Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

38 good people

The murder of Kitty Genovese became part of the popular culture and social psychology. She was murdered by a madman who simply wanted to kill someone. He wasn't too good in murdering, half an hour passed between the first stab and the last one. The police later found that 38 people seen or heard something of the attack, despite none of them seen it all. No one called the police, let alone intervene. One of them later told the now legendary words: "I didn't want to get involved".

James Patrick Bulger, a 2 (two) years old boy was kidnapped by two 10 (ten) years old kids from a shopping mall while his mum was busy shopping. They were also just looking for a random victim. They dragged him 3 miles away to an unused railway station, tortured and murdered him. The police again found 38 (what a coincidence) people who seen the crying little kid being dragged, but none of them bothered to do something, except a shop owner who thrown the trio out from his shop.

The first murder initiated widespread research, finding that bystanders are unlikely to intervene in any form when they encounter someone in danger. The amount of people present decreases the chance of helping, so the motive is not cowardice, it's rather "someone else should do something" or "since no one is doing anything, that must be the appropriate action". On the other hand if the victim is in the same social group, the chance of help increases.

The social status of the bystander decreased the chance of helping, because they afraid more of making a fool of themselves (in every emergency there is a chance of it's being under control and the helper dismissed).

In 2000 June 11 a gang of about 50 young guys assaulted, stripped and molested lot of random women in the middle of the Central Park, front of a parade full of people. I think you already know the number of people who called the Police or did something. Videos of the event later allowed the Police to capture the perpetrators. The captured gang leader revealed their motive: "was just having fun". Have anyone heard this motive before?

Do you still think that you can count on the "freindly helpfull ppl"? That socials are "good"? That you are safe when there are people around? Think again and get a gun!

PS: check out this "funny" video about the helpful bystanders.

PS2: I can't believe I have to explain why helping someone in danger is goblinish. Unless we see a clear sign of being a criminal or leech we can assume that as the victim is generating GDP. Now, from the point of view of the whole society, life saving has the highest GDP/effort value among all activities. The GDP/capita is 47K/year in the US. If I see a 35 years old American collapsing on the street, call ambulance, clear his airways, give him cpr if needed for 15 mins while the ambulance arrives, then I gave him 25 more years to work. Show me another activity that nets $1.1M over 15 mins!

Of course cashing it is not straightforward, as the profit comes to the saved one, his family and the society and not to you. But once the GDP is created, finding a way to get a share is only matter of goblinish imagination. My tip: ask a loan from him and don't pay back. I doubt if someone sues his lifesaver over $1000. And $1000 for 15 mins is pretty nice. If all else fails, you can use it as bragging right among socials to get into their trust and make easier to separate them from their money.


Yaggle said...

Are you saying that it is the Goblin way to help Kitty or these other victims? If so, why?

Hirvox said...

38 is overkill. Solomon Asch concluded that three is enough.

Squishalot said...

Consider the story of the economist who doesn't stop to pick up the $100 note lying on the ground, because the market would suggest that it wouldn't possibly exist. Complete 'rationality' is also irrational.

Socials have their flaws. Being asocial, too, has its flaws. It's worth noting that the true asocial doesn't have any incentive to take action, and will therefore choose not to do anything either in any of those circumstances either.

In any event, the key output of the study you're trying to tout, the social status of the bystander, has nothing to do with whether the person is social or not. What it has to do with is a person's position in society - for example, a PhD / university researcher is less likely to help than a homeless guy.

You're really running out of blog ideas, aren't you? Either that, or you're too busy to come up with a good topic? It's hard to tell whether the criticism you're getting for your latest topics is because your inspiration for good ideas is running out, or because you're actually happy to support bad ones.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of astonishing when you try to figure out why people are so afraid of "looking stupid" rather than "being stupid"...

But what do you expect ? In a system that's based upon the exploitation of one by the other, critical thinking isn't exactly a desirable trait. Maybe on the individual level, but not as a social norm.

The issue permeates every sphere of society, and despite my Goblinish behavior, I sometimes wonder how our species started the slippery descent on this self-destructive slope. Riding the wave of human genocide is both funny and depressing.

Squishalot said...

Gevlon, regarding your PS2: edit, see comment about rationality and the economist. The most rational thing to do is not necessarily the most viable real-life thing to do.

Otherwise, you're essentially justifying social behaviour (i.e. bragging over saving someone) and helping demonstrate why asociality isn't something to be followed consistently.

Anonymous said...

