How to Deal With Hypocritical Activists, Politicians, and Charities | Nat Ware | TEDxOxford



phony philanthropist humanitarian hypocrite deceptive do-gooder fraudulent altruist charitable pretender however you describe them one thing's for sure there are few things in life that we hate more than moralizing hypocrites people who ask us to do charitable acts but are themselves hypocritical now in my line of work working with charities social enterprises foundations and aid agencies I hear the word hypocrite all the time when Bono the sunglass wearing tax avoiding mansion living jet-setting Irishman when he asked people to donate to charity what do we say we say hypocrite when Al Gore campaigns on climate change a man who many years has had a utility bill more than 20 times the average household we say hypocrite when the CEO of the Kony campaign was on one hand asking us to donate money and sing he cared but on the other hand was taking home a charity salary of $90,000 we said you guessed it hypocrite you see we hate hypocrites we hate people who purport to have certain beliefs that we don't actually think they have when their actions don't reflect those beliefs and I want to ask us should we call out people for hypocrisy people who we think are hypocrites should we give them that label now I hate genuine hypocrisy as much as the next person but I want to suggest and this is a big but I want to suggest that calling out people for hypocrisy is misguided at best downright dangerous at worst the key problem here is that often when we accuse people of hypocrisy it's not actually hypocrisy and there's a fume common mistakes that we make time and time again the first mistake that we make is that we assume that all charitable acts are equivalent say someone tells you that they support a carbon trading scheme we interpret that as just that person supports the environment and so if they don't recycle we say hypocrite if someone asks you for money for water purification tablets for a country like Myanmar we assume all that person supports fresh clean water and so if they don't themselves give money to build water wells we say hypocrite but the reality is that there are multiple different ways of solving every problem some that are far more effective than others and just because you support some approaches to problems doesn't mean you can or should or will support every approach that's the first mistake we commonly make the second problem that we often come across the second mistake that we make is that we compared to the extremes of selflessness and selfishness say you walk into a cafe and there's a sign on the wall that says we donate 20% of our profits to charity you probably think what a great cafe what good people donating a bit of their profits to charity and so when we have mostly profit making mostly selfishness but a bit of altruism we like it we think of it as a good thing but then if someone works for a charity if someone dedicates their entire career to a good cause if someone is mostly soft 'less but then takes home a reasonably decent salary we say huh hypocrite so we're flying with mostly selfish with a touch of altruism but not mostly our true istic with a touch of selfish you can be 10% altruistic but you can't be 90% which doesn't make any sense we prefer honest greed to imperfect generosity we compared to the extremes rather than comparing people to other people that's the second mistake the third mistake we make is that we assume that because someone supports a collective response to something individual action must follow and so if a politician says that they support government provided education but they send their kids to private independent schools we say hypocrite if someone was to say they supported a global ban on meat consumption and yet they themselves ate meat we might say hypocrite but the reality is it's totally rational often to support a collective response without necessarily wanting to be the one to act alone to act individually to bear the cost it's very rational for example if you act in a certain ways such as by taking really short showers or taking the train instead of a plane to save on carbon emissions you bear the full cost of your action and yet the benefits are dispersed by 7 billion people and so in order for it to be rational for you to do that the benefits really need to be 7 billion times the cost which is really going to be the case that's why initiatives such as Earth Hour often don't have a sustained impact it's not hypocritical to be rational the fourth mistake that we often make is that we assume that if someone really cares if someone really wants the best outcome they'll necessarily support the ideal policy so when Kevin Rudd the former Prime Minister of Australia said climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time and then he supported watered down environmental legislation we said hypocrite but the reality is sometimes you need to be strategic and if that ideal policy if the ideal situation would not receive parliamentary support if that would be scrapped by the next Parliament in a year or two then sometimes opting for the second best approach is actually more sustainable and actually better that actually has a greater impact another common mistake we make is that we conflate legality and morality if someone was to stand up and say they opposed prostitution they thought prostitution was wrong and yet then they voted for it to be legal we might say hypocrite but questions of legality and morality are very different you see if making prostitution legal meant that victims of abuse could come forward without fear of persecution or prosecution then it might be the right thing to do irrespective of whether you thought it was morally right or wrong likewise it's entirely consistent for someone to say that they themselves say for religious reasons don't believe in gay marriage but for that same person to say they think it should be legal because questions of legality also take into account of the people's beliefs and opinions and sexual preferences we shouldn't conflate legality and morality and the final mistake that we often make is we just don't distinguish between different circumstances when Obama came out and said that having armed security in every school wasn't the answer to gun violence the NRA responded not by attacking the argument but by attacking the person they ran ad campaign saying that Obama was a hypocrite because he had armed security for his daughters we often don't distinguish different circumstances my point here is that often when we accuse people of hypocrisy it's simply not hypocritical we assume that we know people's beliefs we assume we know why people are acting in a certain way but it's often arrogant to assume that we're too quick to condemn too slow to ask why but let's assume for a moment that it was hypocritical but these people did actually act in a hypocritical manner the problem here is that the existence of hypocrisy doesn't actually undermine the argument that is being made it's a convenient distraction but it's not a rebuttal I mean the argument that smoking is bad doesn't change because the person who is making it is a smoker you can know right or wrong without being morally perfect yourself and you should be able to ask people to do what is right that shouldn't just be the purview of the morally perfect and so if we shouldn't call out people for hypocrisy if we shouldn't focus on the charitable messenger what should we do I want to say that we should discuss and debate and critique the charitable message now with me I have two jugs one of those represents the person one of those represents the messenger in question and the other one represents the argument the message now when we call out people for hypocrisy when we use that hypocrisy argument when we use it to attack a person this is what happens it's easy to make them bleed it's easy to inflict pain after all they're a fallible person but what's interesting is that we don't discuss we don't critique we don't criticize the charitable message and so that's the status quo that's the situation we find ourselves in we're attacking the charitable messenger is all too easy and attacking the charitable message is often taboo why is this well I think we often think of charity as somewhat of a taboo subject we don't like criticizing indeed we just think of it as doing good that's why you can do a lot of things in the name of charity if you want an excuse to do a naked calendar do it in the name of charity if you want an excuse to do a marathon do it in the name of charity if you want an excuse to make three of your friends to force three of your friends to pour a bucket of ice cold water over their heads do it in the name of charity you see we find it difficult to criticize acts of charity we think of charity is one of the same but not all charities are created equal not all approaches to problems are equally effective one of the things that the organization I run 180-degrees consulting specializes in is measuring the social impact of different programs and different organizations and it's very clear to me that some approaches some charities are hundreds even thousands of times more effective than other approaches and so what that means is that it's more important to do the right act the most effective act than to merely do an action an action is merely a means to an end we focus on it when we accuse people of hypocrisy but focusing on the impact is far more important it's far more important because in a world with unlimited problems but limited time limited resources and limited money we can't afford to not have the greatest social impact possible we can't afford it we can't afford for doing good to merely be a feel-good endeavor it must be an intellectual endeavor as well let me give you one example so you have 42,000 dollars and you want to spend that money helping blind people you can spend that money in a few different ways one way is by not giving it at all a second way is by using the money to train a guide dog it cost about 42,000 dollars to train a guide dog and the third option is that you can use it to fund a low-cost eye surgery in a place like India which cause about $75 per surgery and so with that 42,000 dollars you can either help no blind people one blind person or 560 blind people I do not think it should be taboo to argue that you should not give money to training the guide dog Cooter's guide dogs are and as important guide dogs are for the people who use them and that you should instead give money for the low-cost eye surgery I know that sounds bad it sounds unethical it almost sounds evil once we've done the effective approaches we can do the less effective approaches but I don't think less effective approaches should come at the expense of the more effective approaches because as long as it is taboo for us to talk about the impacts of different charitable acts more people will be blind more people will be poor more people won't have access to health education and sanitation and that is something I cannot stand for I want to have the greatest impact possible and I don't think we have that greatest impact by focusing on hypocrisy or focusing on the messenger we have it by focusing on the charitable message that's the most important thing let me conclude time and time again when we can we target the messenger not the message the campaigner not the campaign the person not the argument the exact opposite should be true the key point that I'm trying to make here is that charitable messengers should not be the target and critiquing charitable messages should no longer be to be small minds rebut people great minds robot arguments I think Eleanor Roosevelt would agree so the next time that a politician a celebrity a friend a religious leader a charity worker ask you to do something that you don't want to do I want you to respond by rebutting the message not the messenger the next time that a friend calls out someone for hypocrisy I want you to tell them or about the message not the messenger by focusing on the hypocrisy of the messenger were being misguided but by focusing on the validity of the message were being productive we're helping to maximize impact and that is a cause worth fighting for thank you




