How We Donate

The Freakonomics blog weighs in on the charity for catastrophe debate, by excerpting from their chapter on altruism in SuperFreakonomics:

One recent academic study found that a given disaster received an 18 percent spike in charitable aid for each seven hundred-word newspaper article and a 13 percent spike for every sixty seconds of TV news coverage. (Anyone hoping to raise money for a Third World disaster had better hope it happens on a slow news day.) And such disasters are by their nature anomalies especially noisy ones, like shark attacks that probably don’t have much to say about our baseline altruism.