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Book Review: Survival of the Nicest

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 176

jsuda writes "In a world of intractable wars and conflicts, spiteful and persistent political gridlock dominating (at least) American politics, rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition and exploitation, and haters everywhere, Stephen Klein tries to convince us why it pays to get along. In Survival of the Nicest he says that we can be, and ought to be, 'nice' for our personal and social benefits." Read below for jsuda's review.Mr. Klein constructs arguments deriving from current brain research and genetics; economics, history, and social psychology; game theory; and behavioral and anthropological experiments which are intriguing, to say the least. Klein is an acclaimed science writer and writes about complex ideas in an accessible (if not always coherent) manner. He has a remarkable synthetic overview of a large number of elements which condition human economic decisions and behavior. He draws upon individual human stories, social science research, and especially game theory and economic logic to show that purely rational self-interested behavior is rare and probably impossible on a broad, societal level. He implies that the macroeconomic theories of the Austrian school of essential self-interest are reductionist at best. Society would eventually collapse and die off without a substantial amount of altruism particularly when under stress from environmental or competitive pressures.

Emotions, psychology, and cultural conditioning play a huge role in how people interact with each other in terms of selfish versus social decisions and behaviors. He cites natural and social science research which suggests that giving and altruism are essential for happiness itself. (There's even a biochemical basis for this in oxytocin and other substances.) Elements of community-level trust and fairness are probably more prominent than naked economic calculations. He gives many examples of how these elements of trust and fairness run counter and (or are complementary) to what ought to be expected from pure self interested logic and calculation.

He also points out that even the perceived effectiveness of reason and logic strategies depends on often-ignored assumptions like differences in consequences over short, medium, and long terms, the presence of imperfect knowledge, and the like. He sprinkles numerous examples of how game theory favorites like The Prisoner's Dilemma, The Free Rider Game, Ultimatum, and the amazingly effective Tit-for-Tat strategy (where a certain short-term level of--irrational--trust is essential to its success) are relevant for a whole host of social and economic situations.

There are intricate arguments about how game-like stratagems combined with tribalist elements condition self-interest and social-interest behaviors. Surprisingly, he argues how the success of generosity and good-naturedness depend on the presence of some degree of self-interest. Community-wide mores depend on an us-them competitive situation where the tribal effects unify people into efficient social structures where altruism is essential for the group to compete with and/or defeat outsiders. If and when that competition subsides, the group may then develop "freeloaders" who will increase in number in effect and collapse the social interest by rejecting its mores of trust and fairness.

The historical perspective on all of this is not very well developed or very coherent nor are the references to evolutionary theory. Mr. Klein sides with the proponents of the current controversy over group genetic selection position versus the more established individual selection position. He argues that generosity is hardwired into the human species at both the individual and group levels. Nevertheless, Klein shows that the selfish-vs-social attitudes have evolved over the centuries due to advanced philosophical concepts and the influence of condensing world geography, cultural shifts, and globalization-like elements.

He draws upon this evolutionary process to propose that we are in a historical period (The Global Village) where people are becoming more and more interdependent, unified by communication and transportation developments, and less tribal (at the national and cultural levels, at least) than before. These events will likely promote greater elements of trust, converging senses of fairness, and a recognition of the long term efficiencies of social behavior versus that of the mere self-interested personal attitude.

As a better educated society (mainly in economic efficiency theory and morality) we can change our thinking about how we relate to one another. We will recognize the evolutionary advantages to altruism. We can practice habits of fairness and altruism. Interestingly, he refers to science which categorizes humans as comprised of three main groups: about one third are consistently self interested, one-fifth are consistently altruists, and the rest are pragmatic opportunists who act depending on the environmental variables. Optimistically, he states "The Future Belongs to the Altruists."

I don't know how convincing this book can or will be given the enormous tidal wave of selfishness and narcissism which seemingly has infected our world. It seems right that a new way of thinking is a start towards something different, anyway, and this book certainly is intriguing and thought provoking.

You can purchase Survival of the Nicest: How Altruism Made Us Human and Why It Pays to Get Along from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews (sci-fi included) -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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b e t a creators are not the nicest (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46269883)

Will they survive then?

Re:b e t a creators are not the nicest (0)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46269909)

I really detest beta, but "beta sucks" is quickly becoming a joke meme a la "beowulf cluster" in terms of no one taking the post seriously anymore.

(Imagine a beowulf cluster of beta.slashdot.org. *shudder*)

Re:b e t a creators are not the nicest (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46269949)

Re:b e t a creators are not the nicest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270231)

Awesome, they finally managed to get ancient slashcode (pre-D2) running.

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46294601)

And since slashcode has only gotten worse since "pre-D2", this represents a major upgrade -- XP >> Win8.

All-powerful poopy pumpernickel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46269975)

I tend to agree with such things.

Congratulations. (4, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46269885)

You've just reinvented "enlightened self-interest" under the 1 millionth new name! Click here to claim your prize.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46270481)

"You've just reinvented "enlightened self-interest" under the 1 millionth new name! Click here to claim your prize."

I also wish they'd get their economics straight. Exploitation is not "capitalist". Exploitation tends to occur even more in non-capitalist economies. In fact, exploitation of others is directly contrary to Smithian capitalism and free markets, which depend on purely voluntary exchanges. Exploitation is rather the opposite of "voluntary".

Re:Congratulations. (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46270553)

You can exploit the hell out of people with their "consent" when they're left with no other options(see modern human trafficking for details), or when you're compelling them in ways that don't happen to be illegal. The pragmatic reality of starvation tends to intrude on Smiths perfect hyper-rational world, and the only laissez faire answer to that is social darwinism. I don't disagree with your implied premise that other systems such as fuedalism, Stalinism, or slavery exploited people in far worse ways, but that doesn't necessarily lead to a path where free-market capitalism is the ideal.

Re:Congratulations. (2)

Livius (318358) | about 8 months ago | (#46270787)

Maybe exploitation isn't a strictly either-or concept.

Re:Congratulations. (1, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46271041)

"You can exploit the hell out of people with their "consent" when they're left with no other options"

Nonsense. That isn't "consent". There's nothing "voluntary" about that at all. Coerced behavior is not "voluntary", in any sense of the term. They are mutually exclusive.

"The pragmatic reality of starvation tends to intrude on Smiths perfect hyper-rational world, and the only laissez faire answer to that is social darwinism"

Smith described the provably best economic system the world has ever seen, which led to a smaller percentage of people starving than ever in history. Can you somehow show that is not true? I doubt it, since it is a fact.

Even China has fewer starving people now that it has adopted more elements of Capitalism.

History doesn't lie: no economic system has ever beaten capitalism. Not one. Ever.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46271915)

You're reaching.
It comes off as "Consent is defined the exactly the set of things I need it to be for my world-view to be ideal, rather than the conventional definition"

Re:Congratulations. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46272285)

Nonsense. Those people are forced into suboptimal actions by others taking actions which limit their choices, for their own benefit. It's exploitation, there is no consent in that situation on any side.

Re:Congratulations. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46273241)

"Voluntary" means something you VOLUNTEER to do. If you are forced or coerced into it, that isn't volunteering so it isn't voluntary. It's that simple.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46275325)

Yeah, and if you volunteer for something becaues your options are "A. take this specific offer, however constraining or B. die from starvation/preventable illness" it doesn't fit the 'classic' model of coercion, and the libertarian crowd would be all for it.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46279109)

"Yeah, and if you volunteer for something becaues your options are "A. take this specific offer, however constraining or B. die from starvation/preventable illness" it doesn't fit the 'classic' model of coercion"

As long as there are people constraining you to those choices, yes it does. In fact what you describe is very close to the definition of coercion.

"and the libertarian crowd would be all for it."

Nonsense. That is exactly the kind of situation that Libertarians are vehemently against. Again you demonstrate that you don't know the slightest thing about what you're talking about. You don't have to take my word for it. Go to the Libertarian party website and read about their actual position on force and coercion.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46279179)

Yeah, I call bullshit on the fact that that's not what libertarians actually say at all. Postmodern liberalism is much closer to the philosophy you're ascribing there.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46280917)

"Yeah, I call bullshit on the fact that that's not what libertarians actually say at all. "

Then you haven't been listening to "real" Libertarians. By that I mean people who are members of the actual party, or who are familiar with and subscribe to its actual principles.

Of course, it also depends on whether you are speaking of "libertarian" (a general attitude) or "Libartarian" (an actual philosophy and political party). It is unclear which because you have spelled it both ways.

Many people call themselves Libertarians who aren't. Just as many people who call themselves Republicans are really RINOs, or how some people who are really Socialists call themselves Democrats. Hell, some people have even mistaken Tea Party for Libertarian, when they aren't even close to the same things. Others seem to think Libertarians are really Anarchists, but there are very few if any similarities.

The ACTUAL Libertarian party backs the U.S. Constitution, and all the laws and regulations that are NECESSARY to make that work. No more, no less. If you have a problem with that, then tell me what it is.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46286013)

Yeah, yeah, no true Scotsmen put sugar on their oatmeal. I know.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46289319)

"Yeah, yeah, no true Scotsmen put sugar on their oatmeal. I know."

