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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Threat of Punishment Is Key to Cooperation

Humans cooperate on all sorts of issues and tasks, but every so often a member of the group fails to pull his weight. If such free riding is allowed to proliferate, cooperation itself can break down. A new study suggests that the threat of penalty is the key to successful cooperation.
Scientific American

One would like to belive that we humans respond better to the Carrot than the Stick, but alas no. The more I look around, the more I discover that the layer between Human Being and Humanzee is much, much thinner than I had previously thought. And This includes my life and how I live it because I too am Human, driven by the same biological fears as everyone else.

Speaking of which, Fear, that is. I am still in mortal fear of losing my job, even though I got the raise and such because in the crush of work these past few weeks, my performance has slipped and it has caused some problems at the office. Think Double Secret Probation. It's horrid, and the more fear I have, the more my awareness shuts down. A Grade A Freakout is underway and I can hardly even talk about it.

The Mysteries of Power

Along with Fear comes Power and the wielding of, and the perception of Reality.

For many years my Step Father has said to me, again and again: "I don't know what world you live in, but you aren't living in the Real World." Of course, for me reality is lowercase r, not uppercase. There is no objective reality, with it's own set of rules apart from the the observer, it's how you perceive things. And in a continuing conversation with him today about my Brother In Law, a man who just yesterday tried to run over a kitten with his daughter in the car (on the way back from her first hunting trip), and who doesn't support his wife when she wants to run a marathon because he thinks it interferes with "Family Time", my Step Father spoke in glowing terms of this Turd because he has influence in his growing Suburb, and connections in the County. When I called my Step Father on this, that he shouldn't be so full of praise because it's not about money and power, but character (of which my B-in-L) has little, I was again informed that I don't live in Reality.

Oddly enough, in my Step Father's Reality, it's ok to bilk people out of money on shady Real Estate deals. Of course he got caught, did time, and in my opinion didn't learn his lesson, because his values and "Reality" seem a little skewed. Of course neither one of us are right. Reality is a phenomenon open to interpretation. It is what it is.

In another story. My Father In Law was telling me an anecdote about the .50 Cal Sniper Rifle being used in Iraq (while we watching Saving Private Ryan, within the first sentence he had referred to an Iraqi as a "Towelhead" and I had to cut off his gun porn.

So the lesson of the day is Fear, Money, Power, Fear.

On a lighter note: my Honorary Uncle who encouraged me to read and write, and introduced me into the world of Black Humor and Irony is dying from old wounds sustained in the Korean War. A piece of shapnel in his head began sliding around and moved into his frontal lobe, and now his body is shutting down, organ by organ.

I haven't seen him in a while, and the last time was very painful because he was so infirmed. Anyway it's a sad way to go, but his decades of chronic pain will finally be over.

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