To build a cooperative society, is it better to punish or reward?

Apr 19, 2010 By Lisa Zyga feature

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of the basic components of a functional, cooperative society is a code of law, where the laws are usually enforced by some kind of incentive. Social incentives can either be positive (rewards) or negative (punishments), and a society must decide which combination to use to achieve the greatest efficiency, or the highest level of cooperation at the lowest cost. Using a game theoretic model, a new study has analyzed this social dilemma in order to investigate how individuals are swayed by incentives, and how cooperation can emerge due to various incentive strategies.

Christian Hilbe and Karl Sigmund, mathematicians from the University of Vienna, have published the study, called “Incentives and opportunism: from the carrot to the stick,” in a recent issue of the . Overall, their results show how a population can evolve to become dominated by individuals who cooperate by default (that is, they cooperate unless they know they can get away with uncooperative behavior) when faced with negative incentives.

As the researchers explain in their study, the efficiency in terms of a benefit-to-cost ratio of the two types of incentives depends on the circumstances. In a society where most people cooperate, then it will be costly to reward them all, while a society in which most people defect would pay a high price for trying to punish them all. So the obvious way to transform an uncooperative into a cooperative one would be to first provide positive incentives, and later punish the few remaining individuals who refuse to be swayed.

“In the last 10 years, there has been an intensive discussion about whether and how (human) cooperation can be promoted by offering incentives,” Hilbe told PhysOrg.com. “Especially the effect of punishment is heavily disputed; some researchers argue that the extensive use of punishment could lead to a downfall of overall welfare (for example, as punishment might provoke counter-punishment). Our study is one of the first examining the interplay of both types of incentives. We found that opportunism makes both types of incentives profitable, but they have different effects. In our model, rewards are very effective in increasing cooperation but, ironically, increased cooperation makes rewards expensive. At some point punishment might be more efficient.”

The researchers capture this dynamic in a game that is generally similar to the Prisoner’s Dilemma game or the ultimatum game, except that here only the first player chooses to cooperate or defect, while the second player chooses how to respond with incentives, and each player receives respective pay-offs. More specifically, the first player can choose one of four strategies: always cooperate (cooperation comes with a small cost), always defect, cooperate unless they know they can defect without being punished, and defect unless they know that their co-player rewards cooperation or punishes defection. The last two strategies are opportunistic, meaning that players use them to take advantage of a possible incentive, regardless of whether they must cooperate or defect to attain the incentive. The second player then responds with one of four strategies: offer no incentive, only use punishment, only use rewards, or use both incentives. In any interaction between two random players, there is only a limited probability that player one knows player two’s strategy.

In the way that the pay-off values are arranged, the first player can gain the most by receiving a reward for their cooperation. Although the second player gets a slight benefit from rewarding cooperation, they gain even more if the first player cooperates for no reward (which can occur because the first player does not always know if they will be receiving a for cooperation).

Hilbe and Sigmund found that, since the frequency of how often a certain strategy is used changes, a wide variety of evolutionary dynamics can occur. Some pairs of strategies tend to be dominated by other strategies, meaning that some strategies tend to evolve into certain others. However, other pairs of strategies are stationary and only change due to small random shocks. Further, there is one pair of strategies that tends to be the ultimate evolutionary outcome, and that is when player one uses opportunistic cooperation (i.e. they cooperate unless they know they can defect without being punished) and player two uses only punishment. The mathematicians call this pair of strategies a Nash equilibrium, since neither player can benefit by changing their strategy while the other player keeps theirs unchanged.

While many populations evolve toward this Nash equilibrium, the researchers identified one essential step in this evolution, which is when player one transitions from opportunistic defection to opportunistic cooperation. Moreover, the researchers found that the time until this transition occurs is greatly reduced if player two has a strategy involving rewarding, which entices player one to become more cooperative. In other words, the model accurately represents the two-step incentive strategy stated earlier, where step one is rewarding and step two - the more lasting step - is punishment. In this way, using the model may offer the potential to help determine the effectiveness of incentives in social programs by providing a glimpse into the future.

“At the moment, the discussion about the evolution of (human) is on a rather theoretical level,” Hilbe explained. “The main aim is to understand under which circumstances individuals tend to cooperate with each other and to which extent they behave selfishly. But the knowledge about the nature of human altruism might eventually lead to optimally adapted incentive schemes (for example, for increasing worker motivation).

“However, we don’t expect our study to be the final say on this topic. It is a delicate matter to capture the complexity of human interactions in game theoretic models and usually those models are very sensitive to the underlying assumptions. It will take much further research to get a conclusive understanding of the effects of incentives.”