Except it's not a "true Scotsman" argument. Because I'm not just defining "Libertarian" off-the-cuff, as would be required for a True Scotsman argument. The Libertarian party has a very definite, written, official platform and it is there on their website for anybody to read. So there is no ambiguity about what a "true" Libertarian is. It is not a matter of opinion or interpretation. Therefore it's not a "true Scotsman" situation at all.

Seriously, man. Take a class on debate. Learn how to tell the REAL logical fallacies from something that just kind of looks like one in your opinion. (THAT'S not a "true Scotsman" argument either, because like Libertarians, logical fallacies are well-defined.)

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46271917)

"Democracy with good balances between social support/market freedom and private/public sectors within a mixed economy led to a smaller percentage of people starving than ever in history."

There, fixed that for you.

As it stands for the last 30 odd years starting with Thatcher/Reagan and the emergence of neo-liberalism, a vast proportion of the western world has been on a steady road to destroying this balance by eroding social support in favour of market freedom (don't want to work for $5 an hour? Guess you'll just have to starve), and destroying the public sector in favour of private sector (so that now basic needs like electricity, food, water, healthcare, etc are all beholden to the gods of profit and infinite growth). But lo! The great capitalist wisemen all shout "Competition promotes innovation and efficiency!" (...and environmental destruction, lowered wages, a captive workforce, unsafe work conditions, disproportionate wages for the upper tiers (the parasite tiers) of the strictly hierarchical corporate dictatorship).

Re:Congratulations. (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about 8 months ago | (#46272833)

Except during that time, the majority of the world embraced the opposite side from that, where the state owned everything, and 'planned' the economy. All it did was result in shortages, starvation, and misery.

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46272475)

I suggest you reading single news about western states+bank dealings past few years and explain me how what is happening is capitalism :D

Btw i suggest you check up what communist's did in russia... they freaking spend loads of money developing computers in soviet union partly
because their scientists figured in 1950's that by 1980's the goverments pricing system will employ all people there is in soviet union leaving no people left for production :D they tried to run state as capitalistic as possible, but ran into problem they couldn't find the price for goods effectively, by 60's they had computer systems doing pricing, but the fundamental problem of pricing problem they didnt solve actually... they did spent quite many manhours without Logical solution for
Minmax this has direct consequences for modern stock trading that is done mostly by computer algorithms... they are by example set by russians fundamentally
broken and only inflates bubble (i suggest you check up on historic inflation graphs energy consumption etc and how those got untied when statistic measures were changed on inflation +banks could easily asses inflation since 95% of money is in digital form... guesss whos at losing end... ordinary citizen

people are hoaxed by Simple absolute living conditions when capitalism is relative measure, if your counting capitalism can feed vs something that can't your not thinking in terms of capitalism, heck your not even at level of hunter gatherers some of em had population control and assigned hunting lands so they would survive instead of starving)

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46273715)

Smith described the provably best economic system the world has ever seen, which led to a smaller percentage of people starving than ever in history. Can you somehow show that is not true? I doubt it, since it is a fact.

Hahaha, you have a LOT to learn when you're out of high school, kid. Don't feel bad, all of us were just as naive as you at one point in our lives :)

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46275493)

History doesn't lie: no economic system has ever beaten capitalism. Not one. Ever.

History is a story, it is not always accurate, and like most stories it is written from a limited view.

In what sense "beaten" capitalism? Like with a war? I agree capitalism is the leader of war currently.
But break it down to two people, caplitilism means one makes a profit, which means the other makes a loss.

But your argument stikes me of denial, 200 years ago you would have said, 'History doesn't lie: no government system has ever beaten monarchy . Not one. Ever'.
You'll never advance thinking like that.

Re:Congratulations. (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46270653)

You see that gold mine over there? Imma exploit the shit outta that bitch, and getting your panties in a twist over nomenclature ain't gonna stop me!

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46271081)

"You see that gold mine over there? Imma exploit the shit outta that bitch, and getting your panties in a twist over nomenclature ain't gonna stop me!"

"Nomenclature" aside, exploiting a piece of ground is different from exploiting people. Some people might use them together but they are not the same things.

Re:Congratulations. (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46272007)

Some people might use them together

Aww, it's like capitalism for toddlers!

Re:Congratulations. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46270723)

Exploitation is rather the opposite of "voluntary".

What utter nonsense. Many people are exploited in their jobs. Yet they could give up the job.

The antonym of exploitation is fairness.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46271153)

"What utter nonsense. Many people are exploited in their jobs. Yet they could give up the job."

Exploit n. To take advantage of (a person, situation, etc), esp unethically or unjustly for one's own ends

If you don't leave, then you are consenting. Freely given consent implies voluntary. There is no contradiction there. However: if the consent is not freely given, then it may not be voluntary.

Just so we don't get caught up in a scuffle over terminology: when I wrote "exploit" I meant it in the sense of "to coerce".

A coerced agreement may be consent but it is not FREELY GIVEN consent. That is the difference. A person might feel it is the best choice under the circumstances, but coercion implies a lack of alternatives, so the consent is not freely given.

Example: American cable TV and internet companies. In most parts of the U.S., their use can be said to be coerced because there are few if any other choices. If you want broadband internet, you rent cable service from the only company in town. As a result, you pay higher rates than if there was healthy competition. The higher prices are exploitative because your choices have been artificially narrowed; it is not a "free" market.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46272305)

If you don't leave, then you are consenting.

But if you do leave, then you may wind up homeless, which is essentially a crime in the USA. And it's non-trivial to leave the country — just try, say, walking across Mexico. Or even driving across it, without some prior planning, not to mention funding.

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46272367)

So you're saying that having a job, which enables you to have a home and food is being exploited. Got it, thanks for clearing that up.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46272401)

So you're saying that having a job, which enables you to have a home and food is being exploited.

You have it all wrong. Being subjected to artificial scarcity is being exploited; in turn, it requires you to have a job. This is separate from having to work.

Not surprised to see a coward fail to understand the difference. Run along in fear now, child.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46276713)

No coward. He never said all jobs are being exploited. There are lots of fair employers. There are also lots of unfair employers (not necessarily in the same areas, nor employing the same kinds of workers), and they are indeed exploiting their workers.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46276659)

Example: American cable TV and internet companies. In most parts of the U.S., their use can be said to be coerced because there are few if any other choices.

Right, and the same thing applies to work for many people. The are exploited, the could resign, as it's not slavery. Yet they don't have any other choice of work, at least none that isn't equally exploitative. And without work, they and their families starve.

Now I'm glad that you don't consider that these people are doing those jobs voluntarily, but most right wingers and libertarians would say they do.

As I said, a better antonym for exploited is fairness (or to be treated fairly).

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46270533)

I should add: he also seems to have the mistaken impression that Austrian economics is somehow anathema to altruism, which is ridiculous.

To be blunt, either the author or OP needs a lot of schooling in both politics and economics. One of the two is -- or perhaps both are -- conflating completely separate ideas into a great, hopeless muddle.

Based on this review, I think this is a book that can be safely ignored without negative consequences.

Re:Congratulations. (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46270581)

Well, Austrian economics is easy to take apart as pseudo-scientific bullshit based on fundamentally flawed assumptions rather than empiricism, so forgive my lack of concern over that quibble, especially since the neoliberal policies that are treated as the conclusion of the theory are fundamentally an anathema to altruism.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46271217)

"Well, Austrian economics is easy to take apart as pseudo-scientific bullshit based on fundamentally flawed assumptions rather than empiricism, so forgive my lack of concern over that quibble, especially since the neoliberal policies that are treated as the conclusion of the theory are fundamentally an anathema to altruism."

Nice troll. You didn't address the actual point but used it as a jumping off point to change the subject and rant about your lack of education in economics.

Please give us an actual example of these fundamental flaws you describe, rather than painting with such broad, vague brushes. I can say any school of economics is based on flawed assumptions, but without an actual example it amounts to nothing more than hot air.

Also, despite Wikipedia's use of the word, Austrian economics pre-dated "neo-liberalism" by several decades.

Re:Congratulations. (3, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46271369)

You didn't address the actual point but used it as a jumping off point to change the subject and rant about your lack of education in economics.

Yeah, thinking Austrian school has no bearing on reality is reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal "uneducated" of me. Yep.

an example of a fundamental flaw, for the pedantic and self-righteous:
The fundamental "axiom"(note this bizzare and outlandish term used for hypotheses, that in science would be tested, not assumed) of action, which posits:
"human beings take conscious action towards chosen goals."

Now... if you've ever met a person, you would no the frequently make no effort or action towards their personal goals. You might say "well that's just people being lazy, economics is for people who work," but almost every major praxology in the of Austrian economics takes the axiom of action as an assumption about the entire population.

Now people throw in post-hoc and ad-hoc justifications for why these things don't matter like the efficient market hypothesis, but in the end, the Austrian school has no empircal roots and can basically be considered bunk in a non-hypothetical world.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46271473)

"Yeah, thinking Austrian school has no bearing on reality is reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal "uneducated" of me. Yep."

Yep. Austrian economists INVENTED many of the principles and equations that other schools of economics use as fundamental tools. But you didn't seem to be aware of that.

But... nice example! It just so happens, that Keynesian economics and Neo-Classical economics (which together make up the majority of "mainstream" economists today) ALSO rely, at their very roots, on the fundamental principle that "human beings take conscious action towards chosen goals."

