Greedy Goblin

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Morals and power

We all know sayings like "politics is like sewer tank: the largest pieces float atop". It's a common belief that "immoral", "evil", "selfish" people get power, simply because they take it by force or cheating from the "hard working, moral people".

This idea claims that both the "morality of the actions" (to steal or not) and the power status (to be bank manager or an honest employee) are results of the underlying personality. If someone is immoral, he will steal and he will be manager. This simple system gives socials two psychological benefits:
  • Since "personality" is more-or-less unchangeable for adults, this is like "fate out of control". Believing the above relieve them from the responsibility of doing something against bad things.
  • As "those on top" are "immoral persons", the little guys can attach positive values to their low status: "me being little guy proves that I'm a good person"
A very recent and ingenious research by Adam Galinsky, Joris Lammers and Diederik A. Stapel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands break this image apart. They collected random people. They gave them roles. Some were high power government jobs, other were low-power worker jobs. I'd like to stress that the people were not from different status groups, the "prime minister" could be a waiter IRL.

After the test persons got used to their "new identity", they were asked about moral questions. The higher power a person got, the more likely he bashed immoralities of others. On the other hand they cheated in games and were pretty liberal about reporting costs of their job (to receive higher compensation).

Since the people, therefore their personalities were randomized, there could be no underlying "personality" factor explaining the difference. The only explanation is that the same person, given higher power will be immoral while preaching morality.

Why? People use to claim that they act moral because they are moral and not because they fear from the law. That's a self-deceiving lie. People act moral only because fear of consequences. Higher power gives higher chance to dodge punishment, therefore will cause more crimes.

Stop lying to yourself claiming "being pushover" is "being good person"! "Being pushover" is simply "being loser". Go as far as you can without punishment! What doesn't get you in jail IRL or gets you banned in game is good to go. Don't think the others will act better! They are only moral as long as they are weak anyway to be seriously immoral.

If you hear someone preaching about "morals" and "values", give him the finger. He is lying and most probably also cheats tax, pays bonuses to himself and sleeps with kids.

Stop moralizing, start selling arrows and other "scams"! Those who preach against it are most likely just don't want you to ruin their unguilded alt's business.

PS: of course there are people who get power but don't steal or preach. However the research also found their reason, and it was not morality. These people simply did not believe that they "deserve" their status, they believed that they just got there by chance or by the good graces of others. Since they did not perceived themselves powerful, just lucky, they watched their steps.


Hirvox said...

These people simply did not believe that they "deserve" their status, they believed that they just got there by chance or by the good graces of others
For social animals like humans, this is a contradiction. Having the good graces of others is proof that they deserve a certain status. One could argue that the concept of democracy itself is built around this (flawed) assumption.

Zeran said...

First, how philosophical to invoke the ring of invisibility argument (Giges ring but I know I misspelled his name).
Second, the flaw in your argument is that your actions are still wrong even if you can't be caught (go read Plato's discussion on the matter)

Third, to argue that you SHOULD lie cheat and steal is to argue that everyone should, which is completely insupportable even in your antisocial world. If everyone did then no one could trust another, and there could be no commerce. Good luck with that.

Finally, hypothetical question, what would you do if you were offered a marriage of convenience with a wealthy businesswoman? Do you take it as your antisocial philosophy dictates, or do you pass on the opportunity due to the way your girlfriend would 'feel' about it?

Gevlon said...

@Hirvox: no, at the first times he think he is lucky. Granted, after a time being he starts feeling that he deserves the help of others.

@Zeran: read next Monday post.
About the marriage of convenience. Why would she feel bad about it?

Crucifer said...

Power corrupts. The more power you have, the more likely you are to wield it, regardless of your objective. Once power is wielded enough, accountability is diminished.

Hirvox said...

@Hirvox: no, at the first times he think he is lucky. Granted, after a time being he starts feeling that he deserves the help of others.
In this case yes, because the sole contributing factor to power was luck. But what I find interesting is what happens next. No matter how the status was gained, once you have it, loss aversion kicks in. While it is a rational and beneficial trait in general, people go to great lengths to avoid facing the truism that Crucifier mentioned, thinking that it doesn't apply to them. And one of the easiest ways is to commit the converse error fallacy. Just because respect is one way of gaining status, it doesn't mean that a person with a high status got it out of respect or deserves any.

Laura said...

@Gevlon "The only explanation is that: the same person, given higher power will be immoral and preaches morality." should be "The only explanation is this: the same person, given higher power will be immoral and preach morality.", or better: "The only explanation is that the same person, given higher power will be immoral while preaching morality."

Other than that - as usual some of your opinions I find a bit extreme, but nothing I can't handle especially considering how subjective ethics and morals are.

