Claims that EA is a cult are foolish
I found this to be an ok-written article, though a tad on the robotic side. I think this might have something to do with the left-brain, utilitarian mindset that seems to underlie EA. On that note, I think some of Rollins's points were funny, and it would have been more effective to reply to the jokes with jokes.
As for your rhetorical examples of things that aren't cults, I think a good case can be made that they're all cults, some more benign than others. I, for instance, am more of a fan of the cult of chess than the cult of St. Olaf. Also, I would classify most of the vegans I know as religious, for sure. Though I myself have been religiously keto at times, so I try not to judge too harshly.
I do have some questions, though. On egoism vs. altruism, isn't selflessness part of the definition of altruism? Maybe you didn't include it, but I didn't see Rollins say "perfectly selfless", just selfless, which seems fair to me.
"treat you as doing something seriously morally wrong. But they don’t treat you as evil."
I thought this was a definition of evil?
“Effective altruism is the project of trying to find the best ways of helping others, and putting them into practice.”
If I think the best way of helping others would be to do the opposite of pretty much everything EA recommends, could I still be an effective altruist?
I found this post confusing. Is it Rollins, or Collins? Or are those two different people?
It also wasn't clear if you're primarily critiquing Rollins (Collins?), or Zvi, since it seems like most of the really egregious statements that the former takes issue with you're distancing yourself from. Is Zvi not representative of EA? If not, are you? Why should credibility be assigned to your take on EA and not Zvi's? Those are genuine questions, as I'm not deeply familiar with EA or its major proponents.
As a final note, a lot of people - myself included - would consider vegans and animal rights activities to be very culty. Not all, to be sure, but many are evangelical, pushy, and intolerant. As for Catholicism, it may not be a cult now but the early church absolutely was, pretty much by definition. Is the implication with that comparison that EA ultimately aims to become something akin to a major world religion? And if so, given that it's obviously in the gestational stages, wouldn't that make it a kind of cult by definition?
As to the psychopathic angle, utilitarianism in general, and EA in particular, require an arms-length detachment from the people in one's immediate surroundings in order to weigh pleasures vs pains impersonally across the board. Should I spend my extra money on something that would bring joy to my own children, or do I make an impersonal donation to some international charity that promises to ease the suffering of people in faraway lands whom I will never meet? It is not natural or psychologically healthy to give your own children's needs and wants the same impersonal weight as those of abstract others, who exist only as statistics on a spreadsheet. I know the feminist care ethicists made this critique, though they went wrong and contravened human nature for different reasons, but their critique of utilitarianism still stands. A well-intentioned but misguided perspon who goes for utilitarianism would not be psychopathic, but would be a perfect mark for those who are (e.g., SBF).
For bad actors, utlitarianism does the hard part of convincing well-meaning people to detach themselves from the well-being of the real-life flesh-and-blood people around them and to instead use cold, impersonal statistics to guide their moral reasoning (stats that can be manipulated by bad actors and donations that can be misappropriated). That's the perfect foundation for malicious actors to use to promote, say, lockdowns and mask mandates for children over some abstract "greater good" for society at large. "Yeah, it'll harm your children, but my utilitarian calculus says it's moral!"
I'm not persuaded that Collins said anything foolish. I do think you did a good job demonstrating that Zvi's positions aren't necessarily representative of EA. Hard to not be a cult these days, I don't think it is the terrible insult you seem to think it is.