When I was 16 I witnessed a drunk man stumbling alongside the road just before midnight. Myself and my friends stayed silent as we didn't wish to invite a beating from the much larger man by suggesting that he use the footpath.

Just as he stumbled out of sight he was hit by a vehicle that was travelling at 100kmph. We called the emergency services, directed traffic away from the accident scene and were later taken into the Police Station for questioning.

The Police Officer told us that we had all been good boys and done the right thing, but we should have called the emergency services the moment we saw the drunk stumbling along the side of the road. Living in an area where alcoholism is a popular hobby I found this bemusing.

Moral of the story is this. The appropriate course of action might be to call the police every time you see a drunk on the roadside in case there is an accident. Or approach every stranger who is carrying a screaming child in case it is an abduction.

I would suggest though, that from a purely economic perspective the time you spend doing such activities would not be compensated by potentially keeping one more worker earning money for the economy.

Who wants to spend hours talking with authorities? Or be called to court as a witness after getting involved in a domestic dispute? You don't get paid for that and may instead end up losing money. (Say you have to be in court for a day and lose a whole day income).

Anonymous said...

gevlon, if you read the wikipedia page under the headline Attack you see that there were people that "intevened" by shouting and more importantly by calling the police at the initial attack. The story that 38 people looked on as whe was murdered is probably not true but it was a much better story for both the journalist from The Times and for the police that people didnt intervene

Azzur said...

Obviously, it is the Goblin's way to help these people since doing so will help apprehend the undesirables. Also, the victims could've been contributing members of society.

Also, I feel the main point of Gevlon's post is to counter the claim that the M&S thinks that helping others is a good thing. Rather, their agenda is for you to boost them.

Yaggle said...

Fair enough, Gevlon. But if I am ever being murdered but I am saved, I will now know if my rescuer asks to borrow money that the con is on.

Aurèle said...

A trick I learned, if you want to increase your chances of being helped in a public place, point at someone and ask him directly for his help instead of asking randomly: he'll look like a jerk to everybody else around if he doesn't help. It's a social trick, but it works.

Grim said...

What exactly are you trying to prove with this? I seriously don't see any point here.

The bystander effect is well known and understood and has exactly fuck all to do with WoW, socials vs asocials or any other topic I ever recall covered in this blog.

Azuriel said...

What is bewilderingly missing from your analysis is a frank assessment of self-harm that is a part of any interaction in an unstable situation. If I intervene in something and it turns out to be gang-related, my "assisting the economy" means jack-shit to me when my house gets shot up, tires slashed, etc. The drunk man stumbling down the street could actually have an infectious disease, be hopped up on drugs, be in a delirious state, have needles/weapons on him, etc etc etc.

Unless we see a clear sign of being a criminal or leech we can assume that as the victim is generating GDP. [...] then I gave him 25 more years to work. Show me another activity that nets $1.1M over 15 mins!

No, you do not give him 25 years of working. You give him 25 potential years. More likely is that this guy had a heart attack and will be on disability/welfare for the rest of his life, and what you receive is social feel-good feelings and exposure to whatever infections he may be experiencing. There is zero way of knowing what the odds are that this particular guy will do "on average" to the economy. He could be a child molester, wife-beater, or bank executive who profited from the economy's collapse. It can be ethical to save him, but it is not goblin by any stretch of the imagination.

Where you are correct is that it costs nothing and society (generally) gains more when witnesses inform the people who's job it is to intervene in a crisis situation. Crowds just looking or ignoring instead of making the 911 call (anonymously if necessary) are disgusting.

Unheilvoll said...

So if my GDP is low because I'm from a poor country, or I am not part of the work-active population (because I'm old or mentally impaired), it wouldn't be goblinish to help me if I'm being raped or stabbed to death?
Let those retards bumbs die!

Squishalot said...

@ Azzur: "Also, I feel the main point of Gevlon's post is to counter the claim that the M&S thinks that helping others is a good thing. Rather, their agenda is for you to boost them."

No, the main point is to try to show that acting socially = stupid results. The problem with Gevlon's example in today's blog is that acting asocially will get you identical results, therefore, the social onlooker is indistinguishable from the asocial onlooker.

Anonymous said...

@squishalot what gevlon is trying to say is that the goodwill gained by helping someone can actually be worth quite a lot. It the same reason why having a good brand is important. Good will is a very lucrative asset for a business to have. It why when kraft took over Cadburys they tried to assert that the brand would not change, because the brand is considered more valuable then the product.

