Large scale psych study identifies "homo economicus" as the source of all evil in the world

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If “Individual utility maximization” sounds familiar, that’s because it is the trait attributed to “homo economicus,” the hypothetical individual used in market-oriented and neoliberal economic modeling.

As I’ve said before, for these types everything in the world must be reduced to an economic transaction, and for most of them that transaction should tend toward a zero-sum one. There’s a reason why MRAs, incels, and the like usually also spout Libertarian economic dogma.

Many people have observed that contemporary economics – as practiced since the Reagan/Thatcher era – assumes that everyone in the world was as selfish and jerky as the economists of the University of Chicago, where these ideas were elevated to global orthodoxy.

Also the Rand Corporation of the Cold War period, which pioneered game theory with these sorts of dark assumptions. Adam Curtis discusses this in his documentary series The Trap, and the series’ Wikipedia entry summarises it here:

The programme traces the development of game theory, with particular reference to the work of John Nash (the mathematician portrayed in A Beautiful Mind), who believed that all humans are inherently suspicious and selfish creatures that strategize constantly. Building on his theory, Nash constructed logically consistent and mathematically verifiable models, for which he won the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics. He invented system games that reflected his beliefs about human behaviour, including one he called ‘Fuck You Buddy’ (later published as “So Long Sucker”), in which the only way to win was to betray your playing partner, and it is from this game that the episode’s title is taken. These games were internally coherent and worked correctly as long as the players obeyed the ground rules that they should behave selfishly and try to outwit their opponents, but when RAND’s analysts tried the games on their own secretaries, they were surprised to find that instead betraying each other, the secretaries cooperated every time. This did not, in the eyes of the analysts, discredit the models, but proved that the secretaries were unfit subjects.



Thanks for sharing the wiki entry. I always appreciate people sharing and getting me to look into it myself. There’s definitely some irony in a paranoid schizophrenic deciding that the everyone “is out get him” and “the rest of the world” agreeing that in fact, yes we are all out to get one another. Nice tidbit about the secretaries disproving his theory only for him to write them off as “something must be wrong with them and not my theory”.

I don’t even know where to begin breaking down all of the fallacies his ideas are reliant upon. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised people accepted and even promoted the idea since it reinforces what people like that require in order to keep doing the shitty things they do and because life is easy and simple when it’s viewed as “just a formula”. They obviously can’t comprehend a more nuanced and holistic approach to understanding humanity and our motivations.

As I type I’m reminded that everything wrong with this theory as it applies to “the world around us”. The inverse is easily observable throughout the natural. If the cells in our body operate the same way, we end up with cancer. His ideas seem to be nothing more than a human justifying his beliefs and have nothing to do with any truth. Without working together humanity never would have gotten to where we are. Period!

I will continue to do my reading so I can thoroughly trounce this nonsense should it ever come up in a debate.


You could also look at the documentary “The Corporation” ( which comes to a similar conclusion, that corporations, if looked at as “people,” are destructive sociopaths.

There’s also the refutation of homo economicus by the work of behavioral economists which show must definitively that self-interest is NOT how individuals make their economic decisions nor gives them the greatest benefits. For instance, the work from Harvard Business School which shows that giving money away brings the people who do so more and longer lasting happiness than spending money on themselves.


Evil is much older than capitalism.

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The end of that commercial gives the game away. “A great new game from…”


(Click for full pic.)


Timothy 6:10 was still onto something.


I thought this blog didn’t allow making fun of people’s sexual orientation. /SSSS

I had their superhero dolls as a kid. I guess I should count myself lucky my brain isn’t in a cylinder somewhere.


Good doggo!

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You’re entirely sure, are you?


This sounds very much like a gross misrepresentation of Nash’s theories.

Nash’s theories are not about “reflecting his beliefs about human behaviour”, and if players in this kind of games cooperate, that’s not surprising (most players are decent human beings after all), and it most certainly does not discredit the models.

In fact, Nash’s theories were a major contribution towards understanding how cooperation comes about (and therefore how to foster it), from a game-theoretical point of view.

Whatever Nash might have believed about his fellow human beings, his theories don’t contain the assumption that people will screw each other over or that they should screw each other over. They only contain the assumption that people can screw each other over.

The concept that won Nash the “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel” (for people who don’t want to call it a Nobel Prize, even though it is awarded by the same institution) was the so-called “Nash Equilibrium”, which is a situation in a game where none of the player can improve their gains by changing their own strategy alone, but where players could gain more if they cooperated.

Nash’s work is not about all people being sociopaths, it’s about how to achieve cooperation in a world where sociopaths exist.


If this were some sort of simulation or hallucination, there’d be weird inconsistencies and… oh shit.


There’s a good dog!
I love that description, calls out peoples bullshit beautifully…failed republicans enters my vocabulary from now on.

My usual RSS feed reader puts tags on the left, and then the title, and then then author and date on the right. Cory’s posts always have so many tags that I can’t see anything past the title (and sometimes not even all of that):

I’ve realised that this does provide a good metric for identifying Cory’s posts anyway though…

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