Wednesday, March 20, 2002

HATE WATCH: Plato's Cave points out this article about just how much people hate a winner. These researchers "designed a new kind of experiment, played with real cash, in which subjects could anonymously “burn” away other people’s money -- but only at the cost of giving up some of their own." But:

Despite this cost to themselves, and contrary to economists’ usual assumptions, 62% of those tested chose to destroy part of other test subjects’ cash. In the experiment, half of all the laboratory earnings were deliberately destroyed by fellow subjects.


It was made clear to all subjects that burning others would reduce the cash of the person choosing to burn.

The economists expected little burning, and especially that the laboratory subjects would stop destroying other people’s money once the price reached 0.25, but in fact they found that even this high price did little to stop people from annihilating other people’s wealth. Most individuals still chose to hurt others, despite the large cost to their own pocket.

The researchers found that those who gained the most additional money at the betting stage burned poor and rich alike, while disadvantaged laboratory subjects mainly targeted those subjects they saw getting what they perceived as undeserved financial windfalls.

The authors conclude that “our experiment measures the dark side of human nature.”

The author of this post concludes economists are the scientists least likely to understand human nature. They're intelligent as the next Ph.D. but lack the misanthropy to be found in various degrees in the rest of the sciences, thus they go into the science of "rational self-interest." Thanks, guys, for surprising yourselves. And for proving clinically the existence of the hate that knows not reason.

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