Rampant narcissism and social cheating – the importance of teaching social evolutionary mechanisms

Rampant narcissism and social cheating – the importance of teaching social evolutionary mechanisms.

As socioeconomic inequality grows,  the publicly acknowledged importance of traits such as honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and reciprocity appears to have fallen out of favor with some of our socio-economic and political elites. How many people condemn a person as dishonest one day and embrace them the next? Dishonesty and selfishness no longer appear to be taboo, or a source of shame that needs to be expurgated (perhaps my Roman Catholic upbringing is bubbling to the surface here).  A disavowal of shame and guilt and the lack of serious social censure appears to be on the rise, particularly within the excessively wealthy and privileged, as if the society from which they extracted their wealth and fame does not deserve their active participation and support [link: Hutton, 2009].  They have embraced a "winning takes all" strategy.

If an understanding of evolutionary mechanisms is weak within the general population [link], the situation is likely to be much worse when it comes to an understanding of the role and outcomes of social evolutionary mechanisms. Yet, the evolutionary origins of social systems, and the mechanisms by which such systems are maintained against the effects of what are known as "social cheaters", are critical to understanding and defending, human social behaviors  such as honesty, cooperation, loyalty, self-sacrifice, self-restraint, mutual respect, responsibility and kindness.

While are often caricatured as favoring selfish behaviors, the facts tell a more complex, organism-specific story [link: Aktipis 2016]. Cooperation between organisms underlies a wide range of behaviors, from sexual reproduction and the formation of multicellular organisms (animals, plants, and people) to social systems, ranging from microbial films to bee colonies and construction companies [see Bourke, 2011: Principles of Social Evolution] [Wikipedia link].

Rampant narcissism and social cheating – the importance of teaching social evolutionary mechanisms.

One of the best studied of social systems involves the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum [Wikipedia link].  When life is good, that is when the world is moist and bacteria, the food of these organisms, are plentiful, D. discoideum live and reproduce happily as single celled amoeba-like individuals in soil.  Given their small size (~5 μm diameter), they cannot travel far, but that does not matter as long as their environment is hospitable.  When the environment turns hostile, however, an important survival strategy is to migrate to a new location – but what is a little guy to do?  The answer in this species is to cooperate.  Individual amoeba begin to secrete a chemical that acts to attract others; eventually thousands of individuals aggregate to form a multicellular "slug"; slugs migrate around to find a hospitable place and then differentiate into a fruiting body that stands ~1mm (20x the size of an individual amoeba) above the ground.  To form the stalk that lifts the "fruiting body" into the air, a subset of (once independent individuals) change shape. These stalk cells die, while the rest of the cells form the fruiting body, which consists of spores – cells specialized to survive dehydration.  Spores are released into the air where they float and are dispersed over a wide range.  Those spores that land in a happy place (moist and verdant), revert to the amoeboid life style, eat, grow, divide and generate a new (clonal) population of amoeboid cells: they have escaped from a hostile environment to inhabit a new world, a migration made possible by the sacrifice of the cells that became the stalk (and died in the process).  Similar types of behavior occur in a wide range of macroscopic organisms [Scrambling to the top: link].  Normally, who becomes a stalk cell and who becomes a spore is a stochastic process [see previous PLoS blog post on stochastics and biology education].

Cheaters in the slime mold system are individuals who take part in the aggregation process (they respond to the migration signal and become part of the slug), but have altered their behavior to avoid becoming a stalk cell – no self-sacrifice for them. Instead they become spores.  In the short run, such a strategy can be beneficial to the individual, after all it has a better chance of survival if it can escape a hostile environment.  But imagine a population made up only of cheaters – no self-sacrifice, no stalk, no survival advantage = death [see link: Strassmann & Queller, 2009].