@Zeran who defines "wrong" ? Things like wrong and right and ethics and morality are extremely subjective and depend on the individual. Society as a whole imposes some standards ("do not kill"), but the lower level things like cheating on taxes for example is something which is wrong by law but not really enforced at society level: the society "knows" it's wrong (because it is the law) instead of "believing" it's wrong (as in the case of the murder).

By society I mean a critical mass in the population.

Rem said...

To quote Saying "power corrupts" is stating something so obvious we feel stupid even typing it. It's like saying elevators elevate.

So, after excessive research scientists found out that power, indeed, corrupts? Fascinating!

Gevlon said...

@Rem: the "power corrupts" statement is common sense. Yet people think that somehow THEM are an exception and just OTHERS are corrupted. This research proves that ANYONE gets corrupted with power.

Jeanie said...

"It's a common belief that "immoral", "evil", "selfish" people get power, simply because they take it by force or cheating from the "hard working, moral people"."
Even though I agree that "power corrupts". I think the socials people actually have a point here : only the ALREADY corrupted (ie. those intentionally trying to get and exploit their power for their personal benefits) would seek for power at the start. While the NOT yet corrupted would not seek for power, hence they never gain it and will not be corrupted (it isnt likely that IRL that someone will just give you power for nothing). Basically, the point is that those "powerful" people are already corrupted long before they gained their power.
On the topic of "power corrupts", is there a threshold of power that would un-corrupt someone, for the reason that he wouldnt need to gain more from immoral actions (either he doesnt need anything more, or the gain from the acceptable moral actions is enough). Obviously, there would be no such threshold exist for a social person, for many reasons. Wil there be a threshold for a goblin?

Jeanie said...

PS : "Greediness of human is infinite" is just a pro version of keeping up with the Joneses, and being one of the reason that no such threshold will exist for social people.

Tully said...

@Gevlon "This research proves that ANYONE gets corrupted with power."

It's hard to say what the research proves considering that it hasn't been published and the only details we have are a news item from the author's university.

Secondly, the details state that the articles shows that there TENDS to be a disconnect between one's actions and how one perceives similar actions by others as based on power and influence of the individual. It in know way PROVES that _anyone_ gets corrupted with power. It implies that people, in general, may be corrupted by power.

Eaten by a Grue said...

A few notes.

First, why are you telling us this? Surely the best thing an immoral person, ready to lie, cheat and steal from his honest "loser" neighbors, can do is to keep this a secret. If everyone lies, cheats and steals, then surely this would remove the antisocial competitive advantage. So it seems you are contradicting your ideals with your actions here on this blog.

Second, and I think someone raised this briefly, it is completely nuts to think that a society full of people who think like you do would function at a reasonable level. Take a look at Mexico, where there is corruption on a mass scale, and where even the government and police are on the take, and compare it to the U.S., where the police are largely unbribed. Tell me who has the better economy and standard of living. And Mexico is not the only example. There are plenty of countries with largescale corruption, and for some strange reason, despite the arguments you have outlined, they always seem to do worse economically than the less corrupt countries. Go figure.

The bottom line is that if everyone behaved like you do, everyone would be worse off. The only reason a cheat advances currently is because most people do not cheat. So you can pat yourself on the back for advancing yourself through your lack of morals, but do not deceive yourself in the belief that everyone should do this.

Philip said...

Amusing, but basically short sighted.

I worked in West Africa for a long time, where people behave exactly like this. Everyone pushes things as far as they can to get what they can. And sure enough, you get a downward spiral of corruption, scamming and mistrust that eventually erodes the whole structure and drags everyone down in the long run.

Moral behaviour works because it's better for the group, not the individual. And if it's better for the group, then the individuals will benefit from that growth.

Your 'me me me' attitude might sound like a lovely Randian vision on paper, but it essentially leads to Nigeria in practice.

This is the problem with someone focusing purely on short term & personal over long term & strategic.

Dread said...

Thanks for the good read =)

Jeanie said...

@Eaten by a grue: What you said is essentially Prisoner's dilemma. And I believe the conclusion is that one should always defect(or cheat).

Wodinn said...

Good post today. I believe that most people *do* think themselves beyond the reach of corruption, and that should be obviously false to most rational people even though it is not. The insight into the hypercrisy of those on the lowest tiers of the power spectrum was interesting.

Anonymous said...

Selling a stack of 100 arrow for the price of 1000 is not even close to scamming.

The closest comparable occurance I can come up with is bags of candy. Companies sell candy bags which are only half full, although the bag isn't transparent so you can't see if you don't look closely.

Only stupid people who just buy the bag without checking what's inside "lose".

Far from immoral, it is just a market strategy.

Gevlon said...

@Philip, Eaten by a Grue: The poor committing crimes is a different issue. They are unable to do any useful work (since uneducated) so their only income source is taking from others.

I would love to hear how could they be "moral". Stand by the streets and starve to death?

