Greedy Goblin

Thursday, August 1, 2013


The anti-social in me tells that people cannot be trusted, they would harm me if it serves them and possible for them. The things I've seen never disproved this. My social studies shown me undisputed research on the existence of altruism, friendship and love.

Playing games a lot and dealing with the "play for fun" crowd finally allowed me to combine the two into a new concept: fun-selfishness. People are completely selfish and interested only in maximizing their fun, ignoring the others. However, this doesn't manifest in material selfishness, since most of them do not find material wealth fun. Depending on their feelings, their mental state can move them to do things I'd consider selfless, like helping out a "newbro" or enlisting to the army of their country. However they never did these for the "newbro" or the country, but from the fun they gained from feeling generous or patriotic. When that fun disappear, they'd stop doing it.

People wrongfully assume such "selflessness" towards them to be trustable. "My wife loves me and will stays with me" - they say, while the truth is that she is only with you for a selfish reason: she is having sexual and emotional fun with you. As soon as she finds someone who offers more of these, she jumps ship. Similarly when groups find "loyal" members, they merely found ones who kept having good fun in the group. If anything changes and they lose this fun: there goes your Revenant!

So the situation is neither social or anti-social but rather objectivist-materialist with a twist: using an unmeasurable currency "fun". You are safe in a relationship while the other party has more fun via cooperating than he'd have by defecting. So to secure yourself you need to make sure that the other party is having enough fun, and especially your negligence doesn't open a way that would give them more fun by messing with you. Let me give an example: in an EVE alliance you can be sure that no one sets up a scheme to awox your T2 fit T1 ratting battleship or fleet ship. Why? Because the fun of having a battleship killmail is much smaller than you can have by chatting and flying with other members. But if you start mining in a titan, you will be awoxed, since killing a mining titan is more fun than "having bros" in this alliance, or to be exact, the cost measured in fun of moving to another alliance, setting up new services and enduring the initiation period.

The good news is that you don't have to "catch them before they catch you". The bad is no one can be trusted. The truth is that you are in a constant marketplace of "fun" and you have to keep your eyes on the rates to not lose customers. You can manage your risks, therefore assume control of your situation and well-being by offering the people around you fair trades.


Anonymous said...

People are satisfaction-selfish. Fun is one of the elements that provide that satisfaction. Love, honor, power, material wealth, loyalty, knowledge, belief in rewards in afterlife and many other things give people satisfaction (in varying degrees).

This makes things even more complex because it's not enough to provide fun. You have to understand (as best you can) the way each individual values all these things and then provide them with better value than their alternatives.

For example your wife might not have fun being with you but might derive more satisfaction from being a senator's wife, or having access to your money, or feeling like a loyal and good person for standing by her marriage vow despite the lack of fun.

This is what makes diverse groups (like TEST) hard to wrangle to any one purpose. Some are most satisfied by ISK, some by good fights, some by political/command power, some by the feeling they are loyal/dutiful even at the expense of their own fun, etc.

Anonymous said...

and this is why Mittani runs burn jita. his mouth breathing line members need to be entertained between strategic periods so they continue to log in.

log in - get given ships - blow stuff up - receive tears

context of what is blown up isn't important to the average line grunt as long as the tears flow.

maxim said...

You need to add just one more mechanic into your neat little system of currency exchange.

Selfish needs can form systems with one another. In nature, we see this in a form of symbiosis. The bee selfishly wants honey, the plant selfishly wants mobility for the spores, their union is fruitful :D

Human society is all about forming, codifying and reinforcing these systems. And with each level of the system, the whole thing gets further and further removed from individual selfishness and closer to something more lofty.

Bees and plants form ecosystems that sustain a great deal of other forms of life.

A man and wife form a family, which is an important both as a building block of society and a nurturing environment for future humans.

Saying that this is all built on insticts and laws of selfishness is like saying that we are all built from elemental particles obeying gravity laws.
Correct, and absolutely irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I think you've forgotten one aspect to the formula. Loss aversion. People don't like when others bail on them, thus harming them. As such, when someone bails out of a situation, everyone who depended on them will have significant negative feelings towards them. This can cause loss of social standing and future opportunities, or harm their relationship with people they depend on in one way or another. Most people don't want to suffer that loss, and so they will often continue doing something they begin to find un-fun beyond the point you seem to expect. Generally this will continue until they see an opportunity to leave without upsetting people, or at least they might give some warning that they're planning to leave. They'll also generally do their best to gloss over and justify their reasons for leaving.

Anonymous said...

You probably hit the nail on the head there. Just to give one of my favourite quotes from an old scifi series (Babylon-5): "G'Kar: The universe is run by the complex interweaving of three elements. Energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest."