A classic example of social cheating with immediate relevance to the human situation is cancer.  Within a sexually reproducing multicellular organism, reproduction is strictly restricted to the cells of the germ line – eggs and sperm.  The other cells of the organism, known collectively as , have ceded their reproductive rights to the organism as a whole.  While somatic cells can divide, they divide in a controlled and strictly regulated (unselfish) way.  Somatic cells do not survive the death of the organism – only germ line cells (sperm and eggs) are able to produce a new organism.  In the end cellular cooperation has been a productive strategy, as witness the number of different types of multicellular organisms, including humans.  If a somatic cell breaks the social contract and cheats, that is, begins to divide (asexually) in an independent manner, it can lead to the formation of a  tumor and later, if the cells of the tumor start to migrate within the organism, to metastatic cancer.  More rarely (apparently) such cells can migrate between organisms, as in the case of transmissible cancers in dogs, Tasmanian Devils, and clams [see links: Murchison 2009 and Ujvari et al 2016).  The growth and evolution of the tumor cell leads to the death of the organism and the cancer cells' own extinction, another example of the myopic nature of evolutionary processes.

Rampant narcissism and social cheating – the importance of teaching social evolutionary mechanisms.

In the case of cancer the organism's defenses against social cheaters comes in two forms, intrinsic to the individual cheater cells, in the form of cell suicide (known through a number of technical terms including apoptosis, anoikis and necroptosis)[link: Su et al., 2015] and extrinsic and organismic processes, such as the ability of the organism's immune system to identify and kill – a phenomena with therapeutically relevant implications [link: Ledford, 2014].  We can think of these two processes as guilt + shame (leading to cellular suicide) and policing + punishment (leading to immune system killing).  For a cell to escape growth control and to evolve to produce metastatic disease, it needs to inactivate or ignore intrinsic cell death systems and to evade the immune system.

To consider another example, social systems are based on cooperation, often involving the sharing of resources with those in need.  A recent example is the sharing of food (blood) between vampire bats [see link: Carter & Wilkinson, 2013].  The rules, as noted by Aktipis, are simple, 1) ask only when in need and 2) give when asked and able.  In this context, we can identify two types of social cheaters – those who ask when they do not need and those you fail to give when asked and able.  People who refuse to work even when they can and when jobs are available fall into the first group, the rich who avoid taxes and fail to donate significant funds to charities the other.  It is an interesting question of how to characterize those who borrow money and fail to repay it.  Bankruptcy laws that protect the wealth of the borrower while leading to losses to the lender might be seen as acting to undermine the social contract (clearly philosophers' and economists' comments here would be relevant).

Given that social systems at all levels are based on potentially costly traits, such as honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and reciprocity, the evolutionary origins of social systems must lie in their ability to increase reproductive success, either directly or through effects on relatives, a phenomena known as inclusive fitness [Wikipedia link]. Evolutionary processes also render vulnerable to cheating and so have driven the development of a range of defenses against various forms of social cheaters (see above).  But recent political and cultural events appear to be acting to erode and/or ignore society's defenses.

So what to do?  Revolution? From a PLoS Science education perspective, one strategy suggests itself:  to encourage (require) that students and the broader public be introduced to effective instruction on social evolutionary mechanisms, the traits they can generate (various forms of altruism and cooperation), the reality and pernicious effects of social cheaters, and the importance of defenses against them.  In this light, it appears that social evolutionary processes are missing from the Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS link]. Understanding the biology, together with effective courses in civics [see link: Teaching Civics in the Year of The Donald] might serve to bolster the defense of civil society.


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Jan 02, 2017
"As socioeconomic inequality grows .. traits such as honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and reciprocity appears to have fallen out of favor with our ... elites."

Perhaps they have it backwards: as our elites have forsaken honesty, etc., socioeconomic inequality grows. That would explain how politicians and their rich friends get richer with crony capitalism.

Jan 02, 2017
No one had a sure answer to this crisis more than a religious person, I guess. Such socio-economic issue is a massive technical challenge to solve, it is probably unsolvable unless one dared to resort to a radical dangerous ideas! This is where religious ideals/morality helps; it effect how our community survive the challenges (together) as a self-supporting altruistic masses.

