Dave Cortright

60Joined Dec 2018


After two decades as a Silicon Valley product designer and four years as director of technology for a wildlife nonprofit, I pivoted to professional coaching. I am passionate about helping others, and by guiding them to find their true calling, I amplify my impact on improving the world.

I have been a serious philanthropist since 2004 and an effective altruist since 2017, supporting animal welfare and environmental causes. I am also a member of the International Coaching Foundation (ICF). I am a trained crisis counselor and a top-rated compassionate listener on 7 Cups.


Topic Contributions

The Onion: What To Know About The Collapse Of FTX

Q: What is the “effective altruism” philosophy Bankman-Fried practices?
A: A movement to allocate one’s money to where it can do the most benefit for oneself.

Perhaps a poll would be useful to determine what sort of support the community needs and would engage in

  • This likely means there will be a lot fewer assets for effective causes

It depends on where you set the baseline. Before FTX existed there were a lot LOT fewer assets for effective causes. Sure this will take the number down from some theoretical maximum, but the net is that if FTX doesn't generate another dollar for EA, it has already made a large, positive difference. 

I'm a big proponent of Universal Basic Income. If people don't have to spend a significant amount of time worrying about satisfying their bottom two levels in the Maslow Hierarchy, it frees them up to do some pretty amazing things

Ryuji Chua advocates for the suffering of fish

Loved Ryuji’s interview on The Daily Show. His nonjudgmental attitude towards those who still eat animals is a wonderful way to keep the conversation open and welcoming. A true embodiment of the "big tent" approach that benefits EA expansion.

I also watched his documentary How Conscious Can A Fish Be? It’s always hard for me to see animals suffering, but I also know I need to keep renewing that emotional connection to the cause so I don't drift towards apathy.

Allow me to pitch the Maslow Hypothesis: money matters insofar as it addresses the bottom two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: food, clean air & water, shelter, clothing, health care, safety & security… That's the rounding-off point of ~$75k in Figures 1 & 2. After that, Grant’s Razor kicks in, and the only thing that matters at that point are relationships.

This is why smaller, self-contained communities (Blue Zones, Amish/Mennonite communities, indigenous tribes…)—even without modern comforts and technology— are happier and live longer than those living in modern society; they have unconditional love and belonging, experience no loneliness, and are never forced to bear stress or hardship alone.

In our culture (and especially in the EA space!), there is this insidious belief that one needs to earn their place on the planet through their behaviors or achievements. Thinking you have a debt to pay every time you wake up in the morning is emotionally exhausting and an untenable way to live life over the long term.

The key difference between our modern society and those happier tribal societies: we have made it possible to live life playing a series of finite games—best illustrated by the cooperation dilemma (aka the prisoner's dilemma). Whereas in tribal society, everyone is playing the infinite game collectively. Sure, individuals can choose to give up the infinite game, but that means getting kicked out of the tribe.

Here's a framework I use for A or B decisions. There are 3 scenarios:

  1. One is clearly better than the other.
  2. They are both about the same
  3. I'm not sure; more data is needed.

1 & 2 are easy. In the first case, choose the better one. In the second, choose the one that in your gut you like better (or use the "flip a coin" trick, and notice if you have any resistance to the "winner". That's a great reason to go with the "loser").

It's the third case that's hard. It requires more research or more analysis. But here's the thing: there are costs to doing this work. You have to decide if the opportunity cost to delve in is worth the investment to increase the odds of making  the better choice.

My experience shows that—especially for people who lean heavily on logic and rationality like myself 😁—we tend to overweight "getting it right" at the expense of making a decision and moving on. Switching costs are often lower than you think, and failing fast is actually a great outcome. Unless you are sending a rover to Mars where there is literally no opportunity to "fix it in post-", I suggest you do a a nominal amount of research and analysis, then make a decision and move onto other things in your life. Revisit as needed.

[cross-posted from a comment I wrote in response to Why CEA Online doesn’t outsource more work to non-EA freelancers]


“Although plant foods are generally lower in choline than animal foods, it’s found in small amounts in a wide range of plant foods. A vegan diet that emphasizes whole foods can provide enough choline.”


Just a suggestion, but maybe throw a simple landing page up on asteriskmag.com

I recommend Caard as a service for this (happy customer)

Anyone in EA who feels like a coach or therapist would be helpful in talking through their relationship with “failure” (however they are defining it for themselves) should absolutely schedule a session. Nearly everyone in the EA coaching/therapy space offer the first session for free to EAs. Full disclosure: I am a professional coach and listed on this page:

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