Explore further: Researchers help Boston Marathon organizers plan for 2014 race

More information: Christian Hilbe and Karl Sigmund. “Incentives and opportunism: from the carrot to the stick.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0065

4.1 /5 (28 votes)

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fourthrocker
1.7 / 5 (9) Apr 19, 2010
So what would happen to the population if the punishment for non-cooperation was always death or permanent removal? I think the opportunistic type would be bred out and only voluntarily cooperative types would be left. Unfortunately, our idea of punishment means letting the undesirable types back into the population 99% of the time where they repeat their offenses thus punishing the cooperative types over and over.
magpies
1 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
Trying to rig cooperation will most likely not work as planned. Just let things work out natural yo.
marjon
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 19, 2010
This was the whole point of religions. To create a social structure that encourages civil behavior. It is seldom immediate apparent to many individuals why they shouldn't murder others to get what they want.
Embedding a moral code enforced by shunning and then by force, if required, coupled with the reward of being accepted by society has worked. However, we now have too many attacking religion and this moral code. This will only leave the state to enforce the moral code. Which the statist socialists want.

Free markets, the ability to freely associate with each other, is a powerful method to encourage civil behaviour.
ArtflDgr
2.7 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
Its not so much whether its punishment or reward it matters who is giving it and whence its source. (duh)

if the cooperative people punish the lazy for not participating, its certainly different than if the lazy use their numbers to punish the productive for not producing enough in slavery for them

dont ya think?

[for those that dont get it, the former is life in freedom, the latter is slavery to the brutish, lazy and amoral]
JayK
2 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
What is the reward for following religious morals? At the best, nothing that can be proved, at the worst, living lies.

What is the reward for following societal codes? Acceptance, higher incomes, comrade and a society that we are proud of, and proud to hand to our children.
RhabbKnotte
3 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2010
There is NO such thing as ALTRUISM! Every action is incentive driven. Even Mother Teresa was laying up her treasure in Heaven!
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
Why not both? Punish those who dont cooperate and reward those who do. Best of both worlds :)
zealous
4 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
Why not both? cause if you start off rewarding good behavior with no punishment you seem kind and forgiving, then you can punish all those poor souls who just dont understand that their way is wrong. that way you not only control the people you seem like your doing it for their own good.
ArtflDgr
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2010
What is the reward for following religious morals? At the best, nothing that can be proved, at the worst, living lies.

increased odd of better outcomes in life.

after all, go aroud killing, stealing, jealous and envious, among other things.. and your life outcomes are nto as good.

or ahvent you noticed that as a marker those that follow judeo christian ethics tend to do better than others that follow other things.

which is why the west is in so much trouble!!!!

our system produced less crime, more output, and at much less cost. so rather than join us, they are deconstructing it.

enjoy!
pauljpease
5 / 5 (5) Apr 19, 2010
Regarding the relationship between religion and moral code, there is no consistent relationship. Religion sets out a moral code, but it is not constant and has changed with the times. Government sets out a moral code, but it also has changed with the times. The only constant is that people discover that some behaviors are good or bad for society and those behaviors are regulated by the current moral code (religious or secular). In other words, morality is based on helping the group. It works evolutionarily because helping the group helps the individual.

I'd like to see some psychologists team up with these theoreticians. Studies of human psychology suggests that some people view the presence of a stimulus as a reward and others don't, but they might view it's absence as a punishment. So as more people come to expect a certain reward it no longer is a reward, and it's absence is now a punishment. Parents can't give an allowance as a reward anymore, they can only withold it as punishmen
fourthrocker
5 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
There is NO such thing as ALTRUISM! Every action is incentive driven. Even Mother Teresa was laying up her treasure in Heaven!


Just because you may not ever have a totally altruistic action doesn't mean that others don't. Remember the question in Blade Runner? Would you turn over a Turtle if you saw it couldn't get off its back by itself? Most would without expecting a reward here or in heaven.
PinkElephant
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 19, 2010
In any interaction between two random players, there is only a limited probability that player one knows player two’s strategy.
This aspect of the study is somewhat unrealistic, when we talk of societies. In societies, the laws are generally known, and so the "strategy" is quite known to all players.

I think this may have some applicability to child rearing. For example, early in a child's life, one would use rewards to encourage good behavior, as opposed to punishment to prevent bad behavior. Then, gradually taper off the rewards and ratchet up punishment. Many (though not all) parents already do something like this, instinctively. But few do it systematically.
otto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
What is the punishment for not following religious moral doctrine? In too many places in the world it is ostracism, prosecution, imprisonment, corporal punishment. Their most important moral edict is after all 'no other gods before me.' Any religion which gains the upper hand will always devolve to this state unless prevented from doing so, and continuously resisted. For after all, there is eternal salvation at stake. No religion will tolerate threats to its promise of eternal life. And the very existance of non-believers does this.

Xians have proven their potential to be the worst of the lot throughout history. Their first lie: only they can act morally because their book tells them so. This belief and its implied denigration of all good and decent nonbelievers is itself immoral. How dare they? Denounce, resist, oppose all religions and xians in particular, at every opportunity.
PinkElephant
4.3 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
@marjon,
It is seldom immediate apparent to many individuals why they shouldn't murder others to get what they want.
You exaggerate. The number of such individuals is relatively small. They are called sociopaths (formerly and still occasionally referred to as psychopaths.)

