Chichester Humanists talk: Effective Altruism by George Bridgewater


George Bridgwater is the Events Officer for the Effective Altruism Society at Southampton University.
George began with a brief history of Effective Altruism, beginning with it's founder Peter Singer, philosopher and author of "The Life you can Save", then William Macaskill (Cambridge University), author of "Doing Good Better".

Using various analogies, George outlined some of the basic ideas:

  • a small percentage of income from everyone in the West could solve the world's main problems
  • donating to the most effective charitable causes, e.g. using the Give Well website
  • choosing a career that will do the most good for society

He outlined how Effective Altruism thinkers prioritise their efforts, illustrated using practical examples of Nuclear War, Artificial Intelligence, Pandemics, Global Health, Animal Suffering and Climate Change.

George highlighted the need for evidence-based charity, using examples of education programmes and water pumps in Africa.

He ended his talk by asking the audience to form into small groups and consider which of three areas we should prioritise: Global Health, Artificial Intelligence or Climate Change. This threw up some interesting feedback.

After the break, George answered several questions, including:

  • How can you reconcile giving for emotional reasons and giving the most effectively?
  • If the future is so uncertain, how can we decide between charitable causes?
  • Is the Effective Altruism movement in danger of splitting, in view of its wide range of viewpoints?

This was a long-awaited talk that stimulated a lot of debate and discussion.

Our nearest Effective Altruism groups are in Brighton and Southmpton. Here are their links:


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