Also while conformity and social loathing are one explanation, another explanation is found from empathy research. Specifically that at the time the bystanders are being asked for help, they disregard the pleas and treat it as a distraction. In other words they have dehumanised the victim, if only for a short moment. This would explain why social status has an effect as it helps us to empathise with the victim.

Yaggle said...

The victims also could be M&S welfare leech. You could be helping society by letting them die. Likelihood of this is increased, I feel if person is a stumbling drunk though I do not have statistics to prove this. I give Gevlon a pass on this point since he did cite "average".
Also I want to point out obvious risk to yourself that must be factored in. Kitty Genovense was assaulted after 3:15 a.m. in the year 1964. None of those 38 people had cellphones, in fact some probably did not have any phone at all. The assailant confessed to killing 2 other people as well as numerous other violent attacks. Helping Kitty most likely would have gotten you hurt or killed, not an easy $1000 loan you would not have to pay back. The only thing important to take from these stories is how people assume that some other person will make the phone call for help, or like Gevlon says, get a gun(and don't end up like Kitty).

Bobbins said...

I an world that exists due to self interest (capitalism) you expect people to act without any gain?

By passing laws to prosecute 'bystanders' who do nothing would force them to act.

Squishalot said...

@ Anonymous 10:08:

Until you can justify that the benefit associated with the risk that Azuriel has pointed out, I will continue to stand back and make a risk-benefit analysis each time I see a problem in progress. If that means discreetly ringing police, rather than stepping in and physically intervening in the event of a gang-rape, then so be it.

Sum said...

"I can't believe I have to explain why helping someone in danger is goblinish. Unless we see a clear sign of being a criminal or leech we can assume that as the victim is generating GDP... "

Hehe. If there's seriously a person on the planet who, when being confronted by a maniac stabbing someone to death first thinks "Oh no, my share of GDP is at risk!" he's more than asocial, he's nuts. You can not want to help if you're scared, or maybe you just don't care. You may want to help because of empathy or instinct.

But no way does someone have the detachment to start analyzing the probable impact of this person's death on their economical situation.

To be honest, some of the recent stuff in here seems a little like you're trolling. It wouldn't happen to be the case that you've noticed that outrageous claims get most bites and like any good goblin are doing the thing that gives you most profit?

Nizari said...

How about saving her for only being human? How about helping mate that is raped by 3 members of opposite faction? If some high level in Nagrand helps my alt in Ring of Blood (or whatever it's called)just because he felt like it would be nice he is usually rewarded with some high level gems/flasks/consumables. I'm sure some of you lived under Communsim, I have and I know it's case with Gevlon aswell. People back there were much more helpful and case similar to Kitty's would never happened. Same thing applies to the game. Sad thing is, this game is turning into Kew Gardens.

Ephemeron said...

In USA alone, over 560 people are brutally murdered in their workplace each year. People of all industry sectors, from retail sales to finance to engineering to law, are getting shot, stabbed and beaten to death every day in plain sight of their fellow coworkers.

Do you still think that your fellow hard-working professionals will help you? That the asocial business atmosphere will shield you from harm? That goblins are good? Think again - none of you are safe!

Anonymous said...

@yaggle true that cellphones were not available but pones were and it happened by an apartment block so most people would have had a phone, and not have any risks as they are anonymous in their flat. also the benefit from stopping the crime come from not having the area devalued, if a murder happened in your area the sail price for houses flats will go down and insurance goes up.

also murder should never be justified even if it was a psychopath who was killed. there is a much greater benefit to society from rehabilitation, then having people murdered.

@squishalot but even discreetly calling the police would still be providing a benefit. if that stumbling drunk ends up walking in front of a car the driver could face man slaughter for the actions of the drunk. I have a friend in the police and even off duty he still takes responsibility even if it is drunken people stumbling about. the benefits to stopping crimes are mostly about preventing negative consequences then getting positive gains.

ari_ said...


How about helping mate that is raped by 3 members of opposite faction?

Maybe reconsider using a term for sexual violation for a something that happens in a video game.

Squishalot said...

@ Anonymous 13:47:

You're missing the point. I never said that I'm in the business of not providing benefit to other people (note - I have called emergency services to report crimes before, most recently when I drove past a playground late at night and saw the play equipment in flames).

What I and Azuriel are saying is that Gevlon is presenting a one-sided, flawed and grossly misleading analysis by ignoring the fact that there are costs associated with different methods of intervening. What I specifically am saying is that Gevlon's argument, that socials can't be trusted to help, applies equally to asocials, and Gevlon has completely missed the plot in this blog because he's ignored the cost of action and only looked at the benefit in determining the ideal asocial strategy.

