Monday, May 18, 2009

Spite is 'one of our best weapons' in maintaining order

New Scientist has a fascinating article demonstrating how "spiteful behavior can be one of our best weapons in maintaining a fair and ordered society." Part of what's so interesting about this story is how complex an mysterious human spite is.

Regarding complexity: "Our sense of fairness and our willingness to inflict damage on one another combine to encourage contributions to the common good and deter people from cheating."

As far as mystery: "If the prospect of bankrupting a few fat cats gives us a twinge of pleasure, it is hard to say whether that is because we believe they have robbed society, or because we are envious of their wealth and success and happy to see them toppled."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.