This post is out of date. You can see the new EA Handbook here.
Effective altruism is about helping others as much as you can.
This is really difficult, but we’re making progress. And there are many outstanding ways to help. In fact, you can do much more good than you might realize.
While the mission is simple, the details aren’t. People have written entire bookshelves of content on ways to increase your impact, drawing from many different disciplines.
To help you learn the basics, we took some of the movement's best writing and made this handbook. Think of it as the textbook you’d get in your first college course. It explains the core ideas of EA, so that you can start applying them to your own life.
Note that you can also choose and request a free book about some of the most important ideas for effective altruism. You can see more at effectivealtruism.org.
Resources besides the Handbook
Short introduction to effective altruism
You can read our essay: Introduction to Effective Altruism. You could also explore effectivealtruism.org, which compiles a number of different resources.
Podcast series with the key ideas
Here are ten curated episodes from The 80,000 Hours Podcast to quickly get up to speed.
The Introductory Program is a free seminar-based course that covers the same content as the Handbook. We adapted it from programs run by groups at Oxford, Berkeley, and other top universities. New courses start once a month.
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Ask a question
Maybe you don’t want to read a whole book, but you’ve got a more specific question. If so, you can ask it on the Forum!
You can also see this article for other ways to get a question answered.
Read the Handbook
The Handbook consists of “sequences” of posts on a single theme. They’ll make more sense if you read them in order, but feel free to skip around.
You can access all the content on this page (see the table of contents on the left). Or you can read from the beginning:
EA Handbook Table of Contents
1. The Effectiveness Mindset
Why is it so important to focus on "effective" altruism?
This sequence shows that despite our limited resources, we can accomplish incredible things when we think carefully before taking action.
2. Differences in Impact
How can we tell which actions do the most good?
This sequence covers ways to measure your impact and find especially promising issues to work on.
3. Expanding Our Compassion
Who should we care about helping?
This sequence examines the moral progress we've made as a species, and argues that we can do a lot of good by focusing on groups whose welfare is still neglected.
How should we think about the long-term impact of our actions?
This sequence makes the case that some of the most important work we can do involves trying to improve the long-term future of civilization.
5. Existential Risk
What can we do to prevent the worst possible outcome for humanity?
This sequence explores the possible end of human civilization, and how we can work to safeguard the future of our species.
6. Emerging Technologies
How should we prepare for technology that could reshape our existence?
This sequence looks at two ways in which future technology could pose an existential threat to humanity, and how we can address those threats.
7. What Might We Be Missing?
What are some potential problems with effective altruism, and how should we respond?
This sequence covers prominent critiques of EA, as well as responses and counterarguments from people within the movement.
8. Putting it into Practice
Once we’ve learned the basics, how can we take action?
This sequence suggests ways to get more deeply involved in effective altruism — with your career, your donations, or your free time.
Notes on the Handbook
Some of the articles in the Handbook were written a while ago, so certain elements might be out of date (e.g. statistics). If you see anything that seems especially off, feel free to let us know.
Some articles are listed as coming from "EA Global" or "EA Handbook" rather than a named author. We use the former to collect transcripts of talks from an EA Global conference, and the latter for content written by someone without a Forum account.
This resource was assembled by the Centre for Effective Altruism. We were inspired by an early version of the EA Introductory Program, and we're grateful to the people who made that possible.
Suggestions and feedback
Notice a mistake? Think we should add something? Please leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was updated in May 2022. You can see the previous version here.
What is the relationship between this handbook and the one hosted at https://www.effectivealtruism.org/handbook/ ?
The handbook at the above link is available in epub, mobi, and pdf formats, which seems to answer the requests in the comments here. Is it an older version? The cover indicates that it is the second edition, but sadly does not include a revision date.
Thanks for asking!
Your link goes to the previous version, which was pitched at a slightly more advanced audience than was probably ideal (and covers a lot less ground overall). We've added a redirect that sends people from that page to this page.
Aaron, has a .pdf of the new edition been made available? Thanks!
Here is a quickly compiled PDF of this book. This is just html to pdf. I've added extra articles along with essential ones. The order should be correct as well as images. https://disk.yandex.ru/d/n_WlfyTutyj7QA
Thanks for the post! Do you think that a kindle version of the EA Handbook would be useful in order to effectively reach a wider audience?
At some point, I'd love to have an ebook version certain content from the Handbook. Right now, it's very much "under construction" (I'm still getting feedback on the content from many people), so that's not an immediate priority. But perhaps creating a PDF with a few of the most important essays would make sense to do sooner (as we did with the very first edition). Thanks for giving me something to consider!
Thanks for the info, Aaron! I would also find a PDF or eBook format useful. I upload them onto a non-backlit digital tablet to make reading easier on my eyes. Even just the ability to view all of the articles on one internet page would be super helpful - we could then "print" to pdf and upload it onto our readers from there :)
Came here to say the same. It would also help to actually print and bind it as a book to hand it to beginners. It gives a more "contained" perspective. With sequences online I always have the sense that the link tree never ends and my motivation to read it is reduced.
Should we also link out to https://80000hours.org/podcast/effective-altruism-an-introduction/ as an alternate way to consume similar content?
Hi Chris, thanks for suggesting this! I'll add it.
Hey, thanks Aaron for this. Did you see a Gitlab Hanbook? Maybe you will find some inspiration. I think maybe it would be better for reading if you would create this as a page like here for example https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/ai-forecasting I'm sorry if I missed this somehow and the handbook already exist in that form. As I understand it will be only bigger with time, so it would be easier to read and also adding posts under, connected to the handbook would be more user-friendly? What you think?
Great to see this exists, but I'd love to see better navigation - it's difficult to jump from a post back to the index and when you get to the end of a post, you have to scoll all the way up and look for the hard to see arrow to move to the next post.
I agree that it could be easier to get back to the index — there's a lot more we can do with sequences!
When you get to the end of a post, you should see a navigation area like this:
Are you not seeing that? If so, what browser are you using?
Oh, I feel silly, I missed that!