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Cheating May 26, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Advertising, Economics, Humans, Money.
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A subject close to my heart.

I recently watched two boys fooling around in the water while relaxing at our near-by swimming-pool’s jacuzzi area. The two of them were playing this age-old game of who can stay under water for a longer period of time. Now, one of the boys had good (naive) lungs, the other was a smart cheaty little bastard. Guess who won…

I could hardly believe my eyes at how brazenly the second one ducked under shortly, quickly and stealthily resurfaced, cooly observed the other holding his breath under water (and presupposedly his eyes shut), never flinched until the other started to re-emerge, whereupon he softly ducked, waited another few seconds, then re-erupted with a gasp and exhausted look on his face. And all of this well aware of my presence, just a few meters away, observing every one of his moves.

I really felt with the cheater-boy. Though I couldn’t help despising him a bit as well. Cheating and cheater detection must be quite important for our evolutionary setup, given all the cunningness that our species is blessed with. I wonder what would have happened if I had interfered in that “little boys’ game”. Would the cheater have been able to control the situation? Probably not. Set aside that, I was way too lazily hanging in the hot-tub to move a limb, the cheater must have had confidence to so brazenly pull off that ploy. What was he feeling?

Just a few thoughts that came to my mind:

  • I believe cheating behavior and cheating detection is one of the main aspects why self-help programs are so effective when dealing with addictive personality structures. I suspect that people who are more prone to cheat are also quite a bit more perceptive and are better at catching others red-handed. You’ve gotta been doing shit to not get fed shit.
  • As good as we may be at detecting boys who stay above water, while we ourselves aren’t submerged, some of our deviation-detection mechanisms are not very well adapted to modern life: I’m just debugging my program. I should know.
  • Just read an article suggesting that the sabre-rattling at Iran by the US may have less to do with immediate nuclear proliferation troubles (India has nukes, Pakistan for Heaven’s sake as well, and let’s not talk about N. Korea) but rather with the fact that Iran with its strictly Islamic (read anti-usury) financial system represents a working counter-example to – and deviates from – our currently crumbling financial-monetary-economic architecture and social debt structure. [Couldn’t help putting this one in, I guess it’s about cheater-punishment.]
  • Often times it’s quite hard to tell if something is right, but easy to tell if it’s wrong; A recently reddited advertisement supplier Adpinion sells ads that can be targeted by letting users click on little up & down voting buttons. As Nic pointed out, most probably the upvoting-button will hardly be in use. Since ads are such a nuisance anyway, the best people will do is vote out stuff the really hate. So in the end their system amounts to (at most) Google AdSense with an added “i hate” button.
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