Is EA a mental illness?

This impression raises the question whether effective altruism is based to a certain degree on brain damage. Now all brains are damaged to certain degree because of mutational load and environmental insults. But some are more damaged than others. These tend to exhibit higher rates of mental illness. So I did a quick check on the slatestar codex survey data, which asks whether people identify as effective altruists and also about a slew of mental health problems. If effective altruism is based in part on brain damage it should positively correlate with mental illnesses.

I like effectiveness and I think altruism is a good thing. Being effective at altruism is obviously double plus good. However, when I read about the movement/community „effective altruism“ I often get the impression of people not completely hinged. Not completely unhinged either, but spontaneously breaking into tears because of „the idea of suffering“ or planning to abolish predatory animals doesn’t strike me as completely sane either. Or maybe take a look at this article. Couldn’t it just as well be about anorexia instead of altruism?

Alas, there was absolutely no correlation between having any of around a dozen mental illnesses and being a self-professed effective altruist. Given that altruism is more complicated than selfishness maybe that was to be expected. It seems effective altruists are no more mentally ill than the average slatestar codex reader, just farther out on the altruism bell curve.

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