Edward Farrelly

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Hi, thanks for posting this.  I wanted to start a new thread, or somehow alert the EA wild animal community. My son recently came back from Washinton DC and visited the Zoo there. He was mildly shocked to find that the Tiger is being held in what is little enclosure, with so little room that it has effectively been driven mad, and moans continuously.  Given this is the main zoo of the capital of the richest nation on earth, it seems incredible that such a creature should be so abused.  Perhaps the EA community can find the funds to build out a better enclosure or better yet bring the tiger out into the country if a suitable park can be found or created.

Hi Freek, thanks for your comment and reading recommendation. I will look into it. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by 'what sensory experience would convince me that my current...effort' .  

Maybe I'm trying to say something along the lines of 'because human experience is complex, often the ethics of compassion can be better captured by literature for instnace rather than by numerical economics.  We understand deeply the ethics and compassion behind Dickens' A Christmas Carol' in a way that we might not if the approach to helping people is more rationalistic. After all, Victorian ethical rationalism brought us the poor house, which wasn't much good, at least if one takes Dickens and others descriptions of them at face value....

Hi Isaac, appreciate the response.  

Re 2, you capture something important in the phrase 'achieving the best objective outcomes, even if you can't measure them'.  That for me is the precise problem, how do you achieve this in the absense of measurement?  What are the practical steps I can take to make my charity a better organisation if what I measure doesn't seem to capture the work that is important.  I know for instance that our work depends almost entirely on the skill and emotional awareness/warmth of our staff and volunteers.   But I can't predict, when hiring, who will be good at this and who wont. 

Re 3, for sure I can help people even more. Theres no doubt that funding a hospital in Sudan which has run out of medical equipent is far more important and valuable, or paying a few hundred dollars to restore sight to a blind person in India is better value for money.  Those are the kinds of charity I like to donate to.   But for me its important that when trying to do something active, to contribute ones time and skills, that one try  at least part of the time to prioritise ones immediate local environment, ones local community, and see where the greatest needs and disparities are there. Suicide prevention & homelessness are local issues all over the wealthy world, and very real.  

I understand your point about any action meaning other action isn't taken, that one is in effect 'giving up' on others, and how that can be an important tool for prioritising where one directs limited resources (this being pretty much what EA is trying to do, and what attracts me to it), and I think that in the real, practical world, its actually not that complicated to get a feel for ones own biases in that direction.   There is a ton of really desperate primary survival need in the world today (though less than there was when I was growing up).  I'm absolutely not questioning that charities who support this kind of work should not be prioritised.  But I still think that there is room for other organisations, such as my own, that do actually save lives (as reported by those using the service) partly by offering an intangible form of caring that makes people feel less alone and perhaps loved.