Part 1: The Effectiveness Mindset

Welcome to the EA Handbook! 

These eight "sequences" cover the most important ideas of effective altruism through articles, videos, and interactive exercises.

In the first sequence, we:

  • Introduce the core principles of effective altruism.
  • Investigate the ways in which we can do good.
  • Come to terms with the tradeoffs we face in our altruistic efforts.
  • Explore tools that can help us find unusually impactful opportunities.

Two ways to read

There are two ways to get started, depending on whether you have access to Will MacAskill's Doing Good Better — and if you don't, we'll send you a free copy!

First option (no book): Read the sequence as written (click on "Start reading").

Second option (book): Read the introduction and the first three chapters of Doing Good Better, as well as Jai Dhyani's "500 Million, But Not A Single One More".

 

Start reading

—> Part 2: Differences in Impact

 

Photo credit: Dorothea Oldani

The Essentials

We begin with Ajeya Cotra, whose story of discovering effective altruism gets at what makes these ideas so compelling.

The single most important idea in effective altruism may be that we are capable of helping others to an incredible extent. Jai Dhyani and Benjamin Todd both tell the stories of people who saved millions of lives.

We can't all have that level of impact — but throughout the Handbook. you'll find many effective strategies to change the world for the better, no matter who you are.

Further Reading

Past the essential readings, we have lots of other recommendations.

Holly Elmore's essay drives home another key ideas — the fact that our resources are limited, making it crucial to set priorities when we can't help everyone.

The next piece, from Our World in Data, sums up EA philosophy in its title, and goes on to tell a moving story of how far we've come — and how much further we can go.

Each sequence has a "more to explore" section with a collection of relevant resources. Don't feel obliged to read them all! (But we did pick them out by hand, just for you.)