Their major malfunction is a congenital dysfunction of empathy -- something that most people outgrow when they get past the age of 4. But a small percentage is afflicted with a permanent disability in that regard. Based on the history of your posts, odds are high you're one of those.

But sociopathy isn't something any religion, or any psychological intervention, can fix. The only ways to combat it short of tit-for-tat murder, are either through pharmacology (when applicable), through exile, or through permanent incarceration.
JayK
3.5 / 5 (4) Apr 19, 2010
But sociopathy isn't something any religion, or any psychological intervention, can fix.

I'm not sure that is exactly correct, as the world isn't black and white (fix or don't fix). Sociopaths live amongst the general population. Those that are able to adapt their outward behaviors are highly capable, according to society. Many CEOs, religious leaders and movement leaders have been suspected of being sociopaths, a disorder that helps their "success". Those that can't adapt become the tormented or antisocial criminals that get noticed and then the fix/don't fix conundrum comes into the discussion.

Sociopathy is demonized because it can be so frightening and I actually think that Martha Stout's estimation of 4% might be low.
Parsec
4.7 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
I am wondering how modifying the system of rewards could effect our drug policy.

Based on this research, if we really want to drive drug use down, we would offer full support for addicts in treatment and rehabilitation, training, etc. This would provide a reward for getting off drugs.

Then we need to allow private industry under gov't regulation to sell all drugs that are currently illegal for a profit (heavily taxed of course). This has 2 benefits; it will remove the incentive for criminal distribution, and it will help reduce the burden on our society caused by drug deaths. \

Then we should leave or increase the prison penalties for unregulated distribution with particularly stiff penalties for distributing to anyone under 18. Because we have reduced the profit motive so much, this would simply force the dealers out of business.

This would be both more humane and more likely to attack the problem.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2010
@JayK,

I guess I didn't make it explicit that I was talking about violent sociopaths. I thought the context was evident, since I was replying to marjon's point of how some people can't figure out why it's wrong to commit murder.

And I was also over-simplifying, for the sake of clarity and brevity. Like most disorders, sociopathy spans a spectrum of symptoms and degrees of disability.
marjon
2.3 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2010
can't figure out why it's wrong to commit murder.

Why is it not wrong to kill others to get what you want? Societies have been doing this for centuries. Especially the kings, slave owners, etc.
Certainly, one on one, there is a risk if the victim decides to defend themselves. This is generally how the other animals have decided to exist. But if a 'society' enables such murder, with a some type of hierarchy, or political system, risk is reduced for the leaders. Then such leaders must some how persuade for force others to kill for them, hence armies.
Unless a 'society' structures its risk/reward system to hold individuals accountable, distortions will occur.
The USA Constitution was designed to enable individuals to suffer the risks and earn rewards. Unfortunately, risks are now minimized and we now see more bad behaviour.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2010
So what you're saying is that the US Army is nothing more than murderers for hire. That's what YOURE saying, right?
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
@marjon,
Why is it not wrong to kill others to get what you want?
Because for NORMAL people, the very prospect makes them physically ill.

We have a built-in hard-wired emotional apparatus, that strongly defines us as social animals.

But a few mutants among us are antisocial. Some of these lone wolves have no problem with wanton murder.

However, taking these psychos as a template for the whole human race is rather delusional. Even for you.

But then again, I suspect you're one of them. So in assuming that everyone else is just like you, you probably quite simply just don't know any better.
konst
not rated yet Apr 19, 2010
A study like that was likely done or thought up by sociopath control freaks.
marjon
2 / 5 (4) Apr 19, 2010
Because for NORMAL people, the very prospect makes them physically ill.

We have a built-in hard-wired emotional apparatus, that strongly defines us as social animals.

How can this be built in? Some tribes were cannibals, the Romans celebrated death in the arena.
Drawing and quartering was a common punishment. Christ was whipped, nailed to cross as were all the slaves who were led by Spartacus.
Millions of Jews and others were murdered in Germany not long ago. Modern society supports killing babies. The Chinese so much that they have a shortage of girls. What evidence do you have to support that empathy is innate?
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2010
How can this be built in?
The same way your brain is.
What evidence do you have to support that empathy is innate?
Any person actually exhibiting empathy, needs no more evidence than their own self-examination. But for you, I'd recommend Google. Go to the homepage, type in "empathy innate research", and click "Search".
marjon
2 / 5 (4) Apr 19, 2010
How can this be built in?
The same way your brain is.
What evidence do you have to support that empathy is innate?
Any person actually exhibiting empathy, needs no more evidence than their own self-examination. But for you, I'd recommend Google. Go to the homepage, type in "empathy innate research", and click "Search".

