The cold, hard truth about the ice bucket challenge

“The cold, hard truth about the ice bucket challenge.” By William MatAskill, Quartz.

Does doing one good action, or just saying you would do it, lead a person in actuality to do fewer good actions in the future? Science says, yes. People are often more concerned about “looking good” or “feeling good” rather than actually “doing good.” This savvy articles considers such ‘moral licensing’ (as psychologists call it) in the latest spectacle of Internet altruism, the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I look at the camera, hold a bucket of ice water over my head, tip it upside down, post the video on social media and then nominate two others to do the same. Along the way, my nominees and I use the opportunity to donate to a charity that fights Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a progressive neurodegenerative disease often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Multiply this activity 70,000 times, and the result is that the charity has received $3 million in additional donations. Via the ice bucket challenge, celebrities and the general public have fun and receive publicity; at the same time, millions of dollars are raised for a good cause. It’s a win-win, right? Sadly, things are not so simple.

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