You claim: immoral people -> crimes -> poor country

While it's actually: dumb people -> poor country -> crime -> perceived immorality by you

daria said...

Again, thanks for your blog. I think some of this is watching you.. remove parts of your moral ism at times, and coat the wounds raised from each piece of it torn off with articles such as these or maybe that's transference, lol. I've never known a goblin to need socialization at the level to blog, to host a website (what profit motivation)? I can't tell you it's not a worth while pursuit, because I do not know all of your pieces (and even then).
I tend to watch a lot of folks go through rationalization. Never one so articulate. Sometimes it's helpful to hear this, so I, myself, don't wrap myself in my bandage of social - love will get me through, and if someone businesses me out.. it's because they have no life/heart/wtf was I thinking. Hell I'm a lot more profitable now. I still give sometimes as it benefits my desire to care for some. I will not be you, but taking into myself some of your thoughts and reasoning.. has made me better able to understand and adapt. <3 thanks :)

It is interesting that many of those folks started rationalizing their importance into deciding to cut corners and bill differently. I'd like to read the data collection more. Some laws weren't stretched, but some were. Which? What is the threshold? When does rationalization stop? Does it? Their arguments as they become, corrupted (as it was put).. are of more interest to me socially. Nonsocially interesting to see what has to be in place to stop that progression.

Experiments where folks already.. feel.. like the person holding the job that they will perform a certain way. Often self fulfilling. When folks are young they already hear about unsavory actions of those above them. Setting that stage. When you grow older, you start to bleed off some of the social thought processes (it's not if my mom doesn't hit me than I'm good and loved and that's all I need) and try and analyze why something is done, by who, and why it's allowed.. and then.. why am I not doing it if it would help me if the loss isn't more?

This was all extrapolated by.. a dice game? "But, when given a chance to cheat on a dice game to win lottery tickets (played alone in the privacy of a cubicle), the powerful people reported winning a higher amount of lottery tickets than did low-power participants."

Still a punch in the gut. Each transgression was of something small, something that didn't inherently matter (but had some fundamental moral teaching that it went back on aka lying, cheating for potential profit in a system you knew was not going to last beyond the study). It didn't take them much to forgo that moral. Will the next one be.. easier? Are they.. lying to themselves? Do they believe they cheated? Would they (if faced with bigger reward) admit they cheated if then offered a lotto ticket winnings to save or a car? Would those who cheated, not admit it? Would folks who didn't cheat, admit to cheating then? (because it's inherently unfair to further reward cheaters right.. so why not get a piece of it?) Curiously.. how many throws of dice were counted(by someone watching them)? And were all of them actually cheating or did it just vary rolls, 2 rolls? 5? We want to believe they cheated and accept that they did and would be more surprised if they didn't or if they under reported. So the groundwork is already laid isn't it? So society vrs humanity for conclusion?

LOL Conversely thinking about this later. This is done all the time with guilds right? 'I'm the GL' I get the legendary loot (everyone just assumes she will), I get repairs.. so do officers, I get enchants... and so do the officers.. and everyone who asks (mostly just the officer's friends). LOL. If you would like to take it for what's worth.. if the guild.. pays for something it should be taken from them then.. and your mats go the AH? How many folks have played WOW to watch this rationalism slowly set in?

daria said...

Assuming though, folks who do not believe in this.. are just trying to ruin your business... is less likely. There are fewer in power than not in power. You're likely to be viewed with much distaste. But.. that's not something you are much about, right? :)

Orcstar said...

I'm missing a-moral here.

A lot of decisions are taken without any moral or immoral intentions, just the raiotnal thing to do.

If an employer lays off someone who worked for the company 30 years, some people might consider this an immoral act.

While for the employer it's an a-moral decision. Managing a company is about making profit. And the decision about whether you fire people or not is part of that. And if it benefits the goal of the company (making profit) you making the rational decision to let that employee go.
It's not taken out of a sense of evil or good but as a rational decision.

Anonymous said...

The research has some flaws. For instance you could make them a paladin or a mage instead of a ceo its still just role playing. Now its hard to replicate the conditions of power. However its easy to replicate the conditions of no power. Find some ceos and make them take jobs as waiters and see if they suddenly become scrupulous.

As far as selling things for convenience that's fine. However real scams have consequences. Remember even insider traders get caught eventually.

If you want to send people cod something really crappy for 1000 gold you may get banned. but if you sell it on the ah and I guess buyer beware.

Philip said...

Nope. One particular example in my case, we had a caved in road outside our office (the roads in West Africa being particularly bad due to the fact they don't get maintained).

To get it fixed, the mayor of our town requested a bribe payment. Corrupt enough, you might think. He took the cash, then refused to fix the sinkhole (why bother, he'd got the money) unless we wanted to pay up a second time.