Jan 02, 2017
"As socioeconomic inequality grows .. traits such as honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and reciprocity appears to have fallen out of favor with our ... elites."

Perhaps they have it backwards: as our elites have forsaken honesty, etc., socioeconomic inequality grows. That would explain how politicians and their rich friends get richer with crony capitalism.


Yeah. Those rich crony capitalists in our major urban centers, and their politician friends in the mayor's offices, Senator's office, and let's not forget the one in the White house. I knew those bastards at Amazon were taking money-baths with my cash, lying their way to the top, and hobnobbing with Governor Inslee..... Disgusting.

Jan 02, 2017
So what to do? Revolution? From a PLoS Science education perspective, one strategy suggests itself: to encourage (require) that students and the broader public be introduced to effective instruction on social evolutionary mechanisms

Well, the author just reinvented the idea of continuous revolution idea propagated by Marx and Engels (and later Lenin) to avoid falling into these traps.
Eastern school systems also emphasized the production of a 'zoon politicon' (a student wise to the ways of social interaction and politics) so that these socially evolved structures would be protected by everybody.
(Didn't work out so well, because the ruling classes found ways to subvert the idea and people are generally greedy buggers who can't think straight beyond their next meal - but the ideas in themselves are sound)

As for the rest of the article. I don't agree that shame needs to be part of this. A long term view of things suffices to uphold these virtues.

Jan 02, 2017
I choose t reject the notion of acceptance of Trump as any kind of leader. He is an aberration, a lesson, a Buzzard in the coal mine.

If we can survive his tenure, we may be better off and chastened. It depends on his spat with Putin. It's coming, two huge egos, narcissists with feelings for nobody else, . . . with nuclear weapons and unstable personalities.

Jan 02, 2017
As for the rest of the article. I don't agree that shame needs to be part of this
@AA_P
why not?
it is, after all, a powerful motivator to maintain behavioural patterns in humans

the fear of public shame or humiliation is a means to enforce laws moreso than the fear of even death, as demonstrated by the lack of fear most criminals have for the death penalty

Jan 02, 2017
the fear of public shame or humiliation is a means to enforce laws moreso than the fear of even death
"Cleckley's seminal hypothesis concerning the psychopath is that he suffers from a very real mental illness indeed: a profound and incurable affective deficit. If he really feels anything at all, they are emotions of only the shallowest kind. He does bizarre and self-destructive things because consequences that would fill the ordinary man with shame, self-loathing, and embarrassment simply do not affect the psychopath at all. What to others would be a disaster is to him merely a fleeting inconvenience."

-Shame only works with people who have a conscience.

Jan 02, 2017
"As socioeconomic inequality grows .. traits such as honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and reciprocity appears to have fallen out of favor with our ... elites."

-Another manifestation of tribalism. Crimes committed against members of other tribes are not perceived as crimes. Acts that benefit your tribe at the expense of others are considered virtues.

And we can see that it works both ways; the use of the term 'elites' is also dehumanizing.

Tribalism is second only to the urge to reproduce. This particular form of group selection is what made us human. They both color absolutely everything we do.

And the thing that created tribalism, and which drives it today, is conflict over resources. Chronic overpopulation is what made us form up into opposing groups to begin with.

Jan 02, 2017
Well, the author just reinvented the idea of continuous revolution idea propagated by Marx and Engels (and later Lenin) to avoid falling into these traps
Communism - stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

Of course one tribe will be better at securing resources than the others, which may compel them to band together to take them back. Nothing new about this strategy at all.

Marx/Engels, like Malthus, were only giving voice to what was very ancient and prehistoric knowledge, so that it could be applied in contemporary sociopolitical ways.

Jan 02, 2017
@AA_P
why not?
it is, after all, a powerful motivator to maintain behavioural patterns in humans

My reasoning behind this is that I think shame is not a rational motivation. And the behavioral change advocated by the articel can be fully established relying only on rational motivators.

