Wiki Contributions

Comments

People are gathering 2 million USD to save a kid with a rare disease. I feel weird about it. Why?

I'm very sorry for your loss.

I do agree with your view on the ineffectiveness of spending a lot of money on a dead person.

However... I think people find meaning from a wide range of things, and rituals around birth and death are two big ones since the origins of humankind itself. So in a sense, I can empathize with your family spending so much money. It seems to mean something to them.

Sacrificing material things in funerary rituals is as old as Ancient Egypt, and probably much older. The only new component in modern society is that now this sacrifice transforms into profit for someone else (the funerary industry, who operate under dubious ethical grounds).

But from the perspective of the griefing loved ones of the deceased, I think it's all about meaning and closure.

People are gathering 2 million USD to save a kid with a rare disease. I feel weird about it. Why?

Should've clarified: The $2M is, indeed, being burned, in the sense that it's for developing a customized genetic treatment.

That being said, your point still applies: Presumably each person who purchases this treatment is contributing to some technological polishing and helping eventually make this cheaper. Presumably!

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?

I'm saying it's out of scope, meaning it's not what this post is about.

It's about a phenomenon that happens in lots of different situations and topics. I'm trying to generalize it, abstract it, and understand it.

A simple example:

Family meeting. Mother says: "The electric bill is getting expensive. Please mind your use of energy. Don't leave lights on when unnecessary. Use the Air Conditioner at reasonable temperatures. Etc."

Then one of the sons thinks: "Why should I make any personal changes or sacrifices? I barely use electricity, the ones wasting it are the others. The expensive bill is their fault. So unless they make a change, my sacrifice won't even make a dent. No point in doing it."

That's the phenomenon I'm talking about. Aside from specific instances.

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?

That's why I didn't focus on actual examples, and only briefly mentioned a couple in the begginning. :P

I'm more interested in the psychological phenomenon, rather than specific instances in real life, or wether its occurrence is a good or a bad thing.

e.g. Maybe it makes sense to not cooperate. I don't know. That's out of scope here.

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?

Fair enough. Presumably there could be many different reasons to be unwilling to "cooperate". One of them could be an underestimation of the effects of one's individual actions, but there could be other reasons.

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?

Fair. (I was only trying to model a super specific aspect of this debate, not the entire problem).

Your example of filling the swimming pool one drop at a time while hundreds of gallons per minute pour out through the hole in the bottom is much better, and kind of disheartening to think about.

What's a good strategy in that scenario? (maybe adding a twist: If the pool completely empties, we all die)

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?

Good question! I don't think it's usually possible to estimate that accurately.

That's why I think it may make sense to play it safe, and just adopt a strategy of "doing our personal best", while trying to promote other changes too (inspire others to do their best, push for policy changes, etc).

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?

Of course I was referring specifically about people who, in your words, cannot do it. :)

I worded it as "we" instead of "some people" in order to take my fair bit of personal responsibility: Even though I fully acknowledge the incredible importance of Climate Change, through my actions I am often part of this group of irresponsible people I refer to.

That being said, I found your answer really enlightening. Thank you. :)

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?

I didn't claim that is not the case.

You seem to think that an altruist action that harms me but benefits the whole planet should have at least a certain amount X of positive impact on the planet... otherwise it's not worth certain sacrifices. And to that, I say: Fair enough!

To give an absurd example: Giving up civilized life, and starting to live in the middle of the forest without any technology would be a silly, disproportionate, ineffective sacrifice to do in order to help Climate Change. It's a nonsensical plan. And I agree with you.

I think what I'm trying to figure out is... how can we maximize benefit to the planet?

Can we aim at a certain ratio of personal sacrifice / benefit to the planet?

Can we even measure the benefit? Does it make sense to take it into account?

Perhaps we should just make the maximum amount of sacrifice we'd willing to do, try to inspire others to to the same, and hope for the best?

What do you think?

Why do we refuse to take action claiming our impact would be too small?
Even if a person wants to do something about a problem, it's often much more impactful to donate to an effective charity then to change personal behavior.

Not sure if you meant "then" or if it was a typo for "than", but either way I have an observation:

One can do both things: donate to an effective charity and change personal behavior, no?

One example I like is: vegan lifestyle vs. vegan activism.

Activism is a lot more impactful than becoming vegan oneself. By far. Because of the potential amount of people reached, and because activism can make a dent in group behavior and culture. One could even theoretically participate in activism while not even being vegan... and have more impact than a non-activist vegan!

BUT... then I pictured a scenario: All of humankind participating in vegan activism, claiming we should stop animal exploitation... while at the same time everybody eats meat. That's just a massive-scale bluff. Collective hipocrisy.

I think that example illustrates nicely the gap we need to bridge between large scale action and personal change. And this is why I believe it's ideal to avoid comparisons between large scale actions and personal actions. I claim they can and should be simultaneous.

Load More