History invalidates any such research, which you can't support.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2010
History demonstrates that in hierarchical organizations, sociopaths invariably rise to the top. Once again, you judge the whole of humanity by its worst deviants. Clearly, you think everyone is just like you. You're wrong.
Sanescience
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
This is all just evolution in another context. Society gravitates to what works based on it's "environment". In ages past having a leader who is a sociopath and willing to unflinchingly sacrifice the lives of it's members to further the interests of society was of great advantage. But you could never have so many such individuals that chaos results.
Eddieson
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
artflDgr said: "if the cooperative people punish the lazy for not participating, its certainly different than if the lazy use their numbers to punish the productive for not producing enough in slavery for them

dont ya think?"

lazy people would have to co-operate amongst themselves in order to punish the productive. Now, this totally destroys the logic in your 1st sentence. cause lazy ppl are the cooperative ones. By the way, who judges who to punish or not? The article seems to imply that there is a third party who could categorize the public into these two categories and punish them or reward them as they will. If so, why bother? Let them do what ever they feel like. Reward us or punish us, I don't really care!
Bloodoflamb
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
if the cooperative people punish the lazy for not participating, its certainly different than if the lazy use their numbers to punish the productive for not producing enough in slavery for them
You don't think that those 'very productive' people were able to get to where they are by leveraging the society around them? Give me a break. If anyone is a slave to anyone in this world, it is the very poor to the very well off.

It's easy to manipulate the ignorant, and when you create a society with large gaps between the ultra-rich and the poor, you invariably make a society with a large population that is extremely ignorant on the things that affect their lives the most while having no means by which to truly affect their ignorance in any meaningful way.

If we had a society of extremely well informed individuals, it would be different. Unfortunately, we don't.
lengould100
not rated yet Apr 20, 2010
Game theory has always seems weak to me because it only models interactions between two, or at best a very small group, of players. The really interesting questions involve a single actor's decisions relative their several millions of co-citizens of a city, state, nation or world.
marjon
2 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
If we had a society of extremely well informed individuals, it would be different. Unfortunately, we don't.

That is always the socialist's reason for economic disparity, the masses are just too stupid so there must be some smart elites to take care of them.
The 'liberals' control the US k-12 education system and produce very stupid people. Coincidence?
marjon
2 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
History demonstrates that in hierarchical organizations, sociopaths invariably rise to the top. Once again, you judge the whole of humanity by its worst deviants. Clearly, you think everyone is just like you. You're wrong.

Empathy must be very easy to ignore, even if you claim it is innate. Studies have been conducted where people would voluntarily give someone an electric shock even though it may kill them and even though the 'victim' pleaded and faked pain.
How do such sociopaths obtain positions of power without support from others?
How empathetic are you, Pinkie, for those who work hard, play by the rules, become wealthy and then have people like you come along with their sociopath liberals and tax their wealth away?
lengould100
4.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
The 'liberals' control the US k-12 education system and produce very stupid people. Coincidence?
Sorry, that cannot be the reason for poor education standards in the US. Most other developed countries (much more socialist) 12 to 15 year education graduates outperform those from the US by every measure. Even Communist China's graduates. US has an edge with post-graduate education, mainly I think because it attracts the best graduates for the rest of the world for study in well-funded private schools.
Drregaleagle
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
I agree with marjon overwhelmingly here. His reference to the Milgram experiment is the icing on the cake. Regarding religion, if he's wrong, then so are most of the religious titans of Christianity(Luther, Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, etc).

I question this logical systems applicability to long term situations because it wouldn't remain consistent. Over one generation, standards of both reward and punishment change. These changes could make the model contradictory and even subject to Godelian incompleteness perhaps(I make the last claim tentatively).

@Bloodoflamb,
Have you ever read [/u]The Time Machine[/u] by H.G. Wells? It has a message that would surprise you and anyone else who think the wealthy are always the masters.
Bloodoflamb
4 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
That is always the socialist's reason for economic disparity, the masses are just too stupid so there must be some smart elites to take care of them.
The 'liberals' control the US k-12 education system and produce very stupid people. Coincidence?

I don't think people are stupid. I think they're not given the tools to truly think critically about what is being done around them. I think the most important things to teach children are the tools by which they can learn. Reading. Math. Logic. Language. If people understand these things, they then have the tools to understand most anything else.

And the primary education systems in the US are HARDLY controlled by 'liberals.' They're also not controlled by 'conservatives.' Unfortunately, these groups think that education is a political game that is something they need to control. Educations is the means by which we create a society truly capable of self governance. People in power fear this, so they invariably want to control it.
Drregaleagle
2.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
@Bloodoflamb,

One should look at the "educational theories" teachers have to read and comment on to update their certification to assess the establishment's politics.
Flanker35
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
For people with nothing to lose, giving them something to gain(a reward) is better.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
And the primary education systems in the US are HARDLY controlled by 'liberals.'

The teachers union, the NEA, only funds and supports liberal candidates for political office.
University education departments are controlled by 'liberals'.
If teachers truly cared about educating their students, they would support the best systems that have been proven to be successful.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
Sorry, that cannot be the reason for poor education standards in the US.