That doesn't mean shame isn't effective. but any non-rational motivation is wide open to abuse (something I feel most prominently and obviously on display in the US in it's opposite for the past few decades: pride)

Rational motivators aren't open to abuse (well, they are: through misapplication and redifinition of terms...but to someone who truly understands a rational thing that knowledge cannot be subverted. If you understand *why* 2+2=4 then no amount of mislabeling will make you believe it's 5). This is why Marx and Engels based their philosophical works on rational ideas rather than on populist ones.

Fear (or shame) should not have to be a part of social interaction.

Jan 02, 2017
Fear (or shame) should not have to be a part of social interaction
You're assuming that all people will respond to reason. The shame response can be observed in many animals. Wolves will tuck their tails and cower before alpha males. It's a sign of acquiescence.

But one has to first feel that they are members of the pack. Shaming attempts by members of other groups only makes one angry and recalcitant, which can explain recidivism.

Jan 02, 2017
This is why Marx and Engels based their philosophical works on rational ideas rather than on populist ones
Nonsense. They were appealing to the emotions of hungry, angry, uneducated workers by promising to take what their rich oppressors had and give it to them.

Communism targeted the educated middle class for extinction. Pol pot rounded up all those with glasses and executed them.

Jan 02, 2017
My reasoning behind this is that I think shame is not a rational motivation. And the behavioral change advocated by the articel can be fully established relying only on rational motivators
@AA_P
as Otto pointed out: You're assuming that all people will respond to reason

this is not likely to happen anytime soon considering the instilled fear of STEM fields

or because of the intense specialisation of said STEM careers

PO is a perfect example of the "misapplication and redifinition of terms" as well, and you can see that in the bulk of posters, even with the free rapid easily accessible information on the web

and considering this site promotes itself to the intellectual and specialises in STEM articles, this speaks volumes


Jan 02, 2017
All you need do is con the little people. They are amazingly vulnerable to the right set of lies. A significant minority in this last US election voted in direct opposition to every last interest they might have. Happily. And they still cling to the con, as their idol moves steadily down the road toward treason. It turned out to be frighteningly easy.
So much for the basic goodness or common sense in people. Those who call themselves "christian" fell for, and are still falling for the con of a career fraudster and unrepentant felony sexual predator.
I for one look forward to the headline that some True American Patriot has beaten him to death.

Jan 02, 2017
All you need do is con the little people. They are amazingly vulnerable to the right set of lies. A significant minority in this last US election voted in direct opposition to every last interest they might have. Happily. And they still cling to the con, as their idol moves steadily down the road toward treason. It turned out to be frighteningly easy.
So much for the basic goodness or common sense in people. Those who call themselves "christian" fell for, and are still falling for the con of a career fraudster and unrepentant felony sexual predator.
I for one look forward to the headline that some True American Patriot has beaten him to death.
Ha! None of that is true. You only call them little people because you disagree with them.

Your tribe lost. Funny I don't feel sympathetic.

Jan 02, 2017
" Funny I don't feel sympathetic."
------------------------------

It's called sociopathy.

Jan 03, 2017
You're assuming that all people will respond to reason

I'm assuming that all people can be taught reason to some degree. Everyone makes decisions in their lives and almost all of these have some form of reasoning behind them. Only very few people are *purely* instinct driven in *everything* they do.

The amount of reasoning ability needed in order to realize how to behave so that a society is stable is not much. Almost all kids learn this when playing together (even though they may not be able to put it into words). A knowledge of STEM fields isn't necessary at all.

PO is a perfect example of the "misapplication and redifinition of terms" as well,

Yes. But I see this more of living in countries that actively advocate antisocial practices (egotism instead of individualism....'capitalism' if you prefer a buzzword).

It turned out to be frighteningly easy.

History is rife with precedent. No surprise, there.

Jan 03, 2017
I'm assuming that all people can be taught reason to some degree. Everyone makes decisions in their lives and almost all of these have some form of reasoning behind them. Only very few people are *purely* instinct driven in *everything* they do
And yet it is entirely reasonable, as well as instinctive, for tribalists to victimize their opponents in competition over resources.