Now this was one of the richest guys in town, so nothing to do with his poverty. Just someone who wanted to grab as much as he could, while giving as little back as possible.

The behaviour of taking/scamming as much as possible without giving back is a valid one. It can be called rational, but the more common term is parasitic. It's a good, rational deal for the parasite, but it only works if there aren't so many of them that they kill the host.

Generally though, mass parasitic behaviour causes long term damage.

sam said...

These people simply did not believe that they "deserve" their status, they believed that they just got there by chance or by the good graces of others

lol in otherwords some people don' emotionaly assume they were a "god" among mortals but realistically analyize how they got there and realize that even if you assume you are in the top 1 percent there are others who could easily do your job.

I'd say it shows the goblins are strangly the ones that realize that power can come and power can go. No doubt power corrupts but maybe those that are rational instead of emotional are more able to see it happening and thus corrupted a bit slower???

Eaten by a Grue said...


In response to what you said about the poor and crimes, I do not see how that is responsive to what Phillip and I pointed out.

What you are proposing is that everyone should steal. Being honest is for sucker socials, right? Well, if everyone was effectively a criminal, there would not be much to society.

And Jeanie, with regard to prisoner's dilemma, yes, under a certain point of view, it is logical to defect. But if you have cooperation and trust in your fellow prisoner, you would both be better off not defecting.

Google "tit-for-tat" with regard to this. It describes a computer software contest, where programs compete in a prisoner's dilemma contest. The Tit for Tat program would basically trust initially, and then mirror the opponent's move. So if you trusted it, it would trust you. In the end, the most profitable effort was two tit-for-tat programs against each other. They would always trust and reap the highest scores.

Kinzlayer said...

If anyone had heard the Mark McGwire's "confession" you hear exactly what a corrupted person would say... it's not necessarily their fault but the circumstance of their situation. To which I call BS on since we may not like our decisions but we MADE them. Each day we all make choices and making choices that is safe (not to get you caught) then blaming the circumstance for those choices is blatant M&S behavior.

Gevlon said...

"Eaten by a Grue: illegal =/= immoral. I'm not advertising illegal behavior, simply because that's highway to jail. I'm saying that:
- anyting that is legal is fair.
- people are just claiming to be moral, mostly because they lack the power (or they believe so) to do anything immoral

John P. said...

I'm reminded of an experiment/game I took part in (many years ago, in High School) where our class was divided up into small groups of about 5-6 people each, with each person receiving two cards, one marked 'Honest', the other 'Cheat'.

If everyone in a group chose the 'Honest' card each person would get (just as an example) 5 points while The Group would receive 100 points.

If some (but not all) of the players chose to 'Cheat' they would each get 10 points, The Group would get 50 points, while the 'Honest' players would get nothing.

If everyone chose to 'Cheat' then not only would each person lose 20 points, but The Group would lose 200 points.

Naturally the highest possible Group score could only be earned if every player chose to be Honest, but if they did so their individual score would not be as high as if they had Cheated, but they couldn't all Cheat or everyone, including The Group, would suffer.

Prior to the first round group discussion was forbidden until after everyone revealed their card, and the results were somewhat predictable; 4 of us chose to be Honest while our 2 team mates chose to Cheat. Our Group did score some points, but not as many as we Honest players had hoped. Not only that, but our Cheating team mates had prospered at our expense.

With the first Round over we were allowed to talk among each other, and the Honest people tried to convince the Cheaters to also be Honest so The Group could score the maximum points. The Cheaters would not get as many points as when they had 'Cheated' during Round 1, but they'd at least get something if we all chose to be 'Honest'.

And with that it was time for Round 2. Discussion ceased, everyone chose their card and...we now had 5 Honest players and 1 Cheater. Once again someone had prospered at the expense of her team mates and The Group. We were incredulous when the Cheater tried to claim that she hadn't felt she could trust us all to be Honest. A heated debate ensued where pointing out that we'd chosen to be Honest in the first Round, and again in the second, had no visible impact on her.

Our teachers had written down each Group's score on the board after each Round, and one Group seemed to have nothing but Honest people in it as they had scored 100 points in both the first and second Round. Coming on the heels of being Cheated not once but twice, this was very demoralizing.

Our teachers announced the start of Round 3, talk ceased, and we chose our cards. This time everyone lost because we all chose to 'Cheat'. The Group lost all the points it had earned, as did the girl who Cheated in the first two Rounds, which was possibly why we all chose the 'Cheat' card this time around. "If I can't have it, neither will you!"

Incredibly everyone in the Honest Group voted 'Honest for the third time in a row and they 'won' the game with the highest Group score, but not with the highest individual scores. That 'honor' belonged to the person who Cheated in all three rounds, yet was persuasive & charismatic enough to convince at least some of their team mates to continue to be Honest.

