At least by some definitions of “hypocrisy” and “altruism”, I suspect that non-hypocritical altruism is pretty rare. A lot of altruistic behaviour probably stems from the intention to signal socially desirable traits to others and to ourselves. Is that bad?
I think hypocritical altruism tends to be less effective than authentic altruism. Authentic altruism (if it exists) motivates people to employ effective means to the end of doing good for others. Hypocritical altruism motivates people to employ effective means to the end of appearing admirable to others. How much overlap is there between the most effective means to either of these ends? I’m afraid it’s usually very little.
I see two things you can deplore and/or attempt to change, here: (1) You can deplore people’s hypocrisy, and you can try to get them to be more authentic in their altruistic pursuits. Or, (2) you can deplore people’s admiration for acts of ineffective altruism, and you can try to get them to admire ineffective altruism less and effective altruism more.
(1) doesn’t appeal to me at all. Deploration-wise, while the result-side of hypocritical-as-opposed-to-authentic altruism bothers me, I don’t find myself caring about the intentions-side of it. (Is that weird?) Strategy-wise, I would be surprised to learn that promising ways to make people more authentically altruistic are known to anyone. (Though David Pearce’s calls for safe analogues of MDMA come to mind.)
(2) seems much more appealing. People’s misplaced admiration bugs me more than I’d like to admit. And, bugging aside, its effect of diverting hypocritical altruism to ineffective causes is a utilitarian disaster. As strategy goes, I think the prospect of getting people to direct their admiration toward more effective altruism holds much greater promise than hypocrisy abatement, through such simple means as providing information. If successful, the result here, too, should be more effective (if hypocritical) altruism.
You could object that “holds much greater promise than hypocrisy abatement” is setting the bar very low. I agree. I am not optimistic about the prospect of getting much of the general pop to recalibrate their altruism-admiration for effectiveness. But if Paul seeks to be admired, what’s relevant is not so much what “most people in the general pop” admire, but rather what people in Paul’s social circles admire. And there are many “social circles” within which the goal of creating an effectiveness-minded culture seems quite attainable to me. Spreading admiration for effectiveness in your social circles is a more modest goal, but even if its achievement results in no more than 2 or 3 new effective altruists, that’s a big deal. And the long-term potential of spreading the culture in niche after niche is much higher still.
Consider this a partial answer to Ryan Carey's request for criticism of effective altruism. A community associated with that label says it wants to promote charity as helping, and it points out how common charity patterns often fall far short of that goal. And if the main cause of falling short were ignorance or laziness, this should induce a lot more helping. But if the main cause is instead hypocrisy, then what they are mainly doing is exposing hypocrisy.
And yes, for some people exposing their hypocrisy will shame them into more effectively doing what they had been pretending to do. But for others it may embarrass them into doing less.
Also remember "The Effect of Effectiveness" by Karlan and Wood. From the abstract:
...we find that amongst recent prior donors (...), large prior donors increase the likelihood of giving in response to information on aid effectiveness, whereas small prior donors decrease their giving. (...) ...those motivated by altruism will respond positively to appeals based on evidence, whereas those motivated by warm glow may respond negatively to appeals based on evidence as it turns off the emotional trigger for giving, or highlights uncertainty in aid effectiveness.
Given their methodology, I think Karlan and Wood's conclusions should be seen as highly tentative. But then, the starkness of their reported results would seem to give good support to their methodological assumptions.
(Full LW post and raw data here.)
From the results of the calibration questions:
It looks to me like everyone was horrendously underconfident on all the easy questions, and horrendously overconfident on all the hard questions. To give an example of how horrendous, people who were 50% sure of their answers to question 10 got it right only 13% of the time; people who were 100% sure only got it right 44% of the time. Obviously those numbers should be 50% and 100% respectively.
This builds upon results from previous surveys in which your calibration was also horrible. This is not a human universal - people who put even a small amount of training into calibration can become very well calibrated very quickly. This is a sign that most Less Wrongers continue to neglect the very basics of rationality and are incapable of judging how much evidence they have on a given issue. Veterans of the site do no better than newbies on this measure.
Communist: 9, 0.6%
Conservative: 67, 4.5%
Liberal: 416, 27.7%
Libertarian: 379, 25.2%
Social Democratic: 585, 38.9%
Democratic Party: 221, 14.7%
Republican Party: 55, 3.7%
Libertarian Party: 26, 1.7%
Other party: 16, 1.1%
No party: 415, 27.6%
Non-Americans who really like clicking buttons: 415, 27.6%
In answer to "rate your belief in/agreement with the concept on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great)":
MIRI Mission: 3.90 + 1.062 (3, 4, 5) 
MIRI Effectiveness: 3.23 + .897 (3, 3, 4) 
Immigration: 4 + 1.078 (3, 4, 5) 
Taxes : 3.14 + 1.212 (2, 3, 4)  (from 1 - should be lower to 5 - should be higher)
Minimum Wage: 3.21 + 1.359 (2, 3, 4)  (from 1 - should be lower to 5 - should be higher)
Basic Income: 3.94 + 1.087 (3, 4, 5) 
Accept/lean towards consequentialism: 901, 60.0%
Accept/lean towards deontology: 50, 3.3%
Accept/lean towards natural law: 48, 3.2%
Accept/lean towards virtue ethics: 150, 10.0%
Accept/lean towards contractualism: 79, 5.3%
Other/no answer: 239, 15.9%
Constructivism: 474, 31.5%
Error theory: 60, 4.0%
Non-cognitivism: 129, 8.6%
Subjectivism: 324, 21.6%
Substantive realism: 209, 13.9%
Effective Altruism (do you self-identify)
Yes: 422, 28.1%
No: 758, 50.4%
[Despite some impressive outreach by the EA community, numbers are largely the same as last year]
Effective Altruism (do you participate in community)
Yes: 191, 12.7%
No: 987, 65.7%
Vegan: 31, 2.1%
Vegetarian: 114, 7.6%
Other meat restriction: 252, 16.8%
Omnivore: 848, 56.4%
Digit ratio correlations:
Restricting sample size to men, right-handed digit ratio correlates with feminism at a level of 0.149, p < 0.01. Left handed just barely fails to correlate. Both right and left correlate with immigration at 0.135, p < 0.05.