Stingy, Unkind People Are More Generous by Giving Less

If Scrooge gave away just a few pennies, he would suffer a big loss of well-being; for Mother Teresa to suffer a comparable loss she would have to give until she were nearly penniless.

With tax day just behind us, my guess is that, when taken nationally, charities experience a sizable bump shortly before the April 15th deadline. Giving to charity is even framed as a strategy for reducing your taxable income by companies like TurboTax.

Does this make the act of giving any less charitable? Certainly some would argue yes. It's no longer doing the right thing if your motivation is selfish, they might say. Still, this seems a poor reason to remove charitable incentives from the US tax code.

But what if morality actually requires that stingy, unkind people do less for their fellow citizen? That's the hard-to-swallow proposition put forth by Theron Pummer at the University of Oxford's Practical Ethics page:

"If Scrooge gave away just a few pennies, let’s suppose he would suffer a big loss of well-being; let’s suppose that for Teresa to suffer a comparable loss she would have to give until she were herself nearly penniless."

Instead of measuring someone's intention or motivation, Pummer measures the amount of loss a person experiences when they act charitably. This contrasts sharply with the Widow's Mite, a morality lesson in which a poor woman's offering of her last pennies is worth more than a rich man's contribution of half his entire wealth.

If that is true, we might be thankful, but measured, in our praise of billionaires who commit a majority of their wealth to charity. But on the other hand, expecting everyone to be a martyr for their cause is too harsh. As Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and Big Think expert Sheryl WuDunn explains, there are specific approaches to giving to charity that can make you feel good without compromising your motivation.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
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Afghanistan is the most depressed country on earth

No, depression is not just a type of 'affluenza' – poor people in conflict zones are more likely candidates

Image: Our World in Data / CC BY
Strange Maps
  • Often seen as typical of rich societies, depression is actually more prevalent in poor, conflict-ridden countries
  • More than one in five Afghans is clinically depressed – a sad world record
  • But are North Koreans really the world's 'fourth least depressed' people?
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Banned books: 10 of the most-challenged books in America

America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.

Nazis burn books on a huge bonfire of 'anti-German' literature in the Opernplatz, Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
  • Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
  • Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
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  • Oumuamua, a quarter-mile long asteroid tumbling through space, is Hawaiian for "scout", or "the first of many".
  • It was given this name because it came from another solar system.
  • Some claimed 'Oumuamua was an alien technology, but there's no actual evidence for that.