Which means that to the extent Austrian economics is wrong, those other schools of economics are wrong, too. (They teach you in Econ 101 that an underlying assumption of all of economics is that human beings make rational choices to maximize their own benefit.)

So... congratulations! You just shot down basically the entire science of economics, in one Slashdot post. Or not.

Re:Congratulations. (2)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46271851)

They teach you in Econ 101 that an underlying assumption of all of economics is that human beings make rational choices to maximize their own benefit.

A statement which is not actually true. For example, the Austrian school doesn't make that assumption and a lot of economic behavior studies are about how humans appear to deviate from rational choice making.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46273295)

"A statement which is not actually true. For example, the Austrian school doesn't make that assumption and a lot of economic behavior studies are about how humans appear to deviate from rational choice making."

(1) I didn't claim Austrian economics includes that idea, GP did. My comment referred to other schools of economics.

And (2) show me an Econ 101 class in a U.S. university that teaches Austrian economics. I've never heard of one. I don't necessarily think it's a bad idea though.

Regardless, just about all the equations in macroeconomics are based in the idea that people are making rational decisions. They HAVE TO be: you can't predict the outcome of irrational behavior. Assuming irrational behavior would invalidate most of mainstream economic "science".

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46271897)

Yeah, I had a feeling the phrase "econ 101" would come up, because that's as far as any Austrian dipshits ever seem to pay attention.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46273327)

"Yeah, I had a feeling the phrase "econ 101" would come up, because that's as far as any Austrian dipshits ever seem to pay attention."

That seems like a pretty arrogant ad-hominem for somebody who couldn't find a real reason for claiming Austrian economics is wrong.

Get back to me when you have an actual argument to make.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46275333)

I made an actual argument, and you haven't defended the notion of axiomatic idiocy at all. Because guess what: sane economists, contrary to your delusions, don't use it.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46278891)

"I made an actual argument, and you haven't defended the notion of axiomatic idiocy at all. Because guess what: sane economists, contrary to your delusions, don't use it."

I could find 100 authoritative sources, but I'm not going to bother.

From Wikipedia's page on "economics" [wikipedia.org] , paragraph 1, sentence 1:

"Economics is the social science that studies how rational individuals, groups, and organizations (called economic actors, players, or agents), manage scarce resources"

[emphasis added]

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46279167)

OOOh, looky there you answered jack shit about why praxology isn't retarded, my key point, because, surprise: you don't understand Austrian school.

I'm not sure you even understand your own points.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46280753)

"OOOh, looky there you answered jack shit about why praxology isn't retarded, my key point, because, surprise: you don't understand Austrian school."

It's not my fault you don't understand how to argue.

As a reminder, THIS is what this whole exchange has been about:

"human beings take conscious action towards chosen goals"

Which, as I stated and then demonstrated via that wikipedia link, is not at all limited to the Austrian school, but is in fact a fundamental axiom of ALL "scientific" economics. If Wikipedia is not an authoritative enough source for you, try pickup up a book on the subject.

Changing the goalposts will get you nowhere. If you want to make a different argument, go ahead and make it, but don't pretend it's the same one.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46286005)

Nope. That's not what you did, and you know it.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46289177)

"Nope. That's not what you did, and you know it."

Yes, that is exactly what I did. I showed you that all of economics assumes what I quoted above. You were trying to use it as an argument against the Austrian school, and I pointed out that it is common to ALL of economics. So if the Austrians are wrong about that, then so is everybody else.

I'm not going to bother to prove it any further because just about any college economics book you can find will frigging well tell you the same thing.

I have nothing further to say. I made my point, I demonstrated its truth, and further argument from you means nothing to me.

Re:Congratulations. (3, Interesting)

Livius (318358) | about 8 months ago | (#46270749)

It still astonishes me that people can so readily embrace the fact that humans are like other animals and yet fail to understand that humans are social animals and are most like other social animals.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#46270871)

This should seriously piss off the Libertardian Social Darwinists.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46271965)

What doesn't? When nothing short of people starving to death(as if that's the way people would choose to go out when crime is an option) will satisfy you, you aren't going to be satisfied in any society that works.

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46274579)

Humans are like other animals indeed. Human "civilization" is still founded on the principle of coercion -- might makes right -- same as in the animal kingdom. The day when human beings finally rise above the animal kingdom is the day that human beings abandon coercion as their guiding principal.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 months ago | (#46271071)

We're good on the "self interest" bit. It's the "enlightened" part that we seem to have so much trouble with.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

sanjacguy (908392) | about 8 months ago | (#46271113)

You've just reinvented "enlightened self-interest" under the 1 millionth new name! Click here to claim your prize.

Too bad nobody can ever seem to agree on what the enlightened part actually is.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46271877)

If it's my self-interest, then it's enlightened.

Plagiarism (2, Insightful)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 8 months ago | (#46269891)

The Buddha is really pissed at Stefan Klein and has hired a battery of lawyers to sue his ass off.

Re:Plagiarism (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 8 months ago | (#46270357)

+5 funny, Bhudda wouldn't have sued anyone (great parody, good job) Christ isn't happy either, he doesn't much like lawyers. [mcgrewbooks.com] Or greedy, selfish people, and neither does Bhudda.

There isn't a single religion I know of except mammon worshipers (the US's primary religion) that have anything good to say about society's actions. It seems society has forgotten everything ever said by any sage or wise man and has become sociopathic.

Selfishness and greed and having no thought for your fellow man are not normal. [psmag.com] Someone needs to find a cure for our sick society before it succumbs completely to this deadly disease.

Re:Plagiarism (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 8 months ago | (#46270985)

Don't worry, it's a self-correcting problem.

LONG LIVE SOYLNET NEWS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46269913)

RIP Classic Slashdot
SWIFT DEATH to Beta
LONG LIVE Soylent News

Not buying it. (1, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 8 months ago | (#46270007)

Book is probably written by a selfish asshole trying to convince the rest of us to be pushovers to his advantage.

Re:Not buying it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270031)

I much agree. Empathy is how we connect, those who feel for each other help each other. Yes, but it's not the only way.

I feel like his pizzaz is trying to simplify something that is inherently complex, not able to be simplified.

Re:Not buying it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270099)

Exactly this. It's why we have the nice guys (Democrats) always giving in to the Republicans. Every single law passed is what they want. Just look at the ACA. The Democrats were too nice and let the Republicans define every single part of it. The Republicans copied their RmoneyCare scam they shoved down the throats of Massachusetts, and talked the Democrats into voting for it. Now, we are suffering under the Republican plan with their incompetently run exchanges.

Re:Not buying it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270251)

Trolling, or irony?

altruism (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | about 8 months ago | (#46270013)

Yes, the meek inherit a 3-by-8 foot plot of the earth.

Re:altruism (2)

StefanJ (88986) | about 8 months ago | (#46270179)

Mmmm.

Everybody inherits a 3 x 8 foot plot of earth.

It might be concealed under tons of vanity, but in the end, that is all you get.

Re:altruism (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46270703)

Hardly. The sufficiently wealthy get mausoleums.

Re:altruism (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 8 months ago | (#46270993)

I'll bet they enjoy them equally as much.

Re:altruism (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46272463)

I'm betting they enjoy them about 1,000,000x more ;-)

Re:altruism (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 8 months ago | (#46273087)

Well played, sir. Well played. :-)

Re:altruism (1)

wagr (1070120) | about 8 months ago | (#46270245)

If we stack them with the rest of the family, they won't complain. After all, they're meek. And nice.

There are a lot who don't even inherit that. A few ashes, maybe a lantern to float down the river.

Re:altruism (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 8 months ago | (#46270375)

They wouldn't complain anyway, corpses don't care what you do to them.

Re:altruism (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 8 months ago | (#46277063)

They wouldn't complain anyway, corpses don't care what you do to them.

Unless, of course, you re-animate them. Then things tend to get dicey (sort of like Dice Holdings...)

rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270017)

Rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? Where, exactly? The worst offenders here appear to be state sanctioned monopolies [slashdot.org] and regulation induced oligopolies leveraging their influence to gain advantage. That's not market economics.

Capitalism isn't a blanket designation for all the things you don't like, even if invoking it with abandon is a perfectly safe thing to do given the prevailing group-think.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270191)

Rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? Where, exactly? The worst offenders here appear to be state sanctioned monopolies [slashdot.org] and regulation induced oligopolies leveraging their influence to gain advantage. That's not market economics.

Capitalism isn't a blanket designation for all the things you don't like, even if invoking it with abandon is a perfectly safe thing to do given the prevailing group-think.

And government interference isn't a blank designation for all the things you don't like.

A lot of regulation induced oligopolies got that way because they were already grown so big that they could afford to buy government favor.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270319)

And government interference isn't a blank designation for all the things you don't like.

A lot of regulation induced oligopolies got that way because they were already grown so big that they could afford to buy government favor.

And buying government favor isn't a part of capitalism, it's a perversion of it.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1, Redundant)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46270699)

And buying government favor isn't a part of capitalism, it's a perversion of it.

Unless you're a defence contractor. Then, it's apple pies all way down.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46270781)

>And buying government favor isn't a part of capitalism, it's the purpose of it.
FTFY.

