Profile cover photo
Profile photo
John Thomas
Australian elearning pioneer - part entrepreneur, part teacher & part geek. Google Certified Innovator
Australian elearning pioneer - part entrepreneur, part teacher & part geek. Google Certified Innovator


Post has shared content
How to motivate us to think before we give?

Heres' a podcast and transcript with Deborah Small from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania discussing charitable giving. It seems that the emotions we feel about causes aren’t necessarily directed towards the causes for which our dollars can do the most good. She discusses ways to present information more effectively to donors, such as by focusing on the cost of a unit of impact, for example, $1 for a malaria net, rather than $4000 to save a life on average.

It seems that most of us could do a lot more good with our charitable giving if we just took the time to choose our charities more carefully. One of the challenges, then, is to find ways to motivate people to think a little more before they give.

In the US it costs around $40,000 to train a guide dog for someone who will remain blind. A donation of as little as $50 to an organisation like +The Fred Hollows Foundation can restore a blind person's sight. Ten lives could be saved through the provision of bednets or the sight of 800 blind people restored for the cost of providing one guide dog in the US, yet giving to guide dog charities is popular, and it seems that informing people about the effectiveness of their charitable giving options isn't always effective in motivating them enough to redirect their giving to more effective charities.

Perhaps we should be less prone to poke ten dollar into the can of someone collecting for a charity at the traffic lights than we tend to be. Redirecting our giving to charities recommended by evaluators like +GiveWell or +TheLifeYouCanSave will do more good. These organisations, unlike some others like +Charity Navigator, are specifically focused on the gauging effectiveness of giving. Judging a charity's worthiness should not be about determining the percentage of money spent on things like overheads but on the effectiveness of the charity's work "in the field". On this measure, organisations like +The Against Malaria Foundation and +The Fred Hollows Foundation score very highly, though they do well in the low overheads department too.
New research from +Wharton School marketing professor Deborah Small examines why donors tend to act more on emotion than rationality when choosing organizations to support.

"Impediments to +Effective Altruism: The Role of Subjective Preferences in Charitable Giving".

In this podcast, Professor Small mentions +Peter Singer and his book +TheLifeYouCanSave
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
People with anti-LGBT prejudice tend to be less intelligent.

We can explain many of the attitudes we take for granted in terms of survival-tracking intuitions that benefited our reproductively successful forebears. Being attracted to people of the same sex was not a recipe for reproductive success. It's hardly surprising then, that people developed negative attitudes to same-sex attracted people. This initial evolutionarily derived 'gut' reaction then became institutionalised in legal discrimination against gays. Fortunately, our capacity to reason helps us overcome some of our faulty intuitions, and relatively recently, significant majorities of people in many developed countries have switched from favouring discrimination against gays to opposing it.

The conclusions reached by the authors of the paper in the link below support the idea that more rational people are less likely to exhibit anti-LGBT prejudice. (Thanks +Tommy Tooter for spotting this.)

The researchers found that:
- High cognitive ability leads to lower prejudice, net of a large set of confounds.
- Results hold across different ability measures & are strongest for verbal ability.
- Education partially mediates, but does not moderate, the effect of ability.

It seems that our species is making some moral progress, and the ability to think clearly is playing its role in that progress.

#lgbt #lgbtq #lgbtqi
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
One Plus Six vs iPhone X

OnePlus phones are often seen as the best value premium smartphones since their launch four years ago with the OnePlus One in 2014. Here's a comparision between the OnePlus 6 and the iPhone X. Given the massive price differential, and the great performance, it seems that the latest OnePlus phone may well still give users the best bang per buck on the market.

For those interested in a comparison between the OnePlus 6 and the impressive Google Pixel 2 XL there's a review from Android Central here.
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
macOS Mojave

Looks good with its new Dark Mode, Stacks for eliminating desktop clutter, Gallery view that enables visual scanning of files and more. One worry I have is backward compatibility with older 32 bit apps. At some point this will be disappearing, but hopefully not yet.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
13 Year Old Blows £80k on Dad's Credit Card

Ouch! This would have hurt. The kid in this story blew £60k in one week months after previously promising to stop his gambling and undertaking psychotherapy to overcome his addiction. According to UK Government figures 25,000 children aged 11-16 are addicted to online gambling!
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
YouTube tops with teens

A new Pew survey of US teens use of social media shows Facebook fading with YouTube dominant.

Teen favourites:
YouTube 85%
Instagram 72%
Snapchat 69%
(Percentage of teens using platform shown)
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Veganism "startlingly good for the environment"

In a paper just published in Science, researchers looked at the land-use requirements for food production, its impact on greenhouse-gas emissions, nutrient build-up, land acidification, and freshwater use. Taking their data from 570 previously published papers they projected a 76% decrease - 3.1 billion hectare decline - in land use if we Homo sapiens moved to feeding ourselves with plant protein instead of meat protein.

Along the way, they discovered huge variations in the impact of the same food product, both meat and vegetables. For example, the worst 10 per cent of beef production produces 12 times more greenhouse gas and requires 50 times more land to produce the same amount of protein compared to the best 10 percent of beef production.

There's plenty of room for improvement.

How likely do you think an eventual shift to a vegetable-based diet is?
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
The Problem of Evil

We've got a 500 comment limit on G+ posts, and I'd like us to settle this one by reaching a consensus before the end. Shouldn't be too hard. :P

Is it possible to reconcile the existence of evil with an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God?

Here are the thoughts of Peter Singer, recently described as "the most formidable living atheist in the world today."

"If God is all-knowing, he knows how much suffering there is, if he is all-powerful, he could have created a world without so much of it, and if he were all good, he would have done so. Since he didn't, he cannot be any of these things, and, if he exists at all, he must be either evil or a bungler."

Here are the thoughts of William Lane Craig, recently described as "the finest defender of Christian belief in the English speaking world."

"We are not in a good position to assess the probability of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that occur. As finite persons, we are limited in time, space, intelligence, and insight. ... paradoxically, evil actually serves to establish the existence of God. For if objective values cannot exist without God and objective values do exist—as is evident from the reality of evil—, then it follows inescapably that God exists"

What do you think of Singer's point? What about Craig's response? Where do you stand on the "Problem of Evil"?

Let's sort this one out. :)
Wait while more posts are being loaded