This is how Cheaters get ahead in the real world: by convincing, and relying on, Honest people to do the right thing. Oddly enough, society still benefits from this, albeit more slowly than if everyone were Honest. Conversely, if everyone in society is a Cheater, society as a whole will lose. Some of the Cheaters will get ahead, but they'll only do so until a bigger, stronger, smarter Cheater comes along.

Nils said...

Your 'me me me' attitude might sound like a lovely Randian vision on paper, but it essentially leads to Nigeria in practice.

Somalia should be a paradise according to some people:
No regulations, everybody is as greedy as it gets.

Travel there and test it out! Few parts of this world contain more goblins than failed states. Actually most non-goblins who may have been lived there are dead by now.

Eaten by a Grue said...


The issue is not what is illegal or not. Things not currently illegal may become so, and things illegal may become legal. The issue is: what activity, if engaged in on a wide scale, would hurt society.

The world, especially the third world, is full of people with your line of thinking. They even take it to its logical conclusion - they seize power, so their desired activites are no longer illegal.

The reason we have morals is actually for self interest reasons. If we all act morally to others, we all benefit.

Putra said...

VERY interesting arguments, both by the original poster AND the comments.

Gevlon, your words betray most of your values and intentions. I personally call them 'practical' and 'noble' respectively, but others would disagree. 'Evolution' and 'adaptation' are bitter pills to swallow for most people.

Why is everyone on such different wavelengths?

I highly recommend you check out the Graves Human Values Model, Gevlon. Also known as spiral dynamics.

It explains how human values evolved in response to his environment. It explains how humans put more priority on the 'individual' over the 'community', and then slowly those priorities reverse, and the cycle repeats.

That's an example, but not detailed at all. I only chose that link because it has a nice picture on one page. Wikipedia has more info, but it's quite dry, and will put off anyone who's casually browsing.

From Gevlon's words and arguments (and that goes for everyone else who's commenting!), I can almost definitely predict his values, priorities and self-imposed limitations.

It's also why I choose NOT to directly contradict Gevlon's point of view - for in his model of the world, he's playing the 'game' absolutely right.

Now that's human insight, is it not?

Turiel said...


Though I enjoyed this read greatly, I was wondering if you were making a certain claim here:

When you say "People act moral only because fear of consequences." Are you saying that morality does not exist in and of itself, but is completely dependent of the law?

Or, in an anarchy there would be NO morals at all?

I found the research very amusing and yes, the average person doesn't understand their own actions... but to say that morality doesn't exist is quite a stretch and something I feel you just kind of slipped in on most of your readers here.

Putra said...

By the way, Gevlon is at Values Level 5 - personal achievement.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon "Selling a stack" and others:

I'm amused that you label other people as "stupid" when your half-full bag of candy analogy is the "closest" comparison you can come up with. If that is what you consider "smart" then we really are headed for an Idiocracy.

Make a more honest analogy and you will see why so many consider this to be a "scam"--

1) Put 2oz of candy in a 20oz bag (since we are talking about 100 v. 1000 arrows/bullets)
2) The bag contains 12-18oz of packing peanuts to make the bag appear to be full
3) The stated weight of the product on the outside of the bag is "2.0 oz" but the "." is nearly microscopic and will not be seen by a casual glance, and the "2" and the "0" are so close together that they appear to read "20" unless closely examined.
4) Your 2oz bags of candy are similar in size and price to the 20oz bags of your competitors near yours on the store shelves.

You can argue and pontificate about the nature of ethics and morals all you want, but your brand name will become synonymous with scamming, and your company will become a case study of how an ethically tone-deaf business strategy can send a company into bankruptcy in record time.

Gevlon said...

@Turiel: For morality to exists there should be some source. Why statement X is moral and Y is not? There must be some protocol, some way to be sure. There isn't.

Law exists. You can read it. The jail exist too.

In an anarchy there ARE no morals. In the current Haiti quake or the New Orleans flooding people started to loot, pillage and leave their "friends" to die below the debris.

Of course some helped, but these are not perfect anarchies as one is aware that there is an order outside and they might get into jail for their actions.

G-Rebel said...

Interestingly enough, there is no consensus in the psychological profession (researchers or psychologists) about the definition of "personality". I'm curious, what definition do these researchers give to personality as it realates to their study?

'It's a common belief that "immoral", "evil", "selfish" people get power, simply because they take it by force or cheating from the "hard working, moral people."'

Can you prove this statement true or are you saying it because that is what you believe is a common belief? Have you interacted with everyone in the world to know this or is it more likely that your beliefs are a result of your own life experiences and social circle (assuming you have one, maybe social dot is more appropriate).

The thing about psychological research, and this is something my wife has done for a long time, is that even after it's completed there is still debeate among the researchers as to whether their initial conclusions are accurate.

They review their processes and may find flaws that "lead" people to acting or behaving in a certain direction. So they sometimes start over, admitting that their conclusions may again differ.