The purpose of capitalism is right there in the name - to favor those with capital. If you don't control enough wealth to leverage it to generate more wealth at an efficiency comparable to the nobility, then you're just grist for the mill. If the powerful are particularly efficient they'll implement polices like a savings tax, aka sustained monetary inflation, that ensure that you can't even save what little wealth you mange to accumulate, but have to hand it over to them to "manage on your behalf" just to keep your liquid assets from evaporating.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46271375)

"The purpose of capitalism is right there in the name - to favor those with capital."

Not really. That is about the most sarcastic and pessimistic interpretation of the word "capitalism" possible.

Never mind dictionary definitions when it comes to technical subjects. They show popular usage, not necessarily technically accurate definitions. When MOST economists say "capitalism", they mean free-market capitalism ala Adam Smith.

And free-market capitalism is NOT about exploitation, or greed, or selfishness, or any of those things. It is not about coerced exchange of goods. It is about the voluntary exchange of goods.

Even Smith, clear back then, recognized that monopoly and oligopoly are enemies of REAL capitalism, and wrote that society would need antitrust laws to keep them from forming... to keep everybody playing WITHIN the free-market rules.

It is extremely obvious that the U.S. government has (and State governments have) not been doing their jobs in that respect.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46271543)

I didn't finish my post: what that means is that the more greedy corporations are, and the more government cooperates with them, the LESS you have genuine, free-market capitalism. These are not flaws of capitalism per se, because capitalism actually requires anti-trust regulation. They are failures of government.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46272691)

>It is about the voluntary exchange of goods. ... and services, in order to optimize for the efficient allocation of capital. That's about as close to an ideal text-book definition of capitalism as you can get.

And it just so happens that a system designed for the efficient allocation of capital disproportionately favors those who actually possess enough capital to play the game efficiently. Almost every endeavor in the world displays significant economies of scale, any system that optimizes a capital-based economy without addressing that fact is going to, by necessity, also optimize the flow of wealth uphill.

Also, you're invoking the "No true Scotsman" fallacy. By your definition REAL capitalism has never existed, because true free markets have never existed. Free markets are the economist's equivalent to a physicist's spherical cow on a frictionless plane. Great for a first-order approximation of how a system works, but largely useless when it comes to accurately predicting or engineering outcomes, even *without* nefarious influences. The problem is that economists rarely address this issue, instead blaming the discrepancies between theory and practice on imperfections in the real world. Which is ridiculous. There are no flaws in the real world. The world is as it is - any flaws are in the theory which fails to adequately model the reality that it claims to explain. Any other view is analogous to claiming that Newton's 5 laws (or was it 6?) were perfectly correct, and relativistic phenomena are due to flaws in the universe, rather than acknowledging that the first three laws are only approximations and the others (absolute space, absolute time) were flat out wrong.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46272783)

Damn slashdot and it's hatred for lines that start with a leading ellipsis. I trust you can figure out where the quote ends and my comment begins.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46273273)

"Also, you're invoking the "No true Scotsman" fallacy. By your definition REAL capitalism has never existed"

No, I'm not. I'm referring to capitalism as described by Adam Smith, who is widely recognized as the person who first codified "capitalism" as an economic theory (even though he didn't use that exact phrase). I didn't just pull it out of my ass. It has a real definition, and it ISN'T just "using private capital for production". That's overly simplistic.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46273919)

Doesn't matter who said it. If God himself defined capitalism as something that has never existed in the real world, then the term is worthless outside a philosopher's soiree. Insofar as it describes a real-world economic system you've got a "Scotsman" on your hands.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46273973)

"Doesn't matter who said it. If God himself defined capitalism as something that has never existed in the real world, then the term is worthless outside a philosopher's soiree."

I suppose I might agree with you, if that were so. The problem is that it isn't. The economics Smith wrote about were pretty much the economics of everyday existence at the time he wrote it.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46276889)

Careful, don't go painting the past with too golden a brush there. Patents for example (originally government-granted monopolies for various trades) were quite popular *long* before Smith came on the scene. His world was perhaps a fair bit closer to the ideal than today (it'd be hard not to be), but the incestuous coziness between government and business powers extends back as far as we have records. Not to mention the collusion between powerful businessmen. Such collusion wasn't even illegal for most of civilized history - as merchants it's a bad business move to screw over the nobility too much, but they don't much care how badly you screw over the commoners.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46278957)

"Patents for example (originally government-granted monopolies for various trades) were quite popular *long* before Smith came on the scene. His world was perhaps a fair bit closer to the ideal than today (it'd be hard not to be), but the incestuous coziness between government and business powers extends back as far as we have records. Not to mention the collusion between powerful businessmen."

All true, but these things have absolutely nothing to do with the point I made.

"Such collusion wasn't even illegal for most of civilized history - as merchants it's a bad business move to screw over the nobility too much, but they don't much care how badly you screw over the commoners."

Again all true, but absolutely irrelevant to the point I made. Smith recognized that these practices must be regulated for the health of the overall economy, in order for a "capital-based" system to work properly.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46279043)

To clarify: I will admit that to the extent these things are true, Smith wasn't describing his "real world".

But he was codifying how that real economic real world should work, if it were to work robustly. To that extent (which was part of my point), he wrote that abuses of the system, such as coercion, monopoly and oligopoly should be prevented. And of course the only real preventative agent is government.

I would argue that the years prior to 1929, and for a while after WWII, in the U.S. that "ideal" was reached to an extent never seen before or since, and partly because of that, they were also some of the most productive years in history.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46279539)

I would argue that the years prior to 1929, and for a while after WWII, in the U.S. that "ideal" was reached to an extent never seen before or since, and partly because of that, they were also some of the most productive years in history.

That part is a very small part. What allowed for high productivity was Pax Britanica (years prior to 1929) and Pax Americana (after WWII). Productivity was also high during Pax Romana.

What enables productivity is strong empires and hegemony that people trust. Knowing the government, acting as world police, is on your side is what gives people the confidence to produce and trade.

Nowadays however, more people are less trusting of the US-led hegemony. Now, I'm not saying they should blindly start trusting the government. I'm just saying high productivity is more about that faith and trust than whatever economic ideal you chase after. Even the Soviets could produce things for a time when people still believed in the dream.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46279823)

I don't disagree that Smith described part of an efficient economic system, though even he acknowledged that it was only part of the solution, and that there was a moral need to provide succor to the inevitable losers in the game.

However, you also just used invoked one of the most dangerous words in existence: should. "...real world should work,...". As soon as you discuss how things "should" work you've departed from reality. "Shoulds" can be held up as ideals to strive for, but they *cannot* be used to build upon, because they aren't real. If you can figure out how to get things to actually work the way they "should", *then* you can build upon them, but they're no longer "shoulds", they've become "ares". Imagine the results if an engineer attempted to build a bridge that "should" have several support columns along it's length, but he didn't bother with actually building that aspect. Why should we expect social policies be any different?

Without first addressing your prerequisite "shoulds" you have to firmly confront the reality that will likely be created by your system if it's implemented with all the "shoulds" replaced by what actually *is*. And by that measure capitalism still falls far short as an ethical economic model. Still far better than feudalism, but many of the various attempts at socialism seem to be having more success, more cheaply.

At the end of the day we have to ask ourselves, what it the *purpose* of an economy. I would propose that the purpose is to promote the social good, as defined by those in power. In aristocracy that's the nobility, but in a democracy I would hope that would be *everybody*, especially the most vulnerable, even if optimization in such a scenario is a fair bit more complicated.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46280841)

"I don't disagree that Smith described part of an efficient economic system, though even he acknowledged that it was only part of the solution, and that there was a moral need to provide succor to the inevitable losers in the game."

Yes, he did, but he -- like Jeremy Bentham -- felt that should be private charity and outside "the economy" per se. He gave his personal "blessing" to Bentham's book on the subject.

" As soon as you discuss how things "should" work you've departed from reality."

Just as does EVERY discussion of economics. You cannot discuss the theory otherwise, so that's hardly a criticism.

"And by that measure capitalism still falls far short as an ethical economic model."

Short of what? If capitalism has (as it demonstrably has) generated more wealth for the common man, such that fewer have gone hungry than ever before, how does it "fall short"? You mean compared to all those other models that just as demonstrably worked less well, and resulted in more starvation?

If so, I think that's a pretty weird definition of "ethics".

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46281189)

>Just as does EVERY discussion of economics.
And I would argue this is a major flaw in the entire field of macroeconomics - if your entire field is built upon a foundation of "shoulds" that have never existed, then you're dealing with ivory-tower philosophy rather than anything approaching science. Not that I have any objection to the existence of such fields, but they should be regarded with a grain of salt in serious conversation. *Especially* when they have such blatantly political implications. As it is though we have a blatantly self-serving feedback between the largely baseless speculations of economists who haven't bothered to even *attempt* a scientific validation of their theories, and a political body that wields those theories as a banner under which to advance their own ends.

>how does it "fall short"?
Yes, it's better than most of the alternatives we've tried (though as I've said modern socialism is showing a LOT of promise), but it's still far short of the point where a group of impartial ethics judges could be reasonably expected to agree "this is an ethical way to distribute the wealth of a society". Giving you a recreational beating doesn't become ethical just because I refrained from also raping and killing you.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46289273)

Yes, it's better than most of the alternatives we've tried (though as I've said modern socialism is showing a LOT of promise), but it's still far short of the point where a group of impartial ethics judges could be reasonably expected to agree "this is an ethical way to distribute the wealth of a society".