US liberals don't support standards or discipline, basic ingredients for a quality education.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
@marjon,
Studies have been conducted where people would voluntarily give someone an electric shock
You're missing one important aspect: this is done at the insistence of an authoritative scientist, who is directing the experiment. These experiments demonstrate that the impulse of submission to authority can override our better instincts.
How do such sociopaths obtain positions of power without support from others?
Because others assume that these people are normal -- i.e. not sociopaths. The sociopaths abuse peoples' trust, and play people against each other. That's how they climb social ladders: by stepping on the necks of others.
those who work hard, play by the rules, become wealthy
There's a laugh. Most people who become wealthy this way, don't play by the rules. Perhaps even more so today, than in the recent past. Today, the fastest and best route to wealth, is defined by a single word: fraud. Thanks be to Wall Street.
JayK
3 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2010
US liberals don't support standards or discipline, basic ingredients for a quality education.

If you're referring to No Child Left Behind, then you're completely ignorant of what liberals really want.

If you're referring to teachers' Unions being against the ideas of standardized testing to grade teacher performance, it still proves you have no idea what the liberals really want.

But you like to make broad troll statements to get responses, don't you?
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
J, all I can do is observe the actions of liberals and conclude that they do NOT want an educated populace as they do not support the methods that have been proven to educate: vouchers, charter schools, private religious schools, etc.
Even Sweden has acknowledged that parental choice is the best option as they provide education vouchers for parents to spend any way they choose.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
Most people who become wealthy this way, don't play by the rules.

I said, people who work hard and play be the rules. Who do you have in mind that are wealthy and do not play by the rules?

These experiments demonstrate that the impulse of submission to authority can override our better instincts.

Submission to authority is more innate than empathy?
OdinsAcolyte
not rated yet Apr 20, 2010
First we have to agree upon the direction we want that society. In the USA we have reached a crossroads. There is a big division over where we go from here. There comes a time when war is the inevitable answer. It is how conflicting ideologies are resolved. The winner is not the 'right' one it is simply the victor. War is how social creatures resolve conflicts of interest; from the sea anemone on up to humanity. We have a fight coming now. Choose your side. I stand with the wild and free side. That means no nannies.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
First we have to agree upon the direction we want that society.

That was agreed to 200+ years ago and that agreement is called the Constitution.
It is designed to promote a society that provides opportunities for individuals to achieve what makes them 'happy'.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2010
I said, people who work hard and play be the rules.
But the overwhelming majority of such people never get rich. Indeed, since the 1970's such people, on average, have been getting poorer as their inflation-adjusted earnings continue to fall. Or else, your implication is that anyone who isn't getting rich, must be either lazy or a rule-breaker: a typical slur in the quiver of the right wing, when it comes to class warfare...
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
I said, people who work hard and play be the rules.
But the overwhelming majority of such people never get rich. Indeed, since the 1970's such people, on average, have been getting poorer as their inflation-adjusted earnings continue to fall.

You stated that those who are wealthy did so illegally. Your words: "There's a laugh. Most people who become wealthy this way, don't play by the rules"
Support your assertion.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
""There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means - either may do - the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier." ~ Benjamin Franklin"

This is the society envisioned for the USA by those who sacrificed their wealth to gain independence from Britain.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
Support your assertion.
Google to the rescue: this time, your search keywords are "tax shelter", "Ponzi finance", "insider trading", "war profiteering", "organized crime", "financial fraud", and "illegal labor".

But I was being fair-minded. I said "most", not "all".
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
Support your assertion.
Google to the rescue: this time, your search keywords are "tax shelter", "Ponzi finance", "insider trading", "war profiteering", "organized crime", "financial fraud", and "illegal labor".

And I said 'follow the rules'. All your keywords require the aid and abetting of some level of government. Which means, not following the law. Why should anyone follow tax laws when the SEC. Treas. is rewarded for breaking tax laws?
CA state and cities aid and abet illegal aliens. The SEC ignored warnings about Madoff for 10 years.
AZ finally passed a state law allowing the state police forces to arrest illegal aliens. Illegal aliens oppose this, of course, and so will many democrats who want to grant all illegal aliens citizenship to stay in office.
I am traveling in CA and it is amusing to watch the political ads.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
"The idea that multiplying rules and statutes can protect consumers and investors is surely one of the great intellectual failures of the 20th century."
"Regulatory agencies begin to identify with the interests of the regulated rather than the public they are charged to protect. In a paper for the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole Conference in 2008, economist Willem Buiter described "cognitive capture," by which regulators become incapable of thinking in terms other than that of the industry. On April 5 of this year, The Wall Street Journal chronicled the revolving door between industry and regulator in "Staffer One Day, Opponent the Next.""
"We call that system not the free-market, but crony capitalism. It owes more to Benito Mussolini than to Adam Smith."
"If we want to restore our economic freedom and recover the wonderfully productive free market, we must restore truth-telling on markets. That means the end to price-distorting subsidies, which include artificially low interest rates.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
Reference for my last:
http://online.wsj...758.html
"Recently, President Obama has taken to accusing others of representing "special interests." In an April radio address he stated that his financial regulatory proposals were struggling in the Senate because "the financial industry and its powerful lobby have opposed modest safeguards against the kinds of reckless risks and bad practices that led to this very crisis."