So you can't reason with gang bangers engaged in turf wars. And you can't shame them for doing something honorable for their tribe. You can only remove them from the equation and make them suffer as a deterrent.


Jan 03, 2017
Yes. But I see this more of living in countries that actively advocate antisocial practices (egotism instead of individualism....'capitalism' if you prefer a buzzword)
Capitalisms primary virtue is that it teaches people to plan for the future and live within their means. Theocracy and fascism teach just the opposite.

Socialism teaches the people that the govt, not god, will provide for their means. So they begin to expect more and more instead of expecting only what they can afford.

But pop growth spoils all equations. As pops rise above the level of stability and children begin to starve, the people will blame whoever is in charge irrespective of how progressive or benevolent they may be.

So govts become more oppressive out of necessity. Mubarak the good guy becomes Mubarak the bad guy.

Because it teaches the people responsibility for their own futures, capitalism is paradoxically the only system that can prevent overgrowth.

Jan 03, 2017
Let's be honest: This is about the rise of American Fascism under Trump the Narcissist.

We had yet to get someone who actually thinks the president is a dictator. Now, we have the Official United States Fool - put into power by extremists who favor a Strongman, not understanding the social and political and economic cost of one.

Jan 03, 2017
I'm assuming that all people can be taught reason to some degree
A knowledge of STEM fields isn't necessary
@AA_P
the latter wasn't the point

and... i see a huge problem with that: who's version of "reason"?

example:
we have on PO people who claim literacy in STEM, and who actually state degree's in said STEM fields

one of the primary focuses in a STEM field is logic and reason. yet these same people who are STEM grads argue against known scientific facts or intentionally (?) misconstrue the science due to delusion and or a faith/belief

they've been taught "reason" and logic, and have experience in STEM, yet have decided to literally ignore said knowledge for their beliefs
'capitalism' if you prefer a buzzword
sorry, but this is wrong

it is neither egotistical nor antisocial - it is simply a means for those types of people to gain because of the lack of remorse

*big difference*

Jan 03, 2017
"who actually state degree's "
------------------------

Please use the apostrophe correctly.

We are now in the tiny hands of a person so self-centered and immature he called up reporters pretending to be an employee spilling the beans on all the beautiful women he allegedly dated.

A public adulterer, he is the perfect Family Values Republican, like Foley and Diaper Dave Vitter, and all the other perverts we found.

Jan 03, 2017
@AA_P cont'd
Yes. But I see this more of living in countries that actively advocate antisocial practices (egotism instead of individualism....'capitalism' if you prefer a buzzword)
egotism and individualism, as well as antisocial practices, is more about culture than about anything else

more to the point: you can have these things in a non-capitalist economy or a mixed capitalist economy (the latter is like Germany during WWII)

so it's not capitalism that creates the problem, nor is it the reason the problem exists
capitalism, like religion, is simply the latest means for that personality type to flourish, as this has been demonstrated throughout history

there are many examples of this same behaviour from blue-bloods to religious leadership in history, so you can't blame an economy type for their existence

Jan 03, 2017
egotism and individualism, as well as antisocial practices, is more about culture than about anything else

I was more concerned with the difference between cultures that foster individualism (which I think is healthy) vs. egotism (which is not).
I think unchecked capitalism tends to lead to egotism. As the 'unchecked' part removes consequences (i.e. an approach of "privatize profits, socialise costs" and all that)

Religion (and communism taken to its extreme) are at the other side of the spectrum (and equally unhealthy) - as they subdue individuality in favor of a mono-culture. Naturally a mono-culture will run into problems if ever even some tiny aspect of another culture proves superior. Monocultures cannot adapt without giving up core tenets.

Jan 03, 2017
and... i see a huge problem with that: who's version of "reason"?

An bastract version. simple logic. An approach that says "think of how my behavior affects others by imagining if I would be OK with others acting that way towards me". E.g simple thoughts like:.
- if I pollute the environment do I think it's OK for others to pollute my environment?
- if I demand that stuff is cheap (i.e. that labor costs for it are low) is it OK that others demand that my wages should be low for the services I provide with my work?