The psych theory suggests that people may (note key word 'may' implies possibility, not certainty) be worried about the loss of social stature as a result of a false alarm. Gevlon, however, doesn't take into value the loss of resources to an asocial as a result of a false alarm. He doesn't take into account a loss of anything.

Hence, yet again, he's presenting a flawed analysis. Instead, he's relying on a social trait and hoping that he won't be sued for breaking the law! As a business person, let me tell you - I wouldn't gamble my credit rating on the actions of a random person I don't know. If push came to shove, I'd bet that Gevlon probably wouldn't do it either.

Wilson said...

If you actually read the wikipedia articles that Gevlon links to, you will see that while the "38 witnesses did nothing" is part part of popular culture and social psychology, it is also a myth. There were at most a dozen people who heard something, but most didn't realize it was a woman being violently attacked because a person stabbed in the lung can't scream for help. Nevertheless at least one person did call the police after the initial attack, but they did not respond. The whole "bystander effect" behavior was pretty much invented by a reporter after the fact.

As far as relying on a gun for protection in public goes, see the story of former NFL star Plexico Burress, who just got out of prison. He had a pistol in his pants at a NYC nightclub "for protection", and managed to shoot himself in the leg. It ended up costing him two years in jail and tens of millions of dollars in lost pay and bonuses.

Ayros said...

I can't understand how risking your own life to save someones elses can be anything but a social behavior.
You risk getting some kind of a desease while doing cpr or getting stabed yourself while saving a murderers victim.
In both cases I would call ambulance, cops as benefits are definetly higher then loses, but I don't think I would ever intervene, because I don't think it's worth it risking my own life for a chance that he will give me a loan.

Anonymous said...

"Helping the economy" is the most retarded argument ever brought up, considering the fact that money can be made and created with no regards to someone's productivity.

Every cent you get is injected by the government in the sector you work in. The government contracts a debt in order for you to work.

See the flaw ?

Brindle said...

As to PS2 - too many seem to misunderstand the difference between being asocial with amoral. They are not the same, although some of the Goblinish advice, utilizing scams in particular, are borderline.

David said...

I would argue that in most cases doing nothing seems to be the most "social" response these days. I do not know how many crimes, such as the rash of restaurant assaults here in the U.S., have taken place of late where the only thing a bystander does is make sure (s)he gets it recorded on their cell phone to post to you tube. It seems that the "proper" social response is nothing.

Another good example is if you take a look at crime investigations in any minority dominated neighborhood. People can get be shot in broad day light with out anyone seeing anything apparently. Once more the "proper" social response is to look the other way regardless of the lack of logic in so doing.

I, for one, like Gevlon's more philosophical posts.

Anonymous said...

I heard a few commenters talking about the power of earning goodwill from people and Gevlon talking about earning "bragging rights" which will help him earn money. These all seem like very social actions, earning good will and bragging rights.

You can argue that your reasoning behind these social actions is entirely selfish. But, what I think most asocials miss, is that socials do these actions to succeed and make personal gain as well, its just they are able to do it completely subconciously. Whereas the asocial has to make a risk-reward assessement and make the concious decision beforehand which in reality makes them much less effective.

What I am trying to get at here is that, I dont't believe there is really anything wrong with the "M&S" who just leeches off of his friends skill to complete raids and obtain the same gear as us, while putting in no effort, and a quarter of the time commitment. I'd argue he is twice the goblin as anyone who sold arrows in single batches or refused to save time by saying 'u' instead of "you." The "M&S" was able to have all the same achievements and gear as the goblins here through social interactions, while saving days worth of played time.
You can speak all day about how the PUG is so much more effective then poor socials pulling their M&S friends. But I successfully completed all the WOTLK normal raid content while it was current and watched maybe three videos on encounters.

Bristal said...

Helping an individual in danger is not really goblinish. Too much risk.

PREVENTING that danger, thereby increasing or maintaining the certainty of ownership across society, is goblinish.

Unusual stories of deviant "mob" behavior scare people (and fascinate them).

But widespread lawlessness (or even the perception of it) cause uncertainty, and will bring an economy down, or at least cause wild, unpredictable market fluctuations.

Thus providing security is good for goblins AND good for society, but it's certainly not socially motivated.

Thus the PuG: a secure environment provided by the Goblin, in which the value of activities is maintained and equal throughout the society, further creating value for the Goblin.