He should know. As a senator, he was the third largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, behind only Sens. Chris Dodd and John Kerry.

With hypocrisy like this at the top, is it any wonder that nearly 80% of Americans, according to new Pew polling, don't trust the federal government or its ability to solve the country's problems?"
http://online.wsj...250.html
TodatEfek
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2010
A large % of man's problems lie in the simple truth of what "fourthrock" said. For the most part, Society is not serious about Deterrance.
So unless and until at least a basic set of 'Laws for Human Living' with real, tangible deterrence is instituted, we'll continue to see society and the quality of life decay for everyone.
A good start: If you intentionally take another persons life, you lose the privilege of keeping yours...period.
In 2007, there were 16,929 people murdered in the U.S....In 2008, there were just 37 executions in the U.S. ALL YEAR.
You want deterrence? Broadcast them live on TV! If they murdered someone with a gun, execute them with the SAME GUN! Poisoned someone? Use the same poison.
Now it is obvious that you cannot legislate Morality. But people will have to come to agree on what constitutes violations of basic human rights and there can be Zero Tolerance of such.

It will take Supernatural intervention for mankind to make such changes.
JayK
2 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
@TodatEfek: How many innocent people have been executed in the US in the last 100 years? If you can't say, with 100% assurance, that the number is absolutely 0, then the death penalty is wrong.

@marjon: how far right wing are you? Scalia must look like a leftist from your vantage.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
J, how far left are you? Stalin must look like Reagan to you.
marjon
1 / 5 (4) Apr 21, 2010
So unless and until at least a basic set of 'Laws for Human Living' with real, tangible deterrence is instituted, we'll continue to see society and the quality of life decay for everyone.

One tangible deterrence is embodied in the 2nd Amendment, the right to keep an bear arms.
boldone894
5 / 5 (1) Apr 23, 2010
The problem of letting religion being the guide of social construct is that many religions dictate the killing of outsiders and heretics. Morality is not the same as ethics and certainly not if the morals of a religion condone and dictate genocide. Read Leviticus and Deuteronomy, part of the 613 laws of being Jewish is killing certain groups on sight or at least charging those groups interest on loans. Most of these laws are very strict, involve negative incentive and to a very high degree, such as stoning to death. How well has this worked? Where is the cohesiveness and acceptance that builds a solid society?
getgene
5 / 5 (2) Apr 23, 2010
The ignorance of the premis of this inquiry is stunning. There is no way to argue with madness.

May I recommend Federalist Paper No. 10. to understand how the greatest cooperative community in history lived, until recently, when these incentive people took control.

Apparently, mathematicians live in a Skinner box. Skinner abused his children by using these "incentives." Recall, he wrote "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" whose thesis is individualism is absurd - just program people. Seig heil.

By definition, a cooperative society is one where people cooperate. Duh. It is not a way to control inmates. I don't break laws because, applying right reason, I do not transgress laws which, generally, reflect morality and cooperation. Civilization does not speak in terms of fascism.

This dictatorial perspective requires each of us to carry a library of codes around; in my society, you act fairly and you are fine. Laws must make sense, not subjects

dsl5000
2 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2010
This has great general implication in life. I.e.: Disciplining a child. You reward, to advance and solidify the trait/action that is desired. Then once it's established you punish to diminish deviations(or can be done concurrently). Point being, rewarding all the time is very costly.

Look at dopers, that's a reward system gone awry with little punishment (sacrificing health, money, and sometimes friends/family).

Our govt needs to take this and use it...as it stands, US is such a pansy, pampering to everyone and it's getting toooooooo costly.
wowsers_
not rated yet Apr 25, 2010
Reward then punish, i think the world is a little bit more strict when it comes to punishments, it feels like we are being punished for everything, but most of it we cannot controll, so thus it is overwhelming and keeps people sad and miserable.
Slotin
1 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2010
Otto Von Bismarck applied whip and sugar plum policy and it worked well.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2010
Otto Von Bismarck applied whip and sugar plum policy and it worked well.

Not well enough.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Apr 27, 2010
Marjon,

You argue that empathy and morality cannot be a natural state for humans without religion.

Then why haven't the atheist nuclear physicists destroyed the Vatican with their disregard for morality and empathy via nuclear war and subdued the rest of the planet under technocracy?
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 27, 2010
You argue that empathy and morality cannot be a natural state for humans without religion.