It's really only one step up from what everybody does every day: Simply from "can I afford this?" to "what are the consequences of me affording this"

we have on PO people who claim literacy in STEM, and who actually state degree's in said STEM fields

Yeah, but I find that these are the (vocal) minorities. I know a fair amount of people educated in STEM fields, and have never met someone like that in the flesh. These guys have medical issues..

Jan 03, 2017
Yeah, but I find that these are the (vocal) minorities. I know a fair amount of people educated in STEM fields, and have never met someone like that in the flesh. These guys have medical issues..
@AA_P
granted you have a major point there... but im' not convinced entirely simply because i have some very specific information that speaks volumes about my point
but i'll not share this publicly

it's not like we ca'nt demonstrate the whole "medical issue" point in the above thread alone...

LMFAO
An bastract version. simple logic. An approach that says "think of how my behavior affects others by imagining if I would be OK with others acting that way towards me"
IOW - the golden rule

there seems to be a problem with that... i think Otto makes a great point regarding the topic as well

Jan 03, 2017
The golden rule is a part of it. It does have a weakness as it only really works in a mono-culture. The real rule should not be: "treat others as I would be treated", but "treat others as THEY would be treated" - but that is a LOT harder to follow.

An intermediate form, that I think is amenable to be taught to almost everyone, would be to reflect: "is behavior X (of me or others) sustainable".
I.e. : if a chosen behavior is continued for a long period of time - do we run into problems (social, economy, environment)?

- If I keep borrowing, do I run into problems?
- If homosexuals stay homosexual - do I run into problems?
- If I keep polluting the environment more than I clean it up - do I run into problems?
- If I get richer while others get poorer - do I run into problems?

I feel that such an approach is not rocket science (and when all is said and done - neither is rocket science)

Jan 03, 2017
It does have a weakness as it only really works in a mono-culture
@AA_P
not sure i agree with this - it doesn't make sense

almost all cultures have the general rule or law of reciprocity - and i state *almost* simply because 'ive not experienced, nor do i have knowledge of, all cultures

every culture ive' ever experience has this rule/law however, and ive' experienced a whole lot of different cultures, from primitive to advanced or technologically advanced, or first world, whatever you want to call it
An intermediate form, that I think is amenable to be taught to almost everyone, would be to reflect: "is behavior X (of me or others) sustainable"
your examples still can be simplified to the law of reciprocity or the golden rule, though...

just sayi'n

but as a point to consider, reciprocity requires empathy (or at least the ability to pretend you have it) whereas what youv'e specifically added to it is simply long term planning and/or assessment

Jan 03, 2017
@AA_P co'ntd
another point i would like to add is: you can have a culture of fierce independence, individuality while at the same time having no capitalist economy

you have historical precedent (still today even) for a unique culture that is dedicated to being individualistic and independent and accepting different beliefs, ways of life (like homosexuality) or paths while at the same time practicing reciprocity and other tactics that promote selflessness

one of their greatest hero's was selfless to a high degree, knowing full well that he would die by his own peoples' hand, yet dedicated himself to helping them in every way possible, owning only his weapons and clothes and giving almost everything else to the people who needed it, be it food, clothing, shelter or other stuff gained in battle against his enemy (his name is Tȟašúŋke Witkó )

culture is the defining factor
that and trauma

Jan 03, 2017
I think the term "Nice Guys Finish Last" has become more relevant lately.

People seem to forget that we cooperate and a massive scale, from traffic, to work, to social order, charity, welfare, aid to foreign nations, etc.

Our society is based on the idea that almost anything you do, that is not a crime, SHOULD be helping someone else either directly or indirectly. The amount of help given is compensated to you in the form of currency, which you use to survive. If you help more people, you get more compensation.

I hear a lot of people thinking that they are owed something because they exist. You are owed nothing. You should help others and get compensated for that. Now you have value to society.