I don't see how it's not impartial. If it makes more peoples' lives better, and simultaneously improves their freedom of choice, why would you NOT call that ethical? Certainly our current "system" in the US does not always treat people well, and could use improvement, but saying the system that has had the most ethical results is unethical because it's not perfect is a bit disingenuous, in my opinion.

But in regard to "modern socialism showing a lot of promise", how so? Statistically it hasn't. It is easy to show that as countries have gradually grown more "modern socialist" in nature, their economies have done less well. In the U.S. (just for one example, as it has grown more socialist in its government policies, income inequality has skyrocketed, and more people are below poverty level, per capita, than at just about any time in the past except the Great Depression.

Similarly, most economies in Europe have also further stagnated as they became more socialist.

I'm not making big claims of cause-and-effect here, but the correlation is undeniable. There are only a couple of exceptions, and they aren't very great exceptions.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46292621)

What exactly does it mean for an economy to be doing well? Yes, there's ever more money flowing through the US lately, yet the part of the economy relevant to 99% of the population has been in decline for decades. And I would suggest that *that* is the important part of the economy - the rest is just a circle-jerk among the global elite.

Always a pleasure arguing with you Jane, but this and other discussions are starting to really depress me. Until next time.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46273779)

Even Smith, clear back then, recognized that monopoly and oligopoly are enemies of REAL capitalism, and wrote that society would need antitrust laws to keep them from forming... to keep everybody playing WITHIN the free-market rules.

Someone should tell all those capitalists that they are capitalizing wrong! You aren't actually supposed to accumulate all the resources you can at the expense of everyone else, that's just the natural, predictable outcome of the system.

Basically you've said that capitalism is like fucking for fun, instead of procreation, and every single private collective that has ever existed has been ejaculating inside of mankind instead of pulling out respectfully. If you don't realize how tricked you've been into thinking the way you do, there really is no hope. You're doomed to a 12 year old mentality for the rest of your life. I pity you, I really do.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46272169)

The purpose of capitalism is right there in the name

No, it's not. Capitalism is merely private ownership of capital. It is strictly a descriptive term. There is no such purpose.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46272711)

Private ownership of capital is a philosophical idea. Ask yourself the purpose of such an ideal. Because all ideals are adopted (or imposed) for a reason, and private ownership of anything beyond what you can personally defend is not a natural concept.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46273149)

private ownership of anything beyond what you can personally defend is not a natural concept

Ownership and property are natural concepts, though not by any means the only way to treat the things we use and rely on. Private ownership is thus a natural property of certain kinds of cooperation which enable it.

And when a society chooses to enable such an idea, it can do so for a variety of reasons. To say that there's one reason, especially when the reason is completely unrelated to the concept, is rather foolish.

And idea != ideal.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46273683)

I repeat:
>private ownership of anything beyond what you can personally defend is not a natural concept.
In the wild an animal may claim many things as it's own, but will only keep that which it can adequately defend, all else will eventually be claimed by others who *can* defend it. And the amount of wealth one individual can defend from their peers is quite small. An organized group may effectively defend a much larger claim than they could as individuals, but it then belongs to the pack, not a particular individual, except insofar as the alpha can assert their right to "first dibs"

>And when a society chooses to enable such an idea, it can do so for a variety of reasons.
Agreed, the universe is rarely so simple - I assumed we all understood that and could converse in generalities. But "society" chooses nothing - individuals within society promote competing ideas, some of which see widespread adoption for many reasons. Now who do you suppose promoted the ideal of capitalism most strongly? The 99.9% who were farmers, fisherman, and various other tradesmen and peasantry who mostly lived hand-to-mouth and often didn't even own their own bodies? The nobility who owned almost everything by divine right? Or the merchants who were busily building their fortunes by leveraging the wealth they had to accumulate more? Only one group directly benefits from the idea, and they've managed to leverage it strongly enough to displace their aristocratic predecessors. You'll have to excuse me if I'm every bit as cynical about their ideal as I am about the "divine right" that preceded it.

As for idea != ideal - not generally no, but in this case most assuredly so. Ideal: n. (1) Existing as an archetypal idea. That hurting other people is bad is an ideal. So is the ugly idea that only people with your shade of skin are fully "human". And so is the idea that you can own more than you can personally defend.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46274751)

private ownership of anything beyond what you can personally defend is not a natural concept.

And I continue to disagree because private ownership is a natural property of certain cooperative behavior which in turn is natural.

I assumed we all understood that and could converse in generalities

Then perhaps you should have written something else? Besides the real problem is that the assertion is just wrong. Capitalism exists whether the government is beholden to certain classes of private asset owners or not.

The 99.9% who were farmers, fisherman, and various other tradesmen and peasantry who mostly lived hand-to-mouth and often didn't even own their own bodies? The nobility who owned almost everything by divine right? Or the merchants who were busily building their fortunes by leveraging the wealth they had to accumulate more?

Obviously the last group benefits most. But the first group ended up benefiting as well since they have things like boats, tools, and land that thus end up protected. And it increases their opportunity to move into the merchant group while simultaneously weakening the power of the nobility group.

Ideal: n. (1) Existing as an archetypal idea. That hurting other people is bad is an ideal. So is the ugly idea that only people with your shade of skin are fully "human". And so is the idea that you can own more than you can personally defend.

The state of owning more than you can physically defend isn't capitalism. And capitalism is a property of a variety of systems, meaning it's not archetypal.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46276737)

And I continue to disagree because private ownership is a natural property of certain cooperative behavior which in turn is natural.

Incorrect. Private ownership is breaking away from natural behaviors.

Our natural cooperative behavior leads us to form small social units where stronger members subsidize (read: socialism) weaker members for little reason other than "because they belong to my social unit". This is commonly called "family". In fact, many families are downright communist, where all members of a family are considered equal sharing most things, but in reality there's a father/big brother authority figure holding most/all the power, controlling what can be shared or not

Our natural cooperative behaviors are based on irrational emotions and animal instincts where might often makes right (it's usually men who lead the household because they had the physical strength, being alpha males and all that). Private property is breaking away from emotion and instincts, moving towards reason and civilization. My tribe (family) not raiding yours (like what has plagued humanity for thousands of years) isn't natural. My tribe deciding to not kill you and instead trade with you is my tribe being a little more enlightened and exercising rational self interest. Ditto capitalism.

So the GP is correct that private property is unnatural, but the GP is wrong that being unnatural is somehow bad. It's a GOOD thing that private property is unnatural. GP can go live in Somalia or into the wilderness with the apes if he wants. I prefer civilization

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46277197)

Just to clarify - I have no complaint against private property itself, it has in fact bought many benefits to our species. My objection is to the idea that private property, especially *unrestrained* private property, is inherently GOOD. When one man can accumulate enough wealth to support himself and his family for thousands of years while his neighbor starves, and society condemns his neighbor for "redistributing" some of that wealth to himself, I think we may have taken things a bit too far.

Just because something is good in moderation doesn't make it inherently good.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46278523)

My objection is to the idea that private property, especially *unrestrained* private property, is inherently GOOD.

Doesn't matter. It's still RELATIVELY good, for the alternative is worse, and it's not like people haven't been trying to find a better alternative.

When one man can accumulate enough wealth to support himself and his family for thousands of years while his neighbor starves, and society condemns his neighbor for "redistributing" some of that wealth to himself, I think we may have taken things a bit too far.

That's hardly too far. Communist revolutions of the past have done much worse. Not only do the communist condemn the rich, they also kill them, and their family, and rewrite history books to further condemn the rich (and pretty much anybody else who opposes them)

Just because something is good in moderation doesn't make it inherently good.

As pointed out above, it doesn't have to be inherently good to be relatively good

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46279479)

There is no "the alternative" to compare against, that's a false dichotomy. There's a whole spectrum of positions to take, with communism (all property owned collectively) at one end and feudalism (all property owned by the king) at the other.

That's hardly too far. Communist revolutions of the past have done much worse. Not only do the communist condemn the rich, they also kill them, and their family, and rewrite history books to further condemn the rich (and pretty much anybody else who opposes them)

Well, we're talking opposite directions, but still - would you condemn the communist extremists for killing a tiny but immensely powerful minority of the population, but giving a pass to the capitalist tycoons who are forever advocating that we allow a much larger and less powerful portion of the population to suffer and die from easily preventable consequences of poverty?

Just because a particular position on the spectrum is relatively good compared to one or more extremes, doesn't mean that that position should be staunchly defended. A minor or moderate adjustment may in fact be far more desirable. Take most the rest of the "developed" world for example - they're all attempting various variations on socialism, and most of them are happier, wealthier, healthier, and better educated than Americans. And it's not because they have a more resources to draw on - if we were managing our available resources half as efficiently for the social good we'd still be the greatest nation on Earth, instead of only being able to claim that title when it comes to per-capita incarceration rates.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46286719)

There is no "the alternative" to compare against, that's a false dichotomy

Except you just mentioned two alternatives to compare against: communism and feudalism. So no, not a false dichotomy.

Again, people have been trying to do something better than private property and capitalism. They have yet to succeed.

Well, we're talking opposite directions, but still - would you condemn the communist extremists for killing a tiny but immensely powerful minority of the population, but giving a pass to the capitalist tycoons who are forever advocating that we allow a much larger and less powerful portion of the population to suffer and die from easily preventable consequences of poverty?

