building, chances are that would feel very special. If the next year you pulled an injured adult out of a pool and saved them from drowning, that too would likely be a peak life experience. If you did CPR and restarted someone’s heart you would remember it forever.
Well the fact is, if you earn at or above poverty level wages in the United States or another comparable economy, and can discipline yourself to donate 10% of your lifetime earnings to the most effective charities, you will save more than three lives.
This is a difficult fact to absorb and understand, but I urge you to consider it, and to consider reading this book to truly understand it. Other amazing framings I absolutely loved from this book include:
- Income inequality and the fact that doubling someones income is equally impactful on their happiness no matter what level its at means It’s as though you’re at a happy hour where you can either buy yourself aa beer for $5, or buy someone else a beer for $.05. Which one would you do?
- Healthcare interventions that are done intelligently are extraordinarily valuable. The eradication of Smallpox when it was achieved saved 60-120M lives. That’s more than 5X the number that achieving world peace and forgoing all armed conflicts from that time forward would have saved.
- Viktor Zhdanov clearly moved forward the timeline of this by showing what could be done and advocating for it, if we conservatively assume smallpox would still have been eradicated it is fair to assume he moved it forward merely a decade, that’s still 10-20M lives he saved.
- Health and quality adjusted life years matter. The concept of risk in micromorts is powerful: one cigarette is .7 and shortens ones life by 5 minutes. Driving a car for an hour is .1 micromorts, about three minutes. An hour on a motorcycle costs you about 3.75 hours from your life.
- Most American families can offset their carbon emissions through careful charitable giving. The average American adult could give $105/year (at time of writing) to the Cool Earth organization that partners with indigenous people in old forests in areas that might be targeted for deforestation to help them defend the forests and protect them from deforestation in ways that can be quantitatively backed and tracked.
- The high level advice about choosing careers that matter and having impact with it (delved into much deeper in the purpose written book 80,000 hours. But in a nutshell: aim to build transferrable skills and carer capital, donate to effective charities, then consider switching to effective causes or seriously upping the donations during or after peak impact years (40-60s)
- A donation of 3,400 (At time of writing) can buy and distribute enough anti malarial benders to save a life, deworm 7k children (And lead to much higher education outcomes) or double the income of 15 people for a year.
Every one of us has the power to save dozens or hundreds of lives, or to significantly improve the welfare of thousands of people. Want to learn more? Then PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!