When I have conversations with older people that talk about being poor, there was one defining reason that they were poor - No One had any money, so no matter what you did, like rake leaves for someone, would result in much financial gain because there was No One with any money.

Jan 03, 2017
almost all cultures have the general rule or law of reciprocity - and i state *almost* simply because 'ive not experienced, nor do i have knowledge of, all cultures

The laws of reciprocity are a good first attempt (and easy to implement). It's a bit like Newton and Einstein. Newton's laws are easier to apply than Einstein's. And they work well in a majority of cases. But at the 'edges' they fail. Similarly with the golden rule.
E.g. setting a certain amount of money as a punishment (parking ticket?) just doesn't work if you come up against a rich guy. They'll just laugh and ignore it. The idea of punishment fails. What is punishing/correcting for most isn't for others.

requires empathy (or at least the ability to pretend you have it)

Empathy is difficult, that's why the approach I was taking is more of an 'enlightened self interest' which doesn't necessitate empathy (though having it is certainly a plus).

Jan 03, 2017
you can have a culture of fierce independence, individuality while at the same time having no capitalist economy

Sure. And I see very little problem in that. Independence/individuality does not need to lead to conflict given enough circumspection and tolerance. It's always when one goes to extremes (individuality/independence at ANY price) that societies run into trouble. Societies need compromise (but again: also not to the extreme of having compromise at any price)

The amount of help given is compensated to you in the form of currency

Doesn't sound like any country I ever heard of. Currency is a medium to make a barter system more easy. It does have advantages (currency doesn't 'spoil', can be 'stored' and transferred), but that speed and ability to concentrate makes it also much easier to abuse (buying politicians with sacks of potatoes is hard)
It's like any other tool: it's in how you use it. Currency in itself isn't bad. But t also isn't good.

Jan 03, 2017
All you need do is con the little people. They are amazingly vulnerable to the right set of lies. A significant minority in this last US election voted in direct opposition to every last interest they might have. Happily. And they still cling to the con, as their idol moves steadily down the road toward treason. It turned out to be frighteningly easy......
Ha! None of that is true. You only call them little people because you disagree with them.

Your tribe lost. Funny I don't feel sympathetic.

Otto, you could not be more wrong - no matter what strategy you choose to employ. I use the term "little people" to describe the general level of power they enjoy in their lives, and their response to that condition. Tribe? What kind of drugs are you on?

Jan 03, 2017
IOW - the golden rule
The golden rule only applies to fellow humans. The next tribe over is always a little less human than yours is. The bible is all about taking the planet away from the subhumans. Yes it is. You know it is.
Tribe? What kind of drugs are you on?
Youve never heard of tribalism? You can start by downloading this compendium about what people like darwin had to say about it.
http://www.rug.nl...7f).html

Jan 03, 2017
Heres an article for you (and aa).

"How Tribalism Overrules Reason, and Makes Risky Times More Dangerous - DAVID ROPEIK
"Tribalism is pervasive, and it controls a lot of our behavior, readily overriding reason. Think of the inhuman things we do in the name of tribal unity. Wars are essentially, and often quite specifically, tribalism. Genocides are tribalism - wipe out the other group to keep our group safe – taken to madness. Racism that lets us feel that our tribe is better than theirs, parents who end contact with their own children when they dare marry someone of a different faith or color, denial of evolution or climate change or other basic scientific truths when they challenge tribal beliefs"

Jan 03, 2017
Re darwin

"the confinement of sympathy to the same tribe" must have been the rule. This was for him one of the chief causes of the low morality of the savages. "Primeval man", he argued, "regarded actions as good or bad solely as they obviously affected the welfare of the tribe, not of the species". Among the living tribal peoples, he added, "the virtues are practised almost exclusively in relation to the men of the same tribe" and the corresponding vices "are not regarded as crimes" if practised on other tribes"

-There is no universal morality without the concept of the universal tribe. And its doubtful whether the concept can survive without a common enemy, Which is what reagan was referring to in his 1987 UN speech.
I use the term "little people" to describe the general level of power they enjoy in their lives, and their response to that condition
Manure. Youre as tribal as anybody else. You just havent learned how to recognize it.