Hey, I offered the extreme opposite because YOU started with one. Not every capitalist is that tycoon. Now who's setting up false dichotomies?

Just because a particular position on the spectrum is relatively good compared to one or more extremes, doesn't mean that that position should be staunchly defended

It does mean, however, that when somebody (you) is staunchly attacking the position, the offense should be met with staunch defense. The risk of losing what relative good thing we have is too high to not defend it.

A minor or moderate adjustment

A minor or moderate adjustment could be argued with precise arguments, not your false dichotomy of capitalist tycoons who has enough wealth to last him and his family for thousands of years

Take most the rest of the "developed" world for example - they're all attempting various variations on socialism, and most of them are happier, wealthier, healthier, and better educated than Americans.

They're happier, wealthier, healthier, and better educated than Americans because of capitalism. That factory in China churning out affordable goods for the developed world (that even Americans buy) isn't there because of socialism. It's there because the factory owners and other businessmen thought it would make a profit to produce those things, and they're confident that their profits, their private property will be respected and protected.

That hospital and those doctors keeping people healthy are also there because of capitalism. Medicine doesn't fall from trees. Somebody (a capitalist) had to make it. Doctors and teachers, no matter how much they love healing or teaching people, have to eat. Somebody (a capitalist) has to work and produce the food and whatever other goods they need for their job.

Oh, and for both healthcare and education, it's worth noting that many people from other developed countries travel to the US to get them. The US is still considered to have some of the best money can buy (read: operating under a capitalist system, not socialized student loans)

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46288455)

No, I mentioned two extremes on a spectrum, neither of which are al that relevant to the discussion

>Not every capitalist is that tycoon. Now who's setting up false dichotomies?
Nor is every communist a violent revolutionary - I thought we were discussing the bad apples of competing philosophies.

>Again, people have been trying to do something better than private property and capitalism. They have yet to succeed.
Socialism actually appears to be mostly doing better than capitalism these days.

You seem to have a fairly flawed idea of what socialism is. Hint - it does not advocate eliminating private property or free-market exchange, just moderating the excesses to which the capitalist system is prone.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46289111)

No, I mentioned two extremes on a spectrum, neither of which are al that relevant to the discussion

No, it's very relevant. You claim I was thinking in a false dichotomy. The existence of multiple points on the spectrum, even if they're all extreme positions, invalidates your accusation.

Nor is every communist a violent revolutionary - I thought we were discussing the bad apples of competing philosophies.

We are, and I pointed out that the bad apples of communism have demonstrated to be worse. Private property and capitalism is, once again, relatively good.

Socialism actually appears to be mostly doing better than capitalism these days.

No it actually isn't. I already explained to you how all those wonderful happy/wealthy/healthy/educated people got that way from capitalism. Alas you skipped over all of it.

You seem to have a fairly flawed idea of what socialism is.

You seem to have a fairly flawed idea on how to make an argument.

You're the one objecting to (unrestricted) private property. Insulting me about a different subject (socialism) doesn't strengthen your objection. Or is this another false dichotomy you're trying to set up? "That AC is wrong about apples, so Immerman must be right about oranges!"

Hint - it does not advocate eliminating private property or free-market exchange, just moderating the excesses to which the capitalist system is prone.

So what? You haven't shown how that is better.

As I said in my previous post (which again you skipped over), if you have minor and specific objections, make precise arguments. It seems you're only capable of arguing in generalities. So don't blame me for returning the favor with the generalities about socialism and communism.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46282295)

Private ownership is breaking away from natural behaviors.

Ok, why do you think that? Private ownership is after all a common dynamic in human societies. And it neatly solves the tragedy of the commons problem where a resource or capital gets overused because no one has a direct incentive in managing the thing.

For example, in early US history, there are plenty of examples of people who just spontaneously created capital, such as a farm, ferry, smithy, or a flour mill. And then whatever local government/society unit considered them to be owners of the capital as a result and life moved on. It happened naturally.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46286273)

Private ownership is after all a common dynamic in human societies.

Common != Natural

Expensive government is pretty common too (the legendary early US government being an exception, not the rule)

And it neatly solves

Doesn't matter what it solves. My point is it isn't natural. It's artificial. It's man recognizing that the state of nature isn't the best for himself. Mankind used his mental capacity to invent the idea of private property.

For example, in early US history

The US comes from a lineage of hundreds if not thousands of years of civilization that had private property. American colonists were for the most part civilized through their European roots, and the Europeans can trace back to the Ancient Greeks, Romans, etc.

The concept of private property was well ingrained into people's minds that it FEELS natural. It's like the wheel. Everybody knows what a wheel is. Doesn't mean it's natural. The wheel is common and solves problems just like private property. Doesn't mean it's natural. It's an invention. And that's what private property is. It is one of the first, perhaps THE first invention by the thinking man that enables other inventions to follow.

No other animal has invented or implemented this invention as well as man. The results between our civilization and that of animals (if you can call what they have a civilization) are obvious

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46291269)

Ok, I get that you're not going to change your mind. Maybe you ought to think about this some time. For starters, the distinction between "natural" and "artificial" is in itself quite artificial.

For example, I strongly doubt you would try plying this argument, if humans were the latest in a string of thousands of recorded intelligent species rather than just the only known one. Because I'd probably have millions of societies to point to as having naturally occurring private property rather than the current hundreds or so in current human societies.

Even technological societies themselves would be looked on as highly organized natural phenomena, something like the Great Barrier Reef, rather than as an aberration. It's only because human civilization is so vastly different from what came before that this pretense of "artificiality" can even exist.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46277067)

>And I continue to disagree because private ownership is a natural property of certain cooperative behavior which in turn is natural.
Care to offer a concrete example? You're making an awful big claim there, one I've never heard supported by any naturalist. I'll accept any example of an individual animal successfully asserting personal control over something they can't actually defend.

>The state of owning more than you can physically defend isn't capitalism.
No, but private property is a pretty central tenet to the rest.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46282235)

Care to offer a concrete example?

The colonies that made up the early United States are good examples. Most of those colonists just didn't have the resources much less the currency to buy European goods. So they had to make what they needed themselves. And most of that production ended up being taken on someone's personal initiative.

Ownership of the capital you just made happened naturally. Even when people assisted you in making capital, such as as the community pitching in to build your house, they still normally granted ownership of the asset to a single private party.

I'll accept any example of an individual animal successfully asserting personal control over something they can't actually defend.

I present humans.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46285773)

And did you know, one of the largest natural formations on Earth is the Great Wall of China?

Sorry, you can't use the behavior of the one animal on the planet known to frequently disregard or intentionally redirect instinctual behaviors as an example of what is natural. Try again.

And no, *possession* of the thing you just made happened naturally. Ownership is a far more sophisticated concept, and seems to exist in nature only in extremely limited contexts, usually limited to dens/nests/etc.

Re:rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46291231)

And did you know, one of the largest natural formations on Earth is the Great Wall of China?

Yes, I did.

Sorry, you can't use the behavior of the one animal on the planet known to frequently disregard or intentionally redirect instinctual behaviors as an example of what is natural. Try again.

I see no point to granting you that arbitrary and frivolous demand. I will continue to use certain societies of humans as an example of naturally occurring private property.

I get no benefit from being nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270033)

Alturism is one-way. No reciprocation. What I give out for free is gone forever.

Friends are another story, but the average person is not.

Re:I get no benefit from being nice. (2)

mendax (114116) | about 8 months ago | (#46270567)

Alturism is one-way. No reciprocation. What I give out for free is gone forever.

Hogwash. Let me tell you a story. A much older first cousin of mine, a rather pleasant fellow, spend his entire career at General Motors, starting as an engineer. On the way to the interview, a woman carrying a large pile of papers dropped them in an elevator. He put down his briefcase, crouched down, and helped her pick them up. When he was led into the conference room for the interview, I found the woman was in the room. He later learned that she was an administrative assistant for one of the members of the interview committee and that she told her boss about his simple act of courtesy. He got the job. It is quite possible that this one act of courtesy made him stick out in a field of many qualified candidates and it was the ultimate deciding factor.

He retired about ten years ago as the vice-president for fuel cell technology. Now who says that altruism one-way?

Re:I get no benefit from being nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46271703)

Nice story. Here's mine.

I provided help to a classmate out of kindness. Next recess, said classmate performs the daily ritual of taunting me.

I go to reddit/r/games, and give an answer to question. I get downvoted, while another person says the exact same thing 5 minutes later (using lower quality wording) and gets upvoted.

I participated in a school math competition. My reward for a high-scoring result is a simple medal, while the school gets to claim they trained me to that level. In reality, they exploit by effort for something that really was a matter of chance (e.g. I could have attended any school, and they would make the claim instead.)

All in all, I'm better off stripping myself of compassion.

Behavioral flexibility makes us human. (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 8 months ago | (#46270129)

It also means that every generalization you can draw about humanity is wrong much of the time. That said, Social Darwinism has enjoyed the popular pseudoscience stage unchallenged for too long.

The problem with terms like "altruism" and "self-interest" is that they're so vague. Their empirical significance is imprecise at best when applied to a species where an individual's sense of well-being is tied to his social connections.

