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rabidchicken comments on Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others... - Less Wrong

130 Post author: Yvain 24 December 2010 09:26PM

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Comment author: rabidchicken 25 December 2010 07:23:21AM *  59 points [-]

Reading this and your article on using dead children as currencies reminds me of an event a few years ago which might have helped stop me from becoming another religious nutcase.

I did not know anything about rationality or utilitarian ethics at the time, and I was involved in a youth group at church that was going to be making aid kits for Ethiopia. One of the items that was requested was some kind of clothing, so I picked it up from a second hand store and put the kit together. Later when we were talking about the kits, I was told that we were only supposed to bring new items. when I asked why, the person in charge said something about respecting the feelings of the people who were receiving the gifts, and wanting them to feel like they had been given something special, instead of a discarded item. Everyone else in the group seemed to accept this easily, but I asked how many more people we could have helped with bargain items. This time, they pretty much ignored what I had just said.

I think this was the point when it finally hit me that good intentions and appearing kind are horrible indicators that you are really making the world better. So anyway, I probably would never have tried to find out about websites like this without my experiences dealing with religion. Too bad we cannot all just be taught utilitarian ethics and rationality by our parents and school instead of discovering them the hard way.

Comment author: Pumpizmus 09 July 2012 05:43:18PM -2 points [-]

Excuse my noob question, but isn't your subtle anti-religion generalizing implication somehow exactly against the pro-rational attitude this website is spreading?

Also, when it comes to utilitarian ethics and rationality or anything, isn't "discovering the hard way" more fruit-bearing than having to learn in schools?

Comment author: drethelin 20 October 2012 06:06:14AM 5 points [-]

Discovering the hard way generally leads to deeper knowledge, but it's still extremely important to learn about, eg, the germ theory of disease in school. You may not end up knowing as much as its original discoverers about bacteria and their behavior, but you can still spread a lot fewer disease.

Comment author: DanielLC 08 November 2013 07:19:11AM 2 points [-]

Also, when it comes to utilitarian ethics and rationality or anything, isn't "discovering the hard way" more fruit-bearing than having to learn in schools?

In addition to what drethelin said, there's also the problem that discovering it the hard way is hard. Most people fail. That way bears no fruit at all.