My point is that psychology is not only complex but controversial because of the many different ways to look at it. So any affirmations that you make, any statement you claim to be true or "common belief" can only be labeled as opinion, as even the TRUE EXPERTS often disagree on the most common terminology and definitions, example: "personality".

My experience has led me to interact with hundres of people in positions of high power, many of them are lying, cheating gits, and many are honest and humble. Why? I don't know the core reason, but even though some researchers or experts may claim to provide insight, even they will not say that it's an absolute truth.

Honors Code said...

"PS: of course there are people who get power but don't steal or preach. However the research also found their reason, and it was not morality. These people simply did not believe that they "deserve" their status, they believed that they just got there by chance or by the good graces of others. Since they did not perceived themselves powerful, just lucky, they watched their steps."

There is another possible explanation. These people believe in a 'higher power' and realize one day they will be called to give an account to Him. Therefore they are moral (in accordance to His Moral Standards).

Che said...

"Go as far as you can without punishment! What doesn't get you in jail IRL or gets you banned in game is good to go."

So is it that you believe there are lines you should not cross or are you just afraid to promote something you truly believe because you are afraid of the consequences? Where are your standards of decision making based?

You say to not do anything that would be against the law/rules; interesting. Powerful people who preach to us to keep the law and be "moral" are the ones making the law, yet they are supposedly liars and cheats and sleep with kids because of their power. Why then would you be afraid to give the finger to them, thereby giving the finger to the laws they make, but at the same time tell me to keep those laws so I don't go to jail.

I know you will never admit that you are wrong or inconsistent about anything because at least you provide a form of logic to support your claims. But the only way to give the finger to powerful moralists is to promote breaking the laws that, in hypocricy, they make.

Persequi said...

I completely disagree. Sorry, Gevlon, you cannot base the whole population on the facts of the few. The situation is as such:

What negative connotation would happen if I was not to do anything for the survivors of the Haitian earthquake? What would happen to you or to anyone? Nothing. Haiti is not a powerhouse, it's the weakest country in the western hemisphere. However, thousands of people are flocking to help the people out. Why? It's not because of a fear of consequences due to inactivity. nothing will happen to anyone if we were to turn a blind eye. It's simply because of morals. Morals also is the conduct of living that one person abides by. Simple acts, such as stealing and murdering, are also controlled not by fear of the consequences but because of the knowledge that something like this is wrong. However, helping a person in need, is right. Some people believe in that and that quantifies as morals by their standards. However, others do not, and that means that they find it acceptable to to steal, cheat or look the other way. That's their morals. Morals are simply a standard that someone lives by. Nothing more or nothing less. Unfortunately, due to the computer age, people have become desensitized and as such they are losing the sense of morality that was prevalent 100 years ago and are developing a new sense of morals that is acceptable today and now.

pugnaciouspriest said...

The higher the power , the more of the bigger picture you see, the less important little things are - management gave me thick skin. I have a pretty stong moral sence of right and wrong - it was how I was raised, and how I want my children raised. But that comes with a cost - and while I definitely don't think I am a pushover. I'm pretty happy on where I stand on important things. And besides since the people with the arrow problems are using a mod, it's their own fault for not being aware of the limits of the tools they use.

Anonymous said...

@John P. And that's why you fail at life: you seem to misunderstand the porpuse of the game.
Here's the 'lesson' that this game actually tried to teach you, which is also the awful truth at life: when there's not an external mechanism that forces anyone to honour a commitment, the best choice is to not trust anyone! So that example doesn't show that you're a nice and cooperative fellow, it only shows that you're dumb. The natural choice in that game was to cheat, since if not there would be always someoe else that would cheat at your expense.

That's why institutions and law (the external mechanisms that force others to honour their comitments) are so important, because they are the only reliable way in which dumb guys like yourself (aka. nice and cooperative fellow) will not react with a vengance destroying all in their sight when someone not as dumb cheats on them as you and your other dumb fellas did in that game.

If not, think about it, here's the actual proof that you're dumb: Instead of arguing that you wanted to change your strategy so you stoped your stupid 'honest' one you argue that you and your other dumb fellas choosed to cheat and wipe out all of the points of the team in order to just punish the not dumb guys. That my firend is stupid, because nor you and nor your friends enjoyed any of the benefits that were produced earlier.

In fact that really sound just like a civil war, they always begin with dumb guys like you that say "If I couldn't have it, no one will!" and set the path to destroy a whole country. So you guys are more destructive to societies than the "mean and not cooperative fallas". You all should be jailed and exterminated!!

daria said...

@ Gevlon

In the New Orleans flooding, some paddle boated ICU patients across to new hospitals in a canoe. I saw them manually ventilate folks in shifts until they got air lifted. Folks left their jobs in other stats, asking folks to cover for them to volunteer. Folks shared their insulin with other folks. Folks donate their organs. All social tripe?