Comments
  1. Getting paid to do charitable work is not selfless or selfish, it's just getting paid to do your job.
    Also in my way of thinking telling people to "do as I say not as I do" is not a good strategy to get people on side with an issue.
    For me the speaker sounds like an apologist for the rich and powerful.

  2. What I do, is to research the charitable organization to see its financial profile on a charity navigator website: how much actually goes to the cause and how much to "administrative costs." I also research their past behaviors, was there cheating, illegal use of funds, did they cause harm rather than help… and are there safeguards now, with better leadership.

  3. Honest greed is better than dishonest altruism as you know exactly where your money is going. People embezzle money all the time so when non-profits have highly paid officials it smells fishy.

  4. I guess the problem with non-profits is if the CEO is taking home more money than most people esp if his salary is paid through donations. Esp if salary is not upfront

  5. Of course the left doesn't want hypocrisy called out, I say call it out loud and proudly. Every single one of those crying about man-made climate change are hypocrites. It's not just Al Gore's 20x electric bill but the fact he said coastal areas would be under water meanwhile he took the money he made from preaching that nonsense and bought a coastal home in an area he claimed would be under water! Leonardo DiCaprio takes money from and party with middle east oil princes and flies a woman halfway around the world to was his eyebrows, because he doesn't want the US to be energy independent with things like fracking and coal because then he wouldn't get money from his oil princes. Bono is another one as are all of Hollywood and celebs. We shouldn't just call out their hypocrisy but boycott them as well.