Jan 03, 2017
Reagans universal threat speech
https://www.youtu...4dRO8LEA

"how quickly we would be united"

Jan 03, 2017
Yes, the Sci-Fi channel just had the Twilight Zone marathon, with that old episode which gave Ronnie the idea.

He could not imagine doing it because the threat was internal, not external, a part of ourselves, and all we had to do was to accept it to save ourselves.

Jan 04, 2017
If you look back over the last thousand years of history, I am not sure social cheating is any greater today than at other times.

Moreover, tightly knit societies where there less social cheating are often guilty of tribalism. I would argue that tribalism has done far more damage than a more open, individualist culture. Social cheating is rare among Hasidic Jews, but I don't think most of us aspire to live in a closed society.

Finally, the Great Recession was caused by exuberant investor spirits, not social cheating per se. Did social cheating exacerbate it? Yes. But we dumb down the issue of the Great Recession if we treat it simply as an example of social cheating.

Jan 04, 2017
The amount of reasoning ability needed in order to realize how to behave so that a society is stable is not much.


Show one stable society.

Just goes to show that it's not so simple.

Jan 04, 2017
"Show one stable society.
Just goes to show that it's not so simple."
---------------------------------------
Remember that as you create nuclear waste with long and short half-lives which have both high early-intensity radiation and heat, and long-term danger.

"There are five "common" isotopes of plutonium, Pu-238, Pu-239, Pu-240, Pu-241, and Pu-242. These are all "fissionable" – the atom's nucleus can easily split apart if it is struck by a neutron.

The different isotopes have different "half-lives" – the time it takes to lose half of its radioactivity. Pu-239 has a half-life of 24,100 years and Pu-241's half-life is 14.4 years. Substances with shorter half-lives decay more quickly than those with longer half-lives, so they emit more energetic radioactivity. Like any radioactive isotopes, plutonium isotopes transform when they decay. They might become different plutonium isotopes or different elements, such as uranium or neptunium."

wiki

Jan 04, 2017
Gkam,

Please stop the nonsense. Professor McKay in his book "Renewable Energy Without The Hot Air" debunked your fear mongering. And I trust a Cambridge physicist more than a guy who spends half his day posting on message boards.

Jan 04, 2017
Roderick, you can look to find support for any side of any idea.

But this thread regards the narcissist who is going into power, . . . and the other one who "Poot" him there.

Jan 04, 2017
Gkam,

And what narcissism has to do with half lives is beyond me. Stick to the topic.

Jan 12, 2017
"'As socioeconomic inequality grows .. traits such as honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and reciprocity appears to have fallen out of favor with our ... elites."
Perhaps they have it backwards: as our elites have forsaken honesty, etc., socioeconomic inequality grows. That would explain how politicians and their rich friends get richer with crony capitalism.


I think it goes both ways. Accumulation of wealth erodes morals, which leads the wealthy to do progressively more immoral things in order to accumulate more wealth.

Jan 12, 2017
Communism - stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

Only in its ideal form. In any form that's had actual humans involved in it, it's always become stealing from the rich to give to the state. The state is supposed to give it to the poor, but never does.

Jan 12, 2017
Your tribe lost. Funny I don't feel sympathetic.

Unless you're a straight, white, Christian, male, billionaire, your tribe lost too. You don't feel sympathetic because you haven't realized that yet. But you will, once the con has been exposed.
So you can't reason with gang bangers engaged in turf wars. And you can't shame them for doing something honorable for their tribe. You can only remove them from the equation and make them suffer as a deterrent.

What we can - and should - do is to do our best to eliminate the socioeconomic circumstances that drive people to join gangs in the first place - poverty, injustice, lack of opportunities.... Drugs and terrorism should be approached the same way. If you really want to get rid of a problem, you go after the causes, not the symptoms.

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