Sci-Fi beats science to the punch and the random Ten
Heinlein and LeGuin weren't the first to recognize that there's no one more likely to cheat than a do-gooder, but they were the first to jump to mind when I read this story about a study in the November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Past research has suggested that people who describe themselves with words such as honest and generous are also more likely to engage in volunteer work and other socially responsible acts.
But often in life, the line between right and wrong becomes blurry, particularly when it comes to cheating on a test or in the workplace. For example, somebody could rationalize cheating on a test as a way of achieving their dream of becoming a doctor and helping people.
In the new study, detailed in the November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers find that when this line between right and wrong is ambiguous among people who think of themselves as having high moral standards, the do-gooders can become the worst of cheaters.
The second I read that, I remembered this piece from Time Enough For Love (which I last read at least 15 years ago).
But a reform politician has no such lodestone. His devotion is to the welfare of all the people--an abstraction of very high order and therefore, capable of endless definitions. If indeed it can be meaningful terms. In consequence, your utterly sincere, and incorruptible reform politician is capable of breaking his word three times before breakfast--not from personal dishonesty, as he sincerely regrets the necessity and will tell you so--but from unswerving devotion to his ideal.The LeGuin I'm referring to is The Lathe of Heaven which I just finished rereading. Dr. Haber is the do-gooder in that novel, who's convinced that by using George Orr's effective dreaming, he can better the world. He never stops to consider the damage he's wreaking on billions of people because he's so certain of the rightness of his goal.
All it takes to get him to break his word is for somebody to get his ear and convince him that it is necessary for the greater good of all the peepul. He'll geek.
After he gets hardened to this , he's capable of cheating at solitaire.
I'm overstating the case in the title of this post obviously--writers recognized hypocrisy among the moral in some of our earliest works of literature. The Bible's full of examples. It's just that I remembered the Sci-Fi first, and I didn't feel like rooting through my files for a copy of this awesome Aldous Huxley speech that covers rationalization as a function of language (among many other things). And now I'm rambling because I really should be in bed.
So here's this week's Random Ten. Put the iTunes on Party Shuffle, post the next ten songs to pop up, and dance like you're trying to embarrass your teen-aged daughter who's coming for a visit next week. Prove that you're not too old for the club.
1. Cherry Bomb--John Mellencamp
2. Long Line of Cars--Cake
3. Don't Let It Get You Down--Spoon
4. Don Henley Must Die--Mojo Nixon
5. Landslide--Dixie Chicks
6. Natural Thing--John Fogerty
7. Strictly Hip Hop--Cypress Hill
8. Plans--Bloc Party
9. Star Bodies--The New Pornographers
10. The Stars of Track and Field--Belle and Sebastian
Yeah, that covers about ninety percent of the bases. Sometimes I worry what a psychotherapist would do with my iTunes library. Then I remember that I'm a poet.