I know you can say that these folks get some sort of high or enjoyment from caring from folks.. but.. in crisis.. there is good and bad. These folks wouldn't lose social standing if they didn't go help in a different state, many lost income. If the ventilators went down.. and folks died.. who could blame them? There was a lot of corruption to blame. Without a strong enough punishment.. it will continue. I think most are surprised that the current punishment wasn't enough to stop diversion (lousiana levies).

Why spend time at the side of an accident as a medical professional, why not drive by? You can't bill. You may get sued.

@ John P.

The group who all cooperated, were they happy about not winning? Were they proud at their cooperation because they got to watch the frustrated group? Was the lucky... goblin who won, happier? How many rounds... would it take them to stop trusting him? It's not a Nash equilibrium since folks would benefit by changing for points, but did they not change because they enjoyed the social outcome? Did they think the frustration of the table that was failing was enough to keep them from trying it? Or did they not know there would be only 3 rounds? I propose they didn't change as some of them were getting a social benefit by not switching; the desire to win wasn't important enough (winner takes 100$ or 1000$ and play the game again). This was NOT a moral debate as it was just a game and points are meaningless. I'd have liked to see them swap tables on a different day. Without swapping tables.. it's not reality. Why would a goblin continue scamming the same person? That's like trying to sell a 1 amo for 20 to the same person. That's AMAZING! So if you are in a world.. where goblins exist... why keep trying to pretend you're at a table where they don't. Take the game to N100, now how are the points? Higher in the coop table (unless round 100 one of them turns to take the win).

@ Gevlon
I think it'd be nice to know the % of the pop that's likely to alter their morals given power. Rather than Gevlon's article that says that everyone on average (?) will (what %). If 60% of the participants did it.. then it is indeed more likely for folks who are in positions of power to give themselves more. Or is it 90% of the participants, in Gevlon's initial study (need more info). And does this over reach into other areas? It is interesting that the folks who properly assessed their very random allotment of jobs as random and not deserved behaved morally, meaning they didn't feel they deserved it. That's also not the same as those who are doing the job they worked to become? Would it be higher if it was RL?

Financially profiting vrs letting folks die under debris is completely different (to some). If you call them all morals and put them in a basket together with a pretty bow, fine. But each one is different to some folks. Did the folks involved feel they were taking the lotto tickets from another? A bike, too small! how about a kidney? Someone cheating on lotto tickets from someone vrs someone molesting kids, are different weights and have different punishments in society. Seeing if they'll make smaller infractions is interesting given large power. But It's more interesting when they make larger decisions. It'd be interesting to how long the power would need to be held do start doing "larger" moral infractions. Measurable, monitorable, moral accountability. Could there be a timetable for expected corruption degrees?

Jesicca said...

I don't understand how so many people here can manage to be so dense.

Look, plain and simple, you're reading the *greedy goblin* blog. What the crap do you think a goblin does? Gives money to charity? No. Goblins are sneaky and find loopholes in society to get what they want. Isn't that what being a goblin is all about? They're called "goblins" after all, not "angels".

The very idea that you all would subscribe to a blog about such techniques and then criticize the writer for being immoral is just plain stupid.

Oh, and yeah: The entire WoW community would fall apart if everyone cheated, but guess what? News flash, morons! Not everyone reads this blog! The people who read this blog on a regular basis are the few and the elite, the "goblins".

If you're not a goblin, why are you even here?

Another thing: IT'S A GODDAMN GAME! You can't compare ethics in a game (where you're dealing with fake money which is just some numbers in a database somewhere) to real life situations like the situation in Haiti or whatever. In a game, *anything* that's not in violation of the terms of service is just plain business. If you sell a glass of ice cold milk for 100 gold to a moron, guess what? They deserved it for being a moron! If you sell 100 arrows to someone for the price of 1000, they deserve it for being a moron and not actually looking before they buy. Jeez. Why is this so hard for you all to comprehend??

daria said...

The topic wasn't about wow.

The forum often is.

It seems to be changing somewhat.

If the forum is only for other goblins, not for folks learning about goblins, or trying to refine their subpar goblin skills and separate their social natures into something a bit more rational.... fine.

But if the topic forum admin: gevlon... says "Turiel: For morality to exists there should be some source. Why statement X is moral and Y is not? There must be some protocol, some way to be sure. There isn't.

Law exists. You can read it. The jail exist too.

In an anarchy there ARE no morals. In the current Haiti quake or the New Orleans flooding people started to loot, pillage and leave their 'friends' to die below the debris."

