The Most Interesting People I Know

25 - Charlie Bresler on the Lives You Can Save

August 10, 2020

Charlie Bresler is the Executive Director of the Life You Can Save, a nonprofit founded by Peter Singer that inspires and empowers people to take action in the fight against extreme poverty. 

Charlie was previously the president of the Men’s Warehouse and a professor of clinical psychology. Later in the episode, we dig into Charlie’s path from psychology, to men’s fashion, to fighting global poverty. The inspiration for this episode is the release of the 10th anniversary edition of the book The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer. The book offers an overview of the intensity of global poverty and the related human suffering and makes a compelling case to donate more to more effective charities. Contrary to popular belief, there are charities that have proven track records of delivering effective interventions, some of which can save a child’s life for less than two thousand dollars. The new edition of the Life You Can Save is available for free in e-book and audiobook format. The audiobook is read by a number of celebrities, including Kristen Bell, Paul Simon, and Stephen Fry. In addition to the book, we discuss:

Where The Life You Can Save is now, the shallow pond thought experiment, the myth that we don't know what works in global poverty and health, why an "empathy fund" may be more sustainable, framing effective giving as an opportunity vs. an obligation, why being a doctor doesn't do as much good as we think, how Charlie's democratic socialism informs his life, why EAs aren't as radical you might expect them to be. 

If you’re familiar with Effective Altruism, I’d recommend skipping to about 35 and a half minutes in. Most of the ideas we discuss for the bulk of the episode are probably familiar to you, but you may be interested in our conversation on the intersection of EA and radical politics. 


Show notes:

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Over 5M children die before they turn 5 each year

The Moral Imperative toward Cost-Effectiveness in Global Health

The Limits of Power 

The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945

The World the Slaveholders Made: Two Essays in Interpretation

Woman, Culture, and Society

American Power and the New Mandarins

Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky

Dystopia in Fiction and in Fact: How “Nineteen Eighty-Four” teaches us the wrong lessons about dictatorship…

Hozier’s new protest song Jackboot Jump

Homage to Catalonia

Politics and the English Language


You can reach out to Charlie directly at:

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