What I am questioning is the priority of empathy in the natural state of humans. History has demonstrated that empathy is easily ignored so what does 'natural' mean? Many societal constructs have been developed to promote empathy. Religion is one.
A Star Trek episode dealt with empathy. Empathy was easily overridden by survival. Which is more 'natural'?
JayK
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 27, 2010
Star Trek proves everything. Kirk is God. Uhuru was the devil. Jesus built my hotrod (The Enterprise). George Takei should be in jail.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Apr 27, 2010
Star Trek proves everything. Kirk is God. Uhuru was the devil. Jesus built my hotrod (The Enterprise). George Takei should be in jail.

Why don't you address the issue at hand, empathy vs survival? http://www.imdb.c...0708462/
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2010
The only way 'empathy' can prevail toward our traditional biological enemies ie the next tribe, is when the perception of 'our tribe' can be expanded to include them. This can be done by employing an obsolete, dangerous, ridiculous concept like religionist inclusivism, or more rational cultural means based on reason and common goals.

Neighbors soon become enemies when disputes over resources and rights occur. Effective modern societies have developed ways of allowing resolution and empathic sacrifice to occur without needing to invoke a punitive higher power.

I think the troll watches too much tv.
JayK
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2010
Instead of using a stupid TV show from the 70's, how about I provide a citation?

http://www.emory....ments/de Waal (2008).pdf

Or maybe I should provide examples of it from The Brady Bunch, CHiPs or The Bride of Frankenstein? Which one would be more convincing to a troll with leading questions?
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2010
Instead of using a stupid TV show from the 70's, how about I provide a citation?

http://www.emory....ments/de Waal (2008).pdf

Or maybe I should provide examples of it from The Brady Bunch, CHiPs or The Bride of Frankenstein? Which one would be more convincing to a troll with leading questions?

The link is broken.
Star Trek had great writers and tackled many serious issues that are still not resolved today. That is called literature.
Someone put together a show not long ago that brought together many inventors and scientists who used Star Trek as their inspiration for invention and their science/engineering careers. A cell phone pioneer was one.
JayK
3 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2010
Star Trek had great writers and tackled many serious issues that are still not resolved today. That is called literature.

So did Fonzi on Happy Days. Let me know when Star Trek is part of an accredited sociological program at a leading American University.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2010
"PHIL-180 Philosophy and Star Trek
Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class? That's the plan. This course is basically an introduction to certain topics in metaphysics and epistemology philosophy, centered around major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments. The questions that we will wrestle with include:"
http://courses.ge...PHIL-180
otto1923
not rated yet Apr 27, 2010
So suddenly marjoe likes liberal arts? I saw the book right next to 'The philosophy of south park' and 'the philosophy of Buffy vampire slayer' down at Borders. But really, all official philo is just propaganda, written to justify the sociopolitics of the times. Like religion. Intellectuals need propaganda too ya know. No philosophy ever led anywhere, discovered anything, enlightened anybody about any fundamental truth. But like religion, it could change peoples behavior, no small thing.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2010
A great example of empathy in NYC:
http://news.yahoo..._ignored
JayK
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2010
Yep, and since christianists make up 80% of the US populace, the odds are all of those passing by were just to enraptured to pay attention to the homeless guy.

Or did that not occur to you, marjoke?
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2010
Yep, and since christianists make up 80% of the US populace, the odds are all of those passing by were just to enraptured to pay attention to the homeless guy.

Or did that not occur to you, marjoke?

I was told empathy was an inherent human trait. Were those people who ignored a dying man not human?
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Apr 28, 2010
I was told empathy was an inherent human trait. Were those people who ignored a dying man not human?

Most New Yorkers aren't humane because of the tendency of those among us, like yourself, who'd use another's empathy to take advantage of the person rendering aid.

Learned survival mechanisms override inherent traits by design.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2010
"inherent [ɪnˈhɪərənt -ˈhɛr-]
adj
existing as an inseparable part; intrinsic"
If 'inherent' traits can be overridden, then there are no 'inherent' human traits. Sexual preference can then be a 'learned' trait therefore ending all GLBT arguments to the contrary.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
Learned survival mechanisms override inherent traits by design.
Uh, it's the other way around. Survival trumps everything biologically, the overarching desire of our genes to survive to reproduce. If empathy is at all biological, and not an artificial cultural affectation, it is a survival mechanism. I think it might have something to do with the preservation of an adequate potential reproductive gene pool to select from.
http://en.wikiped...ish_Gene
-One may tend to sacrifice to enable offspring or close relatives, specifically their genes, to survive.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
Nevertheless there is much lively debate about the subject:
http://science.jr...60s.html
" And many commentators have found the view of human nature implicit in The Selfish Gene to be unacceptably cynical, fatalistic, and pessimistic" -Doesnt mean it isn't true however; just unpalatable. Another animalistic expression which needs to be counteracted in order for society to function.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2010
Another animalistic expression which needs to be counteracted in order for society to function.

How do you propose to accomplish overcoming our animal nature?
otto1923
4 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
Another animalistic expression which needs to be counteracted in order for society to function.