Also, I didn't realize that this was a forum for folks who believed the same thing to stroke the idea, I thought some of it was learning about society. Trying to figure out which parts were indoctrination by sugar and spice, and what the reality of the world has taught. Feel free to pick apart the social thoughts I have. I put that comment on my listings as a warning that some of the blather coming out of my mouth may be ridiculous to you. Fine. Call me on it. I, as a social, don't realize when I'm letting my emotions guide a decision. I have to or I'll be someone's pet. I'm not looking forward to that. So I read items like this. I look forward to reading arguments like this. I'll make sure to put on top of my posts so you can skip them in the future, as I think your comments are going to be repetitious as will mine for you.

@ Jessica - I did find it more interesting that your morals change over smaller items, or over non real world units... (time?)...

I'm not horrified that folks let others die. That I know. I've seen folks duct tape diapers on others too mentally handicapped to know better till their flesh rots off. Or denial to the point that someone's breast sloughs off. Each unit interesting when the motivation has been assessed. Some required punishment, some in depth psychotherapy. Judgments on morality .. not my purpose, or place. Motivations.. curl my toes in interest. You guys fascinate me. I do not like nor dislike your actions, but am trying to view them as actions which have a motivation that should be understood. You placed the word immoral on it. The discussion of immoral is interesting because it's a motivation, some of the morals are set by social (as long as science is satisfied). I don't care who has sex with who's relative as long as they have though about the resulting offspring (and they have studied cousin pairs and noted no increase with mutation.. ok.. whatever floats your boat). Stop talking about the morals as if they each need to be discussed in themselves, and start discussing them as something which has a stigma or a punishment attached being labeled under the topic "moral" and figure out what value that possesses to others and why. Consider why or why not to include it in your own set of immediate interrupts of your behavior to be analyzed later to see if you want to proceed in a transaction. It's nice to remind yourself of consequences and of the stigma it will lead to by folks who CARE about them for whatever reason. No matter how worthless.

daria said...

Bringing up that there were also folks who did not participate in like behavior, didn't seem a stretch of the topic matter. Each analogy with extremes - AKA: the coop table? wtf.. why DIDN'T a person cheat on the last round to win the game.. was the stake just not high enough? There must have been a social reward, rather than the proposed goal of the "points" being the goal. In the paper that was done on folks in power. They were put there randomly. Were told a title. Then they behaved as the title, including some elevated income (lying vrs random) and less likely to follow a moral guideline. They didn't feel any social pressure to NOT cheat? That was taken out by making it part of a random game. Taking that out or removing part of it, or making it matter less will have folks function differently. Understanding the value of the items presented (if I keep saying I'm not going to cheat, then the other folks at the table will "like me" for upholding a value which you've assessed some will find "desirable" and it may have positive or negative effects on my life.. says there are multiple victory conditions of the game. Watching the person's table where they are cheating is making them mad at her and this will have longer term social consequence then actually winning the game). The person who can distinguish that is the winner. Yes they got points, and the points judged the game. But what was the actual consequence of winning the game. When folks play, and they win the game, but lose something. That was the point of the discussion. Not who benefited or did society benefit. I say there were multiple consequences. Why screw your "friends" or folks you'll have to see and interact with again later? Just like the person at the table who convinced folks that he wouldn't cheat and won the game? That person won the game, but what was his consequence after? I'd like to see this with strangers. I'd like to see this with folks who don't have to face each other. I'd like to see this with folks who switch tables? Why? Because then each of those variables listed in the game discussed by the other person change. But which reward was greater? Who actually won. That argument is valid.

I've seen this in risk. We have a layer and an engineer friend who we play risk with initially. The lawyer said to the engineer one day. If you never screw me over till the end of the game, I will screw you, but you will always die last and I will win. After thinking about this he agreed. There was no way to win against this strat unless incorporating one of your own with the same or with more. He was satisfied to be second, because.. hell.. he wasn't last. He enjoyed beating everyone else. And his decision wasn't beneficial to the rest. Having a table where everyone but 1 person lied every time would be beneficial. Having a table where they all lied once.. would also be beneficial. Depending on points. Given your game set up. The max points a table could receive would be (all honest = 130/round, 5 dishonest 1 honest = 100pts /round, and all dishonest -260 for the max total points a table could earn, part of the game would be trying to reduce others points rather than everyone amassing wealth, so the table thing - not a great analogy). I think you assigned points wrong or the dishonest person couldn't catch up. But.. if you assigned them more for dishonesty or the table got less.. etc. If the table got more out of 5/6 folks being dishonest a round with 1 honest (take away the social feelings of the names) and traded everyone having an "honest" turn.. then call it a "corporation" and then pool the points and dole them out. Would that give similar point values? No. Folks earned more total by honest every turn when compared to the other tables. So it depends on your competition.. do you want to be better than 5 folks or 15? So not great point example.

radu said...

Very nice, find!

When viewed together with the Stanford Prison Experiment (, it becomes quite clear that most of the time, "Clothes make the man".