Introduction to Effective Altruism

Effective altruism (EA) means using evidence and reason to take actions that help others as much as possible.

The world has a lot of terrible problems, but we can’t work on them all at once. And we don’t agree on what the worst problems are.

Despite this, most people want to “make the world a better place”. What should those people actually be doing?

Some of the questions EA sets out to answer:

  • Is it better to help people in your own country, or abroad?

  • Is it better to take a high-paying job and give money to charity, or to work for a charity directly?

  • Is it better to support an intervention with a lot of strong evidence, or to support research on a promising new intervention?

The answers to these kinds of questions will be different for each person. What you should do depends on who you are: What are your skills? What are your values? How much time do you have?

But no matter who you are, effective altruism can help you figure out how to improve the world. To learn more, follow the links below.

More on EA

Are you a high school student? Are you a college student?

Do you work for a nonprofit or a business with a social mission?

Are you religious?

Which of the following issues most concerns you? (Politics, poverty, health, education, animals, environment, far future)

Are you interested in donating? In direct work?

Are you financially comfortable?

Common Questions

  • What beliefs do all EAs have in common?

  • What are the different causes EAs support?

  • What are some actions EAs take to improve the world?

  • What makes EA different from other ways of helping people?

  • What are some common criticisms of EA, and how do EAs respond?

  • What is the philosophical justification for EA?

Here are some really good articles from outside Arbital:

This page is a work in progress. If you have questions, or you’d like to see a topic added, please contact the author: aaronlgertler (at)