What’s this blog about?

This blog consists of my thoughts on the Effective Altruism movement. The main recurring theme in the posts is my overriding worries that an over-concentration on certain ways of thinking within the Effective Altruism movement are starting to hamper it’s effectiveness. Power, privilege, epistemology, and implementation play heavy roles.

What’s the name about?

During my graduate studies in Economics, I was studying under a professor who specialized in feminist economics. Early on, I pitched an idea to her for a final paper – I forget the specifics of it, but I basically was trying to use some very mathematical mainstream economic tools to prove that the main critiques of feminist economics were integral to the accurate study of economic phenomena. I will never forget her response: “You will get no where with this, because¬†the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. These mainstream tools have blindspots built into them that prevent them from being used to see these truths, and the powers that be, who are more adept in these tools than you ever will be, will be able to contort them to ‘disprove’ you. Any fight on their terms is an unfair one, and even if you do objectively ‘win’, you will simply be ignored.”¬†This stuck with me, and ever since I have doubled down on learning more and more about the tools that can dismantle the systems of oppression that permeate society, but it is a slow and painful process. It is from this perspective that I critique Effective Altruism – which I believe is over-using the ‘master’s tools’ in the effort to reduce worldwide suffering, and which in turn will have little impact in the long run if this over-use continues.

Who am I, and why is this blog anonymous?

My hope is that this blog is only temporarily anonymous until I can confirm that writing this blog is a good idea, and until I can figure out the logistics of making it not anonymous. In terms of basic facts about me, demographically I am a fairly ‘standard’ Effective Altruist – I check pretty much all of the ‘privilege’ boxes – white, male, American, young, urban, fairly secular, etc.. The irony is not lost on me that I, part of the problem, consistently complain about the diversity problem in the movement. Education and work-wise, I have a MA in Economics from a decent and fairly heterodox school and do mid-level work at a large NGO. In terms of my involvement with the EA movement, I’ve honestly kept a bit arms length from the movement until recently – I do participate in the Giving What We Can Pledge, and care about the main precepts of the movement, but a lot of my worries about the movement have kept me from engaging too closely in the movement (hence, this blog).