  6. A person saves water "+" = Good person.
    A person wastes water "-" = Bad person.
    A person does neither "0" = You dont exist.

    The "Good" and the "Bad" people have cornered off the stage, its all about them like the rest is non-existing.

  7. Well thats only half the story isn't it? Do you know why people prefer a 10% charitable person than your supposed 90% one. Because the former has no claim. The former is a "yeah, I don't care" and we respect that. However when you declare that your goal is something, and you urge people around you to do it – then they find out you are holding back, it means you are not qualified to lead. For leading truly means – taking point and teaching other people to do something you can show them how. And throwing nuanced exceptions at them is not enough to cover the distance. And yes we prefer honest greed to dishonest generosity. Upon honesty you can build relationships. Dishonesty is just and endless abyss. (In the same manner you respect your fully honest – half-bad person friends more than you do your always nice but liar ones.) You go to the cinema friend A can go with you because they have nothing better to do and their other friends left them behind and are sort of stuck with you. Friend B however has wanted to go to the movie for a week. You don't need deduction to make an assessment now do you? Some times in the perfect situation you may be able to go to the movie with both of them. However the world is seldom that well arranged.

    Changing that dynamic of viewing people would entail a variety of effects that you have been unable to conceive so far it seems.

  8. Great validation of hypocrisy. First he appealed to everyone by stating correct facts, then once the mind was softened he pursued his agenda by making statements which have highly relative acceptability.

  9. How strong is that message if you ask others to sacrifice for it while the leader plays by different rules. Transparency would kill the campaign wouldn't it?

  10. Wow.  He sounds like he is building a case for people in power to tell others what they can or can't do without having to do it themselves.

    He's a hypocrite apologist.

    Not to mention he is missing the point in most of the examples he brought up for his own arguments.

  11. Im surprised this is not common knowledge… again its just the basic act of replacing emotional with rational and goal oriented thinking. Which should be obligarory in every situation!

  12. Everyone who works for non-profits or social enterprises should watch this talk! This man knows what he's saying. Definitely a thought leader. Impressive insights and such a good speaker.

  13. So Tony Blair wasn't a hypocrite when he passed the law requiring the single MMR jab for all kids in the UK, but took his kids to France so they could get the individual jabs. That's BULLSHIT. Of course that's hypocritical.

    I'm sorry, but this guy is an idiot.

  14. Very insightful Nat Ware! Could one explanation for our harsh judgement be that the mind is intuitively risk averse preferring to be relieved that a person perceived to be uncharitable is sometimes charitable rather than being surprised that a person perceived to be charitable is sometimes uncharitable?

    We perceive people to be uncharitable or charitable based on representativeness heuristics supplied to us by word of mouth and/or media coverage of the individual. What I mean is if the media portrays a charitable or uncharitable image of someone, we will quickly label them as either bad or good. This is an error as you said but it is fundamental human nature that is here to stay for a good while.

    A good question then is how do we design news or encourage the use of vocabulary that takes these errors in human judgement into account?

  15. It is not that complicated. The one major problem of the world is that the west is failing to judge someone when a child who's not brainwashed can tell immediately. This is why narcissism and psychopaths are getting their way. 
    I like the Chinese way. We see a reporter acting "concerned" when they are really here to make China look bad. We ask them to leave or we beat their ass. We call liars out as liars. Most charities have money go to rich people. Just look at the Sichuan earthquake, the recent Tianjin explosion. You can tell the west don't care and many are actually happy bad things happened to Chinese people. 

    Go ahead, do it your way. It is your society that will be demoralized. Your money will go to the wrong people. Not being to call out liars and hypocrites will make you feel less free and you know it, you feel it right now!
    yeah…turn your other cheek. Forgive. 
    Well then forgive me I will call out liars as I wish and not fall for your humanitarian bombings. Let's see who wins in the end. The good always do. This is the Biggest problem we have in the world. It is a form of bullying. A person can now insult the police , provoke them to hit you, and when they do, you play the victim. You are promoting cowards, trolls who think they can just do and say anything they want and get away with your money.

    Never doubt, that there is a grand plan going on, the more you do it, the more you expose yourselves. The world is waking up to this hypocrisy. When we do , we will rise and just as in history , evil will be destroyed.
    You fucking hypocrite!

    Just as you don't need to go through a middleman like Jesus to speak to god,
    Just as you don't need a middleman to do charity. I will help the person next to me , close to me, and let those far away from me have people around them to help them.
    I don't need people who lost their day jobs to warn me about the coming end of days so I owe them paypal donations. This is all evil at work. Western hypocrisy will ultimately ruin you. It has begun. And that is why this poor pathetic fool thinks he can brainwash us to not call them out. It's too late! We see who you are!

    I don't need you to send my money for me because I am not lazy. I'll do it myself.

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