Comedian meets woman from a cult at her show and everyone is saying the same thing

Comedian meets woman from a cult at her show and everyone is saying the same thing

Comedian meets woman from a cult at her show and everyone is saying the same thing

TikTok / Gabby Bryan

A TikTok of a comedian's stand-up routine has gone viral after one of the audience members shared they were in a "cult", and everyone's saying the same thing.

Comedian Gabby Bryan asked two audience members how they knew each other, and in an unexpected turn of events one shared, "I was in the same cult as her fiancé."

The woman described the cult, which was active in Silicon Valley, Oxford and Boston, as, "just people trying to make the world a better place [...] using math and stuff" and also claimed that there were 'orgies' towards the end of the cult's existence.

The clip has racked up over 1.8 million views, but if you open the comments, you'll notice they're all saying the same thing: the woman's description of the "cult" sounds like effective altruism.


Omg imagine a cult leader with a bad personality :/ #comedy #standup #cults #math #boston #oxford #harvard

Effective altruism is described as, "a research field and practical community that aims to find the best ways to help others, and put them into practice" according to their website.

The movement gained attention when Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was on trial for fraud and other related crimes, after he revealed he was a follower of the movement.

And whilst using research and community to try and change the world for the better might sound like a harmless movement, the group has long been at the centre of controversy.

For example, the main charity the movement donates to, GiveWell, has faced criticism for "downplay[ing]" harmful side effects of its donations, as well as failing to "factor in many well-known negative effects of aid" according to a report on the movement by Wired. The charity was also criticised for withholding money, after they claimed there was a lack of cost-effective funding opportunities.

It has also been criticised for promoting the idea that aid is essentially the only method to help people and, as result, encouraging people to enter industries such as finance to make lots of money and then donate that money to aid charities. This often leads to the movement and associated charities equating a certain amount of money to saving lives. With GiveWell claiming it costs $3,500 to "save a life". But again, these figures are "based on very weak evidence", according to Wired. For example, a deworming charity was found "highly effective" by GiveWell based on a single interview with a low-level official in one of the five countries where the charity worked.

Perhaps the central controversy attained to the movement is their belief in "longtermism", which argues that the most effective way to help people is to focus on humanity's long-term future. Which, again, may seem like a positive idea - think trying to solve the climate crisis now to allow humanity to prosper. But the criticism comes when the idea gets taken much further, and the millions of dollars being spent by effective altruists are going to people and generations yet to be born, rather than helping the people in need right now.

An explainer by Vox sums it up like this: "Instead of donating to charities that save kids from malaria today, you may donate to AI safety researchers." As a result, the belief has often been called unjust for trying to predict ways to save generations in 1,000 years, rather than those currently alive.

Either way, if an ex-member referred to the movement as a "cult", it's probably best we approach it with some skepticism.

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