[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...
thespike at satx.rr.com
Wed Feb 13 17:34:21 UTC 2008
At 01:40 PM 2/13/2008 +0000, BillK quoted Michael Shermer :
>Would you rather earn $50,000 a year while other people make $25,000,
>or would you rather earn $100,000 a year while other people get
>$250,000? Assume for the moment that prices of goods and services will
>stay the same.
>Surprisingly -- stunningly, in fact -- research shows that the
>majority of people select the first option; they would rather make
>twice as much as others even if that meant earning half as much as
>they could otherwise have. How irrational is that?
But this misunderstands how we evaluate the world. (I haven't read
Shermer's essay, so maybe he elaborates on this.) What's irrational,
as given above, is to assume that it's possible under such
constraints that "prices of goods and services will stay the same."
Change the challenge slightly. At the moment, as a westerner using
the internet, you'll live to 80 (say), while an Australian Aborigine
living rough can only expect to live to 40. A new genetic/medical
advance will let you live to 120, in good health until near the end.
But because of their unusual alleles, it will also permit the
Aborigine and his kin to live to 250. The treatment is only effective
if *almost everyone* is exposed to it. (Some conscientious objectors
Would most people insist that the treatment must be refused or banned?
Or what about an inoculation that prevents some people from catching
colds for 10 years while others will be spared for life. You only
rarely catch a cold; would you spitefully ban such treatment if you
turn out to be in the single-decade group?
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