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

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

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Comment author: wedrifid 25 December 2010 09:10:21PM 11 points [-]

Should I feel guilty for donating money to public radio because it doesn't save children? No.

I agree and would go even further. Guilt is a terrible motivator and one that I would does not apply to anything involving charitable contributions. Well except for, say, mugging the aid workers to steal other's contributions. In such cases guilt serves an entirely different and somewhat useful role.

This is a simple question of "What do you want?" If you want to reduce malaria infections buy nets (probably). If you want to save a radio station save a radio station. If you have multiple things you want to prioritize them and do multiplications or approximations thereof.

Never let anyone make you feel guilty for doing things that achieve your goals. Even yourself.

Comment author: Pfft 26 December 2010 06:36:53AM 0 points [-]

Never let anyone make you feel guilty for doing things that achieve your goals.

Really? Suppose I want to murder my old primary-school teacher, in a final revenge for all that arithmetic homework. Should I not feel guilty?

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 26 December 2010 07:11:58AM 5 points [-]

If there's any part of that you should feel guilty about, it's having the goal in the first place, not what you do to achieve it. Feeling guilty about buying poison or sharpening a knife doesn't make much difference if you keep thinking that the murder itself is a good idea.

Comment author: DanielLC 26 December 2010 07:54:18AM 2 points [-]

Well if you get right down to it, feeling guilty only makes it worse. You should just not have the goal in the first place.

The point is that listening to a radio station should be significantly below saving lives on your list of goals.

Comment author: Elizabeth 26 December 2010 03:59:15PM 9 points [-]

My point was that it is not any more wrong to spend money on public radio than to spend money on cable tv or a new iPod. Yes, in theory all my money not spent on food and shelter could go to saving children, but you are not going to do that, I am not going to do that, and no one either of us knows is going to do that.

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 26 December 2010 11:19:30AM 2 points [-]

Well if you get right down to it, feeling guilty only makes it worse. You should just not have the goal in the first place.

Hence the 'if' at the beginning of my comment, though in practice I do see how guilt can be useful at that stage: Most people don't have complete control over their emotions or what they want, and given the choice between someone wanting to murder someone, feeling guilty about wanting that, and not doing it because they feel guilty about even considering it, and someone wanting to murder someone, deciding that that's a perfectly reasonable thing to want, and actually going through with it, the former is pretty clearly preferable. Not wanting to murder someone at all is preferable to either of those, but humans are pretty lousy at wanting what we want to want.