MyGoodness: Making charitable giving more effective

With so many charities relying on these donations to achieve their goals, how do we choose between them? How do we know how much impact our dollars actually have?

 

Charity wristbands (Photo illustration by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Online game uses hypothetical choices and real cash prizes to educate people on how to make their most of their generosity. 

MIT Media Lab 

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Are We Living inside a Massive Computer Program?

Is our existence base reality—or are we pawns in a matrix? Cognitive scientist Joscha Bach explains how we might be able to tell.

Are we living in a video game? If so, the joke is on us, says cognitive scientist Joscha Bach. When people debate the possibility of human existence as a simulation, it's predominantly assumed that we are the players. Our overlord simulators are watching us, right? Well, that doesn't seem to gel with the amount of detail present in our world and the observable universe beyond. Why did our cosmic creators bother to code trillions of galaxies into the viewfinders of our telescopes? The Higgs boson, for example, is not necessary for our existence, so who would have the time to add such irrelevant frills just for our amusement (maybe the simulators had a really great intern that summer)? The answer? It's not made for us. According to Bach, if this is a simulation it's unlikely that we are the main attraction and much more realistic that the simulators wanted to make a model of a universe to explore hypothetical physics. That tiny blue dot with primates mixing concrete all over the surface? "We are just a random side effect or an artifact of the fact that evolution is possible in this universe," says Bach.

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