As opposed to the lawlessness of the DF, where each one is a crapshoot, and you have limited influence on the outcome; makes a Goblin NUTS.

Anonymous said...

Plexico Burris was a moron and had a gun illegally in NYC. Not to mention his lack of any kind of training or a proper holster for that matter. I carry a gun every single day, as do all of my friends (we aren't law enforcement) and not one of us has shot ourselves in the leg.

I'm with Sum on this one. Gevlon, I think you are trolling, I miss the old blog. The one with the occasional psy post, but mostly bashing M&S.

Azuriel said...

After pondering some more, this post becomes even more ridiculous. If Gevlon's point was "socials" will not help you when you need it, well... duh? Helping strangers in a crisis situation is not social behavior, it is selfless behavior. The examples used in the post, assuming they are relevant in all other respects, demonstrate that strangers tend not to help people. Any moron could have told you that. For the examples to have been actually applicable to something resembling the thesis of the blog, they would have to show that people you know chose not to act in a crisis situation.

The fundamental discrepancy in the social vs asocial argument is the idea that monetary incentives are different than non-monetary incentives. Socials and asocials alike operate from a state of quid pro quo. If an asocial person would perform CPR based on the potential GDP savings to the economy, then a social person would do the same act for someone he/she knew to preserve the "real-life DKP" they accumulated in interactions with the person. At a minimum. Other socials (like myself) would probably intervene because not intervening would haunt me for the rest of my life, and thus I would proactively try to prevent getting stained by those negative feelings.

Guildies get gems/enchants at a discount because there is an expectation that if I need help with something later, I can ask them and they would be somewhat obligated to comply even if they did not feel like it at the time. Random people in Trade Chat do not get the same "free lunch" because I have zero expectations that the person (or anyone) would help, even if I "paid it forward." The people in those news stories are the people in Trade chat, and no sane social would rely on them for help anyway.

Watching a friend get raped/beat/whatever and doing nothing is something else entirely. Even an asocial should see the difference.

Anonymous said...

"Helping strangers in a crisis situation is not social behavior, it is selfless behavior"

Arguably, there is no such thing. There is always a gain from such. It does not have to be something materialistic. It could be as simple as feeling safe again, feeling good because one helped securing the neighborhood, feeling happy because one saved someone's life. That is not selfless.

There's some research about how altruism works in the brain. See e.g.

You've actually stated your reason to help, which is selfish:

"Other socials (like myself) would probably intervene because not intervening would haunt me for the rest of my life, and thus I would proactively try to prevent getting stained by those negative feelings."

You act out of the fear for feeling guilt.

In other words, there is no such thing as pure selfless. There is no such thing as pure selfish either, however. Since actions one takes, others can benefit from.

Sthenno said...

@Last Anonymous: Whether or not you believe in altruism is completely beside the point. The point is that social and asocial has nothing to do with helping strangers. If you are motivated by money or motivated by good feelings you may walk past because you don't want to get involved in a knife fight anyway, you may call the cops anonymously for the peripheral benefit.

But either way when it is your friend getting stabbed you *definitely* call the police and maybe try something heroic. There is no reason to believe, from the (apparently false) stories presented that the decision not to intervene has anything to do with being social or asocial. It has to do with being afraid, being able to convince yourself someone else must have already done something, and just not actually caring that much about people you don't know.

Finally, the idea that a person motivated by money is more likely to help stranger than a person motivated by good feelings seems to require some sort of proof. Good feelings are much more abundantly available as a reward for saving a stranger's life than money is.

Toris said...

Joseph De May Junior have looked at the case of Kitty Genovese, after the fact. It is also discussed in Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt of chicago university and the journalist Stephen J.Dubner.

In reality the case was totally different from the article, the legend is based on. First it was 3.30 in the morning, in a dark alley.
The first attack was interrupted by a man yelling from a window.
Noone saw the opening stab (refer to time), and the woman rose and moved away.

The killer returned later when she had moven into a vestibule.

And the police was actually called, but because it seemed like she had just been beaten they apparently decided not to show.

The killer had confessed to another murder, in which an innocent had been arrested, so its likely that the policechief made the comment fall to avoid scrutiny at the 2 facts that would embarras him.
A prosecuter on the case also stated that only 6 witnesses was actually found.

KevMar said...

I saw a lot of this research a while back and took it to heart. Any time I can help, I do.

One thing I do remember is that if you are the victim, then single out one person and ask them to help. Don't ask for someone to help, but point at someone and tell them to help you. Now all eyes are on him to step up or be shamed by the crowd.