Scott Alexander suggesting the criteria that make someone an Effective Altruist:
1. Aim to donate some fixed and considered amount of your income (traditionally 10%) to charity, or get a job in a charitable field.
2. Think really hard about what charities are most important, using something like consequentialist reasoning (where eg donating to a fancy college endowment seems less good than saving the lives of starving children). Treat this problem with the level of seriousness that people use when they really care about something, like a hedge fundie deciding what stocks to buy, or a basketball coach making a draft pick. Preferably do some napkin math, just like the hedge fundie and basketball coach would. Check with other people to see if your assessments agree.
3. ACTUALLY DO THESE THINGS! DON’T JUST WRITE ESSAYS SAYING THEY’RE “OBVIOUS” BUT THEN NOT DO THEM!
Alexander then says, “I think most of the people who do all three of these would self-identify as effective altruists.” I don’t know how we’d go about measuring that, but I know a great many people who do all three of these things and none of them call themselves effective altruists; I suspect that very few of them have ever heard the term “Effective Altruism.” (For instance, I have been involved in many debates within churches about what charitable organizations to support, and those have invariably been serious conversations that involve, among other things, close scrutiny not just of those organizations’ mission statements but also of their financial reports.) Like many people who either live in Silicon Valley or dwell in the penumbra of its culture, Alexander has no idea how tiny his bubble is; nor is he aware of how many thoughtful givers to charity there are in the world.