Those who reduce a satisfying life exclusively to altruism or self-interest can point to supporting data, but they have only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Looked at dispassionately, Hitler and Gandhi are simply two extreme examples in the range of human character; most people would not be able to stand emulating either of them. As a species we did not evolve to fit in any simple, reductionistic philosophical box.

Re:Behavioral flexibility makes us human. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 8 months ago | (#46270487)

Gandhi and Hitler were alike in the aspect that they got a lot of peoples attention. There are a lot of people in the world good or bad who just fail to get much attention. In that case, being extreme good would just make them a pushover, and extreme bad they would be locked up in jail, or killed.

Re:Behavioral flexibility makes us human. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270595)

Gandhi was a lawyer, and certainly no pushover. He invented whole arsenals of tactics and strategies based on non-violence which has served as enlightening examples ever since.

Historically, non-violent regime changes tend to be the most stable, peaceful and prosperous ones, generally (not always).

Re:Behavioral flexibility makes us human. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46270909)

Such reductionist claims also tend to overlook the fact that the rules change as society scales. Back when everyone in town knew everyone else game theory was far more applicable - you'll be playing various social "games" with these people your entire life, and so everyone can develop a pretty good sense of your character which impacts future dealings, and outsiders are regarded with understandable suspicion - after all they have no reputation to engender trust, and will likely leave before they develop enough of a reputation to be useful. And why exactly are you wandering around in the first place if not to escape from a bad reputation in your home town?

Live in a city with even a half-million people though and things change radically, pretty much everybody you deal with outside your immediate social circle is an "outsider", but you can't treat *everybody* with the level of rational distrust that deserves without crippling your own social potential, and that amplifies the appeal of exploitative behavior - we've simultaneously reduced both the social costs of a bad reputation and the social rewards of a good reputation.

A common misconception (1)

Sigvatr (1207234) | about 8 months ago | (#46270171)

Survival of nice people does not mean that mean people don't survive. It just means that nice people survive. The mean guys aren't going to go away either.

Re:A common misconception (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#46270233)

Actually, it doesn't mean that people who are _only_ nice will actually survive all the time.
Perhaps you need to have a healthy "mix" of altruism and egotism in order to have the highest chances of survival.

So something tells me this book actually is a one-sided story.

Altruism is like the universe... (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about 8 months ago | (#46270235)

...just because scientists can't explain it, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. We have been struggling to explain and model altruistic behaviors for centuries, and our failure has caused many to claim that altruism does not exist. However, this obviously clashes with the reality that we observe every day. This dissonance is shown most vividly in the tragic story of George R. Price [wikipedia.org] . "Survival of the Nicest" seems like a refreshing attempt to explain what we can observe, instead of giving up and declaring that we are all deluded because our observations do not conform to our models.

Re:Altruism is like the universe... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46270911)

Altruism isn't unexplained. It's explained by the selfish gene. It even explains why we care more for people close to us than people further away.

We are most altruistic to the people we share most genes with - close family, then extended family, then people in out tribe, then race, then members of our species, and as species get less and less closely connected to ours, the less we care.

Survival of the most genes like ours is what we strive for. That's what explains altruism.

Re:Altruism is like the universe... (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about 8 months ago | (#46276341)

Kin selection explains a narrow subset of altruistic behaviors. There are a host of other altruistic behaviors that it does not explain, and people regularly behave contrary to its predictions. I'm good friends with people who come from far-away countries, and I've done more for them than for my own cousins. I'm sure the same is true for you. I vote in ways that benefit people who have only the most basic genetic material in common with me, at the expense of my close relatives. There are countless other examples, some of which are mentioned in the review. Kin selection is good science, but it doesn't explain everything about human altruism.

Re:Altruism is like the universe... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46276557)

There are counter examples to everything. Evolution isn't perfect. But the tendency I described to be more altruistic the closer the genes are to your own is trend that far outweighs those exceptions.

If you have your own explanation for those exceptions I'd be glad to hear it.

I guess there are cultural pressures such as religion and political alignments that have evolved in man because of different genetic reasons. But such conscious drives to conform to a culture seem less powerful than the instinctive one I mentioned.

History has a lesson. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270255)

History teaches that the biggest group of mutual altruists wins in the long run. Would-be rulers have used the cult of personality, religion, nationalism, racialism, marketing, whatever tool came to hand in order to get people to fight for something other than themselves; but those are all just methods to achieve an end.

Because if you have a thousand people fighting for themselves, and I have 800 people fighting for each other, your guys are most likely doomed.

Remember, Ayn Rand died bitter and impoverished while many of her disciples were living the high life... selfishness and greed are inherently self-limiting, and numbers count.

Re:History has a lesson. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46270941)

Did Rand really have many disciples leading the high life? Or was she simply a convenient conversation piece among those whose pre-existing ideology her writings glorified? It seems like most of her "disciples" were among those embittered failures convinced they too could be living the high life if it weren't for stupid society holding them back.

Re:History has a lesson. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46271879)

Yes, she most certainly did.

But there's never been any scarcity of the embittered failures and cynical sociopaths you mention, either!

Courtesy (3, Insightful)

mendax (114116) | about 8 months ago | (#46270285)

This book reminds me of a favorite sci fi story from the 1950's by Clifford B. Simak that was dramatized by NBC Radio in the old X Minus One radio series titled "Courtesy". I've never read the story but have listened to the dramatization [archive.org] many times.

The premise of the story is a human expedition arrives on an alien planet that is inhabited but shows ample evidence of an older civilization that was destroyed by a plague. The humans, arrogant to a man save one, know about the plague and have a vaccine for the plague, except that the ship's doctor's bad eyes misread the expiration date and the vaccine is no good. The crew is doomed to die, yet the natives seem to have an antidote, and the humans are determined to beat it out of them if necessary.

The ship's doctor goes out to meet with the natives to see if he can learn about their immunity. However, he falls off a cliff and dies on his way back. After the crew recovers the body, they find a piece of paper with a single word written on it: Courtesy. In the mean time the crew starts to die of the plague... except for one man, the man who has some humility and stepped out of the way of a native they'd captured as a matter of courtesy.

Too late, the captain of the expedition realizes that the natives survived the plague by abandoning their cities and started to live simply and with humility. He and his men, save the one, are going to die because they were not willing to display courtesy.

In some ways, the way we live now is a kind of a plague that is slowly killing us. Wouldn't life be a lot easier if we simply were respectful to each other without exception?

Re:Courtesy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270589)

Courtesy is another way to hide animosity. I learned this by moving to 'the south'.

My usual way to reinforce this idea happens 2-3 times a year. I will be walking towards a door. Suddenly someone will decide 'its a race'. Nearly *every* time they do that I *will* beat them. Then hold the door for them. They will then act very sheepish and go thru the door. People are dicks... Sometimes you have to be a 'nice jerk' to show them. Always being nice gets you put at the back of the bus every time. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.

Another example is communism it is a really neato idea. Until you figure out that some people are dicks. They fail to be nice and help others, but gain much. Less effort gains reward. Until everyone figures it out. Then no one gains. Then the guns come out.

Re:Courtesy (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46270873)

Nice story. Too bad the natives weren't courteous enough to teach them how to survive ;)

Re:Courtesy (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46270999)

Holy jumping snails! I'd never thought of looking for old radio shows in the archive. Thank you!

Re:Courtesy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46271209)

Wouldn't life be a lot easier if we simply were respectful to each other without exception?

Yes! And ponies and unicorns would have sex with bling, wrapped in nerf, while we all circle jerked off together in one big fuzzy love in, Richard Stallman would use deodorant, Linus Torvalds would not hurl violent abuse at his developers every few days, and we wouldn't get arrested and the NSA wouldn't spy on us!

Really: I want the world to be full of Buddhas and Jesuses. But all we can do is try a little bit to be like them ourselves and it may help change others. But at the moment, there are a few cunt -people in my world. How about yours?

Re:Courtesy (1)

firewrought (36952) | about 8 months ago | (#46271287)

Too late, the captain of the expedition realizes that the natives survived the plague by abandoning their cities and started to live simply and with humility. He and his men, save the one, are going to die because they were not willing to display courtesy.

This doesn't make any sense, and for contrast, I'd like to offer the example of despot Bernabò Visconti. When the Black Death was sweeping Italy, he put Milan under strict quarantine, notably having city authorities wall-up any house where plague appeared (leaving both sick and well occupants to starve, presumably). As a result, the plague pretty much skipped Milan [wikipedia.org] as well as Visconti himself.

Possible, but the danger is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270329)

... many people don't operate that way. To be naive of this fact will have serious consequences.

1 thing that might actually help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270343)

suppose that every school child in America, from 5th grade thru High School, had to take a course in human psychology *every* year.
If even a small number of people learned to be a little more tolerant from this, the effects would be huge

Game Theory (2)

ideonexus (1257332) | about 8 months ago | (#46270431)

In his book "The Selfish Gene" Richard Dawkins uses the Prisoner's Dilemma to construct a quasi-mathematical proof that judicious altruism beats greed as an evolutionary strategy [ideonexus.com] . Also, Hamilton's Rule [wikipedia.org] provides quantification to why altruism makes sense for the species.

Re:Game Theory (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | about 8 months ago | (#46270521)

I was hoping someone would point this out. Thanks for links..