The latter one is especially true for us humans. Everything we do is to a lesser or greater extent driven by self-interest. Even things we don't like to do can have their own rewards in terms of positive self-confirmation (patriotism, a sense of self-sacrificing, the knowledge of having helped someone etc).

It just so happens to be that different individuals get the feeling of reward from different activities, and not all activities are equally socially acceptable.

Still, if you follow this line of thought to its fullest extent, from a 'moral' (for lack of a better term) point of view the self-sacrificing hero is no better than a self-serving crook.

Dàchéng said...

This is progress for you, Gevlon! In fact utilitarianism is a well known ethical theory (see ), which suggests that the proper course of action is that which produces the greatest happiness. This theory was promoted by a number well-known economists/moral philosophers in the 16th and 17th centuries, most notably Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Bentham described it as "the greatest-happiness principal", and in fact, an percursor of it is enshrined in the Unites States' Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Though individuals pursue the greatest happiness for themselves, it is the natural task of (democratic) government to ensure the greatest happiness for those they govern (or at least, of their electors). Hence though it might make me very happy to cheat you out of your goods, laws (and their enforcement) usually deter such behaviour. In some societies, these laws often didn't protect outgroup people (such as slaves or foreigners), whose happiness wasn't important to the governent.

Measuring happiness is harder than measuring wealth (a fact that Adam Smith freely admitted in his magnum opus "The Wealth of Nations", which is the fundamental basis of classical economics). Nonetheless, there is a branch of economics devoted to the theory and measurement of happiness, both measuring self-reported happiness and measuring the statistical relationships between self-reported happiness and its various measurable proxies (the major such proxy being wealth).

There are a number of happiness indices that attempt to measure the happiness of nations based on a these proxies. Probably the most well-known of these is the Economist's Qality-of-Life Index.

soresu said...

"Well, it made them feel good on some level!" is a common response to altruism from those who would prefer to deny that it exists.

It is a good example of an intermediate logical step that ought to be pared away with Occam's Razor. It is superfluous to the system. It helps explain nothing. It just makes you feel good on an ideological level.

If "feeling good on some level" can include things like throwing oneself on a live grenade to save squadmates, running into burning buildings to save complete strangers, diving into hypothermia-inducing water to save a dog, refusing to crack and reveal information (or make a false confession) when the only alternatives at hand are a merciful death or continued torture, and a myriad other examples, then it so dependent on the individual's value system as to be meaningless.

The more elegant explanation is provided by deontological ethics: human beings, owing to capacity for abstract thought, are actually capable of transcending loyalty to themselves entirely. It can be transferred to a higher social unit, a cause, a duty. Once that is established as feasible in principle, it becomes an ideal to which we can aspire.

Rain said...

This is one of the logical pitfall which happens often among historians, in my opinions.

1. Because we have fun, we do it.

2. We do it, and we have fun doing it.

Clearly, 1 & 2 are different. However, if it is past and we look at it, we only see two things.

We did it. We had fun.

Suddenly it is not that clear how these two are interrelated. Historians, like many scholars, have to make sense of what has happened and thus link these two together. And "People do things because of fun" is too easy to be an answer. But it doesn't mean it is the right answer.

It means that, for example, a wife is loving her mate surely has fun doing it, and it doesn't imply it is WHY she does it. What good things we get down the road does not mean it is why we start the journey.

Rational dudes, like you, usually get into this pitfall as they often analyze and conclude things based on the relationship between "cause and effect", and it is how history is written.

But it is not how life is to be, as it is more complicated.

English is not my naive. Hopefully I can get my idea through.

Rasputin said...

Saying that people who have unselfish motivations are in fact 'meta-selfish" because they are merely acting to fulfill their own motivations isn't wrong, per se, but it is oxymoronic and ineffective description. This logical strategy is hundreds of years old, but hasn't improved with age. Yes, someone acting altruistically is in fact merely acting to satisfy their own urges and self-image--however, whether those urges and self-image lead them to work for the benefit of others, or their own benefit, is in fact exactly where the real distinction between selfish and altruistic is found. Because everyone, at a deep enough level, is acting to fulfill their own wishes(preferences), this uniformity makes these dichotomous terms unneeded for description at this metalevel. Attempting to use these higher level terms to dichotomize this lower level of motivation, where no dichotomy actually exists, is an egregious and illogical equivocation of application.

That said, pretty much everything in the OP still holds true after replacing the vague and confusing term "fun-selfishness" with "satisfaction-seeking"; which reflects the underlying truth that selfish and unselfish goals are still just different goals, or preferences, and that understanding these goals is just as useful either way.