How do you propose to accomplish overcoming our animal nature?
Well, dear, we could fall back on religionist fairy tales which, while effective with the ignorant and malnourished, have proven to be ineffective and dangerous in todays world because they are based on LIES and will not change to accomodate reality.

Or... we can accept the sum total of western culture as it exists today, which seeks to integrate all peoples by offering them healthy alternatives to making defective babies and worshipping the skygod, who promises to make everything better if you only love him enough. Which sounds better to you? Skygod? Mangod? Three gods in one or one god in three pieces?
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2010
Another animalistic expression which needs to be counteracted in order for society to function.

How do you propose to accomplish overcoming our animal nature?
Well, dear, we could fall back on religionist fairy tales which, while effective with the ignorant and malnourished, have proven to be ineffective and dangerous in todays world because they are based on LIES and will not change to accomodate reality.

Or... we can accept the sum total of western culture as it exists today, which seeks to integrate all peoples by offering them healthy alternatives to making defective babies and worshipping the skygod, who promises to make everything better if you only love him enough. Which sounds better to you? Skygod? Mangod? Three gods in one or one god in three pieces?

You have no answer. Why waste the time responding?
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
Another animalistic expression which needs to be counteracted in order for society to function.

How do you propose to accomplish overcoming our animal nature?
Well, dear, we could fall back on religionist fairy tales which, while effective with the ignorant and malnourished, have proven to be ineffective and dangerous in todays world because they are based on LIES and will not change to accomodate reality.

Or... we can accept the sum total of western culture as it exists today, which seeks to integrate all peoples by offering them healthy alternatives to making defective babies and worshipping the skygod, who promises to make everything better if you only love him enough. Which sounds better to you? Skygod? Mangod? Three gods in one or one god in three pieces?

You have no answer. Why waste the time responding?
You have no response. Why waste the time pretending you do?
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
we can accept the sum total of western culture as it exists today, which seeks to integrate all peoples by offering them healthy alternatives to making defective babies and worshipping the skygod
-was my answer. 'For all those with ears, let them hear!' Except trolls and pillars of salt.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2010
Western Civilization HAS proven effective to help elevate humanity. Why is that?
otto1923
4 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
Because it was able to dig itself out from under church oppression which caused the middle ages, and gradualy begin to shed its ruinous effects on the pursuit of reason, logic, freedom of thought, and acceptance of reality. The fight continues today, against its remnants and against those like yourself who wish to reinstate that oppression. Tell us how you feel about islam and abortion marion. And evolution. No, nevermind, dont.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2010
The church caused the 'middle ages'?
That refers to a period of time.
It was the faith of Christian monks that helped Europe survive the Dark Ages.
otto1923
4 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
Yes, leave it to the church to take credit for saving civilization from the ruination it itself caused. You prefer 'Dark ages'? So do I. And you believe the church enabled the Renaissance and the Enlightenment also, I suspect? Despite the Inquisition? And I suppose it gave Copernicus and Galileo medals for their heresy?

The churches continuing systematic deception (all denominations) is exceeded only by the tendency of its adherents toward self-deception.
otto1923
4 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
As to the topic, the only reward the church can offer comes after death. All youre left with here on earth is punishment- guilt for being yourself, ostracism for using your head, shame for making mistakes. The church makes you terrified of spending eternity in the burning lake if you dont serve it appropriately while youre alive. The church is the yoke and the whip. It is evil incarnate.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2010
As to the topic, the only reward the church can offer comes after death. All youre left with here on earth is punishment- guilt for being yourself, ostracism for using your head, shame for making mistakes. The church makes you terrified of spending eternity in the burning lake if you dont serve it appropriately while youre alive. The church is the yoke and the whip. It is evil incarnate.

Bias blinds.
otto1923
4 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2010
As to the topic, the only reward the church can offer comes after death. All youre left with here on earth is punishment- guilt for being yourself, ostracism for using your head, shame for making mistakes. The church makes you terrified of spending eternity in the burning lake if you dont serve it appropriately while youre alive. The church is the yoke and the whip. It is evil incarnate.

Bias blinds.
Self-deception. For instance, most of us here believe youre a woman but you call yourself Jon. Why the deception, unless its a compulsion or an outgrowth of your adherence to a phoney belief system which makes lying easy?
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2010
As to the topic, the only reward the church can offer comes after death. All youre left with here on earth is punishment- guilt for being yourself, ostracism for using your head, shame for making mistakes. The church makes you terrified of spending eternity in the burning lake if you dont serve it appropriately while youre alive. The church is the yoke and the whip. It is evil incarnate.

Bias blinds.
Self-deception. For instance, most of us here believe youre a woman but you call yourself Jon. Why the deception, unless its a compulsion or an outgrowth of your adherence to a phoney belief system which makes lying easy?

What deception? Assume what you wish. Why does it matter?
Your real name is otto1923?
Bias blinds. Not very scientific.

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