Author Steven Wright took this idea and gave it a historical perspective in his book Non-Zero... where the title means that Non-Zero transactions (ie both parties win) have more evolutionary value than Zero transaction (ie predator/prey).

Humility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270445)

I do work in a couple Twelve Step programs and, as a result, I am a "nice" person... well, I do what I can to be a nice person as I understand it. Why? It's very simple. If I allow my ego and innate arrogance and selfishness kick in, not only will I piss people off, I will eventually find myself falling off the wagon and get myself in a shit-load of trouble again. My sponsor and I are both in agreement: we know no one who does not need a Twelve Step program.

In my mind, being nice to others as a matter of course is the only way to live a life.

Re:Humility (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 8 months ago | (#46270515)

" we know no one who does not need a Twelve Step program"

So much for humility and keeping the focus on yourself. For future reference, you can't judge the whole of humanity with a sweeping judgement and then claim to be humble. You evidently think you are qualified to assess every human you meet and decide what they "need".

Re:Humility (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46270743)

Being a bit harsh, aren't you? For the record, I'm no great fan of the 12 step program as it currently exists, but there are worse things for the human race to endure than a little self-reflection.

Re:Humility (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 8 months ago | (#46270827)

No. I'm not. Indeed, I'm not being harsh at all, unless the truth is harsh:

OP: Look how humble I am! I've never met anyone who couldn't benifit by being more like me!

Seriously?

Re:Humility (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46270887)

Well shit, if you're going to paraphrase GP and expect all of us to regard your interpretation as automatically correct, then sure!

Re:Humility (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 8 months ago | (#46271297)

Well shit, if you can't figure out that claiming to know what is best for everyone you have ever met is the opposite of humility then, sure! I can see how you'd have missed it.

Re:Humility (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46272005)

Verily, 'tis a fucking log stuck in thine eye.

Re:Humility (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 8 months ago | (#46278235)

Ahhh .... a Bible Thumper. No wonder you cannot understand what you read.

Re:Humility (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46280489)

Wow, you really suck at this.

Re:Humility (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 8 months ago | (#46282119)

Now that is frigging hilarious.

Re:Humility (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46290573)

Considering your UID, yes it is.

Re:Humility (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 8 months ago | (#46291055)

My UID is 151819. What does that have to do with anything?

Re:Humility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46272747)

" we know no one who does not need a Twelve Step program"

So much for humility and keeping the focus on yourself. For future reference, you can't judge the whole of humanity with a sweeping judgement and then claim to be humble. You evidently think you are qualified to assess every human you meet and decide what they "need".

I never claimed that I was perfect. My ego leaks out on occasion and in surprising ways, and you found an instance of it. I should have phrased it differently. I should have said, "My sponsor and I are both in agreement that we know no one who could not benefit from a Twelve Step program." Twelve Step programs seek new members through attraction, not promotion. We let people know that it works for us and if you want what we have, we and the program are there for you. On judges make people go to AA or NA meetings.

Re:Humility (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 8 months ago | (#46282239)

" On judges make people go to AA or NA meetings."

Let's not get started on the illegality of a judge sentencing a person to attend regular (.i.e religious [merriam-webster.com] ) spirtituality based meetings. Clearly they've never heaqrd of Separation of Church and State.

incentive? (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 8 months ago | (#46270449)

As a better educated society (mainly in economic efficiency theory and morality) we can change our thinking about how we relate to one another.

why would those in power want to let that happen?

just sayin'

Re:incentive? (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | about 8 months ago | (#46272589)

As a better educated society (mainly in economic efficiency theory and morality) we can change our thinking about how we relate to one another.

why would those in power want to let that happen?

They wouldn't. They are already helping each other and (mostly) fighting for each other against the rest of the population. And they pay a pittance to a few "peasants" to do the the dirty jobs they don't want to do, so they are set. They don't really care about the "lower classes" as long as the lower classes don't get in their way. And for the few that do get in their way, they have the resources to neutralize the threat.

Nice guy thinks he is going to finish first, but t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270461)

..some big Neanderthal come by, beats him up, and steals his book on how to be nice to each other.

"..nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change.." - Douglas Adams

Re:Nice guy thinks he is going to finish first, bu (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 months ago | (#46270775)

What if the nice guy IS the neanderthal? What if the neanderthal understood perfectly well he could take anything by force but chose not to?

Just asking...for a friend.

Re:Nice guy thinks he is going to finish first, bu (1)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#46270977)

Then the Cro-Magnons win.

So what's his name again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270463)

Stephen, Stefan? What kind of book review is that?

Reproduction ? (1)

redelm (54142) | about 8 months ago | (#46270713)

"survival" of the fittest is mostly a euphemism for reproduction. Numbers matter, but so does quality for it influences grandchildren and beyond.

So, are the scarce-gametes (women) attracted to nice guys? I don't see any evidence amongst all the feel-good unsupported normative prescriptions. I strongly suspect women are looking for men practicing optimum predatation. Although I doubt they are aware of this "goldilocks".

Re:Reproduction ? (1)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#46271021)

My own observation is that the nice guys end up with the more stable relationships, which tend to produce fewer but higher-achieving offspring. Speaking as someone who just celebrated our silver anniversary.

Re:Reproduction ? (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | about 8 months ago | (#46272675)

So, are the scarce-gametes (women) attracted to nice guys? ... I strongly suspect women are looking for men practicing optimum predatation

My girlfriend of many years freely admitted that I was the "rational" choice rather than the "chemistry" choice. Later she also admitted to other advantages of choosing me over a man "practicing optimum predation".

Fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270741)

...YOU go first.

Leningrad survivors agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46270759)

The survivors of the 900 day blockade of Leningrad agree that those who helped other people were more likely to survive than those who were self-focused.

Actually, I think anthropologists generally believe that the reason we thrived more than other primates is that humans are willing to help each other and work collectively.

An overlooked gem (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 8 months ago | (#46270789)

and the amazingly effective Tit-for-Tat strategy...

In politics we have one party that spews whatever unscientific nonsense bubbles up to the surface of their collective consciousness on a particular day. The other party tries to the be adults in the room and, if we've learned one thing over the last 30 years, that doesn't work.

It's counter-intuitive but the way to deal with irrational people is to match crazy with crazy, with forgiveness. So, if they want to stop the crazy and work on something sane, you're also willing to do that. But also willing to match crazy statement with crazy statement.

Re:An overlooked gem (1)

mi (197448) | about 8 months ago | (#46270885)

The other party tries to the be adults in the room

Both of America's major parties would say this about themselves — and the other guys.

But also willing to match crazy statement with crazy statement.

But if you happen to represent the party in power currently, then it must be the "crazy" stage right now — and for the last 6 years at least. America has rapidly slipped in both — economic freedom [rt.com] and in press freedom [rsf.org] during the period. The Party — and the President — calling themselves "Liberal" presided over the liberties slipping away. Crazy indeed.

Re:An overlooked gem (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#46271503)

The index of economic freedom is a ridiculous partisan effort from a well known extremely radical organization.

Complete bullshit really.

http://www.heritage.org/index/... [heritage.org]

Press freedom in the US has been under pressure for a long time, and rankings from JWB are notoriously volatile. For example the US had a large INCREASE in press freedom rankings last year, going from 47th to 33rd. It's preposterous to draw a partisan political conclusion from results that depend primarily on a couple of cases in from of the judiciary.

Re:An overlooked gem (1)

mi (197448) | about 8 months ago | (#46271991)

Complete bullshit really

Oh, well, that's a reassuring statement. Everything is fine then, right? I shall not worry my pretty little head about a thing...

Haters? (1)

mi (197448) | about 8 months ago | (#46270829)

and haters everywhere

When I hear the word "haterz", I call my air force. (Same reaction to the word "community", BTW -- I don't know, why.)

In summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46271105)

In summary:

  • Acting altruistic or selfish is simply a matter of what time-scale one chooses.
  • Being selfish simply means one is living with excess comfort and security.

We see all around the world, people behaving badly to people they don't know, or having less economic power than themselves. So do rich and poor choose the same time-scale? Rich people have a lot more to lose, so it would be practical for them to always think ahead (Movie 'In time'). But we see rich people using their economic power to be selfish just like poor people. The current thinking says extreme selfishness is a prerequisite for being rich.

No-one, which goes double for rich people, wants their hard work to be consumed by a stranger and his children: Selfishness is built-in to people. It's why pure marxism (IE communism) doesn't work. There is an obvious limit to altruism.

A lot of these arguments are aimed at society as a whole. It's easy to smash a shop window and steal stuff. Yet in many places around the world this doesn't happen. The inhabitants of that society follow rules that obviously keep their society predictable. Does such behaviour qualify as selfishness or altruism?

We call someone a hero, precisely because he did the opposite of his selfish impulses. Heroes tend to benefit society yet very few people choose to be a hero.

Oblig. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#46271825)

Dogbert [dilbert.com]

Ok I get it... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 8 months ago | (#46272015)

I can lie, cheat and steal but I'll be nice about it...

Nice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46273787)

Men will be nice when nice guys get laid.

depends how you define 'nice' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46274029)

in communist china, being 'nice' is systematicly knucking under to a tradition of tyranny

in america it is recognizing the fairness of someone having the chance to get ahead when they try

so who exactly is it who is defining this 'nice' and what is that definition?

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