Re: poly: Absolute vs relative wealth

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Sat Jan 15 2000 - 09:25:16 PST ("d.brin") writes:
>This is a very old question that's related to (but not identical to) the
>issue of altruism. People know they need for others to think well of them,
>so they claim to be more cooperative and altruistic than they are.
>Societies generally try to enforce cooperative behavior through
>accountability (laws) and/or through exhortation (moral codes).
>(My book The Transparent Society is about the accountability side of the
>equation. More than enough people keep talking about the morality side.)

 Your book talks about how to detect malicious actions, but I doubt that
preventing all malicious actions would redirect more than 20% of current
relative-wealth-seeking behavior towards absolute-wealth-producing behavior.
 For example, Robin has mentioned (
evidence that paying more for medical care doesn't improve health. It
seems likely that one of the reasons for this is that when faced with
unclear information about whether to perform an operation or to trust
the human body's naturally evolved healing abilities, doctors will be
too likely to claim that their medical skills are needed. It seems
unlikely that increased surveillence (or even mind reading) will detect
many cases where a doctor advocates unneeded surgery, because doctors
are rarely aware of how much their desire to seem important is biasing
their medical decisions. What we need is better analysis of information
that is already somewhat available, and acquisition of data that is not
currently available to anyone.

Peter McCluskey          | Boycott until they stop suing | companies that support 1-click shopping.
Received on Sat Jan 15 09:26:08 2000

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