Tell me what you think
The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics
There seems to be a general pattern where we get really bothered by people helping others if there’s the slightest possibility that self-interested motives are in play (for a recent example, check out some of the intense anger over Mark Zuckerberg donating 99% of his wealth). The world would be a better place if we celebrate every time we make life a little better for others, regardless of the motives.
Last year the city of Detroit began to crack down on unpaid water bills, and thousands of poor people suddenly faced the prospect of having their water shut off. The vast majority of people did nothing to help them whatsoever. PETA did offer conditional help: If a family went vegan for 30 days, PETA would pay off their water bill, and throw in a basket of vegan food to boot.
This was strictly more helpful than what 99.99999% of humanity was doing for Detroit residents at the time, as it didn’t make anything worse and offered a trade for anyone who valued 30 days of not-being-vegan less than however much they owed on their water bill. For marginally improving he situation instead of ignoring it, they were denounced as “the worst”.
The Stanford Marshmallow Prison Experiment
A big predictor of what makes someone successful in life, beyond IQ and willpower, may be the desire to pass externally imposed tests — more colloquially known as perfectionism or sucking up. Unfortunately, it may the case that perfectionists aren’t driven by happy rainbow feelings whenever they get something right, but more so by intensely negative the-world-is-over feelings whenever they do something wrong.
If competition continues to increase — and it seems likely that it will — what type of person will it favor? Who will score well in every class and on the SAT and on the MCAT and graduate college in four years, summa cum laude? Who will gain Clinical and Research and Community Service experiences and acquire Strong Letters of Recommendation and sound passionate but not maudlin and admit flaws but show how they have worked to overcome these flaws and sound confident in their knowledge but humbled by how much there is to know? Who will climb every mountain without hesitation, no matter how high the ascent or meager the rewards? Who has such discipline, such patience, such ambition?
This is a really interesting way to frame affirmative action:
Affirmative action is used to compensate for a known bias: some groups of people will not do as well on tests, despite being just as or more competent. Example: suppose that on a given test black doctors average ten points lower than equal-competency (as measured by, say, patient outcomes) white doctors. Suppose that aside from this bias the test is an excellent predictor of physician ability. This implies that a black doctor who scores five points lower than his white colleague is probably more competent, despite having a lower score.
… the joke is about a magazine-cover movie actress who has the adoration of thousands and still feels worthless. Or the joke is about a virginal computer science genius who has deleted his OKCupid and decided to eschew all noncoding activities. Or the joke is about a millionaire athlete under investigation for using anabolic steroids. Or the joke is about a 50-something cardiologist who hates all his patients but knows that he’d hate being retired even more.
And the joke, which you hear on forums or sitcoms or in crowded sports bars, goes: “Haha, even though these people are successful, they’re still dissatisfied.”
And I’m here to tell you that this joke is totally backwards. It’s because these people have always been dissatisfied that they achieved success.